Last November, two Chinese INTO Newcastle alumni opened a Sichuan restaurant La Yuan, which became an immediate hit.
Since then, the eatery has been growing steadily, receiving positive reviews from critics and providing diners with a unique culinary experience.
INTO Newcastle graduates Joshy Jin and Georgina Li launched the business from scratch, applying knowledge and practical skills gained during their studies in Newcastle. Joshy got the idea to open a restaurant specialising in Sichuan cuisine during his final year of Marketing and Management undergraduate degree at Newcastle University.
“I just couldn’t find the food I wanted. The food here is mainly South China, so, I thought, I could do something very particular like Sichuan cuisine. I personally love it”, said Joshy.
He then outlined his plan to Georgina, whom he met whilst studying at INTO Newcastle University, and she fell in love with his business idea.
“Joshy told me about it, and I thought it was great. I was really interested in doing that”, Georgina said.
It took them three years to open the restaurant, during which the entrepreneurs were researching the market, negotiating funding and developing ideas. During that period, the INTO graduates secured support from Newcastle University’s Foundership start-up programme, which enabled them to acquire property.
“I am blessed, I am so lucky that the University has helped me with the business. That’s the most important and the most beautiful thing that happened in my life.
“I would not make this far without the support from Newcastle University Career Service – it gave me the discipline; it trained me to be responsible; it helped me to connect with the people I wouldn’t be able to reach on my own”, said Joshy.
For Joshy, the restaurant was his first work experience, on which he embarked with a sense of ambition.
“When you’re ignorant, it’s the blessing. You don’t know what’s coming, so you aren’t scared of it.
“Another thing is you don’t have much choice. You can quit a job, but when you do business, it’s not an option. Everything you do before your launch it, for example, market research is a fun part. You think, ‘wow, I am building my baby’. That process is gratifying because you’re building it exactly the way you want it. So, once you have your baby, there is no turning back, you have to raise it”, said Joshy.
Joshy Jin completed International Year One in Business at INTO Newcastle University, after which he did BA Marketing & Management at Newcastle University, graduating in 2014.
Georgina Li graduated in MSc Quantitative Finance and Risk Management, before which she completed Graduate Diploma in Business and Humanities at INTO Newcastle.
Both agreed that studying at university didn’t seem particularly burdensome, as they felt well prepared by INTO Newcastle University.
La Yuan is opened 12:00 – 21:30, Monday-Saturday, and 12:00 – 21:00, Sunday.
For menu or details, visit https://layuan.co.uk/