How and Why did you decide to start this business?
Cooking was my primary method of recharging and meditation, a way to show love and care for my loved ones and friends. Over time, my curiosity and passion for traveling and culinary traditions of different cultures became a dream – to create my own restaurant. A special place whose combination of atmosphere, good music, lighting, taste and attitude can fascinate and enchant guests. So I chose the name Incanto (enchantment, magic, charm). Traveling a lot, over time, the idea became clearer and I became more and more convinced that this was exactly what I needed to do.
I grew up in a very welcoming family, and my two grandmothers were amazing cooks. I remember meeting guests all the time and my mother was able to nurture in me the attitude towards food and its beautiful serving, and my grandmothers taught me where the products came from and how I should treat nature giving us this food. I followed my dream with all my heart and energy. I had the good fortune and luck to make this dream come true, though quite difficult. Now Incanto is my great love, expressing my idea of a beautiful and exciting experience in a restaurant. It is there, that I did my best to create a different and magical place where people can feel care and love. I love contact with people … relationships, warmth …I think that’s my calling and creating Incanto is the most natural move in my life.
Incanto is the most natural move in my life.
In the city of Burgas, you could feel there was a hunger for special and different places. I can say with confidence that Incanto initiated a completely new restaurant culture in the city of Burgas.
Incanto is a compilation of culinary traditions, authorial touch and warm atmosphere. It is not a classic Italian restaurant, as people often confuse it for its name, which is of Italian origin.
What motivates you?
The restaurant is a wonderful tool to give people joy. We are motivated by our desire to win their love. We are motivated by the result of our efforts. The fact that more and more people say that they not only like the restaurant, but love it, proves that we have managed to win their trust.
I personally motivate myself the most when I manage to motivate others, infect them with enthusiasm and desire to do things better. Incanto is one of the few restaurants in Bulgaria that over time develops and improves rather than declines. The key to this is: “never become complacent and arrogant because of success.”
This kind of thinking and behavior is often the first signal that you are headed for the abyss!
One of the most enjoyable and motivating moments in our work is the creation of a new concept. We tour world gastronomy exhibitions as well as the best restaurants in the world to get the best of experience! It is also a great motivator, as well as the challenge of always being a few steps ahead of the competition.
Who are the most important people for the success of your business?
Undoubtedly the most important is the customer. But to reach him and meet his needs, we need a good team.
Accordingly, everyone in our team is important. Just as in every organism, every organ and system has its role and function for survival, so it is in every organization.
I work in a complementary team. My colleagues’ strengths compensate for my weaknesses. Here is a good place to share that I am lucky and fortunate that my business partner in managing Incanto is a person we get along with perfectly. Incanto is what it is today, thanks to this synergy between the two of us. Our partnership favors Incanto’s success, as it is based on a personal attachment to the restaurant, a deep respect for the complementary abilities of each other and a shared vision.
We have the inner strength to think in the spirit of “we”, not “I”. We were able to organize a team of people with different strengths together. We have a diverse group of thinking people and we value everyone’s contributions. We look at our employees as more than a job description, and we strive to understand their strengths. We have created a climate marked by sincerity, appreciation and understanding. That’s the only way exciting things happen. People in such a working atmosphere lose their stiffness and become more flexible.
In short, success is the result of interaction and synergy between all people associated with the restaurant. Staff, customers, suppliers, manufacturers … Our policy towards everyone is based on honesty and understanding.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
We opened Incanto in January 2009, after 2 years of research, design and construction. We opened right in the eye of the global economic crisis. The very survival of the restaurant has been subject to serious challenges from the beginning. But despite the difficult environment and the relatively unfamiliar product we offered, the restaurant managed to win a large number of loyal customers, thanks to which we remained on the market. It is challenging to create policies and procedures that people follow closely. It is challenging to find loyal and dedicated managers to be true leaders. The biggest challenge is meeting the expectations of people that change daily. In order to keep them as clients, you need to constantly maintain interest, impress with news and all kinds of tickles. Certainly this is quite difficult, but we have gained our clients trust with our individual approach to attention to each guest.
The high standards that we set ourselves and follow, fill our day with constant control and attention to detail.
On this topic, I think I’m ready to publish a book. The challenges are endless every day. It is no accident that this is one of the most difficult industries in business and it is proven that 93% of restaurants go bankrupt in the first 2 years after opening. I would be very glad if more people understood the complexities of this field, especially in the Bulgarian economic environment. Finding quality people is probably the biggest problem of all in the restaurant business. It is sometimes very difficult to keep a well-motivated team in a country with such a low standard of living. We do everything that depends on us as employers… attitude, respect, support, security, motivating pay, opportunities and fun. We realize that we are more at work than with our loved ones, and creating a good climate among people, employees, customers and suppliers is first and foremost for us.
What did you learn all these years as an entrepreneur?
Nothing is impossible. Passion and total commitment are a must. You need to keep developing, reading, traveling and visiting other restaurants around the world, and sharing experiences with people in the industry. Good competition sets the stage for improvement. It is imperative that you be honest and accurate with everyone around you if you want to grow and establish yourself as a brand.
Building a name is hard and long road, but the main criteria is: always keep your word, be open and straight with people, try to fully understand the client’s needs and show with your actions that you care about them.
How do you envision your business in 5 years?
Stable, exciting, growing. Improving the products and services we offer. Creating lasting and fruitful relationships!