El Vino’s is a famous wine bar and restaurant located in London, England. It has a long and storied history, having first opened its doors in 1879. But who actually owns this iconic London establishment today?
- El Vino’s was founded in 1879.
- It is located on Fleet Street in the City of London.
- El Vino’s is famous for its extensive wine list and classic British cuisine.
- It is owned and operated by the Smith family.
El Vino’s was originally opened in 1879 by Alfred Bower. He ran the business for over 30 years before selling it to the Crittall family in 1912. The Crittalls owned El Vino’s for several decades, helping establish its reputation as one of London’s top destinations for wine.
In 1983, El Vino’s was purchased by the Smith family, who still own and manage the restaurant today. The current owners are sisters Jill and Laura Smith, who took over the business from their father Trevor Smith.
The Smith Family’s Ownership
The Smith family has owned El Vino’s for nearly 40 years now. Trevor Smith first bought the restaurant back in 1983 for £250,000 with the aim of preserving its traditional charm. He ran El Vino’s successfully for over 25 years before passing the business on to his daughters Jill and Laura in 2007.
Jill and Laura Smith have continued their father’s legacy of maintaining El Vino’s status as a top London wine bar. Under their management, El Vino’s wine list has expanded to include over 375 varieties. The restaurant has also undergone renovations to improve the atmosphere while retaining its 19th century character.
Many loyal customers are glad El Vino’s remains under the stewardship of the Smith family, who have preserved its distinctive feel as an old-fashioned London institution. Jill and Laura have made it clear they intend to keep ownership within the Smith family for the foreseeable future.
Other Key Facts About the Ownership:
- Trevor Smith purchased El Vino’s for £250,000 in 1983.
- Jill and Laura Smith took over from their father in 2007.
- The Smith sisters have expanded the wine list to over 375 varieties.
- They have maintained El Vino’s traditional atmosphere through careful renovations.
- The Smith family plans to keep ownership within the family going forward.
The History of El Vino’s Ownership
El Vino’s has passed through several owners since first opening in 1879:
|Years of Ownership
|1879 – 1912
|1912 – 1983
|1983 – 2007
|Jill & Laura Smith
|2007 – present
As the table shows, El Vino’s was first opened by Alfred Bower back in the 19th century. After over 30 years of ownership, Bower sold the business to the Crittall family in 1912.
The Crittalls would own El Vino’s for several decades, establishing its reputation as a top London restaurant and wine bar. But by the early 1980s, the Crittalls were ready to sell the business.
That’s when Trevor Smith stepped in and purchased El Vino’s in 1983. After 25 successful years of ownership, Trevor handed control of the restaurant to his daughters Jill and Laura in 2007.
Under the Smith sisters, El Vino’s has flourished over the past 15+ years. Jill and Laura have expanded the wine selection and delicately renovated the space while preserving its old-world charm.
Based on their stated intentions, it seems the Smith family plans to retain ownership within their family for the long term future. Many regulars are glad for the consistency and reliability the Smiths have brought to this London institution.
Why El Vino’s Has Thrived Under the Smiths
There are several key reasons why El Vino’s has continued to thrive under the long-term ownership of the Smith family:
- They have preserved its traditional atmosphere and decor.
- The excellent wine list has been expanded to over 375 varieties.
- Menu updated with new dishes but classic British fare remains.
- Excellent customer service – staff are knowledgeable and friendly.
- Consistent quality and execution over the years.
Regular patrons agree the Smiths have maintained the restaurant’s distinctive charm and character. Jill and Laura renovated the space tastefully without losing the original details.
The Smith sisters also invested in growing the wine program, allowing El Vino’s to offer an expansive selection not matched by many other London restaurants. The menu has been updated as well, but still focuses on timeless British favorites.
Many also praise the knowledgeable, friendly service the restaurant provides. The staff makes an effort to recognize regular customers and offer personalized recommendations.
Overall, the consistent quality and execution El Vino’s has delivered under the Smith family’s leadership has allowed it to maintain its reputation as a top wine destination. Loyal customers hope the Smiths continue ownership for years to come.
Key Reasons for Success Under the Smiths:
- Preserved traditional atmosphere
- Expanded wine list to over 375 varieties
- Menu updated but still offers classic British fare
- Excellent customer service
- Consistent quality over the years
El Vino’s Atmosphere & Decor
One of the keys to El Vino’s lasting success is its timeless atmosphere and decor. Under the Smith family’s management, the restaurant has retained its traditional Victorian-era charm and ambience.
Wood-paneled walls, red fabric seats, and frosted glass dividers between booths help transport diners back to 19th century London. The space features several dining rooms on different levels, many with sweeping views of Fleet Street below.
While Jill and Laura have renovated certain spaces, they’ve taken care to preserve original details. This includes the enchanting wood bar, paneled ceilings, and leather furniture.
The Smiths have also maintained El Vino’s classic British traditions, like serving wine by the glass from decanters on the bar. Small touches like grandfather clocks and fresh flowers in the entrance help complete the old-world English feel.
Many patrons and critics believe the Smith family’s commitment to preserving El Vino’s decor has been essential to its continued success. The traditional atmosphere simply can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Key Aspects of the Decor:
- Wood-paneled walls
- Red leather seats
- Frosted glass dividers
- Multi-level dining rooms
- Views of Fleet Street
- Preserved original wood bars and details
- British touches like clocks and fresh flowers
By retaining this vintage atmosphere, the Smiths have maintained El Vino’s distinctive ambience that simply can’t be found at many other restaurants.
The Wine List & Bar Program
Another critical factor in El Vino’s ongoing success under the Smiths has been their investment in the wine program.
When Trevor Smith first bought El Vino’s in 1983, the restaurant offered just 12 varieties by the glass. Today under Jill and Laura’s leadership, the wine list has expanded to an extensive 375+ labels from around the world.
The selection includes both classic and cutting-edge options, catering to a wide range of guest preferences. There are several dozen varieties available by both the glass and bottle across a range of prices.
At the bar, patrons can order wines from the list to be poured tableside from custom-labeled decanters. This allows for experimentation and discovery of new favorites.
Knowledgeable sommeliers are always on hand to guide guests through the list and offer personalized recommendations. The staff’s wine expertise is a huge asset for El Vino’s.
Investing in growing the wine program over the years has allowed El Vino’s to keep attracting new customers while retaining its reputation as one of London’s top wine destinations.
Key Facts About the Wine Program:
- 12 varieties in 1983 expanded to 375+ labels today
- Classic and cutting-edge options
- Dozens available by both glass and bottle
- Tableside pouring from decanters at the bar
- Expert staff provide guidance and recommendations
This expanded yet curated list makes El Vino’s stand out versus other restaurants in London. It’s a key reason loyal customers keep coming back.
The Food Menu
In addition to the wine, El Vino’s excellent British-focused food menu is another factor in its enduring popularity.
While Jill and Laura Smith have updated and expanded the cuisine over the years, they’ve kept the focus on timeless British classics.
Signature dishes still include staples like potted shrimps, steak and kidney pie, and roasted lamb. But the sisters have also incorporated more contemporary plates and vegetarian options.
The menu strikes a balance between maintaining tradition and evolving to meet changing tastes. Comforting favorites attract regulars, while new additions draw in first-time diners.
Portion sizes remain generous, and prices are reasonable given the location. Complementing the wines with quality cuisine has been key to El Vino’s success.
Many patrons agree the kitchen continues turning out some of the best traditional British food in London under the Smith family’s watch.
Key Aspects of the Food Menu:
- Classic British dishes like potted shrimps and pies
- Roasted meats, including signature lamb
- New contemporary and vegetarian options
- Balance of classics and new dishes
- Generous portions at reasonable prices
By combining timeless favorites with innovative new options, El Vino’s menu has stayed relevant while remaining distinctly British.
Staff & Service
El Vino’s excellent customer service is another key factor that has remained consistent under the Smith family’s leadership.
The veteran staff deliver warm, personalized hospitality that makes patrons feel right at home. Servers, hosts, and bartenders get to know regulars by name and often their drink or dish preferences.
The staff is also very knowledgeable, especially when it comes to assisting customers with wine choices. Their expertise helps guide patrons to bottles they’ll enjoy based on taste, budget, and the cuisine.
El Vino’s employees are skilled at providing advice and recommendations without coming across as pretentious. First-time visitors in particular appreciate the welcoming service.
The professional yet personable staff help create a dining experience that feels like more than just a meal. Their hospitality is essential to El Vino’s ongoing reputation.
Standout Aspects of the Service:
- Warm, personalized service
- Staff get to know regular patrons
- Extensive wine expertise
- Provide guidance without pretention
- Equally welcoming to new diners
El Vino’s has retained its talented roster of veteran staff over the years, much to the delight of regulars. Their hospitality remains a key part of this restaurant’s charm.
Consistent Quality & Execution
Ultimately, the consistent quality and flawless execution delivered at El Vino’s under the Smith family has fueled its staying power.
Patrons know they can rely on the restaurant for several key factors each visit:
- Impeccably prepared cuisine using fresh, quality ingredients
- Perfectly poured and served wines
- Meticulous, attentive service
- Charm and character of the historic decor
By providing this level of excellence consistently over the past 40+ years, the Smiths have maintained El Vino’s reputation as an iconic London dining destination.
Customers don’t have to worry about ups and downs in food, drink or service – they know they’ll have a quality experience every time. That reliability brings patrons back again and again.
El Vino’s has avoided the fate of some other historic restaurants, remaining vital even after more than 140 years. Delivering superb dining and hospitality year after year is surely the secret to its success.
Consistency in Key Areas:
- Fresh, expertly prepared food
- Perfect wine pouring and service
- Meticulous, personable customer service
- Historic decor charm and ambience
By avoiding fluctuations in quality under the Smiths’ steady ownership, El Vino’s has earned its iconic status as a London destination that stands the test of time.
In summary, El Vino’s has remained London’s beloved wine bar and restaurant for over 140 years thanks to the dedicated stewardship of the Smith family owners.
Since acquiring it in 1983, they have preserved the Victorian-era charm, continuously improved the wine program, maintained classic British cuisine, and delivered superb service.
Now under Jill and Laura Smith’s leadership, El Vino’s continues to thrive by providing a quality dining experience in a truly unique atmosphere rich with history and character.
It seems likely the Smith family intend to retain ownership for years to come. If so, loyal regulars and newcomers seeking a taste of historic London can count on El Vino’s remaining a local jewel for generations.