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The secret sauce for opening a second site - with Kate & Tom Hutchinson

With summer around the corner and many of you considering or already actioning your second site, what better time to hear from three incredible Hospitality operators about their own experiences, the reason they did it and what advice they would pass on to those considering it.

Our first interview is with Kate Hutchinson who, with her husband Tom, own and operate a Wellington institute, Capitol. Established in true passion for the industry, and not letting anything get in their way of reaching the dream, Kate was pregnant when they opened Capitol in 2003. Over the past 16 years Kate & Tom have continued to deliver an award winning restaurant and doing so while they threw some extra challenges into the mix.

It was in 2010 that they decided to launch Capitol Catering company and in 2014 they opened their second restaurant WBC.

Kate and Tom Hutchinson

Tom and Kate

Jonny: So what was the reason you decided to open WBC?

Kate: After about 7 years of working in the tiny space at Capitol, we decided to branch into catering - which was a chance for us to showcase our Capitol style offering to homes and events.  3 years in, we were ready for another challenge. This is when we decided to open WBC. The main driver was that it gave Tom the opportunity to cook different foods.

Jonny: Considering you had those many years of experience before you decided to open WBC, is there a key learning that you were glad to have before going on this journey?

Kate: From Capitol we had gleaned the financial formula for a viable operation so that gave us a good sense of the model, the market segment we were targeting, and the style we would use..

Jonny: Definitely one of the more important things to get right before placing yourself in financial debt once again. And so if you were to give our audience some advice if they decided to open a second site what would that be?

Kate: Keep your key staff in their existing positions. This industry is about relationships and you can destabilise both businesses if there is too much change at once. Also, be very aware of how you are targeting people who are not already your clientele. You don’t want to be only targeting your existing clientele who are supporting your first business.

I always enjoy catching up with Kate and hearing what these two have cooking. Both have been mentors to me in my career and provided hours of sound advice over the years.

That wraps up our first set of three interviews from some incredible operators in our challenging industry. Next, you will be reading words of wisdom from Aaron Carson and Fran Mazza who are Auckland, NZ based. They have been curating their formula over the past 10 years to now have some of Auckland hottest cafes: Rude Boy, Friday I’m in Love & Sugar.