What do big businesses and small businesses have in common? They all started with a cool idea. We chatted to three business owners, all killing it in their chosen fields, about their long – and sometimes rocky – roads to success that each started with that one good idea.

Meet Etsu’s Marissa and Mitch…

It was a fateful afternoon drive that turned lifelong ‘hospo’ workers Narissa and Mitch into some of the Gold Coast’s most successful venue owners.

“We were both a bit fed up with our jobs, so when we drove past this business for sale in Mermaid Beach we decided to just go for it,” says Narissa. “It was very spur of the moment.”

Their first business, Commune, originally started as café and shop for Narissa, who also dabbled in clothing design, to sell her wares. But after a lot of interest from the local community, the couple opted to focus solely on the café side of things, adding more indoor seating and extending their outdoor space to cater to the growing numbers. From there, business boomed. Narissa and Mitch focused on employing a great network of staff at Commune, allowing them to focus on expanding with their next project, Etsu.

“Mitch has more of a ‘fine dining’ background while I had worked mostly in cafes, and he really wanted to set up a restaurant,” says Narissa. “We both absolutely love Japan and the Japanese food style, so opening Etsu felt natural.”

The pair had a blast designing the fit-out and menu, focusing on delivering exactly what their customers were after. And their efforts certainly paid off – Etsu is now a favourite for visiting Hollywood stars who are filming on the Gold Coast and is listed as one of Australia’s Top 500 restaurants.

“It was actually a customer who told us about that,” Narissa says. “We had no idea we were even in the running. That was definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment.”

Having also opened two other venues – Aloha, which they sold last year, and the popular Iku Yakitori Bar in Burleigh – Narissa and Mitch owe a lot to their ‘just do it’ attitude.

“We definitely jumped into this very quickly, but we were lucky to know exactly what customers wanted and we were determined to make it work,” says Narissa. “It’s still really hard work. We have 60 staff members who we see as our children – sometimes they’re more work than our actual baby – and every day is something new and different. But if you have the right motivation behind you and just commit, it will work out.

Click below to read more stories about business owners who are killing it!;

Anastasia White

Anastasia White  

Anastasia (‘Anny’ to her friends and family, thanks to some nickname experimentation in year 4 that unfortunately stuck) is a born-and-bred Brisbanite with a love of coffee and her cat, Olive. Having recently finished a degree in journalism, Anastasia loves being able to learn and write about so many different topics for a variety of audiences.