How I Got Here: Tom Stock

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here: Tom Stock co-founder of Burger & Beyond

Related tags: Burger & Beyond, Burgers, London, Street food, Casual dining, Multi-site, R200

The co-founder of Burger & Beyond, which has just launched a huge 119-cover site in London's Soho, on swapping a career in construction for one in restaurants.

Why restaurants?
I have always loved and been very passionate about good food, service and how the experience of eating in restaurants can make you feel. Some of my fondest memories from my teenage years are with my family and friends in restaurants laughing and having a good time. After many years in construction, where I was generally stopping people from being angry, I realised how important it was for me to start doing something that could bring people happiness. I wanted to create somewhere people can go to catch up with friends, enjoy themselves and experience something special. It was only ever going to be restaurants.  

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
People are everything. You must have the right team around you.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
My favourite restaurant in London is Black Axe Mangal. When it comes to my favourite group I would say Blacklock, because their staff training and customer service levels are second to none.

What motivates you?
Day to day it's putting a smile on people’s faces. Long term it’s the prospect of growing a leading international brand with sites in major cities across the world for people to enjoy.

What keeps you up at night?
Fortunately I am yet to have any worries in my life that have stopped me from sleeping, but I am out and about all day so I am always exhausted by the time I get to bed anyway.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My business partner, Craig [Povoas, Burger & Beyond's other co-founder]. His work ethic and drive is second to none - he’s the talented one.

What time do you wake up?
Monday to Saturday it's 6am, but on Sunday I treat myself to a lay in until about 8:30am.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee… ALWAYS!

How often do you check your email?
This annoys a lot of people I spend time with, but I’m always available on my email and phone no matter where I am in the world. Even when I am on vacation, I can relax more knowing my team can contact me in emergencies and that there wont be a thousand emails to deal with on my return.

How do you let off steam?
The gym is always good. If not, a night out with the boys never fails.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Definitely a night on the tiles, however, the older I am getting the more I appreciate the following night spent on the sofa recovering.

Typical Sunday?
My Sundays are rarely spent in London or working, instead I am usually relaxing at my home in the Essex countryside with family or friends - roast dinners in the winter and barbecues in the summer with beers, natural wines and always sport on the TV.

Favourite holiday destination?
I love to travel and I’ve been lucky enough to go all over the world, but the US definitely has a special spot in my heart. I could easily see myself moving out to LA one day.

Best business decision?
Deciding to open full service restaurants rather than going down the takeaway/fast food route. There was pressure coming from a street food background where it is grab and go to do this and with both myself and Craig having no previous restaurant experience this would have been the easy option, but we stuck to our guns and are doing what we are passionate about.

Worst business decision?
Luckily I can’t think of any bad decisions to date that really jump out. We always try to find a win in all situations. We did have a big lucky escape, though - we agreed to take on a huge site with massive overheads in the city the week before the pandemic, luckily there was a delay in the paperwork that meant we could pull out. Our business structure wasn’t set up correctly at the time and we would have overleveraged ourselves to get the site. Being forced to close meant that we could not pay the loans back and the affect that could have had on the entire business would have been huge. Lesson learnt.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Ask questions and work hard. Make sure you’re somewhere you can learn and develop your career over somewhere with a big salary. Think long term, trust the process and enjoy the journey.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The anti-social hours. At Burger & Beyond we try to give all our staff a good work life balance, it keeps the team happy, refreshed and looking forward to coming in to work. I have friends that are chefs and haven’t had a weekend off in months. It gives the industry a bad reputation and puts the next generation off a career in hospitality.

Bio

Born in Colchester, Essex, Stock spent one year studying business at Colchester Sixth Form before deciding education was not for him and entering the world of work. His early years were spent working in construction, beginning as a workshop assistant and delivery driver for Atom Hydraulics - a business he would eventually become owner and director of. Burger & Beyond was founded by Stock and Craig Povoas and started out life in 2015 as a food truck with spots at London’s street food markets KERB and Street Feast. It opened its first permanent restaurant on Shoreditch High Street in 2018. The new Soho restaurant represents the group's second bricks and mortar opening, with a third set to launch in Borough Yards later this summer. Stock also owns London-based events company Beeyou Records.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Casual Dining

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