– By Astrid Hall

Harlie Haycox has become one of Britain’s youngest entrepreneurs after launching a restaurant – at the age of 11.

The super smart schoolgirl came up with everything from the menu to the décor, the branding and the music after being inspired to start-up Harlie’s Diner by her serial entrepreneur and investor dad, Matt Haycox.

With her father’s financial backing she also dreamed up the idea of having hot pink Chopper delivery bikes and serving Oreo-topped waffles with chocolate sauce.

The all-American-style diner, in Leeds, celebrates her time living in Las Vegas, where she regularly visited diners and milkshake shops which were open late to accommodate the energetic nightlife.

It was here, at the age of nine, she started to create her own holiday-themed milkshakes for the family business Sticks and Shakes, a store serving more than 500 milkshake flavours.

Harlie said: “When we were in Las Vegas, we would import English chocolate bars because they were much harder to find and everyone loved them.

“My favourite flavour of milkshake is Dime bar, but I also really like Oreo-flavoured desserts.”

After spending the best part of four years in the Nevada hot spot, Harlie returned to Leeds.

She has drawn on her time in Vegas to create the US-inspired restaurant, which is family-friendly but also stays true to the nightlife of the city, staying open to the early hours.

It serves an array of American classics, from beef patties and hot wings to shakes and waffles.

The young tycoon enlisted help from school friends to sample the menu and select the best flavours for the US snacks and shakes, including loaded chilli cheese fries and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup milkshakes.

She also picked the colour scheme for the restaurant, which features a bright pink sign above the door and hot pink scattered among the interior.

She’s even invested in fuchsia pink Chopper bikes to sit outside the restaurant, not only to give it an authentic American feel, but to also deliver her delicious dishes to the homes of Leeds.

Harlie added: “I’ve become a bit of an Amazon and eBay expert, finding all sorts of fun, neon signs to put up on the walls of the diner.

“I’ve used this and Instagram to help bring the diner to life, encouraging customers to snap pictures and use hashtags.

“I’m really pleased with my most recent purchase of two angel wings, that you can stand in between and take pictures of yourself in front of them.

“My dad has taught me a lot about using social media to grow a business, so I’m really getting the hang of it.”

Harlie’s father, Matt, 37, is the co-founder of Harlie’s Diner and primary investor of his daughter’s new venture.

He said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity for Harlie and I’m thrilled to see her take the reins and spearhead the business. It seems entrepreneurialism is in the family DNA.

“I didn’t start my first business until I was 15, so Harlie’s streets ahead of me, and has that instinct for what people will like that any good entrepreneur needs.

“I’ll always be on hand to offer my advice, but it’s nice to see her come into her own.”

Harlie’s Diner is open seven days a week from 12pm, and more information can be found at www.iloveharlies.com.


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