What exactly is PASKIN & Associates?
Layo Paskin: Essentially we’re using our experience to help other operators create great new experiences across all areas of hospitality. This will include development, delivery and being involved with the ongoing success of projects. Our first project is Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh, which has just launched.
Zoë Paskin: Our unofficial tagline is that we create places that we want to go to. That’s now our official tagline.
So it’s a consultancy?
ZP: We’re not fans of the word consultancy. Mine and Layo’s image of consultants is people that no longer do operations, and that’s certainly not us. At Gleneagles we’ve worked very closely with the team and have been part of the whole journey for the past 18 months designing the whole narrative and all the touch points. The reputation of consultants is that they charge high fees and quickly move onto the next thing.
Why offer your services to other operators?
LP: Like everyone we’ve had a rather interesting last few years. We had a bit more time to think about what we might like to be doing with the business. We looked back on all the work that we have done and realised that we have covered a lot of ground in terms of the experiences we offer (the group includes a pub, a wine and cocktail bar and a Michelin-star restaurant). Of course we could use this expertise to launch our own venues, but that would require a large operational team which is challenging at the moment.
ZP: We also have a desire to do things outside London and abroad. That’s difficult if you don’t have a partner. Finally, we want to provide opportunities for people that have been with us for a number of years and want to do new things.
You’ve put a former member of your team into Gleneagles Townhouse...
ZP: Exactly. Jonny Wright (the hotel's head chef) was with us for about four years, before that he was the head chef of Berners Tavern. It was serendipitous because he was considering returning to Scotland (he is Scottish). Everything came together at a good moment, as is often the case in life.
What’s Gleneagles Townhouse like?
LP: Gleneagles Townhouse has a more youthful approach than Gleneagles Hotel (in Auchterarder). It carries all of that heritage but it’s a more urban, energetic brand. The key F&B area is The Spence, a 100-cover restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a wonderful looking space that combines the grandeur of somewhere like The Wolseley with the energy of Balthazar in New York.
ZP: It’s essentially a modern brasserie. The dishes are familiar but cooked in a contemporary way. We’ve worked hard with Jonny on the sourcing to ensure that what’s offered reflects the heritage of the locality. We’ve also been involved with the hotel’s two bars.
How did The Gleneagles Townhouse project come about?
LP: We’ve been talking to Ennismore (which acquired Gleneagles in 2015) for some time. The team has done a fantastic job of bringing the original hotel up to date. We’ve also worked closely with The Gleneagles team to ensure we’re doing a good job of bringing that brand to a city setting. Gleneagles Townhouse carries the heritage of Gleneagles but it’s a younger sibling in terms of its energy.
You’re well-known for relaxed service, how have you brought that to Edinburgh?
ZP: Just like we do in our own restaurants we focus a lot on how the restaurants feel. It’s something we speak to the teams about a lot. Whether people are visiting their local coffee shop or a restaurant, they are going there to feel slightly better than when they arrived. We look at how we build a rapport with customers and how we look after them from the first encounter through to when they leave. A lot of that relies on the team being confident in what they are offering in terms of the quality of the overall experience.
Does PASKIN & Associates have anything else on its books?
LP: We do have some other stuff in the works but we can’t talk about it just yet. We expect something else to launch next year. We will pick our projects carefully. Zoë and I have both become parents recently which has made us reassess how we approach work/life balance. We only want to work on a project if it feels like a privilege, as is the case with Gleneagles Townhouse.
How are things going with your own London venues?
ZP: The energy is good now, the pandemic is starting to feel like a distant memory. Demand has been strong - having smaller bespoke indie venues helps.
Will you do more in London?
LP: Yes. PASKIN & Associates does not rule out further openings for us. But we don’t want to become a huge company, the beauty of running our restaurants and the studio is that we can give great opportunities to people that have been with us for a while and give them ownership.