Taking risks and making dough; SALVO'S BUSINESS IS A PIZZA CAKE.
THEY say the way to be successful in business is to take risks. And Italian millionaire Salvo Liberante knows this better than anyone.
At the age of nine he had his first job - making pizzas in Polermo, Sicily. At 41 he is doing exactly the same thing.
Salvo owns a number of restaurants such as Cafe Milano and Speranza in Belfast and Villa Toscana in Bangor but the shrewd businessman knew that he had to expand in order to be successful.
He now also owns a number of properties throughout Northern Ireland - business and residential.
Salvo said: "I got my first job earning about pounds 20 a day and I thought this was great, every summer I got the same job making pizzas.
"By 16 I quit school because I had a full-time job - I didn't come from a wealthy family so worked six nights a week."
At 17, Salvo took the biggest risk of his life, he left Polermo with no money and with someone he had never met before.
He said: "I wanted to do a bit of travelling. A friend of my brother was in Polermo on holiday, this man had lived in London and then married a woman from Donaghadee.
"My eldest brother told him I wanted to travel and asked if I could I go with him.
"I soon found myself in Milan with a man and his wife whom I had never met before and I was just about to get on a plane to Gatwick, I was so excited.
"I had no idea that Northern Ireland existed and I certainly didn't know what I was getting myself into, I didn't know about the Troubles or anything. If Mamma had known she wouldn't have let me go."
Life in Northern Ireland was hard for Salvo to begin with, he didn't have any friends and had no money.
He said: "I got my first job in The George and I was only 17, I had gone from making pizzas, which was a well-paid skilled job, to wearing a dickie bow and hoovering carpets.
"I didn't know a word of English so I wasn't allowed to talk to customers. All I could do was to clean tables and hoover the carpets, but in a way I was still very excited, to me the money didn't mean anything."
Salvo went home after a year but he returned full of enthusiasm and ideas - determined to be a successful businessman.
He said: "One day it hit me - there were no pizzas here and because of the Troubles people were not trying new things.
"I thought to myself that there is potential here and I believed that I was in the right place at the right time but as I previously found out, money is everything and I had none."
Eventually he got involved in a new business as a pizza chef but in time the owners were forced to make him a partner because his pizzas were the secret to their success.
He said: "I couldn't believe it I had finally made it making pizzas, and the queues were amazing, people just kept coming and coming.
"I had a company car and I was earning about pounds 130 a week. It was great, I was only 20 years old and I was my own boss.
"At this time I was able to put money aside, I knew I had to achieve a certain figure in order to get started. I was lucky because I met Tony Giordiano who I went into partnership with later on. It took me about two years but I managed to save pounds 2,000 which was a lot of money then but it still wasn't enough.
"Tony came into the business with pounds 2,000 also which his father gave him. We still didn't have enough so we went to the bank in Shaftesbury Square and asked for another pounds 5,000. We were going to open Speranza, which means hope.
"It was this big derelict building with a DoE sign saying 'Dangerous building keep out'. It had been bombed 15 years before we took over so we rented it and spent all our money on fixing it up and buying the pizza oven and kitchen equipment."
Eventually Tony and Salvo parted company but he kept Speranza.
Despite dressing in designer clothes and being responsible for dishing out at least a half a million pizzas over the years, Salvo says it is important to remember where you came from.
He said: "Just because I have been successful does not mean I have stopped working - I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve my business.
"It's important to take risks in life but you have to make sure they're the right ones."
SUCCESS: Salvo, left, and Cafe Milano
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Feb 19, 2004|
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