Episode 90 Sally Beck
Royal Lancaster & Hotelier of the year

This weeks guest is yet another true inspiration of hospitality.  Sally is the General Manager of the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London and the 2019 hotelier of the year, joining some legendary predecessors of the award.  

We have a pretty wide ranging conversation all the way from chickens, to my relief that Sally was not actually born in a pub, to how a 40 million pound refurbishment actually turned into an 85 million pound refurbishment, as well as Sally’s desire to create the happiest hotel in London, and what that actually means.

Sally is very principled when it comes to the integrity of our industry and how we should be treating apprenticeships, and in-fact all members of our teams.  Sally is much more about the team and asking for opinions, than demanding results.  And with consecutive years in the Times Employer of Choice awards her approach is paying huge dividends, both culturally and financially.

Well, it was before the pandemic arrived at least, so we also chat on it’s impact, complexities and Sally’s thoughts on how and when to re-open, as well as some exceptionally creative thoughts on how to come out trading on the other side.

Sally’s cv is awesome and she deserves her reputation as one of the best in class.  I’m confident you’re going to enjoy this conversation and learn a few nuggets of wisdom on the way.  

For Sally’s Hoteliers Charter that we chat about please do check out the Patreon Page where you can also support the podcast  as well as sign up for our weekly newsletter keeping you informed of our latest guests here.

Episode 89 David Abrahamovitch
Grind London

David from Grind London, a collection of coffee shops, cocktail bars and restaurants, started his hospitality journey by inheriting a mobile phone shop, where he loved the building but not the business.

Fast forward and David has managed to walk that tricky operational and design tightrope where his venues are both a great stop off for a daytime coffee, but also a sit down meal, and by night transform into a busy cocktail bar.  Not an easy feat, but something that feels so effortless when right, but in reality is a real challenge. 

I personally remember GRIND for some memorable crowd funding videos and how early in its development it managed to attract significant levels of investment and expanded into some high profile sites as a result.

We touch on the cycle of raising money and investing that money and how useful it is that they’d just raised funds prior to the pandemic, and had not yet spent them, albeit it is now very frustrating to have to burn through some of that cash just to keep heads above water rather than opening new venues.

We also touch on how the diversification into online retail has been helpful in keeping the business and some of the team ticking over.

David also touches on his thoughts on TRONC and the furlough scheme, as well as having some great perspectives on when to re-open, rental issues, distancing, blunt instruments, targeted measures and more.

Episode 88 Robert Walton MBE
President Restaurant Association

Robert has an MBE, is a Restauranteur, a patron of Hospitality Action, president of the Restaurant Association, founder of the Nth Degree Global, and has even been covered in the FT as a power dresser with his very dapper suit collection.   He’s also got a very active instagram account where he also interviews a number of other great humans of hospitality.

We have a fantastic chat about his past experiences in hospitality, which have been many and varied.  Robert gushes about London’s place as the hospitality and tourism world champion, and his enthusiasm is infectious. 

We discuss the recently launched young chef young waiter competition and Robert really has done an incredible job of revitalising this event. Some of the best known industry greats have won this award in the past, but it needed a revamp to stay relevant.  Robert, the Restaurant Association and UK Hospitality have really upped the stakes to the point where you can win a Mercedes Benz and a night in a top London hotel, with a much more glitzy award ceremony and competition finals.

We also touch on all things pandemic and the wider implications for hospitality.

Episode 87 Nat Alexander
China – Homeslice Pizza

We are looking to china for some inspiration as they are running a good couple of months ahead of us from a pandemic timeline perspective.  Nat is from London, but has been living in Shanghai for a number of years and runs Homeslice Pizza across 3 local outlets.  He was therefore very well place to discuss the operational aspects of coming out of the other other side of lockdown in the hospitality sector.

I found Nat’s descriptions of the challenges of acquiring PPE in china fascinating, in part due to the timing of the crisis around Chinese New Year and everyone being on holiday and factories shut.  I guess if it was hard to get hold of equipment in China, it is no surprise that the international community was also struggling.

We also touch on how technology was used to help release lockdown, such as a compulsory app on everyones phone that showed either a green or red qr code that had to be scanned to enter a venue.  Getting a green code depended on where you had been, who you had been with and your temperature. 

Nat’s insight into why china has been so good at managing the virus with it’s very big to very small approach to government was fascinating, but you really need to listen to his explanation to get the gist of that one.

We also touch on how long it’s taking for any semblance of normality to return to visitor numbers, even 8 weeks since lockdown release, and some interesting comparative KPI’s around employee %, rental charges and VAT, which has been reduced from only 6% to nothing by the Chinese government to help stimulate the economy.

 

Episode 086 Charlie McVeigh
ProjectPint and Bunker Projects

Charlie sold his group ‘Draft House’ to Brew Dog and now operates as a chairman and investor through his business ‘Bunker Projects’.  Charlie is currently chairman of the Breakfast Club and Butchies fried chicken in London.

We chat about ‘project pint’, what it stands for and how it evolved.  Project Pint is a fun and inclusive way of helping Britain shift from a FOGO, to a FOMO mentality as soon possible, when it is safe, falling back in love with the Great British pint and going out with a mate.

I also take the opportunity to get his wider perspective on a few issues including his warm up for the lockdown post the sale of his business and the 3 key things currently effecting hospitality ‘CASH / DISTANCING AND FOGO’

We talk about how anyone in hospitality should probably be seeking the advice of an insolvency lawyer just in case, our thoughts for the future of the industry from both an independent and chain perspective and Charlie even gives me some well needed business advice on not being a purist when it comes to craft beer.