Richmond’s chef Galo Molina – who does indeed wear a typical chef hat at the Old Richmond Inn believes in fresh and local when it’s available, but always high quality. As an example, he says he wants “not just any escargot.” For him, it’s French escargot.
At 17 Molina left his native Ecuador – no work available there – and went to Bermuda where he worked at a big resort. “I was never afraid of hard work,” he says. “I always gave to the company 110 percent.”
He worked with chefs from several countries, closely watching and learning from each. He also appreciated the business end of the resort. “I fell in love,” he says, thinking it could become a career.
He took classes to learn English. “The minute I could communicate, I started climbing the steps. I was a dishwasher. I was cleaning glasses in the night, in
the bar.” Then he moved on to the salad station, the hot food station, and beyond.
Turns out his culinary interests actually were tied to his childhood. “My mom was an excellent cook. She used to cook for big events for high-class people. I always tasted the food.”
At times he would urge her to “add more flavor.” But, he says, “I had no idea I would come to be a chef.” When Molina was 22 he moved to New Jersey and worked at several sites, including a Playboy hotel. By then he knew he wanted to own his own restaurant, but realty prices were high there. In 1986 Molina and his wife, Linda, moved to Indiana. Before long the Old Richmond Inn was theirs. Their philosophy? The best service, best food on the market, fair prices. In warm weather, their one-acre garden provides vegetables and herbs.
The Old Richmond Inn’s cuisine is casual fine dining – from comfort foods to dishes with international influences created by Chef Molina to decadent desserts. Other Richmond options owned by the Molinas offer different experiences – “always fresh, always Italian” at Galo’s Italian Grille, a nautically-themed atmosphere at Ainsley’s Café & Harbor Bar on Brookville Lake, and 5th Street Coffee and Bagel where all the restaurants’ breads are made.
“Galo has hand-trained all his chefs for all the locations,” says Linda. “All chefs have to work at the Old Richmond Inn first.” For the Molinas, the business of food includes the entire family. All three of their children work in the food industry, two at Molina sites in Richmond.