Hawksmoor has an awesome reputation for not only caring about the food they serve, but the way they source it and the staff they employ to serve it. Will Beckett is one of the awesome guys behind this amazing business, full of life, excited and scared as Hawksmoor plans to make it’s way into New York… He and Huw started off as school buddies, and as Will explains himself – they’ve now created something pretty darn cool.
00:00:00 Marks Introduction
00:02:58 Meeting Will, setting the scene in Shoreditch, a stones-throw from the first ever Hawksmoor
- 00:03:55 “And he said oh I think this must be the only company I’ve seen where as you get bigger, you move into a worse office!”
00:04:23 What is Hawksmoor? How did they get such an awesome reputation?
- 00:05:46 “And what started as just, let’s do basics, let’s make sure we’re really really good at steak and chips has developed in terms of how much attention we put into doing a range of things that strike us as the basics of being a steak restaurant. But we try and do them as well as possible.”
00:08:03 Hawksmoor’s reputation as having beautiful locations – is this part of what they strive to do?
- 00:08:51 “For us it just feels so normal that we would try and go into a beautiful heritage building and try to build a restaurant that feels like it’s always been there.”
- 00:10:19 Did this idea of moving into older buildings exist from the start or has it evolved?
- 00:11:41 “We had no money, but we had enthusiasm and naivety.”
00:14:16 Huw’s level of detail obsession!
- 00:15:27 “Huw really admires Japan as a culture, and as a food culture. And that ‘thing’ is actually what he admires – that Japanese ability to take a ‘thing’ and dedicate an unbelievable amount of time to making that ‘thing’ better.”
00:17:44 How is Huw’s and Will’s relationship as co-founders?
- 00:18:33 “We are extremely different and that’s always been great in terms of we work really different things like… I like ‘how do you run a business’ and I like the people side of what we do, whereas Huw likes food and design. And we almost never get involved in each other’s spheres of influence.”
00:21:16 The three things Will did before starting Hawksmoor…
- 00:21:56 “I think really the truth of Hawksmoor is we were so overwhelmed by trying to run these three and then four different things, that we had no choice but to let talented people get on with it.”
00:23:10 What motivated Will and Huw to open a fourth restaurant instead of slowing down?
- 00:24:10 “Looking back on it now, it’s an absolute car crash. Someone who was an actual adult should have said ‘What the **** are you doing? Get out!’”
00:25:41 The importance of looking after your team and ‘good managers managing good people’
- 00:28:46 “And equally I see people and think ‘god, you are close to being irreplaceable for us and yet I’m not sure you’d last five minutes in a hospitality job doing the same thing because you are just right for this company now, and the way we think about things.”
- 00:29:21 Points of contact with customers…
00:32:24 Danny Myer – Will Beckett spent some time with him in New York
- 00:32:48 “I think I’ve had four moments in my career where I’ve sort of stopped and thought, ‘I think me and my daft mate from school might have done something cool here’. And that was one of them.”
00:35:25 Real hospitality vs. money making boards and chains
- 00:36:37 “And if you put money as a higher priority than that, you have fundamentally missed the point and you are in the wrong industry.”
- 00:37:19 “Why should you lose integrity as you get bigger? There are no obvious reasons.”
00:38:46 The slippery slope to investments and becoming money hungry… Does this happen?
- 00:42:46 “I just want to make a difference in people’s lives. We are only giving them food and wine right, but it does do that, and I really love that aspect of aspiration and it could exist more in our industry.”
00:43:32 What made Will get involved with Mitch Tonks and Rockfish?
- 00:45:43 “I probably go down there more than I strictly need to, just because it’s fun. It’s a fun world and his company is inspiring.”
00:46:57 How does Mitch make the small locations work, but Hawksmoor focuses on big cities and locations?
- 00:48:22 “Hawksmoor restaurants should be busy to be proper Hawksmoor restaurants – they need to be high-ish spend per head, buzzy, big destination restaurants. And the truth is, there aren’t many cities that can handle one.”
00:51:02 Expanding slowly and only to the right places
- 00:52:11 “There is another version of making a decision in Hawksmoor which is me and Huw having a bowl of clam pasta in this restaurant in Peckham that we are both locals at…”
- 00:53:16 Moving to New York… Are they crazy?
00:55:33 Is it British Hawksmoor going to New York, or will it be adapted?
- 00:55:29 “Hawksmoor is only British because it’s in Britain. Hawksmoor in New York should just be an exceptional New York steak restaurant.”
01:02:19 How does Hawkmoor pull off the architecture of each building, combining the old with the new?
- 01:04:46 “One of my favourite ever compliments for Hawksmoor was in 2011, we opened Hawksmoor Guildhall – it’s in the city of London right next to Guildhall in a grade 2 listed building…”
01:05:3 Provenance: getting good meat from local sources at a larger scale – how does Hawksmoor get that right?
- 01:09:01 “We say to people: if you can provide us with this, and this is how we feel in terms of animal rearing and ethics and animal welfare and sustainability – but really importantly flavour… We will pay you this amount of money that is above market rate.”
01:10:35 Nuances around farming and how little people know about farming – has there been more of a demand to learn about this?
- 01:12:14 “We think a huge amount about sustainability, environment, animal welfare and the quality of the food that your put into your bodies. I think possibly in the past we have felt like it’s a conversation we shouldn’t really be part of that much.”
01:16:08 What’s the biggest challenge that Will has overcome, and what is he most excited about in the future?
- 01:18:16 “And he looked at me and said: ‘Will, no one cares about anything you’ve ever done outside New York’ – and I remember laughing because that’s the most New-Yorky thing I’ve ever heard!”
01:19:35 If the restaurant goes well in New York, would Will continue to expand through America?
01:21:35 Marks final thoughts and sign-off
If you’d like to learn more about Will, Huw, Hawksmoor and keep up with their adventure into the USA… Check out their website and social media below, or listen to the full episode here.