You were the Morning Advertiser’s Front of House Manager of the Year 2014. What is the secret to being a successful manager?
It was pretty amazing to win an award like that, but it was not just for me, it was for my whole team.
You have to believe in what you do and have a huge passion for it. I love working with my team and meeting new people, both new customers and staff. If you enjoy your job it rubs off on other people to create a positive and friendly environment.
You also need to do things with the team to reward them and show you do really appreciate them. For example, we recently went to the Wogan Coffee factory, which is our supplier, and did loads of coffee training. A couple of months ago, we closed the pub for one day and took all the staff to a bakery in Bath to have a baking lesson in the morning and went to a rapeseed farm in the afternoon.
Do you think front-of-house achieves its fair share of time in the hospitality limelight?
The whole of hospitality is becoming more high profile. Chefs are going up and up and bringing the whole of hospitality with them. We are one team. We can’t do it without them and they can’t do it without us.
We are not on the TV as much as the chefs but maybe this is because they create a product. If I got on the TV and said 'do you want me to tell you about my stock control and my booking systems?' – it just wouldn’t sell as well.
We are like swans, we need to be floating about having a good time, entertaining, welcoming and hosting an amazing party with food as the star of the show. Underneath you are paddling as fast as you can, but you are trying to keep your cool at the same time. It is an art that can only be perfected by certain people.
You also manage the event catering business, how do you juggle the two sides of the role?
The outside catering happened organically when someone asked me to cater their wedding. I used to work at functions at Hotel Du Vin and didn’t realise it would benefit me at the time. If you are in the middle of a marquee, in the middle of a field, you have to have a back-up plan and have to be able to work quickly on your feet. I love the diversity of doing both the Pony & Trap and managing the outside events.
What are the pros and cons of working with family?
It is amazing working with my family as it is very rewarding. We all have different roles and it is not just about the Pony & Trap. My other brother runs an incredible business and my parents also an incredible business. The busier we get the less family time we have. We do make an effort to go out for dinner and it’s an excuse to do a bit of research.
Would you recommend a career in hospitality to others?
If they have a passion for it and aren’t afraid to shy away from hard work then I would absolutely recommend a career in hospitality. It is like hosting a party at your house every night.
Work ethic and passion are the two most important things in this industry; if you love what you do and work hard at it then hospitality can be a very rewarding industry. However, if you don’t have that passion and aren’t prepared to put in the hours to achieve your goals then you’ll find a career in hospitality a difficult one. But whatever you choose to do you just have to believe in yourself.