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The Galvins' new City restaurant will be the ultimate family affair

IT&rsquo;S not about the money,&rdquo; says Chris Galvin, as he sips a cappuccino outside the site of his new restaurant next to the glass buildings that stand around the revamped Spitalfields market, with the Gherkin poking its head over the buildings in the distance. His brother and his wife nod. It&rsquo;s an unusual thing to hear from a bunch of people who are opening a new business, but it pretty accurately sums up the philosophy that has made Galvin one of the biggest names in London restaurants.<br /><br />Nobody whose eye was solely on the bottom line would be opening a new restaurant now, but that is just what the Galvins &ndash; brothers Chris and Jeff and Chris&rsquo;s wife Sara &ndash; are doing. The new place, to be called Galvin La Chapelle and Cafe De Luxe and slated to open in early November, will be in a wonderful Victorian gothic building which originally housed the Central Foundation for Girls school.<br /><br />At the moment it is a building site, but the potential is unmistakable. Even with workmen wandering about and the sound of hammering, sawing and cutting all around you, the marble pillars and naked beams of the 30m high ceiling are spectacular &ndash; it&rsquo;s like standing inside one of the Natural History Museum&rsquo;s dinosaurs.<br /><br />&ldquo;We weren&rsquo;t actually looking for a new site,&rdquo; Jeff explains. &ldquo;It was just a super-special place. When I saw it the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s this sort of passion that has made their other two restaurants &ndash; the much-loved neighbourhood Galvin Bistrot on Marylebone High Street and the glamorous Windows, at the top of the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane &ndash; such successes.<br /><br />The brothers clearly understand what they have here, and feel a duty to make it work. &ldquo;We are responsible for doing the hall justice,&rdquo; says Chris. In their quest to do so, they have even toured churches to see what sort of lighting will work best in this sort of space, eventually going for old-fashioned chandeliers.<br /><br />The Galvin mini-empire is about more than lovely venues, though. The brothers have worked as chefs in some of the best restaurants in London and they clearly know this business inside out &ndash; as we talk, Chris keeps taking pictures on his phone of where the workmen are laying cables and pipes. If anything goes wrong in future, he explains, it&rsquo;s handy to know where everything is. Sara has worked at the Ritz, Savoy and Lanesborough hotels.<br /><br />What really sets the Galvins apart from other restaurateurs, though, is not their knowledge but the desire to be hands-on, and to keep this as a family business. Even after 30 years in the business, the brothers often go out and see the men who catch their fish and farm the cattle that produces their beef. The day we met, Jeff was talking about choosing the produce for the restaurants at the New Covent Garden market at 5am the next morning.<br /><br />At the new restaurant, Jeff will cook, Chris&rsquo;s eldest son will maintain the stoves, while Sara will meet and greet guests. You would bet good money that the brother&rsquo;s six children will work many a waiting shift here in years to come.<br /><br />The Galvin clan is about more than blood, though. One of the reasons they want to open this restaurant is so they can give some of their best staff a new challenge, to stop them moving on to work for other restaurants. &ldquo;We want to keep them in the family,&rdquo; Chris says. They are also taking the opportunity to bring other good people into the fold, and have hired the old doorman from West End restaurant Quaglino&rsquo;s &ndash; clearly getting the right people matters to them.<br /><br />The Galvins&rsquo; love of tradition runs through everything they do &ndash; their crockery comes from a ninth-generation family-owned pottery in the Midlands, their stove from artisans in France. Even the name La Chapelle is inspired by the Hermitage winery, dozens of whose rare wines will be on sale in the restaurant, many by the glass.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s clear that they also include the customers in the extended Galvin family. Rather sweetly, they hope to hold a special opening dinner for former students at the school &ndash; a number have already dropped by to check out what is being done to their old haunt. <br /><br /><strong>SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE</strong><br />The big idea behind La Chapelle is the same as the other restaurants &ndash; that customers should feel ownership of it. They also say that it should offer something for everyone in the area, from Square Mile suits to the artists at the Truman Brewery down on Brick Lane. As well as a grand dining room that is sure to attract City long-lunchers there will be a cafe and a bar at which they will serve Italian-style early evening aperitivi &ndash; snacks that come at no extra cost when you buy a drink.<br /><br />But why bother? With their name, the Galvins could just put their feet up, have their name above the door of 10 restaurants around London and rake in the cash. &ldquo;We are big believers in longevity,&rdquo; says Chris. They talk approvingly of Le Gavroche, the Roux family&rsquo;s 40-year-old Mayfair restaurant, and they have similar plans for La Chapelle. &ldquo;Hopefully it will be here in 25 or 50 years,&rdquo; Sara says.<br /><br />The way to achieve this, they say, is simple: to give people quality, whether they want to spend &pound;15 or &pound;200. &ldquo;You can get cheaper produce and make more profit, but it&rsquo;s better to have a full dining room,&rdquo; says Jeff. &ldquo;If people think they are getting value for money, they will come back.&rdquo;<br /><br />Chris agrees. &ldquo;&lsquo;Fair&rsquo;, that should be our catchphrase&rdquo;,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Yes, we should write that over the door.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>GALVIN BROTHERS </strong> CV<br /><br />Chris trained under Antony Worrall Thompson, and became head chef at Worrall Thompson&rsquo;s Menage a Trois restaurant in New York. Back in London, he worked at Michelin-starred L&rsquo;Escargot and the Lanesborough. He worked with Terence Conran for 10 years, opening Orrery, which won a Michelin star. In 2003 he launched the Wolseley. <br /><br />Jeff began his career at the Savoy Hotel under Anton Edelman, moving to the Michelin-starred Capital Hotel and then to Chez Nico, which during his time there won its third Michelin star. He was head chef at Marco Pierre White&rsquo;s three Michelin starred The Oak Room, and was later executive chef of Michelin-starred L&rsquo;Escargot. <br /><br />Bistro Galvin Deluxe opened in 2005, and the brothers opened Galvin at Windows, in the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, in 2006.