Radmila Petroušková from the Czech Republic opens organic café after participating in programme for young entrepreneurs co-funded by the European Social Fund.
Its lunchtime and Zdravá Jídelna Spirála – ‘the Healthy Spiral’ – in C(eské Bude(jovice in the Czech Republic is busy. There is a diverse crowd in the small café – from workers and students popping in for a quick bite, to pensioners and parents with children who are settled in for longer, sharing tables, chatting and playing. They come for freshly cooked, daily specials – plates of curried vegetables and rice; bowls of thick soup; falafels; and a range of homemade cakes.
The Healthy Spiral café
Radmila Petroušková, who opened the café with a friend in early 2008, explains their philosophy. “We specialise in vegetarian and health foods,” she says. “We try to use organic and bio-foods as much as possible and avoid preservatives, too much salt or spices. There’s also gluten-free options and dishes for people with allergies.”
The café sometimes sells fish, but not meat. “And we try to use fair trade products where possible. It’s important for us to be as ethical as possible,” she adds.
The approach appears popular and they have already built up a regular clientele. “The reactions have been good so far, “continues the 26-year-old. ”It’s a really friendly atmosphere.”
For Radmila, both running her own business and the catering industry are new. She worked as a model from the age of 16, travelling around the world to appear in fashion shows and photoshoots. “It was a great experience,” she says. “I saw the world and got paid for it.” However, at the age of 23, she felt her catwalk days were done and she wanted a more settled life. She took a job as a hotel receptionist back in her hometown, but after three years in that role she became dissatisfied. ”It was the same everyday. I wanted a new challenge,” she says.
She began to think about opening a café specialising in health foods, together with a friend with experience working as a chef. ”We both like to lead healthy lifestyles and thought the idea had big potential,” she says. “We thought there would be a demand for it in this town. There isn’t anywhere else like this here.”
A programme of support for young entrepreneurs, co-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund, helped them get their idea off the ground. Experts advised them on how to set up the cafe and develop a viable business plan to present to the bank.
“Neither of us had any experience in setting up a business,” she says. “So the consultants helped us a lot with the finances and administration. They sent us to the right people.”
With a bank loan secured and, after a year of planning, the café opened for business in early 2008. “At the start I didn’t realise how much work running the business would be. There’s a big difference between being an employee and being self-employed.”
While Radmila organises the administration of the business, the paper work and accounts, her partner is in charge of the food. “Though I’m learning more about cooking all the time, “ she says.
So far the venture is proving successful and the young entrepreneurs are enjoying the experience. And they have plans to grow the business in the future. “We want to enlarge the premises so we can fit more people in,” she continues. “We want to hire more staff. We are trying to find another cook.” They also have plans to expand the other services that they offer, such as meals for local primary schools, and to create a ‘healthy fast food’ window attached to the café. “Ultimately we’d like to expand to other cities too,” she says. “But that’s a way off at the moment. We’ll take it one step at a time.”
“I’m really glad I made the decision,” concludes Radmila. “Now I’m my own boss and I enjoy it lots.”