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World Mag > WM Winter 2017 edition > Interview with Vik & Jan

Interview with Vik & Jan

Vik & Jan graduated in 2008. They partnered with Zoran Savic to run Fish House together this year and have seen tremendous growth. We catch up with them six months later to chat about their progress.
Fish House Restaurant Bucharest
Fish House Restaurant Bucharest

WM: Vik, Jan, when we chatted in May, you had just nishing building the terrace and launched the summer menu. How was the summer season for you at Fish House? 

It was good. We did much better than we expected, the terrace helped a lot and we worked hard to create a great ambiance. The terrace was very lively and had a fantastic atmosphere. Every week we would gure out something to improve so we learned a lot about things we had never done before.

WM: What major challenges did you face during this period and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge we continue to face is the bureaucracy and the bureaucratic procedures that speci cally impacted the pace at which we could open the terrace – there were many hoops that we had to jump through. Because we had only just become partners at the restaurant at that time, we also had to learn everything about the restaurant industry as we engaged in the process – we learned a lot from Zoran.

Another huge challenge during the summer was that a lot of the sta either left the country or went to the seaside for better job opportunities during the season, which hugely impacted us.

WM: You hosted the AISB Alumni 5 Year Anniversary Reunion in August – how was the experience for you? What feedback did you receive from guests?

It was a lot of fun because we had the personal connection and it was really nice for us to meet the other alumni and the Director. The place looked great and the food was delicious, everyone gave great feedback about both. However, we were hoping more people would show up, but with the people who did come, around 35, we had a great time. Because our team is very experienced, the event went really smoothly; we’ve hosted many private and corporate events here, so our team is very well versed.

Furthermore, the alumni association was also very proactive and organized and this helped ensure a well-run event.

WM: Let’s take a few steps back; in May you mentioned that some of your most important life experiences took place in Romania - tell us a little bit about your lives and upbringing.

We’ve both lived in many different countries growing up, but the beginning of the formative years of our lives were in Bucharest and we were also experiencing that period of our lives together. We had a very strong bond and live through a great period at AISB which made it a really memorable time in or lives and we have many of those connections still.

We’ve always been drawn to Romania and thought of it as a home. We’ve always wanted to build some part of our lives here as there are still more opportunities in Romania than in the West – there is a bigger chance to develop your own thing here because it’s still an untapped market.

Some of our fondest memories were going to sports tournaments together - our team had such a strong connection. It was awesome to visit all the di erent countries as a team and meet other people our age at other schools. Our sports experiences really shaped who we are today and it's part of the reason we've become so close.

WM: How did these experiences shape who you are today?

It makes you want to be a winner but also be a part of a team. What really stuck in our minds was ‘shake it off ’ – whenever someone messed up, we had to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and focus on the end goal and get back into the game. This really helped shape a future perspective that it’s okay to make mistakes so long as you get back on the horse. What also helped was the fact that AISB was so international – we knew people from all over the world so you learn to respect everyone equally – that everyone is human,
that there is no difference and that super cial things don’t matter at all – you get to know a person by who they are regardless of their culture.

WM: What were some of your favorite AISB memories? 

Study hall, higher lever physics with Mr. O’Brien, CEESA tournaments, Jonathan Kyritsis’ parties, and the field trips. 

WM: Are you still connected to the school? How would you like to become more involved?

We recently started playing the high school varsity teams in volleyball and basketball. Jan might go in to help the varsity coach in basketball and we go in on Saturdays to play volleyball. It’s a lot of fun and very nostalgic to be back in the gym, where we spent so much time as students.

We are also interested in providing our expertise for AISB’s Design and Engineering Center Food Laboratory – we have experts who can really help the students. We would also be interested in providing internships for students who are interested in a future career in the hospitality and restaurant business.

WM: Back to the restaurant – what progress have you seen over the last six months? Have you changed your approach in any way following lessons learned?

The changes that happen are slow and you have to be patient but you can see them. Each small improvement takes a lot of work and it seems like it’s never ending but when we stop to think about it, we realize how much we managed to improve. We hired and trained new staff, optimized procedures, automated some manual processes – all in all, we are getting more e cient and the business has grown as a result.

The number of guests is increasing, we’ve had good reviews, and our online presence has been improving because of another alumna we work with; our business collaborator, Ruxi, helped us to improve our online presence with her company which we are very happy with and we have received only positive feedback.

We’ve taken a very personal approach to redecorate the restaurant in a way that is representative of our personalities – we did this with the terrace, the front room, and most recently the room in the rear. The improvements have really changed the atmosphere of the restaurant for the better and we’ve been commended on them many times from guests.

WM: What is the outlook for the fall and winter season at Fish House?

We are working on a new menu that is coming out very soon. Finalizing the interior redecoration, we are expecting good growth of business if things continue the way that they are going. Our one year anniversary is coming up so we are hosting a small event with our most loyal clientele and business partners, family, and friends as a way to thank them for their ongoing support.

Because our chef is very creative, we will now also have a daily and weekly menu on the chalkboard so that we can o er guests new dishes regularly.

WM: What is something that you’re most looking forward to for 2018 with regards to the restaurant?

We are going to start to import our own artisanal products, selling di erent wines, olive oils, and things we make in house thus becoming more of a boutique restaurant that includes a small high quality market. We will also redesign our menu for the summer to incorporate fresh ingredients and we are really looking forward to opening the terrace again for the spring and summer.

WM: Make our mouths water: what’s the most popular dish on your menu?

The fresh wild-caught fish is a sure winner. It can be cooked on the grill, in salt, fried, or in the oven according to our clients’ preferences. If you're looking for something unique in Bucharest, try our gnocchi alla romana which is made according to the ancient roman recipe (no potatoes) with shrimp and truffle.

WM: What services do you offer?

We can host private events for up to 40 people in the winter or 60 in the summer according to our clients’ needs. We also o er take away to guests who may want a great dinner in the comfort of their home.

We are also very exible with dishes for private events where we can prepare items that are not on our regular menu and not necessarily based only on sh or seafood. We invite the expat community in Bucharest to pay us a visit and talk about how we can support their next event. 

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2017 edition here.



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