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A hotel restaurant manager can be the glue that holds an entire team together, maintaining calm behind the scenes and offering warmth to customers on the front line – so it was no surprise that Leni Miras won this year’s Restaurant Manager of the Year accolade.
The judges said that Miras is clearly the “beating heart” of the Colony Grill Room at the five-AA-star, 73-bedroom Beaumont hotel in London’s Westminster, where she directly manages a team of 25 as they focus on giving their best efforts to the restaurant, as well as the 14-cover lobby, the 20-cover club room and the 50-cover American Bar.
Well loved, and possessing a cool air of quiet authority and calm, Miras is able to imbue her own rigorous standards and enthusiasm right across her staff. Her team briefings have become core to the way the hotel’s front of house offering operates. She inspires her team with knowledge and a love of food and wine, while offering them the benefit of precise and efficient instruction.
Food, wine and Champagne have been described as some of her greatest passions in life. She spends her personal time and resources learning as much as she can about the culinary world and then brings that knowledge back to the restaurant.
Such is her dedication to all thing gastronomic that she even has input to the Colony Grill Room menu during its quarterly changes. She works closely with the head chef to develop food training for the staff and personally curates the hotel’s wine list, which runs to 100 bottles.
She is one of only a few people who are not sommeliers to have been accepted on to the exclusive annual Champagne Academy programme run by L’Académie du Champagne. And she didn’t just get in – she finished her course as one of the top three students and came first in the blind tasting test.
All of these are skills that she takes back to the team, training them to offer the best possible service to customers.
Miras has simplified the Colony Grill Room’s wine offer, making the list more accessible while cutting down stock piling and wasteage. As a result of her efforts, revenues have picked up by 2%, while gross profit margins for wine have risen from 73% to 76%.
She also works to ensure customers receive a truly personal experience. She makes sure that staff record and remember the preferences of each person who comes through their door. As a result, the Colony knows each customer’s favourite wine, where they take their coffee – everything, right down to which newspaper they like to read in the morning.
In particular, the judges were impressed by Miras’s passion for her work at the Beaumont, for the food that she serves and the team that she leads. It makes her a stand-out winner and one to look out for in the future.
What the judges said
“Leni is a very passionate, well-loved manager whose application was a pleasure to read. She is definitely one to watch.”
Laura Sharpe, general manager, Ham Yard Hotel
“Leni’s passion for her role and team jumped off the page.”
Steve Wilkinson, area manager, the AA Hotel Services
“Leni is obviously the beating heart of the restaurant and makes a very worthy winner.”
Mark Bevan, general manager, Bishopstow House
Julien Foussadier Holborn Dining Room, Rosewood London
Devid Isabella The Goring, London
Tomas Klima The Jetty, Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa
Leni Miras Colony Grill Room at the Beaumont, London
2017 Luigi Cagnin The Ritz London
2016 Rebecca Galland The Vineyard, Stockcross, Berkshire
2015 Sarah Holden The Pig near Bath
2014 Davide Durante The Bingham, Richmond
2013 Andrew Sicklin Galvin at Windows, London
2012 Michele Caggianese Jumeirah Carlton Tower London
2011 Mark Bevan The Chester Grosvenor, Chester
2010 Diana Gailiunaite Docklands Bar and Grill, London
2009 Marc Whitley The River Bar and Restaurant at the Lowry, Salford