We need the next generation to “Choose Hospitality”
Chris Mapp is the Managing Director of the Tickled Trout in Barlow. Chris was named Food Hero at the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards 2019.
He is passionate about the industry and Chesterfield and is keen to develop young people beginning their careers to understand how food works – taste over presentation using locally-sourced food.
In this guest blog he shares his views on the challenges facing his sector post lockdown and is calling on the next generation to ‘Choose Hospitality’ as a career path.
This isn’t about me, it’s not about who I am, where I have worked and who with, and it is certainly not a moan or rant. It is about my genuine concern about my family-owned pub in a beautiful Derbyshire village. The hospitality industry is struggling to recover post covid and in my opinion it is facing a more uncertain future than ever before.
Eighteen months ago tears were shed by my team on the last night we were open as we entered the first lockdown and the reality of shutting my business hit home hard. We pulled together as a team, prepared nearly 4000 ready meals for key workers in the NHS and kept team morale up through zoom wine tastings and funny what’s app group messages. It was tough from a business perspective as there was fear and uncertainty to how we could manage financially but with the furlough scheme, grants and the ability to do takeaways we survived… Relief!
I counted down the days to reopen, we were back as a work family again and we welcomed friends back through our doors. It was not business as usual though and I realised the challenges in running my business were growing. Staff recruitment and retention is harder than ever, and costs are escalating.
In my view there is no going back to previous working terms and conditions; staff have moved away from our industry during lockdown or are not prepared to come back working the long hours for the low pay we have put up for many years. As the saying goes, I have been there and got the T shirt, I have worked the 90 – 100 hours plus weeks with early starts and late finishes, missing family and social events. I believe the pandemic has caused reflection and a change in culture has begun. This is right, this is something I want to support. It is time for change. I want to champion a better work life balance for my team but the problem is, how do we get this to work in practice?
I am aware in an attempt to retain and attract staff some restaurants have restricted opening hours but this isn’t really appropriate for a village pub. My plan is to run a 4 day rota for staff (48 hours over 4 days) plus overtime, this is to survive both in short term and hopefully long term. For those outside hospitality this is the norm but for chefs and front of house managers it is far from it. I have adverts open and hoping to increase my team significantly to get this to work but I am reworking my budgets with anxiety. This is where I and others in similar circumstances need help. A cultural shift won’t be possible without a degree of solidarity and commitment from key players in our industry. Raising awareness will be key to why these changes need to be put in place – yes a pint may cost a few pence more for your local to survive. Not because bigger profits are being made but because staff are being paid fairly for the work they do.
There is a huge domino effect rippling through the UK with restaurants, cafes and pubs not being able to operate fully, this cascades to the supplier and their workforce which in turn affects the farmers and their staff. Don’t also forget that farmers produce barley for brewing, there was so much wasted last year. Hospitality is an enormous business alone but when you look deeper, a huge amount of businesses rely on hospitality to function at 100%. It’s quite frightening.
We really need people to join our beloved industry, it can be an excellent career, we need the next generation to “Choose Hospitality”. I am a patron of a large national charity that is working hard to generate interest at school and youth level and amongst others charities, we need to get more like minded owners and chefs and front of house management involved.
The Manchester Evening News recently highlighted that there is currently 3000 jobs available in hospitality in Manchester having doubled in a matter of weeks and this is before the big football clubs reopen their hospitality.
I can envisage that soon there will only be old men and women in kitchens….
Joe Biden recently said that a job in hospitality is your first best job, as the States have similar issues simmering, we concur.
I am hugely proud of the food we serve in the UK and at my pub and the customer service we give and I welcome a collective conversation to how we can all survive in the future.