A chef with a passion for Japanese cuisine is casting a spell over sushi lovers after celebrating his first year of business in Doncaster.

The Bentley-based Sushi Magic Bar was founded by experienced sushi chef Miroslav Kerata and since transforming the former retail unit into a haven for Japanese food, the aspiring entrepreneur has perfected a wide range of traditional sushi dishes and even successfully developed his own Japanese ice cream, which proved to be an instant hit with food lovers across South Yorkshire.

Miroslav decided to launch his company in Doncaster when he realised there was a growing appetite in the city for Sushi and after successfully launching a similar business in Sheffield with a friend, he called on help from the Launchpad business support programme to bring his winning formula to Doncaster.

Slovakian-born Miroslav first dreamed of running his own business when he secured work as a kitchen porter in a top Japanese restaurant based in London. As he washed the dishes each evening he began thinking about the steps he would need to take to be his own boss.

Recognising the growing popularity of Sushi as a healthy dining choice, when Miroslav relocated to South Yorkshire in 2009, he began learning the skills needed to succeed as a sushi chef, as well as devoting his spare time to researching new recipes and perfecting his culinary skills. But the dream of self-employment never left, and after finding identifying Doncaster as a potential location for his new venture, he began putting his plans into practice.

Despite having spent over a decade working as a chef, Miroslav knew that running his own business would present a very different challenge. Having previously tried to run his own company and keen to give his business idea a solid foundation, he reached out to Launchpad, a unique free-to-access business support programme designed to equip new entrepreneurs across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw with the vital skills needed to succeed in running a new business.

Working alongside experienced business start-up adviser Debbie Richardson, Miroslav took part in a series of free training workshops, helping him to learn how to budget and manage the cashflow in his business as well as exploring ways of building and growing his customer base.

Despite facing a 40% increase in his running costs over the past 12 months, the Sushi Magic Bar has gone from strength-to-strength. Today, the Sushi Magic Bar employs four members of staff, who produce hundreds of sushi dishes each month. Despite the success he has enjoyed during his first year of trading, Miroslav is not planning to sit on his laurels just yet, and he is hoping to expand the restaurant in the future.

Miroslav said: “Sushi has become a very popular dish in recent years and it’s something that I’ve become passionate about. I’ve always liked the idea of working for myself, but I knew that for the business to succeed, finding the right location would be vital.

I felt Doncaster offered a great location. The premises were perfect for my needs, and I realised that when it came to sushi, the city offered a lot of untapped potential. Having previously tried to run my own business, I knew that it would be a big commitment. I spent time finding out what help was available and I contacted Launchpad for advice.

Debbie and the Launchpad team have provided a great deal of help and support. The courses I’ve taken part in have helped me to run my business more effectively, from planning and predicting demands on the services to managing and developing staff. It’s given me the confidence to believe my business could succeed, and I’m now looking to grow and develop my ideas further…watch this space!”

Debbie business adviser, said: “It was clear from the time that we spent together that he had a clear picture of what he wanted to achieve. Drawing on the skills and knowledge he developed working as a sushi chef, he had developed an accurate idea of what he wanted his business to look like, but he was acutely aware that launching a new business not only means being able to deliver a good product but keeping in control of his finances and building a customer base for his business.

The Launchpad programme combines regular training sessions, designed to give new and aspiring entrepreneurs the best possible start on their business journey, as well as one-to-one sessions, helping them to overcome specific challenges or problems they are facing. When launching any new business, it’s important to spend time researching your idea, and it’s clear from the success he has enjoyed – having grown the business from an idea to one that has seen him build a team of staff - that his business has a bright future ahead of it.”

Launchpad is a business support programme for new businesses. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and The Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting their own business or looking for help to achieve business growth.