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Peach 20/20 Start Up Hub Podcast: Caribbean Dreaming with Ajith Jayawickrema

Atlantic Club Austin 2023

Creating one successful restaurant brand – literally from scratch - would be a feather in anyone’s entrepreneurial cap. Ajith Jayawickrema has done it twice.

Las Iguanas, where he cut his teeth as a young entrepreneur alongside business partner Eren Ali with a shared dream and a £10,000 bank loan, is still trading strongly under its current owners some 20 years on. His second brainchild – Turtle Bay – brings Caribbean food and drink culture to the mainstream. It has grown from a single site to 44 restaurants in under a decade.

Peter Martin talks to Ajith about that journey. From the first spark of inspiration (Leona Lewis – yes really) to the fully fledged concept blending experiential, immersive venues with great flavours, on-trend cocktails and reggae beats that transport rain-soaked Brits to the Caribbean “without the cost of a plane ticket”.

But it’s not all been sunshine and parties. The back story is one of resilience, hard work, and property, funding and people challenges. But Ajith remains full of optimism. His dream is far from over as he steers the business to the next level – and it’s a dream he’s passionate to share.

This series of podcasts is sponsored by Bird & Bird  and Zonal.

NOW AVAILABLE... The Peach 20/20 Podcast

Have you listened to the BRAND NEW Peach 20/20 podcast series? Featuring industry icons such as Will Beckett, Marcel Khan, Mitch Tonks and John Barnes. 

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