From cricket clubs and nightclubs to Chelsea Football Club, Sid Clark has had a unique career in hospitality. He talks to Katherine Price about his first year as group operations director of the 28°-50° restaurant group
After I left school I trained for three years as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As an actor I supplemented my income by working in bars and restaurants, and it got to point when I realised I enjoyed hospitality more than acting.
I started in pubs and nightclubs in Notting Hill and then moved into the stadium arena hospitality sector in roles at Lord's cricket ground, Chelsea FC and as part of the opening team at the O2 . From there, I joined Gordon Ramsay Group as general manager of Maze and Maze Grill before joining 28Â°-50Â° last year as group operations director.
What's the most challenging part of the job?
Recruitment and staffing, without a doubt. There are so many amazing restaurants in London that the demand for good staff is high. It's a challenge to find good staff and then keep hold of them.
What have you been up to during your first year with 28Â°-50Â°?
It has been a year of change and we have seen some great people come into the business. We have worked very hard to put systems in place to make the operation run as smoothly as possible.
Would you describe yourself as hands-on?
Yes, the interaction with guests is why I love the job, but it's important to get the balance right between being on the floor and overseeing the business operation.
Have you been working closely with sommelier Clement Robert MS?
Wine plays such a crucial part in what 28Â°-50Â° is all about and we have one of the industry's best sommeliers in Clement. I enjoy wine and always give my opinion, but I trust him to guide me in all matters wine related.
Clement is always pushing to create fantastic wine lists that are accessible and that he believes guests will like to drink. I think he has done some really exciting things with the list and his introduction of English wines, especially the sparkling wines, have been a big success.
How have you expanded the brand this year?
We have created a beautiful downstairs bar at 28Â°-50Â° Maddox Street and have launched a mixture of wine-based and traditional cocktails. We have also launched a takeaway wine service at Fetter Lane.
What's the plan for the next year?
We want to grow and the key is to continue to build the standards, develop the teams and deliver great guest experiences.
What's it like working with Agnar Sverrisson?
I've been very lucky to work with great chefs who are also great restaurateurs. Mark Askew was my first mentor at Maze and now it's fantastic to have the opportunity to work so closely with Aggi. We speak most days, keep an open line of communication around what the business is going through and he has been very supportive of me since I joined.
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