Adrian Shergill has always had a passion for food. Two years ago, the passion led he and his wife, Maggie, to open a Bristish gastropub in Enon, OH.
But opening day at The Last Queen didn’t exactly go as planned.
“Should I tell you about our first day? So you have to take into context that we’ve never ever run a pub before, ever,” Adrian begins. “So we’ve done our rehearsal with friends and family, that went reasonably well, we tested everything. And you know, the clock’s ticking, it’s 3:30, 3:45, everything’s good to go, everyone’s happy. We’re going to do this.”
But a minute or two before doors opened, the pub’s ticketing system went down.
“So all these people come flooding in, and our computer system is completely crashed,” he said. “It was possibly the worst thing that could have gone wrong, because that’s the information that the back of the house needs.”
They scrambled around, made things work. And then two hours into dinner service, the system came back online.
“All the tickets came up on our screen, and it it was a nightmare, because we didn’t know what we’d done and what we hadn’t done,” Adrian recalled. “So the very first day of opening was, if anything could have gone wrong that you wouldn’t want to have gone wrong, it went wrong.
But we dusted ourselves off and carried on.”
The Last Queen specializes in typical British pub fare including fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and a curry. They’re foods Adrian knows well from growing up in the south of England.
“I probably didn’t have the most normal sort of childhood. I’m half-Indian. There was still quite a lot of racial tension in Britain,” he recalled. “As a kid, I was obsessed with soccer, I’d be playing soccer with all the kids in the neighborhood, but it was, it was a bit of a funky time, looking back.”
Even then, Adrian loved cooking. But the thought of opening a restaurant was always a distant dream.
“From a young teenage boy, I’ve had this sort of desire to want to cook or get in the kitchen. It’s only really been a hobby, but in the back of my mind, I always thought, if the chance came one day,” he said. “And I don’t think I’m alone. I think there’s probably millions of people out there that have this dream that they may or may not do something one day.”
He set off to college to study motor vehicle engineering, but it wasn’t a fit. So in the mid-1990s, he found himself taking a job at a summer camp in the U.S. instead. There, he met Maggie.
“Ever since then, my wife and I have moved backwards and forwards across the Atlantic. And then, just for fun, we thought we’d do the same with our kids,” he said. “We dragged them from one side of the Atlantic to the other a couple of times, just to keep life spicy.”
Adrian is a natural leader.
“I don’t think it’s something that I’ve gone, I want to lead, I think it’s just the way things have turned out. So I think being an entrepreneur and running your own business is the ultimate, okay, who’s willing to come with me on this journey?”
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, Adrian said.
“You’ve got to be prepared to put in the work,” he said. “Obviously there’s elements of luck and fortune and those kind of things in anything that you do, but you will not get those elements of luck or fortune if you don’t put in the graft.”
And you’ve got to be willing to be a little selfish.
“Not all the time, but for a period of time, because you’ve got to lock in and go, I’ve got to do this,” Adrian said. “My wife and I realized that we’d become the most unsociable people on the planet cause we’re just tired. We were working so many hours every single day, and so fortunately our friends are really understanding. You got to be prepared to put in a lot of work.”
But before you jump in — go to your local Small Business Development Center, he added.
“From the people that built our web page, to the people that clean our beer taps, our accountant, so on and so forth, you know all those things that we didn’t have a clue about, the SBDC had somebody that specifically worked with us that, anything that we didn’t know, they would link us up with somebody that knew it,” he said. “I just cannot say how important they are, because they’re not out to make money. They’re literally out to help you get your business up and running. It’s just such a safe place to go when you’re starting out.”
As The Last Queen grows, Adrian wants to encourage his staff to see their potential.
“To create an atmosphere where people genuinely seem to be embracing what it is that you’ve done — not just the the people coming in through the door that are purchasing your food, but the people that are working alongside you — that is just a fantastic feeling,” he said.
“I’m Adrian, and I’m an entrepreneur.”
There’s no one way to be an entrepreneur.
You don’t have to look a certain way, operate in a particular industry, or pursue specific education. You don’t have to grow up in a particular household, or spend your free time nurturing any particular hobbies — entrepreneurs grow from all walks of life.
In this series, entrepreneurs, founders, and small business owners from across the Dayton Region share their individual stories to break down pervading stereotypes about who can or can’t be an entrepreneur.
They proudly declare, “I Am an Entrepreneur” — and you can be, too.