THE two chefs behind The Gannet in Glasgow and a former banker are building their fledgling gourmet burger venture by opening its first full-scale restaurant in the city’s Woodlands Road.

Peter McKenna and Ivan Stein, who have seen The Gannet in fashionable Finnieston named in Conde Nast Traveller’s 2018 Gold List of the world’s best restaurants, have teamed up with banker-turned-restaurateur Nick Watkins in the El Perro Negro burger business.

Mr McKenna said that the ownership of El Perro Negro was an equal, three-way split between himself, Mr Stein and Mr Watkins, who worked in the banking sector and was then a facilities manager with O2 Telefonica before taking redundancy in 2013.

El Perro Negro, conceived by Mr Watkins, has been operating a takeaway outlet in Argyle Street in Finnieston for about five months.

Mr McKenna said: “It is going really well.”

He noted this outlet, which offers seating for about eight people, was attracting people attending concerts at the nearby SSE Hydro and other visitors to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre site. Mr McKenna also flagged the takeaway’s proximity to the Skypark business complex.

Mr McKenna said work was about to commence on the new restaurant on Woodlands Road, which would seat around 30 to 35 people and is due to open in the first quarter of next year, with planning permission having been secured. He highlighted the possibility of further openings of El Perro Negro outlets, perhaps in the east end or south side of Glasgow or further afield, but emphasised such expansion would not be considered until the Woodlands Road restaurant had been open for about a year.

Mr McKenna, who met Mr Stein when they worked together in the kitchen of chef Michael Caines’s restaurant in the Abode Hotel in Glasgow, was introduced to Mr Watkins through a friend, Dennistoun-based Galician wine importer Ted Garcia.

El Perro Negro employs six staff in its Argyle Street outlet.

Mr McKenna said about 12 staff would be recruited initially for the Woodlands Road restaurant, citing potential to build the workforce as business grew.

He noted the proximity of student accommodation and a big new housing development to this site, also observing Woodlands Road is the “thoroughfare” from the west end to the city centre.

Mr Watkins, a keen amateur cook, began a private-dining business, cooking Spanish food for customers under the brand name El Perro Negro. As Glasgow saw an influx of high-end burger chains, such as Five Guys and Handmade Burger Co, he began to make his own burgers.

After guest-cooking appearances in bars and at events drew favourable reviews from food bloggers, Mr Watkins became convinced he had a unique product around which to build a business. He had no restaurant experience, but decided to take the leap to launch El Perro Negro as a business after meeting with Mr McKenna and Mr Stein.

Mr Watkins said: “I’ve heard people say we’re in danger of having too many burger places, but nobody says that about Italian restaurants or steakhouses.”

Mr McKenna highlighted the quality of the meat, sourced from a butcher in London and a Scottish supplier, as key to the venture, citing the “deep bovine flavour” of the burgers. Brioche buns are sourced from Glasgow bakery Seb & Milli, he noted.

Mr McKenna said the El Perro Negro venture had a mixture of private and bank funding.

He added: “The product was first conceived by Nick. We came in after the fact to help him get a premises off the ground.”