secretleaders | S2E04 Café Rouge: How Co-Founder Karen Jones Creates Brands People Come Back To

S2E04 Café Rouge: How Co-Founder Karen Jones Creates Brands People Come Back To

Today we have an audio feast for you as our guest is Karen Jones, most well-known as the co-founder of the Café Rouge chain of restaurants. Her career is a textbook story of entrepreneurship.

Karen was born in Lancashire, in northern England, and raised in Yorkshire, London, and Switzerland, before studying English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, where she has now come full circle to serve as their Chancellor.

As the Café Rouge brand grew, Karen and her co-founder Roger Myers formed the Pelican Group, which was eventually acquired in 1996 by Whitbread for a reported £133 million. Karen couldn’t stay away from the table for too long and became the CEO of the Spirit Pub Group. She is definitely not the kind of person to sit back and put her feet up, so she also joined the board of the London Gastropub Company among many others.

We chat about:

  • How the first Café Rouge came to be
  • Selling Café Rouge and creating Punch Taverns
  • What makes a brand a winner
  • Karen’s advice to entrepreneurs


Are you enjoying the second season so far? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know what you think and, while you’re at it, why not give us a review in iTunes? We’d really appreciate it!

Full show notes at:



The Secret Leaders podcast features interviews with key figures from the UK tech and creative ecosystem. From entrepreneurs (both early and latter stage), to journalists, VCs - and even royalty - the series profiles those who have helped shape the nation's culture of innovation and growth.

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