Giving the personal touch
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, in Banchory, Royal Deeside. If I’m working the late shift at Banchory Lodge, I tend to not get up in the morning until around 9.30am.
I always have cereal, a cup of tea and some grapefruit juice for breakfast. Mornings are usually quite chilled out, getting ready for work. We have a really nice casual uniform for work which is tweed waistcoats teamed with jeans. So, I make sure my uniform is ready, I’m shaved and smart for work and my shoes are polished.
Because I live close to the hotel, if the weather is nice I will walk to work, which takes me around 10 minutes. The hotel has a long drive and then you can start to hear the River Dee as you approach as the hotel sits on the banks of the river. It’s a nice way to start the day.
If I am working the late shift, I have to be at work for noon. When I arrive, I like to go around the rest of the team including the kitchen staff and say “hello”. Dining at The Lodge is all about the atmosphere and service so, in the winter, lighting the log fires is really important to make sure it is cosy for guests coming in for lunch.
As supervisor, I check to see what staff I have working that day and open the restaurant diary to see what bookings we have for lunch and dinner in our bar and lounge and what events may also be on in our function suite. Also, I will always ask the head chef and his team if we have any specials or recommendations so that we are fully versed before diners arrive.
I chat with the bar staff, ensuring that we have plenty of stock, and if I have time, I will check the cellar to ensure we are ready for a busy day ahead.
Because I only start at lunchtime, I will have a cup of coffee but I won’t eat anything myself. Although I can find that difficult when I am serving food that looks really tempting to eat.
Diners start coming in and I allocate the staff which tables to look after. I try to ensure I speak to every table myself as I think the personal touch at The Lodge is really important. Lots of the regulars know me and I always like a bit of banter with them. My staff will ensure that every table is offered a jug of water and given their menus. I’m usually the one taking the orders and getting it through to the kitchen. When it is really busy, we can have up to 100 people eating, but time can really fly by.
Once lunch service is finished, we would set up for any afternoon teas that are booked. Because our view from the lounge window is so special, we try to get as many people near the window as possible. We might have around 35 or 40 people, so set-up is very different from lunchtime and we ensure the tables are cleared and cleaned, cushions puffed up and ready for our guests.
The rest of my afternoon is spent getting ready for the evening service. We like to put our tealights on the tables and get them lit for our guests when we turn the lights down. I ensure the fires have enough logs to see us into the evening and that the rest of the team are on the ball and ready. That means folding napkins, sweeping the floors, butter is carved and cutlery is polished. The bar is re-stocked after lunch and the water jugs are filled ready.
We serve dinner from 6pm so people start flowing in for either a drink in our bar or early service. When it is busy, we can easily do over 100 people in the evenings, especially at weekends. I treat every guest the same but I do love when dogs come into the bar. As we are doggy-friendly, they get a bowl of water and, if the owner allows, a doggy treat.
Service is similar to lunchtime where I just keep on eye on what is going on and make sure guests are well catered for. I don’t go home until I know the customers are happy. I need to know that everything is alright before heading off, otherwise I won’t settle for the evening.
When I get home, which can be around 11pm, this is the first time I actually have a proper meal. I tend to have something quick and easy like steak and salad with a jug of water. I will sit down and put the TV on. I never take my phone to work, so this is the first chance in the day since the morning where I get to look at messages. I sometimes watch a movie or watch catch-up TV before heading to bed around 1am.