Richard Bigg can’t roll his ‘Rs’ properly. That is a good sentence for anyone with a similar affliction to try and get their tongue round, but is also a bit of a problem for a man with a long-running love affair with Spain, a clutch of Spanish restaurants and a Spanish girlfriend – rather like Chris Eubank taking a career in flogging the hard outer cases of marine molluscs from a place where the waves meet the land.

While Bigg may struggle to get his pronunciation spot on, recreating authentic Spanish food, drink and ambience obviously come much more naturally to him. Camino, his and business partner Nigel Foster’s four-strong tapas restaurant and bar brand, is popular with both customers and reviewers and is held in high esteem by the industry for its flexible take on quality casual dining and drinking. Last year’s £3m injection from the Business Growth Fund and the appointment of none other than Mark Derry, the chief executive of Brasserie Blanc, as non-executive chairman have cemented the justification of the still-small company’s big reputation.

Expansion plans to take Camino to 10 sites by 2015 are behind schedule, Bigg admits, but he is “chomping at the bit” to take the company to the next level. Not that he feels the need for apologies regarding the growth timetable. He has been busy opening the country’s first dedicated Cava bar, Copa da Cava, at the King’s Cross restaurant and working hard to get more out of the existing sites generally, with new marketing and PR support and a relaunch of the website imminent, plus a lot of work to reverse the brand’s historically “very weak” presence on social media going forward. The firm has also just appointed Tsara Taylor, the former financial controller of Carluccio’s as its first finance director – a move designed to help Camino in its next phase of growth.

The company is constantly looking at sites for new bar/restaurants, but very few end up being suitable hence, while he is confident in saying another Camino will open in 2014, probably in central London, Bigg is not sure his ambition to open two will be realised.

“We are slightly behind our target, but we could catch up. The problem for us is we need not just a restaurant licence, but also a bar licence – we sell just as much food in our bar area as we do in our restaurant,” he explains.

The restaurants tend to seat 75 people while the size of the bars varies; Camino Kings Cross has the largest, with capacity for 200, plus extra outside.

However, Bigg is totally confident that Camino has tremendous potential and the ability to fulfil it, despite its site demands. Not only, he points out, does the concept sit right across all the key and growing dining trends – casual, sharing, small plates, quality, fun, all day parts – it benefits from a growing general appreciation of and familiarity with Spanish food that has now gone beyond the more mainstream introduction to the idea of tapas that the likes of La Tasca have already helpfully broached: “Twenty years ago the words ‘gastronomy’ and ‘Spain’ would never have been in the same sentence,” he says. “Now it is the biggest thing out there, not only at the higher end, with San Sebastian as the number one food city in Europe, but it is super food you can offer at a sensible price that lets people try lots of different flavours in a very informal way.”

Bigg adds that 2014 can only add to all the things going in Camino’s favour. Spain, of course, are football’s defending World Cup champions.

“During the last World Cup, we had five screens showing the football and four consecutive weeks with more than £100,000 turnover [at the Kings Cross site]. This time I would like to have six weeks into six figures,” he says hopefully.

The Kings Cross Camino averages £75,000 to £80,000 a week and Bigg thinks this could build up to £90,000. These are fairly representative figures for the other bar/restaurants, although the Blackfriars site, which opened in May, only runs five days a week due to its City of London location and, as such, currently takes “mid- to high-forties”. Bigg says this is growing all the time as the operation becomes more established. Next year, he expects like-for-like sales to increase by around 10%, to at least £8.5m net, excluding any new bars, across the board, regardless of the football. Bigg adds that the last two of the 10 total sites that are the initial target for the firm, could even be outside London – as well as looking at all the usual big cities, he is interested in locations in significant stops northwards from the Kings Cross flagship site, as many of its customers are commuters.

Wherever the next Camino opens, Bigg is ready to fill it with genuine Spanish furniture and knick-knacks that he trawls the markets and antique shops of Spain for on his many trips to the country, and drives back in a hired van.

He was gutted that the end of his second marriage necessitated the sale of his much-loved second home in Andalucía, but is enjoying exploring the northern part of the country with his girlfriend.

He seems to make the most of whatever life throws at him – and it seems to have thrown quite a lot in his 50years so far, including two very near-death experiences. It was amazing that he only ended up with a broken back given that he was a passenger in a convertible that flipped in a horrendous car crash when he was 28 – by some miracle when the car landed upside-down, it did so in a ditch, thus saving his and the driver’s lives. His recovery from that was swiftly followed by a very dangerously incorrect diagnosis for colic – he merrily went off on a foreign jaunt and only under duress from a concerned girlfriend agreed to go hospital to find his appendix had burst. He was told that if he had left it another hour he would have died.

He came out of this enforced time off from his career determined to make real his long-held desire to open his own bar. That idea first entered his head when he started bartending at night to supplement his paltry earnings as an office junior in the City, and then grew as he travelled around the States in his early 20s. He came back to a job at the then Trusthouse Forte, which he says nearly killed off that drive. He worked for several bar and restaurant businesses (with a brief time out of the industry when he spent his grandmother’s inheritance to become a racing driver) and learnt how not to treat staff to the extent that he is now absolutely adamant that his managers are taught to delegate, to work sensible hours, and that there is a relief manager available for holiday cover. Working with Chris Salt at Whitbread’s new ventures division not only taught him how to be a good employer but reinvigorated his latent urge to run his own bar/restaurant, he says.

He was 32 when he opened his first bar, Cantaloupe, in the then not quite up and coming Shoreditch, as the creative and foodie side of the partnership with Foster, whom he had met at a friend’s party, on the financial and property end of the venture. A friend of Foster owned the site and wanted Bigg’s advice on whether it could be suitable for a bar:

“Immediately when I walked in, it just felt right,” Bigg recalls. Such was his faith that he raised £50,000 against his own house. Within a year of opening, the site was named Time Out’s Bar of the Year. The duo went on to run The Big Chill Festival and are still owners of the affiliated Big Chill Bars, although Bigg leaves the running of that business to operations manager Dan Heath.

Nowadays, Bigg is focussed solely on Camino. A typical day starts with a swim at 6.30am (“I love food and I am not prepared to eat less, so I have to exercise more”) followed by an hour and a half at the computer before heading out to one if not two of his restaurants. He also gets involved in a growing number of events such as Spanish food festivals. It is all about two of the things he loves most – Spain and dining.

“I never have Monday blues – I am excited and full of energy when I come to work.” Only for someone who gets to make a living from feeding their passions is that easy to say.