How I Got Here: Hugo Warner

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with former Benugo owner Hugo Warner

Related tags Café

Former Benugo owner Hugo Warner recently founded Hackney-based 'hospitality driven workspace' The Fisheries

Why restaurants? 
I travelled a lot in my youth and wherever you go in the world, restaurants, bars and cafes are the foundations of society. These are the places where great ideas are shared and formulated, relationships forged and where human interaction and collaboration are most evident. Being part of that is hugely satisfying.

How often do you check your email?
As little as possible.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Look for people’s motives and you can predict how they’ll behave. Look at their behaviour, not what they say.

How do you let off steam?
I’ve got into propagating plants from seeds and cuttings and watching Gardeners World. It must be an age thing!

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
St John, including Rochelle’s Canteen, so maybe more the Henderson’s.

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Zhoug with everything.

What motivates you?
Trying to do things better.

What keeps you up at night?
The fear of not being better. 

What are you currently reading?
The Aerodrome​ by Rex Warner, my grandfather.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My parents and very large family taught me that dining is about the whole experience, not just the food and wine.

What boxset are you currently watching?
Abstract, a design series on Netflix

Worst business decision?
Selling Benugo.

Best business decision? 
Leaving Benugo once it had been sold.

What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be a film director.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business? 
Making money is the product of doing things well, so focus on that rather than your P&L, that will come.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Ban phones and laptops; they’re worse than smokers!


Born in Oxfordshire, Hugo Warner leant the ropes of the restaurant industry by working in it while he was a student. In 1997, he co-founded cafe, restaurant and catering chain Benugo, which he oversaw with until 2010. Having subsequently worked in various roles across the industry, he went on to found Hackney-based 'hospitality driven workspace' The Fisheries earlier this year.

Related topics Casual Dining

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