As Pied à Terre embarks on its next decade and the industry as a whole prepares to reopen, David Moore considers what will be most important for this new beginning.
Pied à Terre will soon be embarking on its fourth decade. But first we are celebrating our 30th year of business – and what better way than with a cookbook?
It's not a conventional cookbook – yes, there are recipes, but it's more than that. I wanted to lay out the story of the past 30 years – well, at least the abridged version. It will be part story, laid out over the three decades, and finished with recipes from our current head chef, Asimakis Chaniotis.
The story is my story: how a kid from a Blackpool comprehensive ended up where he is today. I think it's a good story for the sector; it highlights the career opportunities and what is possible in this amazing industry.
I also wanted the book to be a thank you to investors, customers and every team member who has sweated and grafted to make the restaurant what it is today. There have been some amazing people, both staff and customers, along the journey.
Over the past two months there's been much reflection as we pushed to get the book done before we open – which is currently only 12 "sleeps" away until the big day of 17 May. It's looking a lot like Christmas: giddy excitement, jangled nerves and such expectation. The team is back and getting ready for lift-off. And there are no staff shortages here – although I do have a vacancy for assistant sommelier (applications to firstname.lastname@example.org).
I read that there are many ‘concept brands' struggling to recruit staff for reopening. A well-known pizza brand has been complaining that it is struggling to recruit for more than 1,000 vacancies. I don't understand it – they had all of those employees and they let them all go, even though furlough was available.
I kept all of my team and I'm opening with veterans – as is probably the same for most of you reading this. Unfortunately, some operators think more of their shareholders than their people. When will they learn that in hospitality, the business's biggest asset is its people? I hope that those companies that have let thousands of their employees go get the new recruits they deserve.
All the way through lockdown Pied à Terre has been reaching out to our database. Jim [Lawrenson] of Venue Marketing stepped up and doubled the newsletters, and we are lucky that I started a database many years ago and have amassed nearly 30,000 contacts. It has been invaluable, and anyone who is not collecting data from their customers is missing a massive trick.
What do TripAdvisor (worth £6.6b), Deliveroo (£8b), OpenTable (£2.6b) and JustEat (£9b) all have in common – apart from being multibillion-pound companies? They don't make anything: they collect data and grow data, gathering contacts and email addresses, and then they market to them. They market your business and your products. I guess what maddens me most is that I didn't think of it. But seriously – get in control of your data. It is a real asset and many don't realise its value.
As we are getting back to business and life is looking up for us all with a successful vaccination programme, it is good to remember our blessings. We have a health service if and when we need it; our government might not be perfect, but for the most part they don't shoot us or imprison us (let's say unnecessarily). We won the lottery of life. Let's embrace this new opening with positive thinking.
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