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. He owns DELIVERY COCKTAIL business PROUD TO DRINK as well as a COCKTAIL CONSULTANCY SERVICE.
SAVOUR’S IN HOUSE DRINKS EXPERT TALKS about innovation in the hospitality sector.
We are Marching through the year like you wouldn’t believe! Not only has Boris rescinded any need to self isolate legally, regardless of whether one has tested positive or not, but hospitality is growing from strength to strength here in the North East.
Some operators have grasped the opportunity to grow their businesses, snapping up bargain venues from the opposition with the intention of turning them around. Forward thinking, progressive and even aggressive tactics in play here, suggesting that some operators are alright thank you very much for asking.
As I alluded to in my last column just before Christmas, staff turnover has still been an issue, but some operators have been stepping up and offering better hours, better pay and more reasons for good staff to stay in the job. Some. Not all. But some are better than none, right?
Four day weeks are a thing for some good chefs. Don’t get me wrong, on the days they are working, they’re still doing long days, but the lure of 3 days off with family is too good to turn down and they can easily reach their contracted hours in 4 days.
Let’s turn to January and February business: It seems that after a dismal Christmas trading for most operators due to the media hooha over the Omicron variant, January was pretty solid with NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week bringing out the usual onset of bargain hunters as always. Glasses of water instead of a lavish cocktail before or after dinner. Yes, it puts bums on seats, but…
Burns night was fun if you were in the right place, which I was – guest ‘tending at a little place in Jesmond, one of the coolest spots to open in Newcastle in the last year called Kennedy & Rhind. Not heard of it? You should make an effort as the food is to die for! On occasion the drinks are pretty good too! We had the full Roddie Burns experience with the address to the haggis and a bagpiper who was taking requests.
February has been the longest, shortest month for some – though at least we have got rid of Covid (allegedly). It feels like winter just doesn’t want to let go of it’s icy grip on us just yet. Just. One. More. Storm.
It was recently announced that there will be a new guide for bars in a similar vein to the Michelin star guides for restaurants, that have been around since 1904, called The Pinnacle Guide. Pins will be awarded for quality and to top performing bars with outstanding cocktails, sustainability practices and service standards. This is exciting news! I’m looking forward to the process, as it’s a public and peers process of voting for and nominating your favourites and why. This will be a very complex process naturally, and hopefully will be a little more ergonomic than, say, The World’s 50 best bars, which is a backslapping affair with a lot of egos involved, a lot of sponsorship money and a glitzy awards ceremony. We’ll see.
Bars all around us are contemplating launching their Spring Summer cocktail menus, loaded with light and refreshing drinks that make us yearn to be by the pool, steering us away from the stirred down and brown wintery cocktails which more suit sipping by the fireside. This feels a little premature considering our recent customers, Malik, Corrie, Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, have been like the worst drunk Karens in our collective bar – refusing to leave without smashing up the place first, chucking glasses and chairs left, right and centre before reluctantly making their way to the exit and leaving, shouting “I know the owner!” and “I’m going to leave a bad Tripadvisor!” I’m making light of it, I know, but it has been a horrific month or more for some, and I wish you all well from the bottom of my heart. Here’s to raising a glass to March.