DN s/s 11
The family name has helped me. People will come and have a look. However, you have to prove your worth or else they won’t come back
comes down to money. “When I started, the rent for this place was £14,000,” he reveals, “and now it is over £100,000.” His tone becomes serious. “I have had many points where I thought perhaps this isn’t worth it, but this place is very personal to me and I have always wanted to fight to make it work and not given in.” One of the keys to his success is that all four of his restaurants are cleverly devised on different themes and brilliantly designed. Lucky 7 is a tiny neighbourhood East Coast American diner that has a cult following. Next door, Crazy Homies is inspired by the street vendors and local taquerias found throughout Mexico and southern California. A little further along Westbourne Grove, The Cow is a hugely popular gastropub which focuses on seasonal British food and seafood. Conran – who has himself lived in Notting Hill for over 30 years – bought the freehold to The Cow in 1995 (so-called because that was the nickname of the previous pub’s unpopular landlady). Tom lives next door and admits it is his favourite business to run. WIth its emphasis on British food and traditions, he feels that “in a little small way we have helped preserve something quite important.” Conran claims he isn’t as ambitious as his father. However, with 85 staff and ten businesses – including a new one importing tequila – it seems their work ethic might not be so far apart. “I really thought that by time I was 40 I would be so successful that I could retire and take it easy,” he says with a smile. “But it is a positive thing to be busy and occupied. It keeps you alive.” Said in true Conran style.
Domus Nova Spring Summer 2011