Subjects: Restaurants’ bespoke brews, technology and the post-work world, and enthralling newbies by generating awe
Authors: Glynn Davis, Paul Chase, and Chris Edger and Tony Hughes
Restaurants’ bespoke brews by Glynn Davis
The Criterion Restaurant in central London opened in 1873 and is apparently in the top ten most historic and oldest restaurants in the world. Perusing the beer options on the drinks list in its bar recently felt like going back in time to the earlier days of the restaurant. The half-dozen beers available were about as bog-standard as it gets. Going into such places reminds me just how far things are moving on in the world of beer because the poor choice available to me on this occasion is gradually becoming the exception rather than the norm.
That is not to say restaurants and hotels are necessarily overhauling their entire beer lists to accommodate the more particular beer drinker but frequently I find at least one beer of interest in most venues I visit. What I’ve also been increasingly spotting recently is a very welcome sight on drinks lists – the house beer. In many cases these are not just a brewery’s regular beer that has been rebranded but it has in fact been created specifically for the outlet.
In the past few months I’ve seen Poppies Fish & Chip restaurant work with Five Points Brewing Company to create Poppies Pale Ale that has been brewed with characteristics that complement the fish and chips. This was followed by restaurant Simpson’s in the Strand adding Pale Dinner Ale to its menu, which has been brewed with Yorkshire Brewery Ilkley and is based on a style from the 1880s that aligns well with the heritage of Simpson’s.
Indicative of how this trend straddles all parts of the restaurant industry is the decision by upmarket restaurant Core by Clare Smyth (who held three Michelin stars when heading up Restaurant Gordon Ramsay before striking out on her own) to have a house brew. In among the restaurant’s extensive wine list (running to 480 bins plus a large selection of fine wines) sits Core Bohemia that has been produced by Two Tribes Brewing in Horsham. Interestingly the malted grain used in production of the beer is used to make the bread served at Core.
Despite beer being seen as a downmarket product by far too many ill-informed people it has often found advocates in the Michelin star end of the restaurant trade. Alyn Williams at Westbury for example has been a supporter with a decent beer list – containing 15 ales from around the world – and customers can have them matched to food on the tasting menu. Probably the biggest supporter in the trade has been Michel Roux who has for some years had beers brewed for his restaurants including Le Gavroche. The Artesian bar at the Langham Hotel, where he is executive chef of the Roux at the Langham restaurant, has on its list the Negroni Saison produced specifically for it by Partizan Brewery in Bermondsey.
His love of beer has been extended further at the Langham with the decision at the new Wigmore pub – attached to the hotel – to have a house ale produced by Brew By Numbers. This Saison-style brew is served in pewter tankards and has proved to be a very popular option on the drinks list by customers wanting something distinctive and differentiated.
This trend for collaborative beers is likely to become increasingly prevalent in the industry and is being mirrored in the retail sector where Marks & Spencer has for some years worked with top-name brewers who have produced beers specifically for the retailer. This has been followed recently by Aldi, which has started working with Williams Bros of Scotland on a range of bespoke beers made exclusively for the supermarket. It is a similar situation at Majestic Wine, which recently announced it was launching a collaborative beer with London brewery Four Pure called Easy Peeler Citrus IPA.
It can surely only be a question of time before we see restaurants and bars offering a number of bespoke beers and maybe changing them on a regular basis. This would sit comfortably with the evolving nature of consumer demand that increasingly revolves around an appetite for a constantly changing offer. The days of people consuming the same beer all their lives (like their fathers) are over and bars and restaurants must recognise this situation. When this thinking is aligned with unique products made specifically for the venue then this is a rich combination.
To continue to offer the same boring range of old-school products is not only detrimental to the business but is doing a disservice to the customers of today. Will I choose to return to the Criterion for another beer some time? On my last visit I ended up drinking wine. There won’t be a next time.
Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends
Technology and the post-work world by Paul Chase
I’ve just returned from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ Autumn Debate and Study Tour – an excellent day spent debating topics of current interest to the trade, as well as visiting some great casual dining outlets and sampling their fare. And all this was conducted in the somewhat futuristic environment of Canary Wharf.
Inevitably, one of the topics that preoccupied the debates we had was Brexit, and the impact on access to European labour on which the trade is highly reliant. People 1st’s Annette Allmark presented us with the results of a “People and Productivity” piece of research, which it had conducted with 40 large businesses representing a cross-section of the UK hospitality and tourism sector. The key headline of this research was by 2024 we would need to recruit 1.3 million additional people of whom 971,313 would replace existing staff.
In general, this was a good piece of research that highlighted the recruitment problems that might arise from a combination of Brexit and the high levels of staff-churn that characterise many businesses in our sector. In the discussion panel that followed, my chief executive Daniel Davies pointed out what was missing was any reference to the impact technological change might have on labour force requirements in our sector.
He gave the example of McDonald’s, and as near as I can remember, this is what he said: “You go into a modern McDonald’s and whereas until quite recently there would be ten, maybe 15 people behind the counter taking orders and payments and delivering meals, now there are six automated ordering points with touch-screen technology, where you can order and pay for your meals. They have a capital cost, but they don’t turn up late for work or leave early, they don’t require sick pay, holiday pay or a pension and they never develop an attitude problem. Technology like this, both front and back-of-house, will impact on low-skill job roles in our sector in the future, and the result could be we will employ fewer, but better skilled workers.”
CGA also confirmed the increasing importance of technology for our industry, and by implication for jobs. One in four GB consumers state they have used a mobile device to pre-order and/or pay when eating or drinking out; Heathrow Airport now offers a seamless food and drinks pre-order service through an app; Barclaycard enables the purchase of low-value goods by scan and paying using their smartphone, without the need to visit a physical checkout; and in the kitchen, we have even seen the development of “Flippy the hamburger cooking” robot! And this trend is not restricted to hospitality, but affects many other industries. Research recently published in America envisioned up to 40% of low-skilled office jobs going in the next ten years.
So, while there is likely to be a shortage of labour in our industry in the next few years, longer-term there could very well be a fall in the need for labour that coincides with an increase in the supply of it arising out of technological displacement, and this will more than compensate for fewer immigrants after Brexit.
Ours is a “people industry” and customers do want to be met and greeted by friendly, hospitable staff that have good product knowledge and make the difference when providing an excellent customer journey. So, robots and machines can’t replace the personal touch, but they can and will take over a lot of the low-skilled functions that we currently rely on labour to provide. If we look beyond the impact technology will have on employment in hospitality and appreciate this is a process that will affect whole swathes of our economy, these developments have profound implications for the nature of our society.
Machines destroying jobs has been a fear since the Luddites of the industrial revolution. But we in the west now live in a post-industrial world of tertiary production and service industries. It isn’t clear what will replace the jobs that robots will do in the future. And if the result is that large sections of our population will be made idle by technological change; if we can’t afford to pay people as workers to buy back the product of their labour as consumers, then to whom do we sell it? In a post-work world made possible by rapid technological change, does the government then tax businesses to afford a national wage for everyone, in work or not, and then employers directly pay additional money to those who are employed for their added value?
Technological change is a huge disrupter and its implications go far beyond our industry and its sub-sectors. I don’t think we’ve even begun to evaluate the implications for our society, but they will be profound.
Paul Chase is director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on on-trade health and alcohol policy
Enthralling newbies by generating awe by Chris Edger and Tony Hughes
Following on from enticing talent by generating desire, leaders must now turn their attention to capturing the hearts and minds of their newbies! First impressions leave lasting impressions! Expectations have been raised for candidates during a rigorous selection process and it is crucial companies overcome any scepticism by delivering on or exceeding their previous promises. How? By inculcating feelings of awe among new joiners by how they are treated during this pivotal stage. Fostering deep feelings among new joiners that they have indeed accomplished something significant by joining this impressive organisation! In order to engender feelings of wonder and pride great service companies give:
A warm welcome: New recruits are given a heartfelt welcome to the company. On day one the new recruit is fulsomely and warmly greeted by somebody in a position of responsibility (whether locally or centrally). Also – if possible – the new recruit is “buddied up” with an experienced co-worker and/or assigned a suitable mentor straight away. Remember, most new recruits start off eagerly wishing to prove themselves but are conscious they do not know how things are really “done around here”. This anxiety can be removed immediately by conjoining them with “old hands” who “know the ropes”.
Deep immersion: In addition, intensive immersion is triggered to integrate individuals into the company’s ethos and ways of working. In terms of understanding ways of working, two dimensions are covered – organisational dynamics and the job itself. In terms of the former, it is essential new recruits gain understanding of “how to get things done around here”. In terms of the latter – the job itself – essential technical skills are implanted to fulfil statutory obligations and the safety of customers. How? Ritz Carlton – an exemplar of hospitality induction training – has beacon units of excellence, showcasing all aspects of the company and its core service philosophy (“we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”). It follows up this immersion with a six-hour “catch up” with its general manager, which it terms “DAY 21”.
Inspiring ‘why and how’: Obviously, new entrants into the organisation will have a fairly clear perception of what the core philosophy and strategy of the organisation is due to their prior research and interactions with the firm. But now the rubber will hit the road! What is it really like within the organisation and what is its DNA? New recruits will be influenced by the authentic manner in which people around them act – do they actually live and convey the organisation’s “noble purpose” and “compelling values” on a daily basis?
Noble purpose: As we have previously said, many talented recruits will be drawn to organisations because of what they stand for and the “calling” they provide. Once they have “entered the portals”, however, companies must reiterate to their new recruits why they exist. Done well, it is usually most powerfully conveyed by senior leaders, line managers and co-workers who exemplify, believe in and “live” the purpose of the organisation. For instance, Pizza Hut UK – an organisation that has been saved from obsolescence under its chief executive Jens Hofma – has crafted a noble purpose with his team, generating real pride. It says: “We are fuelled by the passion that ‘we are doing good’...we are giving people a social experience for £10 per head they wouldn’t get elsewhere …we are honoured to have their hard earned cash and are proud we are giving people value and a great experience.”
Compelling values: Organisations can have a noble purpose, which explains why it exists, but how do they make sure it is “behaviourally underpinned”? The David Lloyd Leisure Group, which has transitioned successfully to private ownership, has steadfastly maintained market leadership in the “midscale health club segment” by staying true to its purpose of making its members feel “special, understood and valued”! The five supporting behaviours it expects staff to display – enthusiastic, engaging, expert, empathetic, enabling – are designed to reinforce and strengthen this purpose. The point is this – companies that have carefully thought about whether or not their purpose has a “worthwhile resonance” (to staff and customers), supplemented by purposeful, aligned values that shape the required behaviours to bring it to fruition on a daily basis, are far more likely to succeed than those that don’t!
Heartwarming stories, legends, symbols and icons: Another thing that great service companies do to penetrate the hearts and minds of new recruits is stir feelings by evoking positive imagery in powerful stories – recalling legendary figures/events and drawing attention to symbols and icons that are crucial manifestations of the company’s heritage and DNA. In its “story”, Nando’s highlights the legends, symbols and icons that underpin its brand. Through storytelling it seeks to emphasise the provenance and authenticity of the brand, the fearless determination of its founding fathers and its mission to spread Nando’s happiness around the world. Its evocative and romantic narrative is designed to intrigue and inspire customers and staff alike.
In summary, once great service companies have got new recruits through their doors, they work hard to engender instant feelings of awe that they have accomplished joining something of significance, rather than feelings of despondency and disillusionment they have made a catastrophic mistake signing up to a fabricated entity! Great service companies enthral the hearts and minds of “newbies” through giving a warm welcome, deep immersion, bringing their “noble purpose” and “compelling values” alive through the behaviours of the people they initially meet and the heart-warming stories, legends, symbols and icons they learn about more fully as they begin their eagerly anticipated career journeys.
This article was extracted from Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ book “Inspirational Leadership – How to Mobilise Super-performance through eMOTION”. Professor Chris Edger is a multiple author on retail leadership and Tony Hughes is a luminary of the European foodservice scene