The Museum of Ham and its iconic sandwich are renewed with views of the Gran Vía

The Museum of Ham and its iconic sandwich are renewed with views of the Gran Vía

Updated

The reopening of the Gran Vía, 72 premises represents a turning point for the group, which renews the gastro offer of its 7 spaces. The first opened in 1978. In Mayor alone they sell 3,000 sandwiches a day

Francisco Muoz Heras never liked photos. “There were only two that he was excited about: one that was made with Cantinflas and the other with Marujita Díaz,” says his son Luis Alfonso Muoz, today co-CEO of the emblematic Museo del Jamón, a family business founded by his father and uncle. Its windows full of flashy promotions, with mountains of Serrano ham sandwiches and bars always bursting at the seams, have witnessed luxury since 1978 of all the events that took place in the capital. “My father wanted to democratize the consumption of ham, which at the beginning of this business was still available only to a few”.

The photos that Muoz Heras liked so much were taken at the premises at Gran Va, 72, which reopened its doors a few days ago, renovated in shape and updated in substance. “In a pandemic, we had time to reflect on our business model and see where we want to go,” says Muoz, third generationn -his three brothers are also on the board of directors- at the head of the business.

Luis Alfonso Mu
Luis Alfonso Muoz, co-CEO of the Museo del Jamón.Angel Navarrete

The history of the Museo del Jamón begins when Muoz Heras returns from the military and decides take over the small grocery store his parents owned in the Villaverde neighborhood in Madrid. “The first thing he did was put the delicatessen in a corner.” The reception of the public was unbeatable and after this he decided to “go out and sell”. It didn’t take long to set up the first warehouse. “The ham had a prohibitive price then.”

The entrepreneurial spirit translated into the purchase of the first premises on Paseo del Prado and the opening of the first themed ham restaurant. “The name comes from the location. He was surrounded by the great museums of the city (the Prado, the Thyssen, the Reina Sofía…) and they played -his uncle was also involved in the subject- with that to name the project”. Today they have -after having separated the family branches- seven stores in the capital (later came Calle Mayor, Carrera de San Jernimo, Avda de Crdoba -where they have the central-…) and they all acquired them with their own resources.

OWN RESOURCES

“About every two years my father had the capacity to buy an establishment. We have never pulled outside financing nor have we planned large expansions.” The Gran Va premises, with 700 square meters and capacity for 300 diners, have been the jewel in the group’s crown. “My father spent a year talking daily on the phone with the owner of the place to negotiate the price. I fought it until I got it.” That is why this reopening, which his father has not been able to see since he passed away last year, is so special for the family.

The Museo del Jamón, to give a bit of context, sells more than 32,000 hams, 300,000 kilograms of ham per yearbetween what is consumed in establishments and delicatessen. Their serrano sandwich, which in the past cost 100 pesetas and today a euro and a half, comes out only at the location on Calle Mayor, 3,000 a day. They have never needed advertising or marketing. “My father worked a lot. When we were little, my brothers and I saw little of him.” If they ate with him it was at the museum, if they shared time with him, it was at the pit. “He always told us that the hostelry was very slave.”

Over time, the image of the brand was closely linked only to tourists. “We want to change this because it was not and is not our intention. We want to connect again with the traditional customer. Offer you what you need and be your meeting point”. The bars of your premises as the axis of activity. “This is our best social network,” says Muoz, who also has the title of Master of Spain (2007) on his resume. while they finalize the preparations at the Gran Vía premises. If the trend during and after the pandemic has been to promote delivery, they are committed to the good service of the waiters, we want to value the professional treatment of the client, that they receive you and say goodbye with a smile The human team is made up of more than 300 people today.

Manuel Valle, 52 years old, has been in the house for 28 years. He usually works on Avenida de Córdoba, but has joined the Gran Vía team these days. He entered as a butcher and was trained here. Today he is the chief butcher of the group. “I think we have the best value for money, which in the end is what people are looking for“. He boasts of the loyalty of his clientele: “In all our premises, people repeat over and over again. That will be for something “, she argues.

Facade of the premises of the Carrera de San Jer
Facade of the premises of the Carrera de San Jernimo in Madrid.

Francisco José Muoz, general director of the company, is in charge of weekly cutting the hams in Guijuelo, where they have a factory, and choosing “the best” for their establishments. Luis Alfonso complains about the “unfair” bad reputation that Serrano ham often has. “Serrano can be exquisite. Here it is important to do a lot of pedagogy because there is a lot of cheating. You have to explain to people that there are Iberico hams de cebo and acorn-fed, that depending on the cut, it will have one flavor or another….

Again they want to put the value in their butchers. “I think there is no place that has as much variety of hams as we do, from Serrano to Iberico de bellota. The customer chooses the one they want to drink or to take away.” Another of the fronts that have always been open is that of if it’s cheap, it won’t be very good. The volume of product that we move allows us to adjust prices. What does not change is the quality.

BET ON THE MENU OF THE DAY

In the new stage, the promotions have disappeared. “We want to attract another public” and that also implies updating the offer when sitting down at the table. Your menu of the day is maintained by the responsibility we have with the customer from day to day. Eating rich and with good quality for 12 euros is his daily challenge. “The executive chef has been with us for 20 years and knows the customer very well.”

A la carte restaurants have also wanted to give it a spin. “The croquette used to be salted by weight. Now we make less quantity but more times.” They put more care. These are details that the stoppage caused by the pandemic allowed them to analyze. “We’re not aiming for a Michelin star, but I can guarantee that they eat some great artichokes here. Not everything is the sandwich“. In this new stage, the average ticket has risen to 15 euros.

The foreign public is, however, essential for the business. “English is the most numerous, followed by Japanese“. Some agencies from the Asian country include a stop at the Ham Museum in the tours of the capital. “The Japanese, just like the Americans, like to take the product in a vacuum. The English do not mind taking the leg”, says Luis Alfonso.

When Francisco Muoz planted his business in the 70s, many called him almost crazy. When someone said that he had “hit the ball,” he would give him a half smile but say nothing. “When he decided to be a bartender, his house didn’t like the decision.” So he was not so well seen. “In part, my father was a bit of a visionary“.

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