Talking 'bout a Revolution
For Bryan Ferry, love was the drug. For me, its hospitality. How many people can say that about the industry they work in? Very few. And yes, I’m unashamedly addicted.
As we welcome another consultant into our team who comes from a pure hospitality background, it got me thinking about how we can fill the inevitable void she will no doubt feel. Sixty Eight People is a pretty special place to work (if I do say so myself) but we have to try and make sure that every day is as exciting and fulfilling as working that floor on a Saturday night.
Everyone talks about it. We all know what it is. ‘The buzz’. Until you have felt it, worked in it, sweated in it, stared at it in great amazement, you probably won’t know what I mean.
For me, the buzz began in 1997. In Liverpool to be specific - that glorious city which seduces you with a nightlife scene so vibrant, that you never want to leave. After spending my student loan in three days flat I needed a job and I needed one quickly. ‘Glass collectors Wanted’ the sign said. ‘No way! ‘ I said to my then 14-year-old little brother. ‘No way am I collecting bloody glasses.’
In truth, I was turning my nose up at what sounded like a crap job, but I was also a little nervous about hospitality. I had been ‘let go’ from my first job as a carvery waitress in Keighley for snitching on a ‘career waitress’ who I thought was nicking tips from the pot. Anyway, I digress.
After many days (probably half an hour) of wandering the drizzly streets of Liverpool I went back in and nervously asked about the role. I was met by a spritely Irish fella who, little did I know, was about to change my life forever and spark a passion in me that is yet to be extinguished.
Several questions later (‘Did I drink vodka?’ Sure. ‘Could I handle people screaming at me?’ No problem. Did I like working late nights? I think so) I had a trial and went on to get the job.
I felt it on my first night. The music, the crowd, the team, the vodka, the steam in my face from the glasswasher as the bartenders hurled orders at me for ‘more shot glasses!’. I was hooked. My studies fell by the wayside and any shift I could do, I would.
Before I knew it I was an AWOL student and a full-time bar dweller doing six nights a week, collecting non-stackable hi balls for Revolution Vodka Bars. Screw the geography degree - I was a glass collector. I’d sleep all day, work until 2am and then debrief with the team until dawn.
After several months of mopping up vomit and balancing glassware, I was promoted to bar staff. Now this was another level. We had optics back then (free pouring was only for the cool kids round at Life Café) but it was still a race. We fought, we crashed, we shoved, we danced, we laughed and we waited eagerly for that till report to come out. Who had taken the most cash? It was the most competitive job I’d ever had and I was on fire.
The buzz changed slightly when I became a supervisor and then soon after that, a manager. Oh yes it was still there alright, but bigger, and plus I had a fancy bunch of keys to swing around. I loved standing on that door feeling like I ruled the world as I welcomed guests into the bar - my bar. Having total control of the all important lighting dimmers and volume dials. I had made it ( so I thought) . It was my empire.
I should also mention that I’ve never felt exhaustion like it (oh and I’ve had twins) – and I probably won’t again. Hair matted to my head, ears ringing, blisters killing but the feeling of creating a night to remember for hundreds of fellow hedonistic souls was something that had taken a hold over me.
Now I guess the buzz is different in restaurants (in 1997 food was a licensing requirement and nothing more). The same but different. It’s still about seeking out opportunities to make people feel good, to see a problem before it happens, to prevent agginess, to provide slick, swan-like service. To make people feel that you care about them and only them. So I know my fellow hospitality workers, from restaurants, would still know about ‘the buzz’.
So now I’m on the other side of the bar, how do I get the buzz? Oh it’s still there alright. Every time I talk about hospitality, every time I wax lyrical about how an operator has got it so right or how a site got it so wrong (mainly based around the availability of loo roll these days).
And I have the added bonus of helping people find their own buzz. To me hospitality recruitment is the dream job. I can remain completely immersed in this incredible industry and yet I’m still able to eat, drink and dance in the hottest hot spots on a Saturday night (all in the name of research of course).
So, as I reflect on how, as a recruitment business, we can live up to the extraordinary life of a hospitality manager, I accept we must create something special.
To our latest recruit, I welcome you with open arms (and a bottle fizz). And I want you to know that I get it, I appreciate that you will miss that unique feeling. But I promise to do everything in my power to make sure you find a new calling, a new sense of purpose and a whole new buzz.