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Interview with Joaquín Capel

  • Joaquín Capel and Ana Zuazo

I met Joaquín Capel for the first time in November 2015, during the opening party of Oven at his location on Gran Vía, 3.

I met Joaquín Capel for the first time in November 2015, during the opening party of Oven at his location on Gran Vía, 3. I'm not sure if it was his third or fourth restaurant at that time, but the last time I met him , a few days ago, was at the opening of his twenty-fifth restaurant of the Con Fuego Restaurant Group, Pizzart, located on Calle Recoletos, 10 in Madrid.

Throughout these years, I have visited several establishments of the group, although I must admit that I have not been counting them. Twenty-five restaurants in such a short time? Can you tell us how you achieved it?

To put you in context, Joaquín was born in Murcia, but he has no trace of a Murcian accent. He studied business between Madrid and the United States, and, in love with American culture, he began his first business adventures in this country in the fashion industry. Already in Spain and after completing a master's degree at IE, he joined the Telepizza group in the investment diversification division, where he led successful business initiatives. In 2012, together with his brother Paco de él, he began his adventure in the restaurant sector, which has grown and established itself as a benchmark in just a few years. In June 2018, he married Marina Padilla and is now the father of a daughter.

I sent him a message on WhatsApp to arrange a chat and we agreed to meet for breakfast at "Superchulo" on Fuencarral Street.

Joaquín, I find it incredible that, in so few years, I have attended the opening of your twenty-fifth restaurant. What do you think is the key to this success?

We started humbly with SteakBurger, inspired by the American model from my student years in that country. Both the name and the format were well received in Madrid. After the hamburgers, came the pizzas with Oven Mozzarella, and the opening of this restaurant on Gran Vía street was fundamental for what we are today. Our strategy and the key to our evolution has been to opt for well-located spaces, with careful decoration, quality suppliers and affordable prices, with average tickets between 25 and 30 euros.

The name "Grupo con Fuego" arises from this common element that is very present in all its restaurants. Currently, they manage five brands that cover various categories: Steakburger, Oven, Santita, Pizzart and Superchulo. With more than 500 employees, its establishments receive more than a million customers.

The numbers speak for themselves. How is a company structured with this important movement?

The functions are distributed: my brother Paco focuses more on operations and personnel management, while I take care of the marketing and expansion part. We have a competent administration department and we outsource much of the communication with different agencies. We take care of our image on the internet, both on Google and on platforms such as TripAdvisor, and we give great importance to dissemination on social networks. In addition, each brand has an assigned supervisor for more specific monitoring. Honesty, motivation and trust are the basis of our company; We are a great family.

At a time when the hospitality industry demands workers, how do you coordinate the personnel issue?

Each restaurant has its own structure, where the manager plays a fundamental role in managing his team. Fortunately, we have very low turnover and we take great care of our employees. A few days ago we closed all the restaurants to have our Christmas meal as a friendly way to strengthen relationships between everyone. Do you know what it means to close 25 establishments? We encourage our workers in various ways, such as rewarding the best of the month, and we promote four values "Engraved with Fire": Commitment, dedication, team and quality. We also highlight training in all areas; Currently, the entire staff can access the "Talent Class" channel for free to receive the necessary courses and grow within the group.

Mientras Joaquín me cuenta toda esta dinámica, coge el teléfono para mostrarme y explicarme dicha plataforma de formación. En ese momento, se cuela una foto de su hija y acto seguido otra de su mujer, y no puede evitar sonreír. "Son geniales, ¿verdad? Marina, mi mujer, también trabaja en el grupo", comenta orgulloso. Me ha encantado este momento donde me demuestra que el éxito no deshumaniza a los hombres.

What is the future of the group in the short and medium term?

With so many brands we can still grow much more in Madrid, although in Murcia we have some restaurants run by the family. Expansion in the capital is our priority, and we estimate that in three or four years we will open fifty establishments, at least that is what we seek to achieve.

I want to tell you that “Grupo con Fuego” has a loyalty club in which the hungriest “Lovers” accumulate llamas that can be added in the different restaurants and get super prizes and discounts. Also highly recommended for tourists who visit Madrid, even for a few days, the variety of its offering ranges from Steakburger hamburgers, through Italian cuisine at Oven and Pizzart, the Mexican flavor of Santita to finish with vegan cuisine and Vegetarian full of color at Superchulo, which can give you the opportunity to fill your card with many llamas that will surely become a great gift.

I thank Joaquín Capel for sharing his story and vision with us. The conversation has been truly fascinating, highlighting the importance of dedication, innovation and quality in the field of restoration, emphasizing, as he emphasizes, honesty in all aspects, even in the business context. I wish you much success in all of his future projects and I hope to be present at the following inaugurations, don't forget, count on me.