SONO and Nagomi Restaurant managing director William Liu (pictured) has identified the fast food industry as an opportunity for expansion.
William Liu became so disenchanted with accountancy that he decided to buy an ailing restaurant instead.
After completing an accounting degree, which he found ‘unrewarding’ and ‘unchallenging’, Liu bought a struggling restaurant in the Queen Street Mall for $380,000.
“After I completed my degree, I started looking for a business venture that would challenge me and I realised that Japanese culture and cuisine has always been a passion of mine and could be a good avenue to explore,” he says.
“During this time, less capital was required to buy a financially unstable restaurant and Sono Japanese Restaurant in the Queen Street mall was an offer that seemed like the perfect opportunity to provide the challenge I’d been looking for.
“I raised the capital myself by selling a number of personal items, including my car and borrowing the remaining funds from my parents. It was hard at the time because no bank was willing to lend to me because I was so young and also due to my lack of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry.”
Six years on, he has three restaurants including two Sono and the Nagomi eatery.
“Competition between restaurants in Brisbane is tougher than ever at the moment as the growth in population in Brisbane isn’t in proportion to the increasing number of new restaurants,” he says.
“The second major challenge we’re facing is the development of the Nagomi brand. We’re looking to maintain an efficient and cost effective way of producing fast, fresh, quality products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. We’re still changing and improving this product to suit this market segment.
“Developing the Nagomi brand will also provide us with an opportunity to service the fast food market while also maintaining our fine dining restaurants on the side. Fast food has more people to feed and is a quicker way to process orders, so it’s something we’ll be focusing on next year.”
Liu acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges to starting his own business was a lack of experience.
“The restaurant industry was a totally new experience for me, I had no experience except for my love of Japanese food. My youth was another challenge because it was hard to be taken seriously and to be respected,” he says.
He believes you can learn from everyone around you and says his mum has been his mentor and biggest supporter.
“My mum’s encouragement was invaluable during the early stages of taking over Sono, she’s been a great sounding board to my ideas and no matter whether I succeed or fail, I know I’ll always be her son,” he says.
“Her encouraging words have made me feel less apprehension in taking the steps needed to develop my business in this volatile market.”
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALIST
Business Est: 2005
Growth: 20 per cent
Turnover: $8 million
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