READY. SET. GO!
It’s like that for the hospitality industry after a year that redefined how we operate. And with the summer sun comes the initial sprint to be fully prepared for what many hope will be a bumper season.
Getting ready and being properly organised for the hospitality marathon that goes right through to Easter is the key.
Roberta Schmulian - General Manager of the successful Good George venues in Auckland’s North Wharf (directly opposite the Emirates Team New Zealand base for the America’s Cup) and the Craft House in Mission Bay - knows that only too well.
A glittering career as a chef (Prego and Blue Breeze) has instilled in her the values that anyone involved in the cut-throat “hospo” trade should heed. From staff well-being to kitchen deep-cleans she's inherently aware of the challenges facing establishments as they look to “cash in” on the summer.
It’s especially relevant given the lock-downs and the subsequent tumult this year has brought thanks to Covid-19. “You never compromise on standards or quality. That’s a given. That’s across everything,” Roberta says. “The staff have to be aware of what’s coming up and where they need to be. I think this year has been particularly tough because we have had to keep things very tight from a business perspective and we have to be very smart when we hire people."
“We really have to be aware of the mental health of our staff. After the first lockdown it was tough. In ‘hospo’ none of us get six weeks off in a year let alone together and there was a feeling that everyone would come out of it refreshed and happy but there was a lot of anxiety around. We have to be aware of that but I was happy the way everyone looked out for each other. The whole year has been about being flexible, being agile and being kind and we have to remember that as we prepare for, and then work through, the summer. Out of adversity has come a really good focus and that’s positive.”
Looking ahead and being organised is essential in order to proactively ensure the operation runs smoothly according to Roberta.
“When you’ve got an experienced team you can pinpoint your weaknesses and know where to focus your attention. For example my focus over the next month will be working between the floor and the kitchen to ensure we can cope with the big influx and that we’re communicating. That's the key - to keep talking .”
The other pivotal point of difference is ensuring you have efficient and effective kitchen systems. “As long as you’ve got good systems it takes out a hell of a lot of stress and creates routine. If you don’t have good systems, who knows what’s going on.
If you don’t have structures, boundaries or systems when you’re running a kitchen then your wage costs will be out of whack, your wastage will be through the roof and you run the risk of making people sick. You need to do the basics like labelling and dating food. You have to ensure that’s happening along with your deep cleans every week."
"If you don’t have that in place it quickly gets out of control. And it;’s not just the customers who suffer. The staff don’t have a good experience if you haven’t got those systems - they don’t have a good time working and it causes arguments. The staff suffer. They need to know they’re coming into a good workplace and taking pride in that.”
Using a proven platform like Safe Food Pro also makes for an incredibly efficient system in the operation Roberta says.
“It works for you and cuts out the paperwork. Many in the hospitality industry aren’t paper driven so having this platform puts it all in front of us. We all work like that these days and it definitely helps.”