Twenty-two-year-old Jemeeka Garwood is no beginner in the world of hospitality. From her humble beginnings working at a run-down pub, flash forward six years and now Jemeeka is the proud owner and manager of her very own restaurant.
“I started in hospitality in 2010, whilst studying at high school. I started as a gofer and then gradually worked my way through the ranks to eventually becoming a supervisor/ shift manager of around 20+ employees,” she said.
Launceston is a small city of around 90,000 people and there are many good restaurants, meaning the competition for Jemeeka’s restaurant is intense. It takes a strong-minded and dedicated person to keep their restaurant unique in some sort of way. “The Hardest thing about starting a restaurant or any business in Launceston is the population,” Jemeeka said.
Jemeeka opened her restaurant on the banks of the Tamar River just outside Launceston’s CBD. The building itself was once the home of the Tamar Yacht Club, which moved there 1955, and that was Jemeeka’s inspiration for her restaurant’s name, Yacht Club Fifty Five.
“I have always been a driven individual that liked to be in control and be the one to make decisions. I am a person that likes to be pushed to my full potential,” she said.
Before opening, Jemeeka refurbished the entire restaurant into a black and white themed dining room. The restaurant also features an outdoor seating area at the front and a deck overlooking the beautiful Tamar River.
“I’m sure people have doubted me, that’s their prerogative. There’s no point sitting back and wondering what it would have been like. If it was easy everyone would be doing it!” Jemeeka said.
Jemeeka’s family owns their own business, Giraffe Excavations, and is heavily involved in Targa Tasmania. Her parents Luana and Greg, her brother Adam and her fiancé Josh have given continuous support throughout the process of starting the restaurant.
“I guess I have just always wanted to be a manager (or) business owner since I started working at the age of 14,” she said.
As well as starting a restaurant from scratch, Jemeeka took another leap and opened a juice bar. Juice Bar Fifty Five was opened in the basement of the building. “Location is perfect, especially because the juice bar is below the restaurant and I can go between the two businesses,” she said.
Yacht Club Fifty Five is holding a 4.5 star rating on its Facebook page with all reviews reading positive so far. “The hardest part about this journey was me being only 22 years old and opening two new businesses from scratch. I think buying an established business with a reputation would have been a lot easier,” Jemeeka stated.
In preparation for the cold, quieter months, Jemeeka made the decision to close Juice Bar Fifty Five’s doors until later in the year. “I love the juice bar, but in Launceston, it’s unfortunately a seasonal thing,” she said.
Jemeeka started her business without any plans. “I didn’t actually do a business plan for the restaurant and juice bar but I probably would recommend it if I was giving anyone some advice on opening up a business,” she said.
Jemeeka ran head on into a world untouched by any of her close friends or family but with knowledge from her years working for other business owners. She made a huge leap and is proving to be one great success story.
Juice Bar 55 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juicebarfiftyfive/
Yacht Club 55 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yachtclubfiftyfive/