How I opened a restaurant at his own expense, in Lithuania

Debesylian stories

Do you like to cook? Experiment with flavors and then treat your friends? Or maybe you even dream of opening your own restaurant in the future?

Two 26-year-old guys from Lithuania: Gilbert and Tomas + small budget + desire to cook...

...Equal to one daring restaurant on wheels! 🚚

If the "Mmm..." and drooling faces of satisfied friends inspire you to experiment with food 🤤, maybe it's time for you to open a restaurant?

🌯 Hello Mamba Chefs! In four sentences or less, who are you?

Hi, I'm Gilbert Rechimbach, one of the Black Mamba Food Truck founders. This is my joint project with my colleague Tom.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I decided to travel and went to Canada in search of happiness. During those few years across the Atlantic, I broadened my horizons and came back full of new ideas. And then my former classmate Tom and I started fulfilling this old culinary dream.

🌯 How did you end up in Canada and what did you do there?

Back in my studies, my friends and I used to go to work in the USA - in this way we were able to travel the whole country. Later I found out that you can go to Canada in a similar way, so we didn't wait long and hit the road.

I went with two friends to the western part - the mountains. Life in Canada is really good. Since I can compare life in the US and Canada, I can say that Canada is like the US without all the disadvantages.

My other friends stayed in Canada and I came back.

I came back because I missed home and saw business prospects in Lithuania. I do not regret my decision, but I do not rule out the possibility of returning to Canada again. One way or another, I have a strong connection with it: while working and traveling there, I made friends that I visit often.

🌯 Why did you choose the idea of a restaurant?

The idea of a food bus has been on my mind for a long time, having lived abroad for the past few years, both in Europe and across the Atlantic. The street food culture is very widespread there (that's how many there are in Seattle alone!). Its essence is fast, high-quality and relatively healthy food for people in a hurry.

We have enough fast food restaurants in Lithuania, but the food there is neither healthy nor high quality... So, we wanted to offer an alternative to kebab.

🌯 how did it go

Well, it all started with the fact that, after returning from Canada, I had a lot of business ideas in my head, my friends and I planned a lot, but the plans remained just plans.

Finally, I started thinking about some new niche, I noticed that there are no moving restaurants in Lithuania yet, which I kept looking at while living abroad, while in neighboring Poland, such businesses started to become popular as early as 2013.

I have been looking for a long time for someone who would like to do this. So one night I posted an ad on my Facebook account... And very quickly my classmate Tom responded. After sharing our thoughts, we realized that we have the same idea and here we are - we started this whole thing together.

🌯 And what was the most difficult?

There were no major problems, but currently there is no legal regulation of this specific type of business in Lithuania. You have to explain to people about the very concept of a moving restaurant, it is difficult to get a permanent parking place, because the municipality has approved a list of parking places, but they are not the most attractive.1

We are already working on these issues and we hope that the conditions will improve. There are more of us (restaurateurs like this) now and we are all solving these problems together.

It was also a very interesting period to think about what we would produce for our customers. After consulting with Tom, we decided that right now we can best make Chilli Stew, Tortillas, and Mexican Style Burgers.

... Active experiments followed on how best to prepare these dishes and where to find the best products for them.

It is important for us to modern, for a person who cares about his eating habits, to make a tasty and healthy meal. We use only quality products for our dishes.

🌯 How did you feel when you beat your first goal?

Our original goal was to simply launch and get our first customers. The first serious event was Vilnius Book Fair 2016 - we participated in it together with several other food trucks.

It went great, it was a lot of great people and a lot of good feedback, which made me even more motivated to keep working!

🌯 What did you learn from this experiment?

We gained great new experience related to the establishment and realization of a business. As soon as we started working, we saw our first mistakes and found solutions to avoid them. It was nice to meet other people who are also developing this type of business.

Well, in other words, you'll never know how things work until you try. Neither did we before we started. Neither of us had culinary or business education before we started.

🌯 So what advice do you have for people who might also want to open their own restaurant?

Well, my advice would be simple: don't be afraid, get out of your comfort zone and do what you want to do. I am convinced that if you really want something and put a lot of effort into it, you can achieve great results.

The idea of this type of food restaurant in Lithuania is now at a very early stage, so this is a great opportunity to start a similar activity. All the more so when the initial capital does not require a large amount of money. All you need is the desire to cook and the desire to experiment!

🌯 Thanks for the inspiration, Gilbert!

So, it seems you don't need a billion investment from banks to open your own restaurant. You can open your own food van. It's hygienic, cheap, relatively quick and can be the first step to a culinary career.

Here are some additional support tools for you:

  1. FoodTruckr – a blog specifically about creating restaurants (on wheels). Lots of practical business knowledge.
  2. And ideas on how to properly engage people - it's not about the numbers, but about the acquaintances that you will need in the implementation of your project. It turns out that asking for advice is good.

So maybe owning your own restaurant isn't as crazy as it might sound? Hmm? 🌯🍔🌮🍕

  1. This conversation was recorded in March 2016, maybe the situation has changed now.

  • Maybe I missed something (or maybe not). Where can I find you, where can I taste that pulled pork :)?

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