Celebrations. In our family they’re a bit like buses. Nothing for ages and then they all come at once.
Last Friday was the 15th anniversary of opening our first restaurant on George Street. Centotre for many years, Contini George Street today. Many of you will remember our lofty cream room with cheese counter, ice cream bar and a good dose of chaos. Two children under 2 with a third to arrive in less than a year it was mayhem. Victor slept on the bench on table 15 on more than one occasion. I’m proud of having survived 15 years as I know we didn’t always get it right at the beginning but I’m prouder now knowing that we’ve listened and learned and the product and service we deliver today is better than ever. Always room to improve but that’s what keeps us getting up and going to work every day. We have the same values and the same provenance but we’re now far more organised, resourced with a far higher skill set and we know how important trust is. We trust our team.
Today Victor and I will also celebrate 25 years of marriage. My niece is getting married on Saturday in our family village where my father was born 100 years ago. And Jennie in Marketing is 40! Who would believe that. So much to celebrate.
Working together as husband and wife has buckets full of benefits. Trust and love in bucket fulls too. Plus barrels of arguments and laughs at the good the bad and the ugly. At times it’s been tough. Very tough. At times it’s felt like we couldn’t do it either in business or as a couple. But we’ve made it this far. Patience, understanding, forgiveness, space are all needed at different times. Faith too! Faith in each other as much as in the world around us. It’s never been perfect but it’s absolutely real. Victor and I have very different skills. I value his skills in business more now that when we first started working together. While I may have held the vision and got the restaurants open, Victor has provided the atmosphere and ambience that our customers and our team buy into and love. Yes the food and service has to be great but it’s the extra energy that’s allowed us to grow over the years. We call it the Victor Welcome. Everyone needs to leave happier than when they arrive. He also promises:
“In a fast moving and unpredictable world, I can make you a promise. You will leave any Contini restaurant feeling happier than when you arrived. All our staff know how to make each customer feel welcome, ensuring everyone has a great food and drink experience. Genuine hospitality is at the heart of what we do and I’m personally happy to make that guarantee. If ever we do not meet your expectations, let us know and we will fix it for you immediately.”
Fun is also a huge part of our marriage and our business. We need to laugh to get through the days sometimes and Victor absolutely helps me do this. He’s an expert at making me laugh especially when he’s made the biggest mistake or crossed those lines that should never be crossed. Maybe it’s love. I’m not quite sure.
One of the advantages of being married in business is you’ve got someone to help you through the tough times and share the good times when they come along. We were going to be celebrating our anniversary in Venice but with the delays at The Scottish Cafe we’ll hopefully be able to go later in the year. So that’s two things to celebrate. Our beautiful new restaurant and a break once we’ve got it back up and running. So while Venice may be unavailable for now the next best thing is lunch at one of our favourite restaurants in our beautiful city, ours excluded naturally, it has to be Ondine! 6 langoustine and a glass of champagne and I’m anyone’s! Little treats (although scampi and bubbles is a heavenly treat) are as important as the big ones. It’s appreciating every moment that counts the most. The mindset of seeing the positive in all situations is something I’ve had to learn as I’ve gotten older. Victor has been able to do this far longer than I have but now that we’ve both got it, the difference is incredible. It actually helps us deal with so much more that we could have managed in the past. Maybe it’s just old age. Who knows.
Life is moving fast indeed. Next year I’m 50 which is another reason for celebrating.
One thing for sure we can’t take anything for granted. We say thank you every day. I say thank you for my beautiful children, my family and my almost perfect husband. When my head hits the pillow I say thank you. We’re well and we’ve got a wonderful team that help us deliver Victor’s promise every day.
We will never take each other for granted, our team, our suppliers or our customers. Thank you.
Let’s all keep celebrating!