Steve Walsh’s new business is a long way from the dot-com that his Manchester-based agency Walsh Simmons founded in the late ‘90s.
Being an ideas man has certainly paid off for Englishman Steve Walsh. Laterooms.com was set up to enable travellers to get the best possible hotel deals, and was run by Steve and his brothers Tony and Paul. In 2004 they sold a large stake to a venture capital company and two years later the business was sold for a princely sum to TUI Travel.
Steve’s latest business venture won’t reap him a fortune, but that isn’t intended. Sin Embargo – he chose the name because he liked the sound of it – is opposite the marina in Mal Pas, Alcúdia – the location of luxurious villas owned by wealthy islanders and foreigners, and Steve’s summer home. Sin Embargo is a unique combination of café/bar and art gallery. Why art and hospitality?
“I was pushed by my father to do sciences and maths, so that I’d always have a job, but I was terrible at them,” says Steve. “I ended up in advertising and marketing.” But the creative Steve and his brothers are also artists. “We always had this idea to have a quirky fun gallery where we’d put some of our art and also involve local artists,” says Steve.
“Even in the Lateroom days, during our end-of-the-week meetings, the conversation always turned to art and creative stuff,” adds Paul, visiting from Monaco, where he lives and generates geometric art using a computer program he created. Family is also important to Steve: “My children wanted to get involved in the hospitality business and when we saw this place on the market, it ticked quite a few boxes, so we bought it.” Steve’s son Elliot and daughter Steffi, along with their colleague Marcos, are responsible for the day-to-day running of Sin Embargo. Having opened the doors to the place two months ago, the team is now “pausing for breath to see what kind of reception we get from what we’ve done so far.”
The gallery itself comprises four separate rooms, and features work by local artists, as well as the Walsh brothers. Palma-based artist Dolores Palomino has paintings – and a smile-inducing papier-mâché sculpture of Amy Winehouse – displayed in one room. Steve bought some paintings that had been donated by Mallorcan artists at a charity auction. A summer temporary exhibition was inaugurated on June 12th: Clovis presents Fish Market & Pigs. But this is not a conventional art gallery, offering investment pieces. Steve is non-committal when asked what’s for sale, but explains that the art is chosen to be visually appealing, not expensive, and that some is by some well-known local artists. Paul has a room dedicated to his computer-generated art;
Steve’s (largely unsigned) and Tony’s appears here and there. Paul recalls reading the words of an Italian glassmaker, who said that “as an artist you have an obligation to create whatever comes into your head.” Get it out and get it on the walls. Paul likens it to stepping onto a stage:
“You may be as nervous as hell, but you have to do it.” Steve appears a bit nervous that we may find his tongue-in-cheek sculpture – prompted by the low percentage of women in the construction industry – a bit sexist. We loved it and suggested it would make a good talking point if it were in the bar. “If we can make our concept work here, we should be able to make it work anywhere,” says Steve. “I’m looking at the possibility of opening a Sin Embargo in London and Manchester, and am due to meet a small restaurant chain in the UK that’s interested in changing two of their existing places. “I don’t see this business being based on turnover of paintings and commissions. The idea is to find more stuff to make people smile. Whether I sell it or not, I’m not bothered.”
Only someone like Steve Walsh – with his successful track record – could get away with the idea of a business plan like that…
More about Sin Embargo Gallery
A combination of art gallery & restaurant in Mal Pas, close to Alcudia you will find a family who are entusiastic about art, sharing good food and creating a memorable experience for customers. Highly recommended. […] Sin Embargo Art Gallery & Bistro Mal Pas
Sin Embargo opened a new and very interesting art exhibition titled ‘Pigs and Fish Market’ by Clovis, showing until the 10th of July. Check out the photos of the opening night here! […] New art exhibition at Sin Embargo