The rise of restaurant delivery

Step outside your house and walk a few seconds down the street and it won’t be long till you see a Deliveroo or Uber Eats pushbike shooting down the road onto its next drop off. Delivery-services for restaurant-food is BIG business. But what are the benefits of sigining up to these companies? And what effect is it having on business? 

For some, it’s a great way to earn money before customers have even stepped through the door. Preeya Khagram-Nasim, co-owner of Chuck Burgers in Spitalfields, explains “our best days are when we’ve sold 80 burgers by 11.45am through the delivery service - our doors then open at 12pm for restaurant customers. Having a small burger restaurant partnered with a delivery company means we now have a lot of days like this and its great.”

For others, like Arlo’s in Balham, delivering restaurant quality food to residents who don’t always want to leave their homes is proving a great addition to the business. Owner Tom McNeile tells us..

“The idea behind Arlo’s is focussed on the lesser-known butcher’s cuts at excellent value – the goal being to make the idea of “grabbing” a steak more of an everyday possibility – like a pizza or burger. I wanted to take steak into the mainstream takeaway/delivery market, as our cooking method preserves the high quality that you’d expect when you eat in at Arlo’s. Deliveroo and UberEats allow us to do this effortlessly - their service is rapid, high quality and offered at a very reasonable cost and thus allows Arlo’s to serve more customers whenever and wherever they feel the urge. They add value in that they expand our potential covers, and without impacting on the clients who chose to eat in at Arlo’s."

It isn't all plain sailing however. A common gripe, usually expressed on Twitter, is food items being left off orders or food arriving cold. Yard Sale Pizza, now with three sites around London, have chosen to counteract this problem by dealing with all deliveries themselves.

"It's really important to us that we can deliver quality from dough to door..." co-owner Dan Spinney tell us. "We choose to use the best quality ingredients to create our pizza so it's only fitting that we assure that quality in the delivery. We spent a lot of time perfecting the delivery through testing and training and as such our drivers are very much part of our wider team rather than just pizza couriers!"

Either way, it makes sense for restaurants to offer the same quality of cooking they do in their dining rooms in someone’s living room. Take Ben Jones, co-founder of lifestyle blog London on the Inside, who uses these services numerous times a week. “UberEATS gives us time back. We can order something before leaving the office and have it arrive for when we get back home…it’s the little wins!” With people having less and less time to cook these days, delivery services are proving genuinely useful.

JKS restaurants, they own Gymkhana, Trishna and Hoppers, while being investors in Bubbledogs, Bao and Lyle’s, have just opened their third Motu – an Indian delivery service operating solely through Deliveroo. Each site has no front of house staff, no high costs of running a restaurant, just the kitchen and its team. This is clearly a great business model – one I’m sure we’ll see plenty of other restaurants adopting in 2017.

Restaurant pet hates: the annoying customer

We love restaurants we really do. Everything about them. But we’ve seen an increasing rise in annoying customers. With the notion that It's Better Out Than In, we went round the Talent Deck office to find out what really annoys us about our fellow diners…

Kiddies
We’ve got nothing wrong with kids, honest. But it’s the parents who let them run riot, screaming, shouting, or playing their iPads, on loud, that need a good talking to. You had them, you control them!

Snap happy snappers
We get it. We all want to take photos of our avo on toast. But standing on chairs? Having separate lighting rigs? Moving plates to other tables with better lighting? We’ve seen it all and it’s NOT COOL.

Rube tubers
If you’re rude to waiting staff you've got issues, quite simply. If you want your server to smile and laugh and remember who ordered what where, after they’ve been on their feet all day, why don’t you start by being nice to them too.

Kissers
You’re in love, great, but we don’t need to see you tonging you’re new BFF in the middle of the restaurant. Eat your tacos first and wait till you’re home for dessert.

Torchlighters
Sure, some restaurants are dark these days, but seriously? Using your phone torch to read the menu? It’s off putting to everyone else and it looks like you’re being abducted by aliens. Just struggle like the rest of us and order the only dish that’s legible. 

Show offs
Yeah, yeah, you've been here before and you want the whole restaurant to know it. But you lose your street cred when you ask for your steak tartare medium-rare Mr Know-it-All.

Call takers
We've seen people FaceTiming while tucking into their eggs benedict. WTAF. No call can be that important, just wait.

Have we missed any off the list? Let us know on our Facebook page or Twitter...

Spotlight on: St James's Market

This will become a regular blogpost where us here at Talent Deck HQ shine a spotlight on some of our favourite foodie areas in and around London town.

We’ll tell you the best restaurants to go and spend your dollar…

Anzu
@anzurestaurant

This is the new one from Ken and Emma who own everybody’s favourite ramen bar Tonkotsu. Things are a bit more refined here, think Japanese Brasserie,  with the likes of pork & king crab gyozas and Blythburg pork cats (that's it pictured below) being must haves.

Anzu

Anzu

Ole & Steen
@oleandsteen

This cool Danish café comes to London and they’ve chosen St Jame’s Market for their very first outpost. Their cinnamon buns are quite marvelous indeed and the coffee is good enough to make you order a second. Be warned: at peak times the place is quite rightly packed.

Ole & Steen

Ole & Steen

Veneta
@venetastjames

This is the latest from the Salt Yard Group with exec chef Ben Tish at the helm. The food is Venetian and whether it’s the cozy mezzanine level or the ground floor complete with seafood bar, it’s one sexy looking dining room.

Veneta

Veneta

Aquavit
@aquavitlondon

In NYC Aquavit holds two Michelin stars but here, with their new opening, they’ve gone for a much more relaxed approach. It’s all meatballs, shrimp skagen and gravlax – Nordic food in gloriously pink surroundings. One to check out.

Aquavit

Aquavit

Continue the conversation over on Twitter...
Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on 13 February 2017

They're coming...

It amazes us here at Talent Deck HQ just how many restaurant openings there are in this fabulous city. Whether it's tacos or taramasalata - restaurants serve it and we eat it.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of 5 restaurants we're super excited to see flinging open their doors...

1) Rambla - opening Autumn
@Rambla

This is the second restaurant from Victor Garvey who brought us that tiny but terrific tapas joint Encante in Covent Garden. This new one will serve food from Catalan and it's based on Dean Street. Perfect to get the party started.

Rambla

2) Hawksmoor Borough - opening Feb 20th
@Hawksmoorlondon

Those Hawksmoor guys know how to run a bloomin' good steak restaurant. Currently they have 5 in London (with one in Manchester too) but this one in Borough Market, set over two floors, could be their best yet.

Hawksmoor

3) Yard Sale Pizza - opening Feb 20th
@Yardsalepizza

Wahey for Walthamstow as these pizza legends open on Hoe Street. They serve 12 or 18 inches of soft fluffy crusts and toppings like harrissa lamb with guindilla chillies. Yes, yes, yes.

Yard Sale Pizza

4) Nape - opening Feb
@Napelondon

The cured meat guys at Cannon & Cannon (currently in a little shop in Borough Market) are getting a meat and wine shop in Camberwell. There will also be bottles for takeaway too.

Nape

5) MEATliquor King's Cross - opening April
@Meatliquorkx

We'd be lying if we said we didn't have more MEATliquor burgers than we'd care to remember but they're consistently messy and marvellous so who cares. This new one on St Chad's Place will be just what North London needs. 

MEATliquor

Continue the conversation over on Twitter...

Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on 6 February 2017

The Tronc scheme: should it stay or go?

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty

For those who are unfamiliar, the Tronc is a scheme which sees the discretionary service charge (which has gone up to 15% in some restaurants) rounded up and divided out among staff at a reduced taxable rate. There’s a Tronc Master who is in charge of who gets what (this cannot be an owner) and he/she’s nominated to do so by other staff.

Most hospitality workers are paid the national living wage, set to rise from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour in April 2017, and the Tronc is used to top up their wages to something, often, quite reasonable. It's a win for the employer, worker and customer.

This current system seems to work in restaurants rather well, so, why change it?

Some restaurant goers, in particular Guardian critic Jay Rayner, find the idea of tipping outdated. “It’s time, I think, to acknowledge that the notion of tipping is a crass, outmoded, dysfunctional and ultimately inefficient system, ill-suited to a service-industry age” he cited in his article titled “It’s time for restaurants to get rid of tips” back in 2016. He wants the service charge to be included in the price of the meal. Yes, menu prices would rise but the staff would be paid a decent set wage.

A downside to the tronc is the uncertainty for workers to know how much they’ll take home each month. We spoke to an ex-head waiter at a Michelin starred restaurant in central London who saw the problems first hand. “My wage was pretty varied. Over half my salary was Tronc. That meant some months I got paid £1200, others £2000.”

It also means there isn’t much difference in basic pay between positions. “I barely got a pay rise in basic salary from Commis Waiter to Head Waiter. But my service charge from the Tronc tripled.”

A counter argument to abolishing the service charge altogether is the quality of service would suffer. Owner of Gauthier in Soho used France as an example in a recent blog post from his website. “Go and grab a lunch in a Paris brasserie and you’ll quickly understand that when there are no carrots, service suffers. Employees are locked in their “service inclus” and quickly come to the conclusion that an OK service will pay them as much as an outstanding service.”

There have been recent horror stories of restaurants keeping 100% of service charge and treating it as a source of revenue, 2 Michelin starred Le Gavroche, owned by Michel Roux Jr, being once of them. If many of the restaurants that closed in 2016 had kept their employees’ service charge for themselves, they’d probably still be serving their guacamole now. This is of course wholly wrong and unacceptable if the customer believes said money is going in the waiter’s pockets and here’s hoping it has been a lesson learned for other businesses.

So where does that leave us now? One thing we do know: the front of house plays a huge part of any successful hospitality business. Happy servers make for happy customers. The right for staff to get paid a steady and reliable income, and one which doesn’t fluctuate, is imperative.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to carry on the conversation.

Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on January 30 2017

The Gig Economy

?

The Gig Economy. What exactly is it? It’s described by everyone’s favourite resource, Wikipedia, as “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.” In layman terms, it’s the shift from rigid, full-time employment to hiring and working in a more flexible, part-time capacity. It gives the worker the freedom to take jobs when they need or desire and the employer to take on staff as and when the demand calls for it.

The hospitality industry is the perfect place for the gig economy to really grow. Currently 4.5 million people in the UK alone are employed in the hospitality sector, 700k from EU. (We’ll come to Brexit shortly). Restaurants, bars, hotels, all have sudden spurts of being ‘slammed’ to being empty, it’s part of the business. Hiring in the way of the Gig Economy can help manage costs during unpredictable times.

Whether it’s a front of house server or a back of house kitchen porter, there are also last minute staff absences. Sometimes there’s a gap in a rota that needs to be filled pronto. The gig economy can help plug those gaps.

With the uncertainty of what a Brexit Britain means, some ‘Brexiteers’ think once the country is deprived of cheap labour from abroad, companies will have to become more technology savvy in a help to improve productivity. After all, the industry may suddenly see itself with a shortfall of 700k workers. In a recent article in the Economist, the general manger of The Royal Lancaster hotel, Sally Beck, used automated minibars as a good example of this. To speed something up that usually takes a lot of man-hours is presumably good for business.

But this example looks at replacing staff with technology. Surely the benefit to most businesses would be to use technology to help secure skilled, talented and valuable workers in roles where technology can’t be a replacement. The welcome smile when you arrive at a restaurant, a friendly voice on the phone to help with your hotel booking or a wealth of knowledge at the bar when you want a cocktail that’s ‘sweet but not too sweet’.

We’re not trying to suggest (yet, anyway) an establishment will employ a team of workers entirely from the gig economy but things are heading in that direction. Take America for example; a study by Intuit predicted by 2020, 40% of American workers would be independent contractors.

So, the future? We understand this isn't a quick change and placing  gig workers into your current workforce might seem daunting. But it's worth keeping an eye on this. As technology companies are making it easier to integrate gig workers into your work environment, this way of hiring staff might be the norm sooner than you think...

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to carry on the conversation.

Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on January 18 2017

A Quick Chat With George from Pilau

George Pitkeathley is one of the founders of Pilau, a 'fresh Indian street food' restaurant which has grown to two sites in just a couple of months. We have 'A Quick Chat With' this whipper snapper to hear about the joys of working in hospitality.

Oh, and did we mention? Pilau have joined the app too. 

What was your first job in hospitality?

My first job was at Arnold & Henderson washing dishes at the age of 14. I was young, enthusiastic and willing to take on every challenge. Not much seems to have changed actually.

George at Pilau

 

What made you decide this was a career for you?

It's one of the only industries where you get to see a raw product, skilfully manufactured, sold directly to the customer and then gain instant feedback. Most jobs deal with just one aspect. Its what makes this industry incredibly challenging but equally rewarding if you can get it right!

Who inspires you in the industry?

First and foremost Jon Spiteri & Melanie Arnold who took a punt on me when I was a scrawny little teenager. They’ve always had my back and remain great sources of advice. 

Russel, Richard and Luke at Polpo have been incredibly helpful and I owe them a lot for their time. Luke Wilson is someone I pick up the phone to a lot when I hit a hurdle. He’s extremely smart and has a great understanding of the industry.

And of course I couldn't forget the formidable Jeremy Lee and Hart Brothers. They taught me a lot while I was at Quo Vadis and I admire them for all of their achievements.

Lamb and bone marrow rice box at Pilau

What's the best thing about working in hospitality?

It's full of amazing people serving up delicious food with a smile on their face. Whats not to like?

Tell us about the charity linked with Pilau.

We’ve partnered with Akshaya Patra who are the biggest feeders of humans in the world. They feed 1.4million children everyday from their 34 kitchens across India.

They change peoples lives daily and increasing their opportunities of achieving their goals. As soon as I heard about them we had to get involved.

The project is simple. It’s called 'Feed Yourself, Feed a Child’. Every time someone eats at PILAU we donate an entire meal to a child in India. Instead of being asked at the till if youd like to add to your current bill and feel a social pressure to do so. We include it in the price of the meal. Everyones a winner!

We’re pushing for more restaurants to do similar within the industry. Its so simple and has an incredible impact on people's lives.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in hospitality?

If you don’t like hard work, choose a different industry.

Follow George and Pilau on Twitter to see what they're up to next.

Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on January 18 2017

Hospitality: what it means to those in the industry

the most important thing in the world of food and drink is hospitality. So many times a crappy cocktail or mediocre mille-feuille can be saved by a genuine smile and some natural banter.

With that in mind, we ask some big wigs of the hospitality world what it means to them....

David Wolanski, Chic 'n' Sours
Chicknsours.co.uk

@Chicknsours

Hospitality is and always will be at the epicentre of everything we do, naturally.
It's what drives me professionally & personally and is the reason I do what I do. If you lose that love of giving sincere hospitality, you have to get out the game!  Looking back, it was engrained in me from an early age as the door to our family home was always open for those who needed somewhere to stay whilst in London, a cup of tea and a chat or the really lucky ones were treated to one of my mum's spectacular Friday night dinners!

The Colonel at Chick 'n' Sours    

The Colonel at Chick 'n' Sours

 

 

Tom Slegg, Picture Restaurant  
Picturerestaurant.co.uk
@Picturerest

The knowledge and technical skills of a front-of-house team are imperative to a smooth-running establishment, and they must always be a focus. But these have to be combined with a genuine warmth because ultimately it is the feeling a guest leaves with that will stay in the memory.

Calum Franklin, Holborn Dining Room
Holborndiningroom.com
@Holborndining

I always think of the theme tune to 'Cheers' when people ask me about this, the moment a guest walks through the front door they should feel missed, that’s an emotion that starts a dining experience off well, especially when it’s a busy dining room. I want guests to experience moments that make them feel special and wanted, like each one of them are the biggest VIP on the list that night.

Calum's grouse pithivier 

Calum's grouse pithivier 

Jon Spiteri, Restaurant Consultant
@Spitz69

Hospitality for me means knowing intrinsically what one customer needs on every occasion and fulfilling that need to the best of our ability, be it a family, business or romantic occasion and being able to adapt to every situation.

Oisin Rogers, The Guinea Grill
Theguinea.co.uk
@Guineagrill

Well, we are in the business of giving our customers great times. That is what hospitality is to me. We try to make sure our guests feel happy, safe, comfortable and well looked after while they are here and when they leave. Good hospitality should ensure this happens. 

Game pies at the Guinea Grill

Game pies at the

Guinea Grill

Maureen Mills, Network London PR
Networklondonpr.com
@Networklondonpr

Hospitality is about less rather than more service, but done with joie de vivre, attention to detail, and a smile. 

Tom Oldroyd, Oldroyd
Oldroydlondon.com
@Oldroydlondon

A hospitality anecdote ... I was once on a lads holiday in Alicante and I met a girl. We were chatting by the pool when she asked what I did. I said I worked in hospitality and she said are you a doctor? I awkwardly laughed and changed subject but It wasn't until later that the comment registered. She thought with all seriousness that I was in hospital...ity.

A Martini at Oldroyd 

A Martini at Oldroyd 

Written by Dominic Rowntree, published on November 28 2016

5 reasons you NEED to work in hospitality

  1. Moolar. Dosh. Dollar. Call it what you want, there's plenty of money to be made in the hospitality sector. With the introduction of the National Living Wage even the most basic jobs in restaurants and bars are paying well.
     
  2. It's a growing industry. In London, there's practically a new restaurant opening every day and we're not talking about the rubbish ones either. Caravan, Smokestack, Chick 'N' Sours, Temper; all recently opened and all bloody brilliant.
     
  3. The food, oh the food. We're not suggesting you eat the left overs, we're talking about the staff meals. A team that eats together, stays together and these great chefs are preparing staff food good enough to serve in the restaurant. Result.
     
  4. You won't find a nicer bunch to work with. Working with people who are passionate about food and drink means you'll have plenty in common. It's all about team spirit.
     
  5. Job satisfaction. Service with a smile can really make someone's day and you have that power. That's a great feeling.