Receiving a five-star review from Time Out just months after launching his restaurant Salut! was a game-changer for Martin Lange.
The 36-year old grew up working in his parent’s restaurant in East Germany and went on to study at catering school before travelling around Switzerland, Germany and London working in bars and restaurants.
He said: “I couldn’t speak any English when I came here so got a simple job to improve, I went on to work in a hotel as a supervisor and bar manager and later became restaurant manager at the National Theatre. My friend Peter and I worked together there and always talked about running our own businesses.
“I live in Dalston and had been looking for a good space nearby for a few years. When my girlfriend and I found Salut! we knew it was the one.”
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Martin set up the restaurant in Islington two years ago with his girlfriend Glaucia and his brother Christophe, a well-respected chef.
Martin added: “Setting up my own restaurant wasn’t stressful – it was hard work for the first six months. I worked 14-hour days seven days a week and then the first review came from Time Out five months after we opened and they gave us five stars. That was a proper game changer – things got really busy then.”
The restaurant has since been ranked among Time Out's top 50 London restaurants in 2016 & 2017.
Martin’s best-friend Peter also realised his dream of running a coffee shop (KHP Coffee House). Martin added: “By chance we’ve ended up 100 metres apart and see each other every day. If I run out of something he helps me out and vice versa.”
The menu at Salut! started out as modern european with a nordic twist and now also features several French dishes. The ingredients are fresh, seasonal and organic where possible and the menu changes regularly.
Martin, who employs a team of seven full time staff, said: “The toughest times have been when things break down – on our opening day the oven broke so we had to change the whole menu until it was fixed, since then the extraction system broke down and we’ve had a couple of floodings in the basement. At the beginning those challenges were difficult because we didn’t know who to call. Now when things go wrong we just have to make a couple of phone calls.”
In his spare time Martin escapes the bustle of the restaurant and sets up camp in the Lea Valley (whatever the weather) while he pursues his hobby of carp-fishing. He said: “All the other anglers call me ‘ze German’. I’ve been fishing since I was a little boy with my grandfather. I love getting out into nature and switching off – it’s good to balance a busy life and have something that lets my mind down. I rarely catch anything.”
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