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The Olde Richmond Inn

This renovated 1894 home in the Old Richmond Historic District is one of Richmond's premier dining establishments.  It is owned by Galo Molina. 

Photo taken January 7, 2006

Palladium-Item article by staff writer, Bill Engle
Published on October 3, 2005
Reprinted with permission

50 Weeks of Success: Galo Molina

Cooking up a dream:  Local chef has made Olde Richmond Inn into a landmark

Galo Molina packed his moving truck and his two children and his wife, pregnant with their third child, popped the truck into gear, took a big deep breath and headed west.

It was not his first adventure and would not be his last.

But it was perhaps his scariest.

"I thought `Oh, my God. What have I done?'" Molina said as he sat comfortably in his shop, 5th Street Coffee & Bagels, looking wistfully across Fifth Street at his pride and joy, The Olde Richmond Inn.

"But now I'm so happy to be here and be a part of this community," he said. "This is my home. I'm always happy to travel but always happy to come home."

It was the mid-1980s and Molina was moving from New Jersey to Indiana to open his own restaurant. He had been in the restaurant business for 11 years and had dreamed of owning his own.

He came to Richmond at the suggestion of his father-in-law, Paul Bertsch, who opened Primex Plastics in Richmond in 1979.

"He said, `I think you should come to Richmond. Richmond needs a chef of your caliber,'" Molina said.

So he drove to Richmond and opened The Olde Richmond Inn, which has become one of the finest restaurants in the area. It has become both successful and a local landmark. Hundreds of local people have worked for Galo and hundreds more have become loyal fans.

"Like a lot of restaurants, the owner often becomes the face of it," said Alan Spears, a local bank executive and long-time fan of The Olde Richmond Inn. "It's great to have a nice, locally owned restaurant that serves excellent food. It's different than the corporate chains where everything seems fake. Galo's restaurant seems honest, if you will."

Molina also opened Galo's on South Ninth Street, but it has since closed. Today, he owns Ainsley's Café on Brookville Lake and 5th Street Coffee & Bagels in Old Richmond.

He is a noted chef and a man of courage .

"Galo is a person of vision who is not afraid to take risks," said local Realtor Marc Duning. "He's come a long way. When you go to his restaurant you can always expect a good meal, good service and good atmosphere."

Molina left his native Ecuador as a 17-year-old, striking out in the world, looking for opportunities. He went to work as a dishwasher and waiter at a resort in Bermuda, one that had 80 cooks and 600 employees.

"I was so impressed, being in another country, seeing the beautiful operation of this hotel. At that point, I fell in love with the business," Molina said.

He decided to become a chef and worked hard, seeking every opportunity to learn.

"I decided I would give it 110 percent at all times to learn," he said.

He worked his way up to cook and was soon working besides chefs from Germany, Italy, Thailand, Switzerland and Spain. During the winter months, Molina went on hotel-sponsored trips - he would pay half and the hotel would pay half - to study cooking and hotel management in France, England and Italy.

He always wanted to own his own business, and at age 22, he met a man who owned a half-dozen restaurants in New Jersey and arranged to move there to work at the man's hotels.

Molina worked as chef and ran a Holiday Inn in Wayne, N.J., and eventually served as chef in a French restaurant, banquet chef in a Playboy Hotel and ran an Italian pizza parlor, all in New Jersey.

When he decided to come to Richmond, he looked for a special place for his first self-owned restaurant. He found it in the grand old home at Fifth and South B in Old Richmond.

"It was a little restaurant, owned by Marc Jaffe, but it wasn't making any money," Molina said. "I fell in love with the building immediately.

"It's been successful, and the secret is to be consistent and supply good food and hospitality for the client," he said. "You have to welcome the people and serve them what they are looking for."

He employs 80 people and is proud he has been able to provide so many jobs, especially for young people.

"I've had young people who started when they were students and have worked for me for 13 and 14 years," he said. "Over the years, we've had a great staff, and that's really important."

His children have followed in his footsteps. Son David is a chef and daughters Lauren and Linda are in the hospitality and hotel management business.

"That makes me happy," Molina said. "When I built my business I wasn't building it just for myself. I was building it for my family and the other people who worked for me. I said, `Let's build this together.'

"And I am lucky to be in such a wonderful community," he said. "Richmond has given me a lot and I hope I have given something back."


  • Name: Galo Molina
  • Age: 50
  • Title: Owner and chef of The Olde Richmond Inn; owner of Ainsley's Café on Brookville Lake; owner of 5th Street Coffee & Bagels
  • Work experience: Washed dishes and waited tables at a resort hotel in Bermuda; worked his way up to cook with German, Swedish, Italian, Thai and Spanish chefs; was chef and eventually ran a hotel in Wayne, N.J.; worked as a chef in a French restaurant in Morris County, N.J.; ran a pizza parlor in Morris County, N.J.; was banquet chef at Playboy Hotel in Riverdale, N.J.; came to Richmond in 1986 and has owned and operated The Olde Richmond Inn since; opened and ran Galo's, a pizza restaurant in Richmond; has opened 5th Street Coffee & Bagels; bought Ainsley's
  • Personal: A native of Ecuador, he lives in Richmond with wife, Linda, and children Lauren, Linda and David.

His tips for success

  • Always work hard. To be successful you must work hard and be determined.
  • Always be willing to learn. Take training wherever you can find it, and take advantage of all opportunities to learn.
  • To start a business you must have courage. And to be successful with that business you must work hard and be aggressive. Be willing to take a chance.
  • Whatever you do try to do your best. Never accept doing half the job.

Palladium-Item article by staff writer, Bill Engle
Published on October 3, 2005
Reprinted with permission


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