How I Got Here: Joe Moore

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: Justin De Souza
Photo credit: Justin De Souza

Related tags: Crust Bros, Pizza

The founder of pizza group Crust Bros on fulfilling his dream of becoming a restaurateur, thriving off competition, and why the Government's perception of the hospitality sector needs to change.

Why restaurants?
I worked in a bunch of crappy pubs in Nottingham growing up and despite all of that, I loved the buzz. A brief dabble in the corporate world confirmed that hospitality was the only way for me. After a couple of years of running Crust Bros as a street food company, I was able to fulfil my dream of launching our first restaurant in Waterloo, London. It’s been chaotic and challenging, but it’s the most wonderful job I could imagine.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Never be afraid to ask for help. I think people have a tendency to take everything on their shoulders and the best thing I ever did was bring on board a mentor – it saved me from making a stack of mistakes. I just wish I’d done it sooner.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
We lived on Bermondsey Street for a couple of years and I think the buzz, atmosphere and food at José is pretty hard to beat. 

What motivates you?
Competition. I played football to a high standard as a young lad and I try and take that competitive spirit into Crust Bros every day. It helps me look for ways to constantly improve the business – whether it’s improving guest experience, the relentless pursuit of perfect dough or looking to keep up with and overtake our pizza rivals (I joke, everyone is actually lovely in the pizza market).

What keeps you up at night?
At the moment it’s that we’ve not grown at the rate we wanted. It’s massively frustrating that the pandemic has stopped us launching in Soho as planned. But I try not to stress about it too much – it’s way beyond my control. We were so excited to bring our pizza to more people but it will happen this year and in a way, there’s more opportunity than we ever would have had before.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Jason Myers (ex Busaba CEO and Jumeirah) has been a mentor for me for the last 3 years. He’s been a constant sounding board for any ideas (I have a lot and they need filtering), but he’s always been super supportive and backed me when I completely believe in something. He’s one of those frustrating people who have a frustrating (but extremely helpful) knack of always being right.

Best business decision?
Swapping from a counter service to a full service restaurant model. We always made amazing pizza but our service wasn’t able to match it. Swapping that was an absolute game changer for Crust Bros.

Worst business decision?
Going into dark kitchens – we wasted so much time trying to get them to work for us. They never did.

What time do you wake up?
6.30am – my most productive hours of the day are pre-noon. 

Coffee or tea?
I start the day with a percolator coffee at my desk. If I’m working from home then I’ll move onto tea but if I’m out and about then coffee. 

How often do you check your email?
Too often – but turning off notifications on Gmail and WhatsApp was a game changer for me. I’ll try and check only every hour or so. 

How do you let off steam?
I’ve played football for as long as I remember. It’s one of the times in my day/week where I don’t think about the restaurant at all.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
It’s got to be a night out, especially after the year we’ve had. Soul train at the Bussey Building is always amazing. 

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
I’d have to go for a roast – generally slow-cooked shoulder of pork with duck fat roast potatoes, carrots and cabbage and a shed load of gravy… like double the generally acceptable level of gravy. 

Favourite holiday destination?
I’ve genuinely never been anywhere in Italy I didn’t love. I’d probably vote for the Amalfi Coast out of all of Italy just because I’m hankering for the seaside after a year of Covid.

What are you currently reading?
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

What boxset are you currently watching?
Me and my partner blasted through Line of Duty having been miles behind the curve on that one. Just don’t mention the ending though...

What was your dream job growing up?
Can I say owning a restaurant? I genuinely always believed I would have a restaurant one day. I feel massively lucky to do what I do every day.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
If your bosses don’t appreciate you, move on. There are some top companies in this industry and life’s too short to work for one that isn’t.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
How the Government perceives the industry. We could be a driving force for the economy with the right policies and support. It looked like Covid might have been a game changer on that one, but their intransigence on the staff crisis in the industry suggests that it was mostly lip service.

Bio

Born in Nottingham, Moore studied Economics at the University of Birmingham. Having spent a number of years moving between various hospitality roles including kitchen porter, waiter and prep chef, he joined the Ocado Graduate Scheme. Then, in 2015, he quit and went in search for the perfect pizza. A six-week tour of Italy cemented this passion and gave him the tools and necessary precision to make ‘some of London’s best pizza’. He founded Crust Bros later that year, and launched his first bricks and mortar site under the brand in London Waterloo in 2017. Earlier this year, Moore launched a second Crust Bros location at Sambrook’s Brewery Tap, part of the Ram Quarter development in Wandsworth.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Casual Dining

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