While studying Hospitality in Switzerland that Perth-based restaurateur Vinod Mathew, discovered a love of French cuisine. When the opportunity arose to acquire Perth city centre bistro, Breizh, in 2016, he seized the chance to develop a new offer based on the finest locally sourced ingredients.
Having lived in Perth for the past five years and with a successful track record of working in St Andrews’ hospitality sector and running a café in Edinburgh, Vinod was always keen to start a new enterprise in his home city. As an established name on Perth High Street, the acquisition of Breizh on 21 December last year signalled an exciting, if hectic, festive period for the restaurant’s new owner.
“It wasn’t the easiest time to take on a new business, but we got through our first Christmas, which allowed me to start to get to grips with the challenges facing the business,” Vinod explains.
“One of the biggest changes we’ve introduced is to source locally. In Perth, we’re very lucky that we’re able to procure the finest produce from across the region. Almost everything you could wish for: the freshest, highest quality meat, game, fish, seafood, fruit and vegetables can all be found within a short distance of Perth. Why wouldn’t we make use of that?”
Most of Breizh’s customer base – 70-80% – is repeat, local business. “I now know most of the local business owners and the key to success is working together. There is no point in trying to compete with one another. It’s one of the reasons why we chose to adopt the Perth Gift Card as way of promoting local spend,” says Vinod. “As one of 20 eateries in the city that accept the card, it’s a great initiative but one which could be more widely promoted to increase adoption.”
Breizh is one of three French restaurants in Perth, so creating a differentiated offer was key to success. “For us that means fresh crepes, wood-fired pizza and Breton gallettes, the flour for which we import direct from Brittany,” adds Vinod. “Our cider is imported from Brittany as well. You won’t find any frozen food in our kitchen. We can have fresh produce of the highest quality delivered to the restaurant six days a-week.”
Vinod continues: “Customers have lots of options today, especially here in Perth. If you get it wrong once, it’s hard to attract that custom back. Passion for quality food and consistency of service has been key to our recruitment strategy. Sometimes it’s better to have less experience but a willingness to learn and a passion for excellence in the kitchen and among our front of house staff. It’s taken a while but we now have an established, knowledgeable and passionate 20-strong team in place and thanks to support from Perth and Kinross Council and Leigh Brown, Perth City Centre Manager, we’re now getting our message across.”
While pizzas, crepes and gallettes remain central to Breizh’s unique offer, the quality of locally sourced product has been transformational. Complementing those improvements is a relaunched à la carte menu, shaped by customer feedback.
“When we asked customers what they would like to see added to the menu, there was a clear desire to see quality fresh fish added to our offer, which is why we now partner with Perth-based specialist fishmonger, George Campbell & Sons to source the very best ingredients.”
The restaurant has also undergone a complete refurbishment. “We shut the restaurant for three days and completely rebranded, giving the interior a contemporary feel, which was reflected in a new website at the start of the year.”
Looking ahead, Vinod remains ambitious about the Breizh’s future. “Having established a reputation for the quality of our food and service, we’re now working towards securing AA rosettes and cementing Breizh’s reputation for authentic French-inspired cuisine.”