Emily Acha Derrington: “Some say hospitality is incompatible with having a family, but it can work”

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Emily Acha Derrington on Parents in Hospitality

Related tags: Emily Acha Derrington, Parents in Hospitality, Manteca, Chris Leach

The co-founder of Parents in Hospitality on juggling restaurant work with a young family and what employers can do to to make a career in hospitality more viable for people with kids.

What does Parents in Hospitality do?

It’s a hospitality community built by parents for parents. We launched just before the pandemic with several face-to-face events but then obviously had to pause things. Earlier this month, we held a coffee morning in North London and we’re now planning to meet every month. We’re not-for-profit, but we are looking to evolve Parents in Hospitality by holding lunches with childcare on hand so people are able to relax. We've had a great response and it's not just a London thing, we've had messages from people all over the country looking to get involved. 

Why did you set it up?

My partner Chris (Leach, the co-founder and chef at Shoreditch’s Manteca) and I became parents in 2018. It was a difficult pregnancy and, after the birth, I ended up feeling very lost. Chris was opening Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden at the time and was working very long hours, so I was on my own a lot. I found I had very little in common with the other mums at baby and toddler groups because they all lived in a 9-5 world. I found it difficult to connect with people.

Did you manage to find anyone that understood?

Yes. I ended up spending a lot of time at restaurants run by people that had experienced becoming a parent while working in the industry. I also became close with Merly Kammerling (the co-founder of Parents in Hospitality) who has a child of a similar age. We had met while working at Temper’s original site in Soho but she’s now a therapist and stress reduction coach that works mainly in hospitality. We formed a strong bond, and that experience led us to establish the group.

How are you and Chris balancing having a young family with working in the industry?

As an owner of a new and very busy restaurant that’s open seven days a week Chris is rarely able to switch off from the business at the moment. I oversee Manteca’s wine list and social media but I don’t do service. That’s the only reason it works, especially as we had a second child shortly before Manteca opened in its new location.

What was it like dealing with a new baby and a new restaurant at the same time?

It had its moments - she was born about two months before we opened - but the second time around you’re more confident. I was able to take her to wine tastings and I wrote the whole of Manteca's wine list with her on me in a sling. Some say hospitality is incompatible with having a family, but it can work and things are changing. Businesses are a lot more open to flexible working. Petersham Nurseries, for example, were fantastic about giving Chris the time off he needed.

How can employers make things easier for parents?

Communication is key. It’s important to listen to your staff and try and be as flexible as possible. That said, we do understand it from both perspectives with Chris being a business owner. Smaller businesses can’t necessarily offer the same benefits that larger ones can, especially as they are still recovering from the pandemic. But hospitality is an incredibly diverse industry. It should always be possible to find something that fits. 

For more information on Parents in Hospitality head here. 

Related topics: People

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