How I Got Here: Richard Gladwin

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with restaurateur Richard Gladwin

Related tags: London, Restaurant

With his brothers Oliver and Gregory, Richard Gladwin has launched four London restaurants. The most recent, Sussex, opened last year on the Soho site once occupied by Anthony Demetre and Will Smith’s Arbutus.

Why restaurants?
To be honest I don’t think there was ever going to be anything else. I have loved dining out and working in restaurants since I can remember. My parents are in the food and wine industry and, growing up on a farm, I’ve always had a connection to food. Even at the age of 12, I was telling my friends that I was going to open restaurants.

What time do you wake up?
Half six, generally with last night’s restaurant reports in my hand and my baby daughter whacking me in the face.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I wish I’d known more about the different challenges you face as you move from opening one restaurant to running several in a group. Opening the first restaurant was a dream come true. Expanding into our second and third site was so exciting, but hugely expensive and brought the need for more head office support. Finally, with the opening of our fourth restaurant, Sussex, we’ve got into our stride and the group is going from strength to strength.

How often do you check your email?
Every 20 minutes off my phone - I’m obsessed!

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
I love Barrafina. It’s such a great place to get lunch and chat at the counter. The theatre of the kitchen is very entertaining, and I always have a good time there, whether I’m with my business partner, my mother, or my wife.

What motivates you?
Nothing beats walking into a dining room when it’s bustling, with guests having a great time and the staff working like clockwork, loving what they’re doing. 

What keeps you up at night?
My staff are integral to the business, so I’m constantly thinking about how to create the best working environment and culture for them, filling vacancies, and providing support where they need it.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Sofa, every time.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My great friend Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group. He is always willing to help or advise on both minor queries or major growth.

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
I like making pasta, and do a great vongole. My secret ingredient is anchovy essence.

Worst business decision?
Buying my favourite local restaurant. It suddenly became available and we snapped it up, based on how much I’d enjoyed the space as a guest. I still love the restaurant and it’s profitable, but it’s taken a lot of work to get there.

Best business decision?
Going 50:50 with my brother: chef patron and co-director Oliver Galdwin. He’s a wonderful business partner who knows me better than anyone. I don’t know what I would do without a chef in charge. We complement one another and bring different skills to the table.

Typical Sunday?
Boiled eggs for breakfast; a tour around the restaurants before they open; then back home for a walk and some home-cooked lunch.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
I’d suggest getting experience in every element of the business - marketing, cooking, management, hosting, guest relations, building management, legal matters, and service; a restaurateur does it all.

Favourite holiday destination?
Majorca - walking, swimming, sailing, and then on to the tapas bars.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
To make a more European mentality to working in the industry and therefore grow a more professional/happy workforce.

Bio

Having left school after completing his A-levels, Richard - who was born in Wandsworth in the mid-80s - went into an apprenticeship at his father’s catering company, where he has worked ever since. Having spend time working on both the business and practical side of the industry, he opened his first restaurant - The Shed, in Kensington - with his brothers Oliver and Gregory in 2012. They were followed by Rabbit in Chelsea; and Nutbourne in Battersea, which opened in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

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