How did you come to decide to set up your own restaurant?
Anthony Sarpong: I asked myself how I could communicate my own values in the most pleasurable of ways. I then talked at length and in detail with my family - my wife and brothers - about the idea of setting up a restaurant. They all encouraged me and thought that I should be confident enough to strike out on my own. I then looked around to see where would be appropriate for me to be able to realise my dream and found the premises where I am now in Meerbusch.
Was there anyone who also tried to put you off?
Sarpong: For sure! Even my good friends advised me against it. They thought back then that I would never have enough time and would only end up working all hours at the restaurant. But I am mature enough to take all that into consideration first. Before I make important decisions, I always reflect on them with my family, who are also directly involved. I am simply the type of person who wants to be successful in implementing something, if careful planning makes it look promising. So the initial scepticism others had in my project just made me even more determined.
What were your first steps - from having the idea to setting up?
Sarpong: The first thing I did was to draw up a business plan – that took me nearly six months. When I left school after completing my secondary school degree, I trained as a classic chef. That kind of training does not teach you how to write a business plan that will be accepted and make others want to invest in your project. Therefore, I began by talking to my friends who had their own restaurants and also with my previous head chefs. By building on their experience and through the knowledge I had acquired myself, I then drew up my own business plan. That was a really difficult time for me and it was when I realised that making my dream come true was not going to be as easy as I had thought in the quietness of my own room.
So how did the STARTERCENTER NRW help you?
Sarpong: The STARTERCENTER NRW with the IHK Düsseldorf (Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Düsseldorf) mainly helped me with the banks and approval of credit. There were points in my business plan that were not yet plausible to convince business experts. We then went through all this thoroughly with the STARTERCENTER NRW. They gave me some helpful tips for which I remain grateful.
- Anthony Sarpong
When you become self-employed, you need to have the strength and willpower for your dream to flourish or perish. And very importantly: it is not a solo effort, even if you think that you can do it without anyone else’s help. Organisations like the STARTERCENTER NRW are vital if you do not want your start-up to fail and end up in financial chaos after only a few years.
What would be your advice to anyone wanting to start up their own business but who has so far not had the courage to do so?
Sarpong: When you become self-employed, you need to have the strength and willpower for your dream to flourish or perish. And very importantly: it’s not a solo effort, even if you think that you can do it without anyone else’s help. Organisations like the STARTERCENTER NRW are vital if you do not want your start-up to fail and end up in financial chaos after only a few years. Because, inevitably, there are always unexpected difficulties, even with good preparation. Good planning helps you in those cases, because it can show you how you can still achieve your goal. It is like being on the high seas where you need to know your precise location, what is up and what is down and the fact that your destination is hidden beyond the horizon.
Nevertheless, whatever the industry, there are always risks with self-employment. For that reason, you need to think carefully about whether you want to follow this difficult path and put your private life at risk. Personally, I love it and could not imagine life any other way.
And what do you think is your recipe for success?
Sarpong: Continuity and respect, and the style of cooperation. Allowing each employee space for their own development is as important as the air is for breathing, even if in the restaurant trade, there is always one person for whom you have to take the rap at the end of the day. We are well-positioned internationally and offer new dining at Michelin star level, as well as classic cuisine, such as roast potatoes with salad, at the “Reiterstübchen”. Nevertheless, everything hinges on the quality of the ingredients and the abilities of the people preparing them. I always say that there is only one recipe for success and that is to work hard every day and to try to constantly hone your creativity. That is what keeps driving me.
Born in Ghana and now resident in Meerbusch, Anthony Sarpong has added two more restaurants to his portfolio - the “Reiterstübchen” in Neuss-Rosellen and the 11th floor café-bar in the MeandAll-Lindner Hotel in Düsseldorf.
All images © MWIDE NRW/Christopher Koch