Swift service is the order of the day
Name: Philippa Norton
Job title: Restaurant manager
Company: IX Restaurant at The Chester Hotel
As the mum of a four-year-old my mornings usually start early, despite often not starting work until early afternoon. This does mean I get to spend quality time each day with my son which is the most important time for me. Being in hospitality means working a range of shifts which start either at 7am or 3pm. I’m a bit of a night owl, but I’ve learned to cope with early starts too.
A typical day at work sees over 100 guests in the restaurant over breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Planning is critical and my team of 23 waiting staff are really on the ball when it comes to organisation. On arrival at work I receive a handover from the previous team on shift who will give me an update on the day’s activities, as well as what is planned for the shift ahead.
The food and beverage industry often attracts people with no previous experience, so we spend a lot of time developing individuals’ skills and providing on-the-job coaching. Training is such a key part of the day to day operation to ensure we maintain our service – this is a real priority for me in my role. This often includes the team getting to try out any new dishes on the menu which is a real, but essential, perk of the job.
On shift, lunchtimes are busy as business people often want to come and go within an hour or so, so service is swift and organisation is key. My own mealtimes aren’t taken at traditional times and I try to eat healthily and bring my own home-made meals to work. We have recently adopted ‘Cake Friday’ where we take it in turns to bring in a home-made cake for everyone to share. It started as a ‘thank-you’ to the team for all their hard work throughout the week and has now become a regular event.
I try to schedule my weekly meetings during the afternoon as it’s the quietest time of the day. I regularly meet with other department heads to discuss the business booked for the rest of the week. This includes weddings, private dining and conferences and is an opportunity to finalise all the small details for each department and ask any questions which may arise. It’s also a time for having one to one sessions with team members, as well as compiling rotas etc.
Dinner service always starts with a team briefing, before the guests arrive, to cover any last minute menu changes, special occasion details and VIP guest arrivals. This includes private dining, corporate events and accommodating our in-house guests. Overseeing the dinner service means working closely with the chefs in the kitchen and ensuring guests and staff are happy. Rapport with guests and helping them feel relaxed is a key part of my role and I really enjoy meeting new faces and welcoming back regular guests.
Our busiest evenings are Fridays and Saturdays where we often see up to 70 guests in the restaurant for dinner. Generally we finish our shift quite late and I tend to work more late than early shifts, but on a night off I really enjoy quality time at home or going out with friends.