Laura Serban, Owner Glamour Restro Cafe: “Never lose hope, things can turn the way you want”
“Restaurant owners face a variety of challenges, some typical of any small business owner, others specific to the food service industry. In addition to budgeting, staffing and quality control, restaurant owners must also deal with issues related to safe food handling procedures, purchasing, and ordering,” Laura Serban, Owner Glamour Restro Cafe and Glamour by the sea told The Diplomat-Bucharest.
“Being an entrepreneur in Romania is very challenging. But I don’t mind because I‘m very flexible and dynamic from my early beginnings. I had a business in Spain too and now that I opened this two locations, one in Bucharest and Glamour by the sea in Mamaia, it starts to become more a reality than a plan.”
What inspired you in investing in this industry? Tell us more of the beginnings.
I believe living in Spain for 18 years, was the main reason. I immediately fell in love with the food in Madrid. The restaurant segment in Spain (foodservice market) is fragmented, with independent domestic operators dominating in terms of number of outlets and revenue. The vast majority of independent outlets are full-service restaurants and cafe/bars, which benefit from a strong insight into their customers and often have a better image among consumers than their chained counterparts.
The Mediterranean dishes are my top picks and after years, I got to execute some iconic dishes and got very good at.
Spanish cuisine is famous all over the world because of its flavour, healthy dishes, traditional ones, or creative plating and also because of its popular restaurants and fine dining, as demonstrated by the international recognition of its chefs. In other terms, Spanish cuisine was the main reason.
After I gave birth to my son, David I start to cook even more and everybody suggested that I should open a place of my own. The idea started to look interesting and of course a few years later, Glamour restro café had the launching.
At Glamour food is down-to-earth, uncomplicated, based on the ingredients available locally or the crops grown regionally. Fresh ingredients are the key in such a business, altogether with great services.
The timing of opening was not the best, as I opened Glamour in pandemic, we launch the business on the 1st of June 2020.
I actually felt like I was investing in building a community of people who likes gatherings and love fresh ingredients and tasty food rather than investing in just a business. Get surrounded by people is something that I always liked and I will treasure the fact that Glamour is a place where people feel comfortable and they share great food and enjoy spare time.
What are the challenges as entrepreneur in Romania and what are the rewards at the end of the day?
Restaurant owners face a variety of challenges, some typical of any small business owner, others specific to the food service industry. In addition to budgeting, staffing and quality control, restaurant owners must also deal with issues related to safe food handling procedures, purchasing, and ordering.
Being an entrepreneur in Romania is very challenging. But I don’t mind because I ‘m very flexible and dynamic from my early beginnings. I had a business in Spain too and now that I opened this two location, one in Bucharest and Glamour by the sea in Mamaia, starts to become more a reality that a plan.
Meaning I have the responsibility of several employees and also, I need to stay very focused, because the competition exists and it’s a solid one. I have a great team and together we managed to survive and become better through each day.
For sure, adaptability is the key, and I have to admit that I always need to improve my skills and knowledge.
The rewards in the end of the day are huge, because you know deep down that through your daily routine you get to make people happy.
Food and music are such great tools to get through people hearts. Is not just a saying but the honest truth that food does make us happy.
How did you cope in business with the pandemic period and how did you overcome the challenges?
From the very beginning, Glamour restro café has been offering tasty seasonal dishes made from high quality products at an affordable price. It has become one of the favourite places for locals and expats since June 2020, so in our case, even with the limited number of tourists, this season looks promising. However, if the current regulations and lockdowns don’t loosen, it will be difficult to make any plans.
A major plus, and what I’ve noticed during the last years, is that the food service market in Romania expanded significantly in previous decades as noted during the previous years. Independent restaurants still dominate the market, accounting for more than 90% of consumer foodservice value sales. Also, the internet is playing a greater role in consumers’ daily lives – with foodservice being no exception to this. New consumer habits, the penetration of social networks in consumers’ lifestyles, and new technologies have provided players with access to a bigger potential client base.
It was incredibly hard, in this time. Not only for myself but my entire team and HoReCa colleagues. Not being able to keep the location open, was a big challenge. But we understand that safety always comes first for us but also for our clients. We adapt easily and respect all the recommendation anti-covid, we took measures in many ways to avoid contacting the virus. We had our staff vaccinated as soon as the vaccine was an option. But we also kept only the terrace opened meaning we had to focus on delivery too.
We got our website improved and also become partner on Glovo, Tazz, Eats and Food Panda. Digital was a great tool for us in order to stay open.
Which are your hobbies and passions and how do they help you in your profession?
One of my dearest hobby is traveling. I enjoy traveling and eating local food from the place I visit. I enjoy authentic food and wine adventures, which will enable me to travel right to the epicentre of local cuisine and meet people who are passionate about producing high-quality food.
Simple and savour local flavours and experience first-hand the richness of European culinary tradition. Travelling is definitely a source of inspiration.
What is your hope for 2021 and the power message for the entrepreneurs in Romania?
I think the advice here is to study the project you have in mind from all angles. Because a restaurant is not just chatting with customers, serving wine, and creating recipes. You need to fill your restaurant, have the staff to run it, it also means working when others are out having fun, not making weekend or evening plans. There’s a pile of constraints. I’d say it’s one of the most restrictive and tiresome jobs out there even from a psychological standpoint. But in the end is very rewarding.
My hope for 2021 is to never lose hope, that things can turn the way you want.
To be able to launch Glamour Bakery, another dear project to me. The finest sweets/ patisserie and bread, pretzel, croissants. Coming soon, stay tuned. And follow us on Social Media.