HE is the Scots life coach and best-selling author who has helped celebrities such as Kelly Rowland, Mica Paris and Oscar-nominated Sally Hawkins reach their potential.

And following a move from Los Angeles back to Scotland, Ali Campbell says bringing the best out of people is at the heart of his latest venture, a city-style restaurant and bar in Lanark.

Since opening in February 2018, Restaurant at the Woodpecker has been impressing diners with its contemporary, informal approach alongside a seasonal menu packed with local produce.

“Lanark is my home town and it’s fantastic to be back,” says the 44-year-old. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in LA and gained a lot of experience as a life coach with celebrities and business leaders, writing my self-help books and working in television. But I wanted a change, which is why I came home.

“We realised early on in this project that we would have to invest in the staff. In the city experienced chefs and waiting staff are readily available. That’s not the case in small towns like Lanark.

“But one of fun things about this business has been finding staff and helping them become brilliant. Our pastry chef joined as a pot-washer – after being trained by our head chef Ian Kerr he now makes puddings to die for.

“That’s what I enjoy most, watching people grow.”

Taking over a site which had been run by the same family for more than 30 years, Mr Campbell and his business partner completely overhauled the building, inside and out, bringing in Scots designer John Amabile to create the modern ambiance they were looking for.

And although design was an important aspect of the venture from the outset, he is adamant that the key ingredient in any successful business is the staff.

“Your team is everything,” he explains. “We have great staff at every level. Without them there is no business. It would be easy to be seduced by the building, the fancy cooker and the cool menu. But success isn’t about any of these things, it’s all about the staff - the personal connection they make with customers, the smile. The welcome people receive makes the business.

“The average age of our 23 staff is mid-to-late twenties. They have so much potential and talent, though most didn’t have experience when they started. Perhaps this most important piece of advice I’d give with regards to recruitment is this: hire on attitude, you can teach the rest.”

In the months ahead Mr Campbell and his team hope to win some awards – just a year after opening they are already nominated for a clutch of gongs – and build closer ties with the community in Lanark. They are also considering other locations.

“We are looking at scalability,” he says. “There are many other towns like Lanark, just that bit too far away from the city to easily get back from at night, that would appreciate good, affordable food in a stylish setting. We think this is a winning model and plan to replicate it.”

The skills, services and networking opportunities accessed through banking with RBS have helped Mr Campbell grow the business over the last year. “RBS has been very supportive,” he adds.

More than anything else, he is relishing the opportunity to create something from scratch and watch it flourish.

“I just love potential – seeing the possibility in someone and helping bring it out. And to be able to do that in a completely different sphere of life has been brilliant.

“What I’ve learned about myself as a person is that I enjoy being creative. Whether it’s writing books, working in TV, coaching change in people or setting up a restaurant, I love making stuff.”