It was always in the plan that Australian Jonathan Joyce-Hess, 28, would be working in London's West End. What wasn't in the plan was that he'd be a deputy manager at one of the capital's newest restaurants, nestling within the Royal Lancaster hotel, overlooking Hyde Park.
For Joyce-Hess, who had completed a diploma in musical theatre at the London Studio Centre in 1998, the dream had been to tread the boards of the West End's theatres. But the notoriously fickle entertainment industry proved a tough nut to crack and the work irregular. Feeling homesick, he returned to Melbourne in January 1999 and took a job as dining supervisor at the Kelvin Club.
A determined individual, Joyce-Hess returned to London in 2000 to audition and, to pay the bills, landed a job at Jamie Barber and Geoffrey Moore's Mayfair restaurant Hush.
His experience at Hush changed his mind about the hospitality business and, for the first time, he began to see it as a career. Starting as a waiter, he impressed, and was private rooms manager within months.
"Hush was one of the best experiences I could have had," says Joyce-Hess. "I learnt about so many aspects of the business."
In February 2002 he found himself taking on a new challenge as assistant general manager at Bonds restaurant and bar, London. Although this was another step up on the career ladder, Joyce-Hess had also made the move to keep working alongside his line manager from Hush. "If you find a good manager, I'd advise you to hold on to them and go with them if they move," he says.
By August 2003 Joyce-Hess had become a general manager for Style in the City, overseeing three of the company's bars.
June 2004 marked his biggest challenge to date when he took on the job at Island, which officially opened in September. The restaurant and bar attracts 80% of its trade from outside the hotel. Open seven days a week, it is currently averaging 60 to 80 covers, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the busiest of the week.
Keen to see everything go to plan, Joyce-Hess currently puts in 50 to 60 hours a week, but claims he'll ease off once everything settles down.
It's a good example of the dedication Joyce-Hess has applied to get ahead rapidly in the capital, but he has a word of warning: "You can move too far, too fast. I found this step a hard one to take, because employers would look at me and say, ‘He's young - how much experience can he possibly have?' Looking back, I might have done things a bit slower."
Private rooms manager at Hush
Assistant general manager, Bonds restaurant
Deputy general manager, Island restaurant and bar