How I Got Here: Oliver Zon

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Oliver Zon founder and general manager of Italy-born QSR brand Kebhouze on how to stay motivated

Related tags Kebhouze Kebabs QSR London

The founder and general manager of Italy-born QSR brand Kebhouze, which operates a three-storey site on London's Oxford Street, on not being blinded by ambition and how to stay motivated.

Describe yourself in one word

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
We must never be old enough to no longer be curious about new things.

Tell us your biggest strength
The ability to not be stubborn and change a decision or strategy already made very quickly if I am convinced that there is a potentially better solution. 

What has been your biggest mistake?
In June 2012, when I was 21 years old, my partners and I organised the first electronic music festival inside the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The event, with a line-up of world-class DJs, did not produce the hoped-for results due to a series of external inconveniences, which at the time we decided not to take into consideration in order to go ahead with organising such an important event at a national level and beyond. In this case, as from all mistakes, everyone learns something indelible, I learnt that any dream should never be so dazzling as to blind you.

What makes a good leader?
Being always there in person but at the same time being able to rely on people. Obviously by trying to choose the right ones.

Who has had the biggest influence on your approach to business?
I come from the world of events which is a very tough industry. I started when I was just 13 years old and haven't stopped since. Here there are important hierarchies and values that I have made my own. Thanks to the opportunity of having shared so much time with unique personalities in this industry over more than 15 years, I have been able to see myself what are the best qualities in a leader.    

How do you stay motivated?
I never needed external stimuli to motivate me. This work is my passion. If I perceived it as a job I probably wouldn't be able to devote myself to it with this strength and continuity.

How often do you check your email?
Since phones are an extension of our bodies, I have to admit very often. But I am more of a phone call or quick message type of person. Often the formalities of email are a brake on the concreteness that work requires.

How do you relax?
The greatest luxury today is to be offline. Preferably on a beautiful beach in Ibiza, an island I hold in my heart.

What was your dream job growing up?
Probably and fortunately, that's what I am doing. It is not so much the object of the work, but the way I can work, taking decisions and responsibility for every idea that comes from me and my team.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“You have to always hang around!” Natalino Galgani, the owner of King’s Club in Tuscany - one of the first clubs I worked in - told me this. It's a rule of life, which can be applied to all sectors. Times today change so fast that the only way to anticipate a move in the market is to be among the people, observe accurately and sense the direction in which we are heading.

What would you call your autobiography?
Titles are given at the end. I am still living the first chapter.

Tell me something you think about the restaurant sector that almost nobody agrees with you on
Probably the idea of starting a kebab chain, since there were not many when I created Kebhouze and no new ones have sprung up in the meantime. But it is the reason that drives me to move forward faster and stronger in this adventure.

Do you have any business regrets?
Probably the timing of entering the food retail market with a project of my own. Kebhouze opened its first store in December 2021 during the post-pandemic limbo; not an easy time to start a chain. Fortunately, customers gave us great feedback right from the start.

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