Jillian MacLean launched bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan in 2008, and is about to launch her third London site, The Anthologist, near St. Paul's Cathedral next month.
My big achievement
Has to be setting up my own company, Drake and Morgan. It was something I’d always wanted to do and although it was tremendously hard work, I thoroughly enjoyed. To go from there and open three sites (The Refinery in Southwark and The Parlour in Canary Wharf) is just incredible.
How I got here
I grew up in my parents’ hotel on the west coast of Scotland. It’s funny, when you grow up somewhere like that it becomes a part of you, and now hospitality is in my blood, I love the industry.
The majority of my career was spent at Mitchells & Butlers in a variety of different roles, but mostly as operations director. I really enjoyed developing new offers and leading a team of people, and it was there I discovered how much I liked the pub and bar industry. I then moved to Spirit Group and Novus Leisure as operations director, before leaving to launch Drake & Morgan.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned
Be focused, get a business plan, be really clear about your funding route, stick to your plan and most of all have a lot of self-belief. Saying that, lots of things in the past haven’t gone to plan. I’ve always planned to run a half marathon, but you learn from things like that.
What I do well
There are always things you can do better. I think I excel at developing new offers and concepts. There’re lots of people I admire in the business that I use as a sounding board to be helpful to me, like Ed and Tom Martin. I love what they do with The Botanist in Chelsea, and I love what Nick Jones does with Soho House Group - Pizza East is amazing.
I plan to open a fourth site in September this year, and have my eye on a fourth site in London, but I’m not going through with a deal yet. I want to concentrate on opening The Anthologist first, then we’ll move onto the fourth. The plan is to operate 10 bars in central London over the next few years, but to stay focused and just do one site at a time; take it day by day.
It’s a really tough time for the pub and bar industry at the moment, but I’m focused on innovation and opening new sites, so my business is quite all consuming for me.