Interview: Jonathan Thorogood, El Chiringuito

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International entrepreneur is just one way to describe Jonathan Thorogood, owner, developer and director of Es Cavallet beach restaurant El Chiringuito. Having lived all over the world, including stints in Holland, Geneva, Australia, South Africa and the UK, it was only natural he gravitated to a place where the inhabitants were global and the opportunities were endless. And in August 2004, Ibiza was calling…

Tell us about your background?
Mixed and varied. I was a golf professional, in hedge funds, sales and marketing, different entrepreneurial ventures that allowed me to travel.

What inspired you move to Ibiza?
I craved and desired the sun – I prefer the lifestyle and energy of people when they are in the sun. People are more relaxed, generally eating healthier and living a more vibrant outdoor lifestyle. There’s an old cliché of the island either accepting you or not, and it was very kind to me. I was immediately comfortable here. I set up a business in 2005 (Ibiza Angels) that did really well, which I eventually sold before opening El Chiringuito.

How did this particular career change come about?
Ibiza Angels was great, but no longer presented a challenge to me. I get a buzz from starting something new and for 15 years I’ve had the dream of one day opening a beach club. It was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to have work and pleasure mixed in to one environment where I felt happy, near the water. I explored a lot of options when I first got to Ibiza but it wasn’t until this year that the right place presented itself.

Did you just stumble across the right place?
When I was in the sauna actually, a friend walked in and told me he’d been working on a deal that had fallen through. I asked a few questions and when I came out of the sauna, I said to my wife, ‘If you could have any beach club on the island, which would it be?’ and she said ‘El Chiringuito,’ to which I replied, ‘Well that’s lucky, because we’re going to buy it.’ Four weeks later we signed the contract.

What makes El Chiringuito so special?
The space is amazing and the location is really important. It’s so unique, nestled in the sand dunes, views to the beach, Ibiza Town and Formentera. I believe the fundamental elements for a beach club like this are the location, the food, the ambience and making sure you have an amazing team, because the business is nothing without the right people. Even the drive to work every day is amazing. It’s an amazing office to come to. When I get stressed, I can just go and jump in the sea!

What changes have you made?
Structurally, we put a new roof on it, sandblasted all the beams and added cement to the walls. We renovated the kitchen, gave it new roofing – when you start, you cant stop. Most importantly, every step we took on the journey was a very natural one. When things are right they are right and when they are wrong, life makes it clear they shouldn’t happen. The process was a very beautiful one.

What about the menu?
We re-did the whole menu and brought in a new head chef. The food was motivated by one simple thing – the philosophy of simple food done really, really well, which in itself is not simple! Our strategy was don’t overcomplicate it, make it look rustic, make it look vibrant, use fresh, local, organic fruit and vegetables and find the very best suppliers, never cutting corners on price.

What’s your personal philosophy?
I try to make decisions from the heart not from the pocket. I want to deliver value and look after my clients – Ibiza has become very expensive over the last 10 years but the quality of food and service has grown at the same rate as the prices. You have to go the extra mile for everyone and places that deliver quality at the right price will flourish.