A TALENTED chef hopes his successful new pan-Asian street food venture will inspire other businesses to follow in his footsteps and help turnaround the fortunes of Greenock town centre.

Greenock Telegraph: Small Business Saturday Ben Egan with Martin McCluskey

Food blogger Ben Egan's dream came true when he opened Umami by 17Ngon earlier this year.

Despite starting up in the middle of a cost of living crisis with record high energy prices and food inflation at an all time high, his dishes are proving a huge hit.

To celebrate Small Business Saturday Ben was joined by Councillor Martin McCluskey, who is standing for Labour locally at the next general election.

Owner Ben, who opened up in Argyle Street after earning a reputation for his recipes online, said: "I don't think there is anything quite like us in Greenock.

"I think it is important that there is a strong community here with other local businesses really supporting us and giving us orders.

"And it's also important where possible to use local produce.

"Everyone here has an interest in making new businesses a success. We all want to see a vibrant busy town centre.

"There are a lot of challenges right now but we are meeting them and the first 12 weeks of the business have been a success."

Greenock Telegraph: Small Business Saturday Ben Egan with Martin McCluskey

There are plans in place to regenerate the West Blackhall Street area to make it more attractive to shoppers and retailers.

Councillor McCluskey, who represents Gourock, is keen to speak to businesses and learn what actions need to be taken to support start ups.

Martin said: "This is a difficult time to start up a business in the middle of a cost of living crisis with the food inflation and energy costs.

"It is great to come along to speak to Ben and celebrate what a fantastic job he is doing. This is great news for Greenock.

"I think Kempock Street in Gourock is a great example where local independent retailers are really successful. That is the future for the high street."

Food enthusiast Ben, who is originally from Birmingham and moved to Greenock after travelling across Asia, says that councils need to make it as easy as possible for new business to open up.

He invested in a major refurbishment of the former Massa's Cafe in Argyle Street in Greenock.

Ben said: "I saved hard to open my place, and it is a dream I have had for a long time. The biggest difficulty I faced was getting the right premises. I think new businesses need straightforward advice and support, to get through the red tape."