L'Eto is a group of boutique-style, high-end cafés in London. Managing director Artem Login spoke to Hannah Thompson about expansion, competition and doing it all by the age of 24
Where does the name come from?
I'm from Siberia, where we have eight months of winter and four months of good weather. ‘Eto' is Russian for ‘summer', and in London we don't get enough summer either! It's a play on the irony of saying that ‘summer always goes on here'. The apostrophe is there to give it a French-European feel, because we're not a Russian café. It's a combination of Mediterranean, Italian and French.
You have six cafés now, all in upmarket parts of London. What are your expansion plans?
We wouldn't be able to have a lot of cafés in the same way as a bigger chain. It's about keeping things unique to the area. We are looking to open a couple more in wealthy neighbourhoods, suchas Hampstead and Wimbledon. Maybe 10 in the next five years. It's about quality not quantity.
What's different about your group of coffee shops? It's quite a crowded market.
We thought we had come up with a unique concept. We're too formal to be a café, and not formal enough to be a restaurant. It makes our customers feel easy and welcome. We go from breakfast to a proper dinner, with central direction and on-site cooking.
You opened in 2011. What has changed in the industry?
We started at the end of the financial crisis and people were afraid to spend money. Now, we have far more competition, which isn't actually a bad thing as it attracts a lot more customers to the areas.
Which dishes sum up L'Eto best?
Our signature cake is the dulce de leche cake, which is a favourite, as is the Russian honey cake. We have quite a mix of Asian dishes and healthy salads, along with our own recipe for pasta, made by our chefs all day.
What's a perfect site for you?
You're only 24 years old - how have you achieved so much?
I come from a family of restaurateurs in Russia, and I have been working in the industry and their business since about age 15. I started as a waiter. When the family came to London in 2009, we were just inspired by all our experience of cooking back home to try to create something new.
Your group is a quiet success. How do you think people know about you?
We're still in the process of being recognised. We're fairly well-known in west London, because people are very loyal there, but because we're not a national chain with 50 stores, we are still seen as boutique, quirky and unique.
How much does it cost to open a new site for L'Eto?
About £300,000. So far, it's funded by the profits that we make, but we would always welcome external investors.
You also have a catering business. How did that come about?
It grew organically, from regular customers wanting our cakes for special occasions, or lunchtime food delivered to offices. That's how the takeaway side has grown.
Would you ever consider going outside of London?
For catering, yes. However, for cafés, we still have quite a few areas of London that we would need to fulfil. Later down the line, perhaps, we could be quite happy to do that.
Do you find being that young a help or a hindrance?
Being young is an advantage. I have a lot of energy; I can learn from other people and communicate. Also, I can be a friend to our younger front-of-house staff and share information better in that way, which is good because if it wasn't for the great staff around me, I wouldn't have a business.
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