Galvin, alongside his brother Chris, runs a string of restaurants in London and Edinburgh, including two with Michelin stars.
The duo recently started the Galvin Pub Company to look after their pub operations following the purchase of The Green Man in Chelmsford, Essex, and have followed it up with Galvin HOP, a new pub in Spitalfields, London.
The price of restaurant sites in London, as well as having a number of staff that they wanted to reward with senior roles, was a major contributor in the brothers’ decision to move into pub operations having opened seven restaurants in ten years.
“We see lots of restaurateurs going in to pubs now, and that is a new thing. As far as buying restaurants in London now goes we’re really a bit out-priced. We’re looking at the premiums and rents for restaurants and we think
it’s a big risk, so I suppose if it wasn’t for that we might concentrate on restaurants,” Galvin told BigHospitality.
“We’re 250 staff plus now and we grow a lot of the team but sometimes we haven’t got anywhere to put them. One idea was to go into the countryside and do some pubs, they seem quite good value and there’s a gap in the market.”
Pubs need to offer food
Despite having the Galvin name, the brothers know that in order to compete their pubs must have a good food offer.
“Pubs need food to survive because nobody goes to a pub just to drink, or not so often anymore,” he said.
“But I think it’s important that we don’t just go into these pubs and turn them into restaurants. We would upset everybody around it and it’s very much like as we saw with The Green Man; we invited the villagers to come in so we could explain to them what we were doing and I really felt a sense that it was their pub, it’s their place, and it’s one of the only places that they could meet and see each other.”
The brothers plan to add a restaurant to the Green Man but want to keep its footprint, and its heart, as a traditional British pub.
“We do want our pubs to be pubs, so you can have a drink and it’s not necessarily to come to eat. We quite like the idea that people may just pop in to have a drink and that often leads to having something to eat,” Galvin said.
“But it certainly is a pub; we’re going to offer great beer, and when we do the pubs in the countryside we’ll do the same – we’re looking to leave the pub as a pub but it does need a food element to support it.”