From dining out to going to the theatre, luxury breaks or milestone celebrations, the way we are made to feel adds to the unique memories made and enhances our enjoyment of the moment. In this month’s edition of Stir it Up magazine, we hear from operators and chefs whose expertise when it comes to creating a sense of occasion is second to none, so without further ado, lets dim the lights, start up the band and let our experts take centre stage.

Nick Beardshaw, Head Chef, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, Corinthia London

Hospitality is about making people happy and it’s so important to make people feel comfortable from the minute they walk through the door, greeting everyone with warmth and authenticity and our restaurant director Matt O’Connor makes everyone feel special.

Incredible guest experiences happen when the virtues of the restaurant, as well as the spirit and passion of the team, shine through everything we do. We do a Pigs Cheek Pie that has been on since the start, which is a soft braised pigs cheek wrapped in sausage meat, spinach crepe and pastry. The presentation is fun as it is just the pie on a plate and looks like a pigs snout. The good nature of the staff and the vibe of the restaurant are as important as the food so creating this culture within the team and getting the ambience right are the keys to this.

Katie Mulliss, Restaurant Manager, The Hand and Flowers

People go out to eat and drink to make memories and food is part of that. We are constantly talking about what we eat and where we’ve been. At The Hand and Flowers, guests have returned after many years and recall their first experience of eating some of our signature dishes, such as the Omelette of Smoked Haddock and Parmesan; a dish that has been on the menu for over 16 years.

We approach our customers with warmth, a big smile and personality. Guests should feel at ease and like an old friend as they walk through the front door. We say that guests should be greeted as though they feel like they’ve been hugged. Every guest must be extended the same level of hospitality; whether they are staying overnight with us, or popping in to the bar for a drink.

Aneta Jarzmik, General Manager, Hard Rock Café

We want each and every guest to have such a good time that they don’t want to leave – and when they do, we want them to be planning their next visit! Like any GREAT band it’s all about collaboration, firstly we have our unique buildings we call them ‘monuments’. These are packed with our world famous collection of music memorabilia and help create a truly unique atmosphere, only found at a Hard Rock Cafe.

We then have our food offerings like our Legendary Burgers & Baby Back Ribs and our cocktails such as our Rockin Fresh Rita, served in collectable souvenir glass, it’s a mouthwatering blend of Tequila, Lime & Agave, and named after Hard Rocks first ever waitress – Rita Gilligan. Finally, the greatest part of the show – our committed and dedicated teams! They are obsessed in delivering a truly unique and authentic experiences to each and every guest.

Samyukta Nair, Owner, MiMi Mei Fair & Jamavar

At Jamavar and Bombay Bustle we offer a luxury culinary experience for our guests by celebrating our signature dishes, such as Jamavar’s Kid Goat Shami Kebab, Old Delhi Butter Chicken or Bombay Bustle’s Chettinad Duck Dosas. Whilst we don’t focus on themed nights we are constantly adapting our offering where relevant – for instance, when we launched Jamavar’s terrace we introduced a new selection of small plates such as our Bhatti Ka Octopus and a selection of cocktails that were more suited to al fresco dining. We also created our picnic baskets ‘Pao in the Park’ at Bombay Bustle, when we couldn’t welcome guests into the restaurant, so they could continue to enjoy our cuisine throughout the pandemic. I believe that everyone is looking to escape the ordinary and we allow our guests to do that by providing incredible food in a stylish and welcoming setting. 

Andy Waugh, Co-Founder, Sixes

Calum & I approach everything from a food & drink angle. We’ve been cooking with fire for years so we’ve gone caveman crazy on the menu! We have a firepit in every kitchen with 99% of the menu being cooked on these beauties. We also have fun & competitive batting nets for testing your cricket skills.

The word “hospitality” has quite awkward connotations to it and some people feel funny working in hospitality. But we want our team to treat guests like they would if they came to your house – do what you can to make everyone feel comfortable and feel proud of your place of work!

Graziano Bonacina, Head Chef, Bardo

The key to delivering a great customer experience is keeping your staff happy. If their smiles are genuine, that will naturally radiate across the room. As table-theatre we serve a few dishes in front of the guest, such as our white truffle Tagliolini where the waiter will serve the pasta and shave the white truffle or the roasted turbot where it is shown to the guest and after cooking, is plated in front of the guest.

However, you cannot rely on food alone to shoulder the responsibility of an ultimate dining experience. If the service is outstanding, the decor and ambiance are inviting and there is a distinctive and accommodating menu that offers options to customers — particularly those with dietary needs — you’ll be hitting the spot. Be out of step with any of those elements, and you can be rest assured, the customers won’t be coming back, even with the best food.

Anubhav Srivastava, Owner and Founder, Ritu London

Food is at the heart of everything we do at Ritu. We use our food as a way to share our Indian heritage with London. However, you won’t find dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala on our menu. We have created a selection of food that guests won’t find anywhere else, and we have learned that that is what our customers love about our restaurant, and why they keep on coming back. Where else will you have your Biryani served to you in bamboo? Our food is unique, high quality and incredibly tasty. It’s all well and good having an Instagramable restaurant, but will guests come back if the food isn’t perfect?

Liam Norval – Co-Owner, Temakinho London
Customer service is key to creating loyal fans of a brand. We ensure every guest is greeted with a smiling face and our staff take the time to talk guests through our menu. We know our Brazilian Sushi is delicious, but hospitality is about much more than that, it’s about the experience. On a Saturday we take things one step further and bring a Brazilian Party to Soho with our Carnaval Brunch, pairing high energy entertainment with delicious food and bottomless cocktails. Londoners work hard, let’s give them a great way to unwind at the weekend!