Q&A with Jon Perkins, managing director of Perkins Family Restaurants of Nottinghamshire

Who are you?
“I’m Jon Perkins, managing director of Perkins Family Restaurants. I work closely with David Perkins, my brother and operations director, and chef-director Sarah Newham.”

Briefly, what’s the story behind the Perkins family of restaurants?
“We’re a second-generation family business established in 1982 by my parents, Tony & Wendy Perkins. Perkins Bar Bistro opened its doors in the early eighties and was based on the simple principles of only using fresh quality ingredients, delivering high standards, providing a warm, friendly welcome and service. Above all making people happy!

“Perkins Family, as we’re known now, is a youthful and ambitious hospitality company operating four venues. Those original values form the lifeblood of the business today.”

How did Perkins, your original restaurant, end up being in a former (very attractive) railway station?
“A quirky but true story… my parents were on the hunt for premises to open a restaurant. A best friend of theirs overheard a conversation in a local pub about the fact that British Rail was auctioning off plots of land. A bid was accepted on the derelict Plumtree Railway Station and they managed to convert it into a restaurant on a shoestring budget! Perkins’ third refurbishment since opening was completed last year.”

How do your venues differ from each other?
“Perkins Bar & Bistro and neighbouring Carriage Hall sit on the former railway site in Plumtree and benefit from the unique building and countryside setting. The Bistro is a relaxed countryside eatery. It has been championing local produce for over 35 years and has our very own smokehouse on site.

“Escabeche and Baresca in Nottingham are both casual tapas restaurants and bars influenced by a trip to Barcelona before Dave and I took on the family business 15 year ago. We love the Barcelona eating-out scene… food being prepared with minimal fuss where quality and freshness sing through. Perfect for sharing with friends and family.

“Each interior is inspired by the sites & sounds, tapas bars and food markets of Barcelona.

“Escabeche benefits from a living wall above the sun terrace, while Baresca is tucked away down a popular side street in the centre of town with hidden basement bar, reminiscent of the Barcelona Old Town!”

We hear you’re creating some B&B accommodation in the form of shepherd’s huts. What’s the story there?
“We’ve wanted to offer accommodation at Perkins and The Carriage Hall for some time but in the essence of the site, wanted to create something unique but in keeping.

“After considerable hunting and researching, we finally stumbled across the shepherds’ huts. These really are the perfect combination of quality, quirkiness and comfort.”

What are your favourite non-Perkins local pubs and restaurants?
“The Stratford in West Bridgford – for a proper pint of beer. MemSaab or Laguna – for a top curry!”

What are you planning for the future?
“We are hoping to open more tapas bar & restaurants over the next few years.”

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt founded Great Food Club in 2010 and is editor-in-chief. He loves to brew his own beer and unearth food and drink gems, and lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and jack russell terrier.