The story of the Family Business

„Šiaurės vartai“

„Šiaurės Vartai“ – a name closely associated with the history of one family. What’s more, it’s a three-generation family-run business. In the third decade of its existence, Natalija has been developing it with very great maternal care, and is being wholeheartedly supported both vigorously and energetically by her son Andrius, the business is also curiously and compassionately cared for by her granddaughter Justina.

How it all began

It all started with the amazing idea generator Natalija. She was the first to take the initial step on the business path, for the first time in her life, but boldly, with her dream and vision guiding her.

It happened in 1999, after Natalija’s long holiday. After various deliberations, however, it was decided to start a hotel business. The premises were rented that year, and Natalija’s journey towards her objective began. Only to an outside observer it could seem now that everything was working out from the get-go. It really wasn’t that easy. There was a lack of funds to hire staff, so from the beginning Natalija was labouring with her son Andrius.

The first star

In the same year, 1999, Natalija opened a guest house. The small guest house, with just 10 rooms, was slowly spinning on the business carousel. At that time, Natalija was raising her younger child, so she only worked during the daylight hours. She could afford to – because she had a strong helper, her son Andrius, who became involved in this business with the greatest interest when he was still a child. After graduating from school, Andrius had full responsibility for the order on the night shifts – he let Natalija out to rest after the day’s work or just stay at home and spend time as a mother. Andrius had to combine work at the guest house with business law studies at Šiauliai College – he went there to study every day until he left for Ireland, continuing his studies remotely.

The simple business model and honest work paid off – in 2004, this guest house received a one-star rating. For a small business in a small town, it meant a lot.

It was the inspiration for many new plans and encouraged the pursuit of even greater heights.

The new building – a new beginning

You will probably agree with the idea that: Christmas is a good time to give, celebrate, start something new, set new goals, dream. Such a pre-Christmas time it was for Natalija and Andrius in 2006, when they bought a new building in the very centre of Joniškis.

Andrius was working in Ireland at the time, got credit from a bank, and Natalija’s business had already gained momentum. Both had a foundation for the next step – cooperation in a shared business. It was an important, responsible step at the time. As Natalija herself says, “the investment was really huge, according to our both calculations, it had to pay off in a decade …”

In just a year, the building changed beyond recognition. Working consistently and sincerely, day by day, staying true to their ideas, they created a new image of the hotel, it can be said – restored it on their own.

Everything was done with great and sincere love. “I put my whole heart into this project, it’s like my second home,” says Natalija.

And already in 2007, the Šiaurės Vartai Guest House, which received a three-star rating, opened its doors to visitors of the city.
Since 2010, Andrius and Natalija have been striving to make the guest house a hotel. This required not only a lot of work and patience, but also a lot of investment in setting up a café at the hotel. It was on this that the future of this business depended. And it soon came true. Year after year, and here in 2015, the business from the guest house became a hotel with a three-star rating.

Natalija thinks of work with a smile: she always exudes warmth and calm here at Šiaurės Vartai Hotel. The guests of the hotel are treated like guests of their family, every effort is made to leave the most pleasant memories of the stay. “Who if not we ourselves, will do it? A smile at work with us is a self-evident sign, no matter how your day began. Energy must radiate at work: the emotion reflected in our face is like a business card,” Natalija is convinced.

Andrius: vigour and energy

Andrius has been living in Ireland for some time, working as the manager for many years at restaurants such as Donnybrook Fair, Gables Restaurant and Wine Shop, and Darwin’s Restaurant. All the while, he was in the foreign restaurant business, gaining experience and gathering many ideas to share with his mother Natalija. He was constantly thinking about what and how to change, which direction to follow, what to improve in the family business. Andrius is a person who is constantly burning, boiling, whose energy is pouring over the edges. Constantly looking for innovation, turning over his head about 10 new plans going forward. That is why despite the heavy workload and thinking, he is still trying to implement many projects at the hotel.

Justina: curiosity and affinity for hotels

Natalija’s granddaughter Justina became involved in the family business in 2022. She is a seeker: after graduating from high school, the girl was still considering what she would like to study. As a result, her decision was to postpone her studies for a while. One fine day, she just took off abroad after the love of her life. In 2016, she was employed as a maid in one of the largest cleaning companies in Norway working at Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson, some of the largest chains in the world. Here she gained a lot of experience, and at the same time – fell in love with this business. After more than 5 years of working as a maid, she earned the trust of managers and colleagues, and was given more and more responsible positions because, as she herself says, she was passionate about improving in the field. For some time, she worked as an assistant to the hotel’s rooms service manager. It was necessary not only to maintain order, but also to train new employees and order goods. She spent a lot of working hours both at the computer and communicating with the hotel’s customers. Finally, one day, as she once decided to leave Lithuania, the very same way she also decided to return to her homeland with her whole family. With experience, she was happy to get involved in the family business.

When asked how she is doing in Lithuania in the chosen business, she speaks with a smile: “Wherever you are or work, it’s always more fun to work with your family, and in business, as in life, many things happen, there are both good and bad days. Our business is our family.