Tom Proud has had an illustrious career in hospitality, working in the best bars and restaurants across the North East for the past 25 years. It was in late 2020 when, facing redundancy, he launched a delivery cocktail service. As well as running the successful Proud To Drink brand, you’ll now find Tom working with venues offering his cocktail consultancy service.
Savour welcomes Tom as our in-house drink expert.
“Now then… how hard is it to write 300 words on the trials and tribulations of being in hospitality in Winter 2021? It’s not a lot, surely…
For a start, strictly speaking I guess you could say that for the first time in some 28 years I’m not officially in hospitality right now. Having been presented with redundancy at the tail end of last year, I opted to not return to the industry I love, but instead to try to work on the outskirts of hospitality, occasionally dipping in with one of my new roles as a brand ambassador for a cocktail syrup company.
Here’s the rub. I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.
This is one of the hardest times that hospitality has faced in my lifetime, with so many chefs, bartenders, waiters and managers taking the opportunity that lockdown presented them with (either positively or unfortunately) to quit the industry and get their lives back. See their families. Have a weekend, evenings even! How dare they!
This exodus, for want of a better word, resulted in massive staff shortages in the pubs, bars, restaurants, and even nightclubs when they were eventually allowed to open again. I heard of business owners running food to tables, glass collecting and pulling pints just to keep open. Executive chefs, who would normally roam from venue to venue ensuring qualities were up to standard were instead working shifts in kitchens. Area managers too were behind the bar (although some of us were used to that already).
What do you care? As long as you get your food / drinks and they are up to the standards that you expect then so what?
Well, ALL VENUES had to train staff who had never worked those jobs before. Completely green teens who didn’t know an IPA from a pale ale, or a Mojito from a Basil Smash. So they had to be shown, often with little time to train outside of the job, so would have to learn as they worked (one of the best ways of learning by the way…) This resulted in longer waiting times for you, our lovely customers. Some of you were fine with this. You understood with compassion, logic and reasoning that things were different after lockdown. The teen nervously serving you with an awkward smile was learning the job in this, the new normal.
However, some of you expected everything to be exactly the same as before. In fact, because it had been so long, and let’s face it, a lot of us had forgotten how to have decorum, act in front of other people and be polite. Because they didn’t have to at home perhaps?
So, what happened next? A second wave of staff exiting the industry. Kids reduced to tears by rude and offensive customers. And now a lot of the industry is looking for full time staff as well as seasonal staff to cope with the Christmas rush, with a much smaller pool of available staff to choose from.
Do us a favour this Christmas. When you do go out for your staff parties, friends get-togethers, family meals and drinks… smile at the staff and be nice to them. They’re under a lot of pressure and doing their best.