Spanish Restaurant Dreams
For Preston Entrepreneur
He was listed amongst the top 100 influencers in Preston and the Fylde in our last issue and now he’s being referred to as the Banksy of the Preston restaurant world. Helen Sanderson talked to Anthony Smith about creating a fiesta in the city centre with the opening of his new restaurant. Photography: Andy Tighe
Anthony Smith oozes enthusiasm. He rattles through his ideas for his new business and plans for the future like he’s planning world domination. Its always great fun meeting up with Anthony, he’s effervescent and I’m always enthralled to hear his latest business plans. He talks with the confidence of a man who’s not afraid of failing. And why would he fail? He’s already built a business from the ground up, that turned over £12 million a year.
I’ve known Anthony for the past 10 years, our paths have crossed as we had mutual business colleagues in the Preston business world. 10 years ago Anthony was building Lantei, a market leading testing company which offers compliance packages. He built the award winning, multimillion pound business from humble beginnings in a bedroom in Holme Slack, Preston in 2010 with nothing more than a credit card and a Yellow Pages.
Anthony’s business credentials and skills as an entrepreneur were never in question yet it wasn’t until 2017 that I first learnt of his abilities as a chef, when he starred on an episode of Come Dine with Me. Of course Anthony with his ‘larger than life’ personality made brilliant viewing. Recalling the experience Anthony laughed: “Come Dine with Me” was a fantastic experience and I loved every second. I got to put my cooking and hosting skills to the test with a group of strangers. I was delighted to win and I donated the £1000 to charity.” In truth Anthony has always been a keen chef and originally trained in catering at Runshaw College.
It came as no surprise to me to find out that it was Anthony who was the man behind the highly secretive Six Seats Supper Club. What made this unlike a regular supper club was that it was only held six times a year, consisted of six courses, and was open to just six randomly chosen guests.
It was held at the private home of the host (which turned out to be Anthony), the location was only divulged a week or so before the event. All of the prep, cooking, service and washing up was done by the chef who was known only as Six. Guests weren’t allowed to name the host and it created a tremendous buzz in ‘foodie’ circles across the City.
Anthony explained: “I have always loved cooking and I had a successful, secret pop-up restaurants called Six Seats – I took six strangers from a social media platform, got them together and gave them a six course taster menu. The only rule was they couldn’t tell anyone who I was and so BBC Radio Lancashire started calling me the Banksy of the food world. It created a wonderful air of mystery and if it had not been for lockdown, I would have carried on with that.”
In early 2020 I sold Lantei and we went into the national lockdown,” said Anthony, “I was home-schooling and looking after the kids. I had a lot of time on my hands and money in the bank. Its then that I worked on the concept of a restaurant. I have done bars and restaurants up over the years and I have always wanted a place of my own in the centre of Preston, to be in my chef whites in the kitchen.”
Anthony wanted to create a concept in Preston that was quintessentially Spanish in its flavour profile and service delivery. “I wanted to emulate the restaurants of San Sebastian. Their restaurants are gastronomic experiences, a feast for the senses. You can visit for a glass of wine, before going on somewhere else or for dinner and the whole evening, but it will always be a great experience; lively relaxed yet still elegant. A place where you could meet a colleague after work or bring your family to celebrate.”
The perfect venue came available on the corner of Friargate on Preston’s Flag Market and Anthony’s restaurant dream became a reality called Pintxos (pronounced Pinchos).
Pintxos are small pieces of bread with tasty toppings secured with a cocktail stick and are traditionally eaten as snacks in bars in the Basque region.
Anthony explained: “I love Spain and I want to bring that informal style of eating, from the Basque region into the city centre. I want the food to be phenomenal, the vibe to be great, the music to be quintessentially Spanish or Latin and the atmosphere to be brilliant.”
With plans to have a pitch in front of the restaurant on the Flag Market, for tables and chairs Anthony hopes to create a great piazza vibe at night. You can see it |all over his face, but Anthony readily |admits he is excited to be at the heart of what he truly believes will soon be a reinvigorated city centre.
He concludes: “Preston is my home. I was born and bred here and where else would I realise my restaurant dreams? There is lots of investment coming to the city and I know its going to be an incredibly exciting place to be. I’m really proud to be amongst the first to take that leap of faith and open up my restaurant dream here in the city centre.”
I can’t help but wish him all the luck in the world with his new restaurant but knowing Anthony as I do, he wont need luck his hard work, determination and positive ‘can do’ attitude will never fail.