db interview: Russell Norman of Polpo

27th February, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

A lot of things keep Russell Norman awake at night. The reopening of Polpetto and the launch of a fourth Polpo site in Notting Hill are the latest causes of his insomnia.

Despite displaying a confident demeanour, Norman is a worrier. “I worry a lot about my restaurants. I’ll often be wide awake at 3am unable to get back to sleep,” he says, blaming his lack of sleep on an inability to switch off. His business partner and best friend, Richard Beatty, suffers from the same affliction. Norman is an engaging presence. His masculine features appear much softer in real life than in photos, his searching blue eyes seemingly seeking approval.

He has a charming, childlike enthusiasm and an infectious appetite for life. The 47-year-old father-of-two has come a long way since his Saturday job waiting tables at Joe Allen in Covent Garden. In just more than four years he has built a seven-strong central London restaurant empire taking in three Polpo sites, the soon-to-reopen Polpetto, New York diner Spuntino, Jewish deli Mishkin’s and the latest jewel in his crown: The Ape & Bird, a gastropub in the heart of Theatreland.

He and Beatty are self-funded, which brings both complete freedom and nail-biting risk. “With each new site, we’re cranking up the risk so it’s becoming increasingly terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, risk is good and I try to never take anything for granted. A certain degree of worrying is healthy as it means you stay alert and pick up on mistakes – it’s dangerous to let complacency set in,” he notes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager – London On-Trade

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Customer Service & Sales Support Executive

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Market Insight Analyst

Conviviality PLC
London, UK

Technical Manager

Enotria&Coe
Park Royal, London, GB

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more