HER passion is for promoting food sourced in the area and now Helena Hudson can bring delicious meals to a wider audience.
She is preparing to open her eighth Real Eating Company restaurant and cafe in Gunwharf Quays.
The opening comes thanks to a five-year £190,000 loan from peer-to-peer lending platform RateSetter.
This funding injection will allow the company to increase the number of people they employ.
Helena said: ‘We’ve always believed in using good-quality local produce wherever we can, long before it became fashionable.
‘It’s a really important part of our DNA, part of being an independent business, and we believe it’s something that matters to our customers.’
Colin Wilding, general manager at Gunwharf Quays, said the site’s new addition would give guests ‘more choice’ than ever before.
Having enjoyed a successful career in advertising, Helena opened her first site in Brighton in 2004.
She spotted a gap in the market for a restaurant and cafe business which supported the local economy by serving good quality, local produce and employing staff from the area.
By extending its reach along the south coast, the independent chain is achieving its growth ambitions.
She added: ‘I want to grow organically rather than be in a rush to expand – that keeps me in control and the growth will remain sustainable.
‘I know though, that I have great access to finance through RateSetter. My target is to grow a business that will eventually have 15 or 16 outlets.’
Improving productivity is a focus for the company and Helena is keen to make sure she takes her staff with her along this journey.
Helena added: ‘We spend a lot of time working on productivity.
‘Labour costs are our biggest outgoing so it is important to work on increasing our sales per hour.
‘The cost of goods is obviously important too, but as we get bigger, we are achieving economies of scale while sticking with local suppliers.’