'I’m the boss, just don’t tell him': We chat to three couples about keeping their love alive while working in hospitality

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We find out how couples stay together while running a food business

It takes a brave soul to go into business with their other half.

Even more so in hospitality, as long hours, dirty aprons, blue plasters and sweaty kitchens aren’t exactly aphrodisiacs.

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Mind you, what is it they say about diamonds being formed out of pressure?

Since it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, we’ve talked to the below couples, who have made their relationships and businesses succeed.

Among other things, this has involved compromise, understanding, synchronicity and not chucking a saucepan at their beloved.

They might just have melted our stone cold hearts.

Ain’t love grand?

Gary and Nicholas PasseyGary and Nicholas Passey
Gary and Nicholas Passey

Nicholas and Gary Passey of Passey’s Coffee Company, Portobello, find them on Instagram @passeyscoffeecompany or Facebook at Passey’s Portobello

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Nicholas: “In many ways, working together can be difficult, but we complement each other in different parts of the business. We very much bounce off each other with ideas and both share the same goal for what we want to achieve. I think that us working together has given us a better understanding of each other.

We are both more than capable of running this business alone, as we come from strong backgrounds, but I think it would be a huge loss if we didn't work together now.

As we go through lockdown, times are hard but we’re there to support each other. We’ve been making plans and working on ideas so we are fresh for getting the business going again.

Vikki and Craig Wood of The Wee RestaurantVikki and Craig Wood of The Wee Restaurant
Vikki and Craig Wood of The Wee Restaurant

It's inevitable that work things are brought home, but we do try to keep it to a minimum. We don’t really argue. Tempers can get a little heated but you have to remain professional at all times. There’s no boss, we’re definitely equal partners and wouldn't want it any other way”.

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Vikki and Craig Wood of The Wee Restaurant, South Queensferry, www.theweerestaurant.co.uk

Vikki: “We’ve worked together for almost 15 years. We’re a real team, with the mutual goal of great food and service, as well as paying our bills. The Wee Restaurant wouldn’t be as successful without both our input. We have our areas of expertise. It works better if we don’t stray too much into each other’s part of the business. Working together, it’s obvious when there’s been a bad day at work. It may have been caused by one of us, a poor review or just tiredness with the long hours. We’ve got pretty good at working out whether to stay out of each other’s way or bolster each other up. At the end of the day, we do a lot of debriefing over a bottle of wine.

We argue at work at times, it can end up coming home but over the years we have learned not to let it stew. In the start, Craig was definitely the boss, with much more knowledge about the industry. Now the kids have grown up a bit and I have more involvement in the business, I think we are pretty much 50/50. PS. I’m the boss, just don’t tell him”.

Victor and Carina ContiniVictor and Carina Contini
Victor and Carina Contini

Craig: “Initially Vikki didn’t have a lot to do with the day to day running of the business, but over time she has, by necessity, become more involved. Working together, I have seen Vikki grow in confidence and improve her knowledge on all aspects of the business. We now form a really good team, working well together and understanding the common goal of creating and running a successful restaurant. This isn’t easy – hospitality is a very stressful industry, and the day-to-day pressures of the job can take a toll. Over the years we have learnt to support each other during the difficult times and Team Wood has become our motto when we face any adversities. In these very strange times, we have really pulled together to survive, creating new side-line businesses – The Lobster Creel and Wee Deliveries - as part of our takeaway offering. Vikki and I have worked incredibly hard to keep our family-run restaurant afloat over the last year and I feel we’ve become stronger together in our working relationship because of this. We both ultimately have the same goal. We love to spoil our customers with great food and a warm welcome as if we were hosting them in our own home. PS. I give Vikki the illusion that she is the boss”.

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Carina Contini of The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, Contini George Street and Cannonball House, www.contini.com

“Victor and I have had almost 30 years working together. He is the heart and soul of what we do. Without his generosity of spirit and love, we wouldn’t have a business. I keep everything going but Victor is the spirit that gets us started. When the going gets tough, this tough old pair gets tougher.

We used to fight loads. Especially when the children were very young. Now we have our moments, but they are short lived. The team knows when we’ve had a fight and keep clear. But we tend to each have a wee wink with the team and it keeps us all laughing.

Everyone thinks I’m the boss in the relationship. They're right, but if I go too far, or indeed anyone is unreasonable or unfair, Victor takes over and we all know who's in charge.

We bring work home unfortunately. My children could each run the business, with the help of the team of course. I suppose that's why we’re a family business after all”.

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