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ALESSANDRO KHOJANE

As a self-made entrepreneur in the business of food the decision to include a basket of fruit in Alessandro’simage was an obvious one. Spraying it gold was symbolic of the fact that it’s how he makes a living; morethan that he has set the gold standard in restauranteering. His tattoos present a tough hard exterior yet they mask his true nature - a more gentle and vulnerable side - which few people get to see. His eyes also tell a story of the loss he has experienced and the hardships he has faced yet fought and overcome.

  “It is a law that problems arise when conditions are there for their solution.” – Walter Sisulu

  “Restauranteering is the easiest job in the world made difficult by individuals.”

  Alessandro is a businessman, entrepreneur and a success story – a man who has faced pain and hardship in many forms yet risen above them every time.

  Despite overcoming and finding strength within himself - he is quick to point out that some pain you just never get over – instead you learn to live with it. The pain he is referencing is the loss of his father. While a grown man when his father died (at age 18), he was exceptionally close to his dad and his loss devastated him.

  Instead of being overcome by his father’s passing – he consciously decided to plough his energy into opening an Italian restaurant – a move he knew would make his late father and mentor proud. His father was a spirited man who who taught Alessandro all that he knows and loves about entertaining and entrepreneurship.

  The son of a diplomat, Alessandro’s passion for food was born from the fact that his father was a joyful manwho always wanted to feed everyone and keep them happy. That and the fact that he was raised in beautiful Italy.

  It took Alessandro almost five years to bring his business plan to life and when feeling despondent he kept his father in his dreams, never giving up, and today he celebrates two successful years of running Gemelli Cucina Bar. The name Gemelli means twins – and with a brother who looks just like him and wanting a name that personifies family – this was the perfect choice. Family is really important to Alessandro – a value he inherited from his father – and the restaurant’s slogan is La Famiglia Prima, which means Family First.

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But things were not always golden and although raised as a normal child with all the privilege life could offer– when his father died his mom focused on raising her six children. Without a breadwinner the family lost everything and they went from not needing much to having no money for tertiary studies.

  Instead Alessandro had to get a job and so it was that he joined the world of restauranteuring. Little was he to know that this was what gave him the experience he needed to become the success story he is today.

  Before he was able to get a job he was unemployed for five months. Putting his pride away, he sold his flat and cars and moved in with his then girlfriend – who later became his wife.

  These experiences have all taught Alessandro life lessons and today he can be described as discerning.

  When thinking back the advice Alessandro would give to his 18 year old self is: calm down, life is not that

bad, there are people with bigger issues. This attitude has helped him maintain perspective when things

have been tough – and they did get tougher.

  He says he knew nothing about tax when he opened his business and this was a hard lesson because it got

to a point where unpaid taxes forced him to borrow money from family. He could not pay salaries and had hired too many staff to begin with. Considering his staff to be like family – retrenchments were not an option so instead he opened another business so that he could keep them employed.

  For Alessandro his wife is his greatest strength and she is the voice of reason and has helped him work through many difficult times.

  Alessandro is a great believer in the sentiment “This too shall pass” and believes that overcoming challengestarts within! Whatever the challenge – he says you have to be ready to fight for what you want and to always keep the end goal in mind.