FOOD MATTERS Mo and Zuzi...successfully balancing business and family
Zuzimo! owners Mo and Zuzi reveal their recipe for success Question: How do you successfully manage one of the most popular restaurants in Plymouth AND bring up a young family at the same time? The answer can be summed up in one word, according to Mo Vassif and partner Zuzi Fancovicova who’ve run Zuzimo! in Vauxhall Street for the past four years and also have two boys aged five and one. “Decisions,” said Mo. “You have to make all the right decisions!” It seems Mo and Zuzi have a good track record when it comes to doing that. From a small team of four – including them – Zuzimo has grown each year and now has 10 kitchen and front of house staff: “Building your team is where it’s really important to make the right decisions,” added Mo. “We’ve got a good team and good support around us and that really helps.” Another big decision, says Zuzi, is introducing their “family days” rule: “You must find time for family days with no work. We swap things around, too, so some days I’ll look after the baby and do the paper work and on other days Mo will do that.” For Mo, this ‘home’ time also benefits the restaurant as well as the family: “Each of us having that time away from the restaurant gives us thinking time and lets us see things outside the box. It would be easy to get tunnel vision otherwise. So I think you have to make separate room for family and business.” As many as 14 restaurants are set to open in the area soon, with the £42 million redevelopment of Bretonside bus station. But Mo and Zuzi say they’re not concerned about the arrival of restaurant chains: “We take the positive view that it will turn this area into a place where people will come and dine,” said Mo. “And we’re not worried
The Plymouth Magazine July 2017
because we are already an established restaurant with loyal customers who prefer independent, family restaurants, not big chains. I think that in general people in Plymouth like to support family businesses. They like to know that if they’re spending their money, it stays in Plymouth and doesn’t leave the city. And this is especially the case when it comes to supporting family restaurants ahead of chains.” Mo and Zuzi’s confidence in the future is such that they’ve decided to refurbish the restaurant later this year but, says Mo: “It will be done little bit by little bit so that we stay open and it won’t affect our customers.” Those of you who’ve eaten at Zuzimo! before will know that the ‘tunnel vision’ Mo mentioned earlier could never be applied to its food. The restaurant brings together the flavours of the world under one roof, with tapas from the Med, street food from Latin America and tagines from North Africa. It’s a winning combination with customers, many of whom regularly come back for more: “The past year has been crazy busy,” said Mo. In fact, it’s been so busy on some days that one pair of hands just isn’t enough: “I feel like an octopus!” says Zuzi. The busiest time is on the last Friday of each month, when Zuzimo! holds a special ‘Regional Food’ night – according to Mo, the South American nights are proving especially popular with Plymouth diners: “All the food comes out at the same time and the whole evening is like an event, it’s very friendly. People love our Latin nights. We have drinks and music from the region so it’s like a carnival atmosphere.” Persian and North African food is another hit currently, with customers saying the tagines are the best they’ve ever had. Other special nights are Tapas Tuesdays, where you can choose three tapas and enjoy a glass of wine for £10.
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