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Restaurant couple find recipe for success

Husband and wife team behind El Molino celebrate 30 years of Holloway Road’s only family-run Spanish restaurant

04 August, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Ermelina and Jose at the restaurant: ‘This is what we do. We don’t know anything else’

A HUSBAND and wife working together is not always a good idea, but at Holloway Road’s only family-run Spanish restaurant it has been a key to success.

El Molino (meaning the windmill) has been serving traditional Spanish food since it was opened by the late chef Faustino Risques 30 years ago this month.

Today, it is run by Jose Ivo de Freitas, from Portugal, and his Spanish wife Ermelina, who got the chance to take over the business when Mr Risques retired and moved back to his native Andalusia.

Jose, 50, said: “People say you should never work with your wife, but we get on well. We spend almost every day together – and we hope to carry on.

“We’ve got customers who have been coming here for 30 years. Some who were kids then are now bringing their children.

“We’ve got amazing loyal customers.”

He added: “The secret to our success has been the food, our menu, looking after our customers and treating our staff well.

“People come in here and they know what they want.”

The couple’s older children are not interested in taking over the business, but they are holding out hope that daughter Melinda, 10, who attends nearby Grafton Primary School, might be interested. She likes to help out at weekends.

“This is what we do. We don’t know anything else,” added Jose, who has worked in hospitality all his life.

“You have to work long hours but if you enjoy meeting people you can do it.”

Customers will be given a free glass of Sangria and a 10 per cent discount on meals this month to mark the 30th anniversary celebrations.

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