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A Life Outside of Poker: Roberto Romanello Fish & Chip Shop Owner

TAGs: audio interview, Editorial, European Poker Tour, Lee Davy, life outside of poker, poker player, Roberto Romanello, Roma Fish Bar, World Poker Tour

A Life Outside of Poker: Roberto Romanello Fish & Chip Shop Owner Audio

Roberto Romanello is one of the games greatest stars.

He is a former European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour champion, and heads the Wales all time money list with over $2.8m in live tournament earnings.

A Life Outside of Poker: Roberto Romanello Fish & Chip Shop OwnerBut Romanello is so much more than a professional poker player. He is a devoted family man who lives with his family in Gorseinon in West Wales where he helps run the companies business affairs which include the Roma Fish Bar franchise, and it’s his business dealings that I have asked him to come on the show to talk about today.

Could you start by giving the listeners a little history lesson on your heritage and how the Roma Fish Bar was born?

“It all started with my parents. They first opened the original shop back in 1973. My Dad arrived in Wales from the south of Naples in Italy after my Grandfather brought the family to Wales looking for work and a better future. My father ended up going to a Welsh school but did go back to Italy where he met my mother. The pair returned to Wales and opened their first shop and everything grew from there.

“We {brothers} were born into the business and to this day we have seven fish and chip shops with five of them operating under the Roma brand.”

What are your earliest memories of your parents and the business?

“I always remember coming home from school during dinner time and bringing my friends to my chip shop to have dinner. It was always good fun and broke up the day. Knowing that I could go behind the counter and get my own chips is a good memory.”

When did you start working in the business and what was your first job?

“I left school when I was 14. I didn’t do my exams and just left. I had no interest in school and I could see the family business was strong – we had three shops back then and each of them always had a strong queue of people. Demand was huge.

“I knew I was doing the right thing to leave school and come straight into the business. It was natural to me, the same way playing poker is natural to me. I was always good with customers and this really helped.

“I have done everything. There is nothing that I would tell my staff to do that I haven’t done myself. It’s the way we were raised. I would clean the tables, cut the chips and do odds jobs for my Dad running around the high street. I particularly remember the excitement of serving my first customer when I was tall enough to see over the counter.”

How are you so successful?

“It’s because of my parents and all the hard work we have done over the past 20-years. Even when I was travelling heavily on the poker circuit I would come home and get stuck in. I have always kept that connection with my family and business.

“We also have a huge loyal following of people. The Romanello family has a good name spanning 40 years of trading. Our new shop openings are always great events. There are always queues of people waiting to get in and a nice enthusiasm that a Roma fish bar is coming to their town.

“That couldn’t have been possible without the hard work of my parents and then afterwards…my brothers. The Roma Fish Bar is a powerful brand in South Wales.”

What are your roles and responsibilities?

“Today I have liaised with the customers and cleaned the tables. I have been serving in the take away and restaurant, I cover the fryers for the chef’s so they can have their breaks, and I am still going. They have given me a break so I can talk to you.

“When we are in the shop we are hands on. The secret is constantly being there and looking after your business. A lot of people open their business and think that is it. But the food business is hard work and you have to focus and make sure everything is spot on.”

What problems do you encounter?

“We have 26 employees in Roma 2000. One of them has been with us for 34 years, one for 26 years, another for 16 years and on and on. It’s because they love the family and have respect for us.

“Dealing with staff is the toughest challenge. Making sure standards are being maintained, bickering is dealt with, and keeping on top of everything.”

Who’s the Boss?

“Everyone knows my Mother is the Boss. When she steps into the shop the girls will run around to make sure everything is spotless. My mother has always said cleanliness is so important and wants everything sparkling.”

Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life?

“I find it hard seeing ourselves moving away from this game. We have our hands so deep in it all. For now we have four boys running everything and my parents are around. It works for us all. But it’s a tough game to be in. We are perfectionists and want everything to be the best.”

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