The Sibarist

Ansón+Bonet, the art of setting up restaurants.

We spoke to Alejandra Ansón and Miguel Bonet. Founders of Ansón+Bonet, the business consultancy specialising in hospitality that thinks, designs and executes the most successful and busiest restaurants and gastronomic projects in the city.

Miguel Bonet y Alejandra Ansón en El Invernadero

They form the perfect tandem. Alejandra Ansón and Miguel Bonet, founders of the Ansón+Bonet project, enter El Invernadero de San Lorenzo with a smile from ear to ear. They do so after celebrating, surrounded by friends, the inauguration of their new offices in Madrid’s Salamanca district. Since 2016 they have managed to go from being two to a team of fifteen people who think, design and execute the most successful and busiest restaurants in the city. This business consultancy, specialising in hospitality, is growing and doing so with their sights set on the many ambitious future projects that await them, both in Spain and abroad.

Their complicity, the passion with which they speak, their many trips around the world to get to know restaurants, hotels and cocktail bars and their long experience have made Ansón+Bonet the company that sets the course for the new generation of contemporary gastronomic projects. His is the success of concepts such as the landing of the New York restaurant ‘Llama Inn’ in the Justicia neighbourhood, the arrival of the unknown Georgian gastronomy in the Chueca neighbourhood with the opening of ‘Nunuka’, the revitalisation and resurgence of the ‘Mercado de San Antón’, the arrival of the acclaimed Argentine-Israeli restaurant ‘Fayer’ or exquisite gastronomic experiences together with brands such as Loewe in the hotel ‘Rosewood Villa Magna’.

Who is behind Ansón+Bonet and what are your plans for the future?

Alejandra Ansón y Miguel Bonet

Who are Alejandra Ansón and Miguel Bonet? Why the world of gastronomy?

Alejandra. I come from a family where gastronomy has always been very important, although my passion since I was a child has been biology. I graduated and worked at the National Centre for Oncological Research. After a year in a laboratory, I decided to change my career path. I entered the world of gastronomy through gourmet products, working on an internationalisation project. It was there, in one of the activations we did, that I met Miguel. The opportunity arose to develop together the project ‘The Table By’, a pop-up restaurant, a theatre of restaurants that we were excited to start up. As we travelled from restaurant to restaurant in Spain, we realised that there was still a lot to do in the world of hospitality. That in gastronomy, at that time, there were very few people dedicated to creating restaurants from the point of view of the concept. Miguel and I shared a very similar vision and we decided to start up Ansón+Bonet. We specialised in everything that involved setting up and opening restaurants from scratch.

Miguel. I come from a family of art historians. I was the fourth generation and the saga was to continue with me, but I became the ‘black sheep’ because I left my degree when I was about to finish it. I began to start my own business at the age of nineteen, first with cultural projects, starting up a magazine, for example. But I soon realised that the world of culture was really complex. That’s when I started to set up companies in very different sectors, products, for example. I started a company dedicated to the design of contemporary souvenirs with artists and industries in danger of extinction, Alegría Industries. Also, projects related to the hotel and catering industry, such as a bagel stall in the San Antón Market or the management of the food&beverage at ‘La Casa Encendida’, among others. All this experience in the act of entrepreneurship, making mistakes, learning and working hard led me, when I met Alejandra, to focus on the world of gastronomy. It was in 2016 when we began to dedicate ourselves to accompanying our clients in the process of opening their hospitality businesses. 

Alejandra Ansón, Miguel Bonet, Álex de la Rosa y Silvia Hengstenberg en un momento de la entrevista
Miguel Ansón y Álex de la Rosa en un momento de la entrevista

For those who don’t know you yet, what is Ansón+Bonet and what do you do?

Alejandra and Miguel. Anson+Bonet is a business consultancy specialising in the hospitality industry, that’s how we define ourselves. We decided to dedicate ourselves to helping and accompanying our clients to start up their restaurants. We are a consultancy firm but we also take care of the entire implementation of the projects, not just a simple document that we hand over to our clients. We accompany them in the process, from start to finish. For that we need to cover all the legs on which gastronomic projects are based. To set up a restaurant you need a very creative part, ideas, strategy, understanding the market, but also a fundamental financial and business part. Our job is to think about how to translate all that creative part into an investment plan and how to understand the business in terms of economic expectations. We start from a macro strategic point and make it a reality, in terms of time, quality and budget. After going through the pandemic with a lot of fear, in a very affected sector, we have managed to turn Ansón+Bonet into a team of fifteen people divided into a concept, a financial part, a creative team, real state and implementation. And also in a management team that accompanies clients on a long-term business level.

What is day-to-day life like at Ansón+Bonet and what does your work consist of?

Miguel. On the one hand, it consists of thinking and giving a twist to things that already exist. We believe that one of our great differential values is that we set up profitable and economically sound businesses. For us, the operational part is also fundamental, one of the fundamental parts of the process. Without good operations, the business would not work. On the other hand, leaving aside the romantic side of our work, we are also dedicated to solving hundreds of problems that arise throughout the day, such as solving problems with the many suppliers we work with. Setting up a restaurant is a gear made up of many pieces and we make them fit together.

Alejandra. There is something that is also very important in our day-to-day work and that is not to lose sight of the fact that we are entrepreneurs. All that part of team and company management is vital for everything to work. And another important part is to keep up to date in terms of gastronomy. Understanding the market, keeping abreast of the incessant openings, the trends… And not only in Spain, but also abroad. We travel a lot to nourish ourselves and to know what is being done in other places. We have to understand everything that is being done in the world on a gastronomic level in order to set up the projects we have in hand. Travel definitely inspires our work.

Alejandra Ansón y Álex de la Rosa charlando en la entrevista

What is the most important thing for you when starting up a restaurant?

Alejandra and Miguel. The most important thing is coherence. Being coherent throughout the whole process and being clear about who you are targeting, who your audience is. If you want to set up a restaurant for a certain type of target and you want to set it up in an area where that public does not exist or cannot easily access it, you are going to have to fight much harder for the business to be profitable. Coherence at all levels of the project is vital, that everything goes hand in hand: the interior design with the operation, the concept with the target and the target with the location. The same goes for the numbers and the financial universe. You can’t be obsessed with setting up a great restaurant with very little investment or budget. We guide our clients so that everything connects, matches and ends up working.

Imagine the decalogue of the perfect restaurant. What is the most important thing for you in a gastronomic space?

Alejandra. It is impossible to highlight just one thing, a restaurant is a very global experience. You want a place that makes you feel good because it is quick and functional for breakfast at a certain time, because you are in a hurry or because, on the contrary, you are having dinner with ten friends and you want to take it easy and enjoy yourself. A restaurant is something like a place that gives you what you need at the moment you need it. On the other hand, there is a key issue, one of the few things that I would engrave in my heart: a good room fixes a mediocre kitchen, and a bad room destroys a brilliant kitchen. For me, that is the basis. The restaurant is a place where interaction with people becomes one of the most important things.

Miguel. A restaurant must, above all, be hospitable. In English, the term ‘hospitaly business’ is much talked about and, here in Spain, it is becoming more and more common to hear it. Hospitality means giving your guest, your client, affection and making them feel at home. You can do this through details as simple as a glass, more or less fine, or a chair, more or less comfortable. People go to restaurants to take refuge, to feel comfortable and to enjoy themselves. All the staff training, all the operational processes, all the careful selection of tableware, everything has to be related to the concept of making that customer who has chosen you feel good.

Alejandra Ansón y Miguel Bonet

Speaking of gastronomic projects, which is the one you have been most excited about devising and setting up?

Miguel. I was especially excited to receive a call from a restaurant in New York that wanted to land in Madrid. At that moment, I had the feeling of being in the right city at the right time. And that feeling came when ‘Llama Inn’ called us to tell us they wanted to open here. We set up projects for very different types of clients, we just set up a chain of kebabs, for example. But ‘Llama In’ was a challenge in which we learned a lot. It is a pleasure to think that they trusted us, knowing from the very first moment that the landing of our hand was going to be much more agile and efficient.

Alejandra. I’m very enthusiastic about the projects we devise and develop for brands. For example, the one we set up a few months ago for Loewe at the Rosewood Villa Magna hotel. These are the projects that make us grow and learn the most. It is an absolute challenge to convert a branded space into a hospitality venue, where the client can slip in and connect with the universe of the brand in question. The same will happen soon with a project we are working on with Mahou inside the Bernabéu. I was also very excited to start ‘Nunuka’, a small Georgian bistro in the Chueca neighbourhood. We helped a person who loved the hotel and catering business and was crazy about her country’s gastronomy to become a brutally successful hotel and catering entrepreneur. She has just done it again with the opening of ‘Persimmons’, a cocktail bar based on the distillate ‘chacha’.

What are your next projects?

Alejandra and Miguel. We are very excited about international hotel projects, a hotel that we are opening very soon in Turkey and also in Portugal and on the Mediterranean coast. We have a couple of landings, which we cannot reveal yet, of powerful international brands that want to come to Madrid. We also have a very interesting project with Mahou in the Bernabéu that we are sure to open before the summer. And several entrepreneurial projects, from people who don’t have a lot of experience but a lot of enthusiasm… A very fun sandwich and snack project, a granola place with a delicious Colombian brand or a cool ‘hand rolls’ bar with an A and a B side. Also, several projects in Barcelona with very interesting chefs.

Alejandra Ansón y Miguel Bonet

Tell us about your favourite restaurants in Madrid. Where do you go back to all the time?

Alejandra. If I had to choose one of those ‘traditional’ places, it would be ‘La Tasquita de Enfrente’. It seems to me to be the ultimate in simplicity, the absolute elevation of the product. I love to eat and I love to eat simply and I think that Juanjo López manages to elevate the concept of simplicity to the highest level of excellence. Of the latest openings, my favourite is ‘Haramboure’. I think Patxi Zumárraga is, right now, one of the great chefs we have in this country. And I have to talk about ‘Jekes’, a very fun kebab concept that we have just set up. Long live kebabs and long live a world beyond pizza and fast-food hamburgers.

Miguel. I go a lot to all the restaurants in the ‘La Ancha’ group, from the newest to the oldest. I also go to ‘La Lorenza’, in Lavapiés, which has a very good wine list and a gastronomic proposal that they always manage to give a twist to. I have a delicious omelette there. One of my favourite places in Madrid, without a doubt, is also ‘El Boquerón’, that bar with five ranges for four euros and a good beer.

And outside Madrid, what have you been most surprised by lately?

Miguel. In New York, a place called ‘Winner’, which in the morning is a bread oven and in the afternoon and evening turns into a chicken rotisserie. In London, we were fascinated by the cocktail bar ‘A Bar With Shapes For A Name’. Also everything chef Elena Reygadas does in Mexico, such as her restaurant ‘Rosetta’. New York City inspires us a lot on a business level and Mexico on an experiential and aesthetic level.

Alejandra. I loved ‘Thai Diner’, a 1960s diner in New York converted into a Thai restaurant. I’m also very interested in everything that happens in Los Angeles in the whole ‘all day’ world. In Barcelona, I’m crazy about ‘Ultramarinos Marín’ and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s the kind of place that if it were in London or New York would be number one.

Editor: Álex de la Rosa

Álex is a journalist and a reference in the world of gastronomy, creator of the successful blog ‘Que no me la den con queso’.

Alejandra Ansón, Miguel Bonet, Álex de la Rosa y Silvia Hengstenberg en El Invernadero