44 Group (Cardiff)

Origins

As siblings, the founders Tom and Owen had a huge passion for Spain and Spanish food and culture and saw an opportunity to open a modern tapas bar in their home town of Cowbridge. The major challenges in the first three years were: location (Bar 44 was based in in a small market town in an old conservative club on the first floor and literally had to use every trick in the book to get people up the stairs); new concept (as the first tapas bar in Wales (and one of the first outside London in the UK), it took a lot of time, training and education to inform both staff and customers about ingredients, dishes, drinks and overall offering; and staff skill shortage (five chefs were hired in the first three months and one of them lasted longer than the first day! As a result Tom and Owen bought some chefs’ whites and taught themselves to cook and for the next three years, they were the only two chefs in the kitchen.

Success Factor

These are passion and determination (without these, the setbacks would hinder growth); experience (after learning the trade over a ten year period in Bar 44 Cowbridge, then opening Bar 44 Penarth in 2012, every little aspect of the business was learned from successes and mistakes and as a result, they were able to increase expansion and growth with a strong grounding in what it takes to succeed in this notoriously tough industry); and quality, quality, quality (whether finding the correct location, employing the best staff, using the finest ingredients, creating the right atmosphere or refurbishing to the highest standard, they were able to set ourselves apart and ensure that every customer enjoyed the Bar 44 experience).

The Future

The business has recently diversified and added Asador 44 (a modern, more refined Spanish Grill) to the 44 stable as well as recently opening its fourth Bar 44 tapas Bar in Clifton Village, Bristol where they have been overwhelmed with the reception. The business plans to grow organically and only when it has the correct staff progression in place to ensure expansion success, with a second Asador 44 being the most likely next step.