Lighthouse Restaurant or the Lighthouse as it’s locally known is a well-established restaurant in Wimbledon Village and is equally frequented by locals and visitors traveling far. It’s well known for offering seasonal menus at special prices thus having a steady stream of loyal clientele coming for that healthy lunchtime amazing food at a fair price.
HWG: What’s the story behind The Lighthouse?
Hugo: Lighthouse Restaurant has been around for the past 19 years now. The owners live in Wimbledon and I don’t live too far away either. It’s a real local business!
HWG: Have you always worked in restaurants?
Hugo: Not really, only the past 25 years or so. I’ve always had an interest in food though. I went to college to study agriculture before becoming a farmer. Went into the restaurant business after that and been General Manager of the Lighthouse for the past 15 years.
HWG: Is the restaurant trade all that you thought it would be?
Hugo: As with all things, the restaurant industry is fast changing and becoming more challenging with the rise of chain restaurants. As we cook all our dishes fresh every day it makes it hard to compete with others who offer precooked dishes.
HWG: Have you made any lasting changes since becoming General Manager of the Lighthouse?
Hugo: They’ve been many changes but the most recent one has been the most extensive as we’ve replaced all flooring and curtains and made the whole place as echo friendly as possible. Everything has been done to make the place as soundproof absorbent as possible. It makes for a more sociable atmosphere.
HWG: Are the customers your friends now?
Hugo: Yes, the locals are. I know most of the regulars by name now. Some people come from far but it’s mostly repeat customers who live locally.
HWG: Who comes up with the menu ideas?
Hugo: The head chef with some input from me. All our dishes are seasonal, British sourced with wild fish being delivered daily. Most of our menu is naturally gluten-free as we don’t thicken any sauces and never use soya. We use the very best ingredients and don’t support intensive farming.
HWG: I know the Lighthouse has a sister café called the Light Café, also in Wimbledon, by the common. Has that affected your restaurant trade?
Hugo: No, the two venues have two separate kinds of clientele.
HWG: Have any food trends affected your business?
Hugo: Actually, the biggest trend that we have noticed is the dry January one when no alcohol is being served. That can push into the following months too when some customers might try and keep it up. Otherwise, not really. Most of our dishes are gluten free and veganism is not a problem.
HWG: Do any big events affect your trade at all?
Hugo: Obviously there are the two tennis Championships weeks that affect us. We are open the first Sunday and the second Sunday of the tennis season when booking is highly recommended. During the Wimbledon Musical Festival (10-25 November 2018) we are very busy and are open Sunday evenings. Otherwise, the Light Café is affected by the Wimbledon Bookfest (4-14 October 2018).
HWG: Finally, what’s your favourite thing to do on your days off?
Hugo: Well that’s easy. You could almost call Richmond Park my second home. I’m always there with my three children. It’s my favourite thing to do.
I think the most important thing that transpired from my talk with Hugo was how he felt about the Lighthouse. When asked how he would like his customers to view the Lighthouse, his answer was quite endearing and one that you’d expect from a neighbourhood restaurant. He kept reminding me that the Lighthouse was a neighbourhood restaurant serving freshly homemade cooked food. As such, Hugo feels that the community should see it as their friendly local, to turn up dressed as they wish with whomever they wish and enjoy a seasonal home-cooked meal. “Families, children, grandmothers, I’d like everyone to feel welcome at all times!” was his final comment.
I bet you could never have guessed in a million years that Hugo went from running the Marathon des Sables back in year 2000 (7 full marathons in 6 days in the Sahara no less!) to being a doting dad in charge of our favourite local neighbourhood restaurant. Lucky for us he has stopped running ( well still runs but probably rounding off the children) and is busy looking after us lot in Wimbledon!