Meet the Business Owner: Jan Hancock from Saludos

The decision to chase a dream and a love of Spanish cuisine was the beginning of the much-loved tapas-style restaurant, bringing the fiery tastes of the Mediterranean to the AlburyCBD. Raise a glass and say ‘salud’ to Jan and Saludos.

AlburyCBD: Tell us a little about yourself, Jan. What’s something about you people might not know?

Jan: I’ve always loved learning new things. My work life has seen me in a variety of roles, from architectural drafting, TAFE teaching, process writing, accounts, documentation writing and event planning, but when I started Saludos, it felt like I had never done anything else.

AlburyCBD: Tell us about Saludos. What’s your why, and what do you love about running your business?

Jan: Owning a restaurant has been a dream of mine for such a long time, and I love Spanish cooking and culture in particular. During my years of learning Spanish, my family would say ‘salud’ when we would cheers, and it felt natural to call the business ‘Saludos’, which is the more plural and welcoming suffix.

It’s been a wonderful journey meeting customers who come to the kitchen to say thank you and give their compliments and I love seeing employees grow and blossom.

AlburyCBD: What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome in business?

Jan: ‘Ships are safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for,’ – it’s easy to be in a safe and secure position but it can be boring and monotonous.

Having never worked in hospitality, it was a baptism of fire. Challenges were thrown left, right, and centre, from working with new equipment to where to buy commercial cleaning chemicals and setting up suppliers. I would take everything one step at a time and overcome each hurdle as it would arise.

We had difficulty with people being a little apprehensive about the menu when we first opened. We knew it sounded foreign, but we also knew it was delicious. We put photos of the food on posters at the front of the restaurant and we would give away samples as much as we could. We also cooked food that was popular in the area at the time to encourage people to try us.

A goal of ours at that time was to survive on a menu that was 70% tapas and 30% mains, paella and dessert with each dish being 100% connected to Spanish cooking.

We’re so happy now that people come to try foods they hadn’t heard of before because we’ve proven that deliciousness is worth the risk of the unknown.

AlburyCBD: What would you be doing if you weren’t running Saludos?

Jan: I think perhaps after my husband’s passing, I may have looked at some kind of ‘safe’ office job in Melbourne, where two of my children were living at the time. But I’m glad I made the very frightening decision on my own to commence Saludos, and it’s been such a wonderful ride, especially with my daughter Loni.

AlburyCBD: What do you love about being in the Albury CBD?

Jan: I love the buzz and excitement of the weekends and when there are special events in town. I’ve loved the comradeship of other business owners, and the sense of community is really special. People are really interested in who you are, which is lovely.

AlburyCBD: What do you have coming up over the next 12 months?

We are hosting a series of cooking classes and degustations over the next 12 months before we are due to close [when their current lease ends in mid 2025]. The classes will be a wonderful afternoon, and guests will receive a glass of sangria upon arrival. It’s a lovely way to get to know people and why they want to cook paella. Sometimes, they have a passion for Spanish cooking, or they have travelled to Spain or just want to have a fun afternoon! It’s lovely seeing people get to know each other over the food we’ve cooked together.

We’re also hosting Spanish degustations showcasing a different region of Spain during each dinner. We’ve had fun sourcing wines from small-batch wineries, often with 50 – 100-year-old vines that are too difficult or too expensive to import to have on our regular menu.

You can find Saludos at 2/660 Dean St. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook to find out when upcoming events are happening.

Saludos is part of the AlburyCBD Gift Card program.

Answers have been lightly edited for flow and clarity.

Carmen Connell
eating travel tour group
eating travel ebikes

All images supplied by Saludos.