Be passionate and attentive, whatever you do

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970x404-Madrid Blog Manuel Hernandez Fernandez

You might not think it, but running a restaurant isn’t very much different from my work as an investment advisor for ABN AMRO. Basically, anyone can open a restaurant or invest money. These things are just a means to an end, not a way to stand out. People are what matters. And you can only stand out if you do your utmost for them: diners in your restaurant, or co-workers at the office.

One thing that’s very important to me in my work for ABN AMRO, making time for a client or co-worker Manuel Hernandez Fernandez Manuel Hernandez Fernandez Advisory and Client Servicing

A family tradition

My wife and I have been running La Viña, a restaurant serving Mediterranean delicacies in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt district, for about four years now. It was inevitable, really: my entire family works in the restaurant business. I grew up in my parents’ restaurant in Madrid. My wife is a sommelier, and it always was her dream to find a stage for her philosophy about wonderful wine (and food that’s at least as wonderful). We’re perfect foils for each other. And thanks to her I can keep doing my job. Working for ABN AMRO comes first for me, after all.

Combining a restaurant and an office job

I have a full-time job at the bank – working a minimum of forty hours a week – as a Client Advisor. I select interesting investment funds for various parts of the bank. At night I generally spend an hour or two at La Viña. The first two years I worked much longer hours. When we’d just opened, I worked from around 7 until midnight every night, waiting tables or washing dishes. That was hard work. Now we have enough staff and I can spend most of my time building a connection with the diners.

Customer retention

Our restaurant is situated very close to the RAI, and some 60% of our diners are repeat ‘business’ customers. They come back for the total package: the changing seasonal dishes, the pleasant atmosphere, the interaction between food and wine and of course the personal service. We only have eleven tables. This was a deliberate choice: expansion often means less personal attention. This is something that’s very important to me in my work for ABN AMRO too: making time for a client or a co-worker.

Expansion through teamwork

Even though we don’t want our restaurant to be any larger, my wife and I are thinking about opening a branch in Madrid. We want to find committed, passionate people to manage it. I often hear from people that it must be impossible to run a business and hold down a fulltime job at the same time. But if you have the right people, then it can be done. Yes, running a business consumes vast amounts of time and energy, but if you’re surrounded by the right people – with the right personalities, vision and expertise – you can achieve anything.


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