Pearls of Wisdom: Charlie McVeigh

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tower bridge

Charlie McVeigh hopes to open his fourth Draft House pub in September
Charlie McVeigh hopes to open his fourth Draft House pub in September
The founder of pub group The Draft House is on his way to opening his fourth pub in under two years. He is also co-owner of high end Notting Hill restaurant Le Café Anglais.

Going from one site to three in that space of time is not easy.​ It will become easier adding sites from here on in.

I’m confident for the future if the economy doesn’t completely deteriorate.​ At the moment it’s a bit shaky. More importantly if the banks go back to lending to businesses like ours then I think a quick expansion becomes very possible.

We’ve got a fourth location in the West End in our sights at the moment​ and we hope to get that opened in September or October. Then we’re ideally looking at having 10 sites by 2014.

We’re doing for beer what our culture has done for food and wine in the last 20-25 years​ - taking the provenance, glassware, and staff product knowledge seriously.

So many pubs have lost sight of the fact that they are in customer service.​ The thing that sets us apart from the average pub is our warm service friendly staff and bending over backwards for the customer.

In order to make the ability to attend the pub an option for everybody ​the government is going to have to look at how we make pub pricing competitive with supermarket pricing.

We’re making a real fuss about the Royal Wedding​, so we’re going to do all English beer for two weeks either side with lots of flags and British food.

I think the Olympics in our Tower Bridge site will be massive because it’s right by the big screen in London.​ I can’t see it being that big a thing in our other two sites though. I don’t know how much effect it will have outside of Tower Bridge where there will be a huge number of people to watch the big screens. I might be wrong.

The government, both this one and the last, have been quite clever about softening the blow for businesses when it comes to paying VAT​, like allowing businesses to pay two months late. For a lot of people that was the difference between keeping staff and losing them.

It’ll take a while for the industry to get back on its feet.​ At the moment it’s very bumpy. You still haven’t really felt the pain.

I think the whole steakhouse thing had gone as far out of fashion as it could go​, and now they’re rolling back. It’s going to be a big, big thing.

I think when we come out of the recession we might look at expanding Le Cafe Anglais internationally rather than domestically.​ It’s the kind of landmark restaurant that we have in wealthy developing countries like the Gulf States, and they’re always looking for top end brands to bring in for new developments. It’s not something we’re focusing on this year but I can see the logic of focusing on it as the world comes out of this recession.

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