Your browser is out of date. It may not display all features of this websites. We recommend to use one of these browsers or versions Mozila Firefox or Google Chrome

To Top

My greatest mistake

By: Reading Time: 3 Minutes
Next Article Flavors of destiny

Even the greats of the industry don’t always do everything right. Here they tell you about their slip-ups and setbacks, what they learned from them and how they do it better today. This time: Selim Varol.

“I’m actually more of a host than a restaurateur,” explained the self-proclaimed mayor of Düsseldorf. But it’s not possible to simply leave it there. The Turkish-born gourmet beef buddy Selim Varol started his bold restaurant vocation as a career changer in the summer of 2013, when he opened his first artisan burger eatery What’s Beef in Düsseldorf. His claim was the highest burger quality, sustainability and design. A concept that was unique in Germany at the time and really took off.

Good burger, everything’s good

The next logical step after opening a successful burger eatery? Right, you expand. And what could go wrong if you opened a new one with the same concept in the same city at a different location? The passionate host went to work full of enthusiasm.

Restaurant Failure

The next logical step when you have a successful burger shop? Right, you expand. / Image: What’s Beef

“At the time, we had just moved our second Düsseldorf subsidiary into a listed building in Golzheim. A fantastic property, one of the very first high-risers in Germany. We installed a ventilation system there that was supposed to filter the fat and blow the air out of the kitchen into the inner courtyard,” Varol stated for the record. However it had to be enlarged immediately after it was finished. But even this didn’t produce the desired success. “Because we had already been threatened with closure due to imminent danger, we hastily installed a pipe to conduct the already filtered air out of the building over the roof. But just like with the planning for the ventilation system, everything went wrong with the pipe that we retrofitted as the company hadn’t installed it properly.”

The beginning of the end

Apparently two segments in the middle of the building had not been directly connected so that the air extracted out of the kitchen was able to circulate throughout the entire block of apartments. “It was a catastrophe. I went through hell at the time. The residents rebelled in my city and, naturally, the local media really jumped on the bandwagon.” However by this time, the successful restaurateur of today had already pumped a six-figure euro amount into the subsidiary. In spite of this, Varol pulled the plug and closed the eatery in Golzheim. “Luckily I owned the property at the time and we got everything up to scratch for the next tenant, who wanted to open a new restaurant, including specialist planners, fire protection and so on so we didn’t have any more headaches with it.” Today, the likeable burger fetishist is able to laugh about it, he learned his lesson out of the ventilation misery. “As a career changer to a restaurateur, you tend to think:

‚ventilation systems, that’s not really rocket science.‘

But all in all, if you don’t really have a clue about technical subjects, it really is rocket science. Ultimately a restaurateur does have the capability to foresee and plan for it. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and really tackle the issues and also exchange information with experts, get several offers and, under no circumstances, attempt to save money in this area. These are simple lessons I’d like to save others entering the restaurant trade having to go through.

Restaurant Mistakes

Despite a bitter setback, the breakthrough was successful. / Image: What’s Beef

Alongside nerves, time and money, this experience set back Varol’s expansion plans. “Naturally, we wanted to be further on after five or six years. I was lucky enough to not have to depend on this for my existence. That’s why I can look back with mixed feelings of tears and amusement. But it could have gone the other way too.”

But the Düsseldorf mayor doesn’t let this setback hold him back in any way. He is planning new burger creations, restaurant concepts and naturally his expansion for the future.

You might also like:

10 reasons why restaurants fail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Chef's Life

  • Flourishing Prospects

    Whether sugar-coated, dried, powdered, concealed as essence or nicely laid out – many flowers are edible and increasingly end up on...

    Maria-Jacoba Geremus - FalstaffOctober 19, 2020
  • Fish Wall Street

    Tokyo’s Toyosu Market is to seafood what Wall Street is to stocks and bonds: a financial seismograph for the entire industry,...

    Ilona MarxOctober 15, 2020
  • Vintage cooking, contemporary method

    Sometimes gastronomy behaves like the fashion industry: more and more trends in less and less time. And then, there are things...

    Heike LucasOctober 8, 2020
  • Plant-based seafood. The plant-based shrimp on trial.

    The small, salmon-red shrimp slides into the hot oil with a juicy sizzling sound. An unmistakable roasting aroma immediately. Fake wafts...

    Heike LucasOctober 1, 2020
  • The meat of the matter

    Carrie Chan CEO of Avant Meats discusses the science behind the most sustainable and energy efficient alternative to meat production: cultivated...

    Romilly Leech - FCSISeptember 17, 2020
  • Just what the doctor ordered

    How one Illinois food hall is serving up not just a great variety of food, but unique opportunities for female and...

    Liz Cooley - FCSISeptember 10, 2020
  • The New age of food – How is convenience created?

    How is convenience created? What really matters during production? We offer an exclusive look behind the scenes in this industry, which...

    Lucas Palm - Rolling PinAugust 13, 2020
  • Bauhaus for restauranteurs

    René Redzepi’s already written history. Now he’s moving on to textbooks. Noma revolutionized Scandinavian cuisine by drawing inspiration from a Swedish...

    Ilona MarxJuly 20, 2020
  • 20 Best Chefs on Instagram 2020

    Underdogs and top stars, hobby and professional gourmets: They all cavort on Instagram. Instagram connects gourmets across kitchen and country borders....

    KTCHNrebel editorial teamJune 15, 2020