What’s your business?
We are Unwined, a relaxed and friendly wine bar serving over 30 quality wines from around the world, alongside beers, coffee and cocktails. My wife Sharon and I launched the business in 2003.
What’s your background?
We both previously worked in a friend’s bar and restaurant where I became Manager. This gave us the idea of running our own business.
Why launch your business?
Our age group of friends wanted something different to traditional bars. Weston had no wine bar and we felt we could bring something new to the town. However it was a bit of a gamble!
How did you do it?
This wasn’t something we planned for years in advance, so it was a struggle at first. However we went with the idea and our first major step was finding the right premises.
What’s the secret?
We work hard to be great at what we do. I learned about wines through the restaurant trade, but through our business I have taken courses and learnt about wine-tasting and we are always reading about what’s going on in the industry and looking at trends. We sell 99% of our wines by the glass, so we want to be able to share our knowledge with our customers and encourage their enjoyment.
We are in touch with what people want and this helps us to come up with new ideas. We look at websites, trade magazines and trends, read about industry changes and try to predict what’s coming up.
The hardest part?
Hospitality and leisure is a luxury – when money is limited, people spend on essentials. Changing trends over the last 15 years has also seen much more supermarket competition. However it’s important to be competitive without underselling yourself.
Most important lesson?
Treat your customers as you would wish to be treated and offer the personal touch. We have never been just a drinks factory – we try to remember people’s names and what they drink. We talk to people to find out what they want from us and respond by getting it in.
The amount of administration time and cost involved! Accountants help with VAT and PAYE but it still takes a huge amount of time which you don’t allow for when you set up. We work a 12 hour day in the bar, but other activities like organising rotas, making sure the banking gets done and holding meetings with suppliers adds several more hours a day.
Why do you love it?
You make the decisions (and mistakes) and the buck stops with you, but you also make your own rewards. A business is a tie, it demands long hours and holidays are difficult, so having good staff is really important.
Would you recommend it?
Yes certainly. But you have to stay true to your dream. Follow your original plan and stick with it through the ups and downs, including being prepared for long hours without huge financial award.
Look into and allow for business administration as well as running time. Seek Tax and VAT advice so that you get it right from the start.
Has it been worth it?
Yes! Remember, sometimes you will find yourself getting stale and plodding. So make a change or try new ideas. It’s all part of keeping a business going.
Unwined Wine Bar, 1 South Parade, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, BS23 1JP Tel: 01934 623456