How I Got Here: Jonathan Recanati

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Jonathan Recanati Farmer J

Related tags Casual dining

Former Banker Jonathan Recanati founded healthy fast casual concept Farmer J in 2014 and now operates two locations in the City of London.

Why restaurants?
Because I love food – I love to eat, whether this be eating out at restaurants or cooking at home.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
When it comes to business, remember to enjoy the ride. Try not to stress about the challenges you face but try and embrace them as a positive thing.

What do you do in your spare time?
I cook, I work out and I spend time with my wife Ali.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
I guess my favourite restaurant is Bocca Di Lupo – they always use great quality ingredients, interesting flavours and it’s reasonably priced with a casual atmosphere. It never disappoints.  

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I used to be a banker but I left that career to open Farmer J. I think I would be a farmer because I would love to work with produce from beginning to end, watching it develop naturally.  

What motivates you?
I love new challenges, I like to step out of my comfort zone and to see others do the same.

Where was your last holiday?
My last holiday was my honeymoon in Indonesia with Ali, it was amazing.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
An ex-banker and fellow entrepreneur spoke to me before I started Farmer J and said something along the lines of: ‘it’s a highly competitive industry, you probably won’t succeed’ – this just motivated me more. 

What keeps you up at night?
The responsibilities involved with running a business are immense. I’m constantly thinking about the competition and how to keep my employees happy.

Worst business decision?
When we started out I tried out making pre-made sandwiches and salads for the fridges at Farmer J. I realised very quickly that we wouldn’t continue, they just weren’t fresh enough. I learned from this mistake and now we pride ourselves on our food being as fresh as possible. 

Best business decision?
To open our King William Street branch - people tried to talk me out of it because the site was so big but in my opinion, it’s the best thing we’ve done. It is very challenging but we have learnt so much from it.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Howard Schultz’s (Founder of Starbucks), ‘Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built A Company One Cup At A Time’.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Always go full speed ahead – never do things half heartedly. Don’t go in anticipating what might go wrong, just do it.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I would eliminate the 20% VAT charge on taking out hot food.


1984 Born in Tel Aviv
Studied in Israel 
2002-2005 Israel Defence Forces 
2011-2014 Banker at Deutshehe Bank 
2014 Founded Farmer J 


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