I can hardly believe it myself but last week I celebrated 14 years here at One Great George Street, and it’s only when I look back to that distant June in 2000 that I realise just how far we have come as a company and a catering operation.
|The modern day catering offering|
When I first arrived things were very different. For a start there were less than half the amount of staff and the lion’s share of the functions were contracted out to an external catering company. Brasserie One was a carvery, the café bar was known as the Buttery and they shared one large room divided by chocolate brown screens. The main kitchen was rather old and the Palmer, Rennie and Tredgold rooms didn’t even exist; in fact these used to be old offices. However, the one thing we did have was the drive and imagination to develop and improve the operation.
Within a year the external caterer had gone and the new restaurant and function rooms were fully operational. Most importantly we recognised that in order to continue to grow the business and to succeed we needed to recruit the right people for specific jobs. As a result a new and enhanced staffing structure was introduced. Rather than having a team that multi-tasked but did not excel in specific areas; we created and brought in clearly defined job roles that encouraged individuals to specialise and develop particular skills.
This forward thinking paid dividends and the business rapidly expanded. It has allowed us to further develop our menus and the proficiency of the front of house service, which in turn bought in more customers. By 2006 / 2007 we were so busy that my clapped out old kitchen could no longer cope with the level of business, so with typical proactivity, plans were drawn up for the refurbishment of the main kitchen that took place in August 2008.
|Early days of the new state-of-the-art kitchen|
It would be impossible in this small space to tell you about everything that has changed, but the one thing that has remained constant is that we never rest on our laurels and we are always looking for ways to better ourselves. Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the constant desire to innovate that has given me so much job satisfaction for so many years.
An example of this is work we are doing now and we do every year summer; we start to create the new menus for the following year. We love to look at this from a blank canvas, see what trends are about, what our competitors are doing and be able to get the creative juices flowing…so watch this space as the new menu for 2015 will be coming this way soon!