db interview: Russell Norman of Polpo

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Your email address will not be published.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

Sales Support Executive

Davy's
London, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - Greater London

Maverick Drinks
London/M25 belt, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - North West

Maverick Drinks
Manchester, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - West & Wales

Maverick Drinks
Bristol, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - South East

Maverick Drinks
Brighton, UK

Events Sales Executive

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

Sale & Operations Manager

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

Prestige Account Manager – Europe

Jackson Family Wines
London, UK

Pink Rosé Festival

Cannes,France
7th Feb 2018

VinoVision Paris

Paris,France
12th Feb 2018

Vinisud

Montpellier,France
18th Feb 2018
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

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.

Click to view more