OK – ironic for a trainer and coach to gain some valuable learning from lunch at The Coach. The people who run Tom Kerridge’s newish venture in Marlow know a thing or two about people skills, service, team working, leadership – and excellent food. Maybe one helps the other?
I had met Claire Kreigenfeld and Nick Beardshaw (head chef) on Monday at the Marlow FM studio on Monday. Felt drawn to see them in work action for lunch today…
Claire is Front of House manager. I have always said that we can all learn a lot from the way restaurants work – or don’t. (Some of you may even have witnessed my conference performance on the subject!) Claire made me really think. She was behind the bar polishing glasses. I suggested a managers work was never done…and she said “It’s no good shouting at them. Leadership isn’t that. I’m just showing them what they should be doing without thinking”. It is true that you don’t need to be able to do every job that your staff do to their level of expertise, but it doesn’t half help if someone isn’t pulling their weight to be able to show that you are happy to get stuck in too…
The team ethic is constantly there. Everyone is quietly busy doing things. There is no panic, and no rush. It is a tight busy pub – with fine food (see Can Men Cook companion blog in an hour!). Food comes out of the open kitchen (another great and easy metaphor), and the server (which can be chef) says ‘food coming’ and everyone melts away to let the most important thing in the place pass through unhindered.
Two other things happened in our hour there. Nick had to send something back into the bowels of the kitchen. He is final assembler and arbiter. “This is the second one of these I have had to send back. What is wrong with it?” he passed it back, and sous chef knew without being told, and just fixed it quickly. And the customer would never know. This is quality control, performance management and leadership and attention to detail all wrapped up in 12 seconds of interaction.
And Claire quietly spoke to one of her supervisors. We had an Americano coffee. The milk hadn’t arrived. I asked for it, and it was fixed. “You will have to have a word with her (our original server). She misses some things. Just a bit of sharpening…”
That’s why it works. You can feel the passion about the place. It is based on the fact that there are no grey areas – no boundaries for people to get soft in. Everyone knows the standards, and they just do it, and love it.
So do I.