Ellen and The River House Cafe / Stories of Frome / 16 Feb 2017

‘It won’t work. Nobody goes over the bridge.’

Ellen was not encouraged to open The River House Cafe. Apparently it was ‘a rubbish idea’ and a doomed failure.

Until she did it.

Really well.

Ellen did what I am constantly encouraging nearly all of my one to one coaching clients to do, she dove in and experimented before she knew what she was doing, and before any sign of certainty that her idea was going to be a success.

In entrepreneurial language it’s called ‘Rapid Prototyping’, a concept made famous by …’s book The Lean Startup. He says that if you have a good concept for a business then take it to market, don’t wait. Make an experiment and you’ll learn more about business building and what will make your particular idea a success than ten more years of planning. Reading books about business or talking to your friends or hiring a coach or making a plan to launch next year or any of the other excuses or artful procrastinations that most of us employ to avoid taking the risk of diving in are nothing compared to showing up, diving in, and being prepared to fail.

Ellen did just that.

And what she’s created is pure magic.

Ellen is young, or so it feels to be running such a successful business. At 27 Ellen knows more about enterprise, restaurant and coffee shop management and building renovations than most people I know.

We meet in The River House and enjoy artfully prepared coffee by Olly, the front of house manager.

What has made The Rive House such a success?

And what has allowed Ellen to be in the exciting position of opening her second venue in Frome since launching The River House only two years ago?

The difference is a powerful combination of skilful management and people skills, a willingness to dive in and take a risk, and an unshakable faith in herself. Ellen shows me photos of the build project that was necessary before The River House could be properly fitted. She managed the build and had her whole family were involved. In fact they’re still intimately involved in the running of the business with her brother and father helping keep the books in order.

The build took more money and more time than was planned. Ellen was in over her head. Her faith and commitment to the vision kept her chin above water and her capacity as a leader and entrepreneur kicked in. It’s been a gruelling journey of courage, risk and facing the unknown.

And Ellen’s emerged shining and confident.

That is the advantage of prototyping. Not because your first business will necessarily be a success, usually it isn’t. The gift you receive from taking a risk is invaluable learning and personal growth.

And that is priceless.

Another strength of Ellen’s is her ability to hold the vision for the cafe she wants to create while being willing to adapt and work with her customer’s desires. She’s very open to feedback and purposefully keeps her hand in by working in the front line, serving customers and understanding her client’s and staff’s desires.

This ability has meant significant adaptation and evolution of her original ideas and is what has led to the creation of a cafe that fits perfectly into it’s location and client base. Ellen’s been able to dance the creative process, checking in regularly with her business plan without loosing site of where she is heading while being super conscious of customer feedback and response from the wonderful and loving client base.

She has invaluable support from her family who are local to Frome and part of her wish from all this enterprising success is to give back to her parents to ease their retirement. There is also talk of her brother being employed as a full time accountant / back of house business person as her business ventures grow.

Ellen has an inspiring vision too that keeps her motivated and passionate. She can clearly see a time when she owns and runs a small group of restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Perhaps with one in New York and another in Chamonix. Why not? If anybody is going to have that level of success it’ll be somebody like Ellen.

The next venture to hit our high street is going to be a restaurant called Fat Radish. It’ll be in the old Melanie Giles building, right in the middle of town. They’re not taking bookings yet (it opens in March) but I would advise on early booking as soon as possible.

If it’s anything like The River House with it’s local suppliers, diverse and healthy menu, cutting edge flavour combinations delivered with the friendly and professional service, then it’ll be a wonderful addition to Frome.

Ellen. Thank you for your brilliant work and inspirational success.

Long may it continue.

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