Sponsored by Jacobs Douwe Egberts Professional
Charlotte Street Hotel, London
Firmdale Hotels' Charlotte Street Hotel has 38 staff working for its food and beverage operation, led by food and beverage manager Mahesh Nair, along with restaurant manager Emma Granger and bar manager Helder Pinheiro.
Together, they run the Oscar bar and restaurant, which has 76 covers in the main dining room, 38 in the bar and a further 20 outside. Open all day, Oscar serves fresh, seasonal cuisine, as well as a range of fabulous cocktails from its location just north of Soho in a neighbourhood home to many media companies.
The team is careful to work on the little touches, too. Every member is tasked with finding out two interesting facts per shift about a guest to help build a rapport, and the restaurant has an enviable number of regulars, for whom the team is always willing to go the extra mile, whether that is through buying ingredients in to make green smoothies specially for a health-conscious guest, or preparing a high-carb diet for another regular who was training to walk to the South Pole.
Evidence of the satisfaction customers feel can be found on reviews websites such as TripAdvisor, where there has been a notable increase over the past year in the number of positive reviews. Mystery guest reports have also yielded rising scores for F&B, with the most recent report seeing the team scoring a perfect 100%.
With their efforts so focused on making the Oscar bar and restaurant a success, it's all the more impressive that the team finds time for charity work. The hotel entered four teams into this year's National Waiters' Day, and they have raised money for the charities that Firmdale supports. At a recent bake sale, the team raised £106 for Dreams Come True, and hosted afternoon tea for Contact the Elderly. It was also incredibly generous during the Nepal earthquake, launching a clothing drive within the hotel, collecting two boxes of clothing, tents and sleeping bags, which Firmdale sent directly to Nepal.
What the judges said
"A team that cares, works and looks after one another with a clear focus on guest experience. Training is at the heart of everything they do to constantly return positive feedback."
Craig Jackson, hotel manager, Northcote
"The focus on customer satisfaction was absolutely exemplary and involved each and every member of the team applying dedication and attention to detail. And they still find the energy to give something back through charity."
Stephen Moss, chairman, the Springboard charity
"This team offers great little touches for the guest, as well as great training. They have good comments in TripAdvisor and really seem to offer a 'wow factor'."
Arjeta Arapi, food and beverage manager, the Montague on the Gardens
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