Rendez-vous with Missy.
16 February, 2017
Missy Flynn, owner of the new pop up Quilombero restaurant in London shares her experiences of starting a business and getting into an entrepreneurial mindset. A self-made success, Missy opened her first restaurant Rita’s in Dalston alongside partner Gabriel Pyrce in 2012, and they have since turned their attentions to their newest foray into Italian-Argentinian.
Are you from London? How old are you?
Yes, I’m from London, I’m 29.
Where did you study?
I studied fashion for 1 year at LCS and then I did publishing for 1 year at LCC, which I really enjoyed. If I was going to go back to school I would probably study it again. I never studied anything to do with F&B.
So how did you get into the restaurant business?
I bartended in university and then went to work at Hawksmoor’s steak restaurant and I loved it. I think that their culture as a restaurant is incredible. They give their staff the proper knowledge and training and are very hands on in their approach. People that come to work for us always seem to be happy that we are also very hands-on and we work just as hard as everyone else.
That is something very important- the work culture. How you are with people and how you work with people and people definitely see that when they come here.
Exactly. I think one reason why people liked Rita’s so much is that they would go there and see Gabe and I working. If you are going to build something you have to be behind it, and it’s very personality-driven. You have to not only be present but very approachable and relatable.
At that stage it’s really about more than just food. All the effort you put into branding and the environment is lost without this culture. I think this is part of what people loved about your first restaurant: Rita’s. How did that start?
Rita’s started from Gabe’s trip to America as he had learnt about fried chicken, and specifically southern-fried chicken and how good it is; it was just meant to be food that was great when you were drunk. We were a part of starting that trend in London. There were other places with American concepts of burgers or late night dining, but they were always a bit grimy and I didn’t really associate with that aspect of it. I also didn’t want to do the same thing as everyone else, that’s not what we’re really here to do. We created Rita’s not as a diner concept like a lot of other places at the time, but more about the people and the place and the vibe, the overall experience.
Your concept for Quilombero is also very specific: Italians arriving in Argentina. There’s no one else doing anything similar, how did this concept come to you?
For this new restaurant, we wanted to keep something South American inspired but with a European twist. We did a lot of research in order to find the right way to marry this idea of Latin food with European food and this is how we came up with the concept.
The space was also previously a café/ work canteen, and we had a very strong vision of wanting to keep the theme a bit tongue in cheek and inspired by its previous usage.
I think it’s very creative how you conceptualized the restaurant. It is not only about the food and the place but also the overall design and aesthetic. It does seem that you open your businesses more as creative projects than as actual restaurants.
Yes, I approach it from a wholistic standpoint; I will try to get my hands on every book I can find on the subject, and I will research the food and the history of the new space. I think thats how you should approach any project. The design should be a functionality of the space, and if you are putting together a restaurant you have to have an understanding of interior design and spatial layout. You also need to understand budgeting and people management and how to cultivate different peoples skills. If you aren’t confident of your skills in a certain area then you should be able to outsource it to the right people to help you. That is also a skill, to be able to hire the right people.
You seem very entrepreneurial. Where do you think this comes from?
I think from my parents. They’ve done a lot of different things and have proven themselves to be resourceful when things aren’t going great and to keep working through it. I’ve never felt like I was on a traditional career path. I’ve never worked in an office and I’ve never been promoted within one job because i’ve always created my own work. I think they are the same. I’m not a freelance creative, but in some ways I act like a freelance creative, not always sure what’s next but always unknowingly working towards it.
What inspires you?
I think the people and the experiences. I’m not in it for the money! For Quilombero, we bring a whole new cuisine to this area, so the 2000 people that work in this building will be exposed to something new. It’s being part of the city and changing and pushing the dynamics. We also create jobs for other people and ourselves.
What was your dream as a kid?
To open a sweet shop!
That’s amazing! Its not very far off from what you do now!