MORGAN VANDERKAMER: ‘Covid-19 has made us realise how much we enjoy having our hands full’
Each day we open our doors to our guests, smiling we welcome them into our restaurant, our second homes: sometimes what feels like our first home.
There are countless times when you feel like you just turned out the lights and you are turning the music back on for another round of hospitality.
For many of us, this week in the hospitality industry in its many shapes and sizes, find ourselves at a loss.
Funnily enough, a loss we always say we would love to embrace. Just another day off, a lie in, no ringing phone…finally our request has been granted.
Albeit, abruptly we may find ourselves with sometime on our hands, where a usual Saturday would consist of a busy night on the floor, constant phone calls and requests, we now struggle to find re-runs of old golf tournaments.
I remember being a kid and the only thing Saturday afternoon television had to offer was golf, none of the Monday to Friday cartoons were on offer, maybe that’s how I got here, I didn’t like the bore of a Saturday.
As we find ourselves with time on our hands we may realize just how much we enjoy having our hands full. How we secretly thrive on the pressure of making every person who crosses our path each week feel like they are our most important guests.
We can take this time to revert back to what the fundamental elements of hospitality truly are and how they are the lifelines behind what we do. When we return, may we return with as much zest, dedication and love of service that this industry requires to survive.
After spending my entire working life in the hospitality industry I have seen a significant turn in the quality of hospitality that is on offer.
I would have a keen eye, in particular for the front of house operations. There is a certain strife for perfection when you love what you do, not a passerby in an often thought of ‘passerby’ industry.
Times like these put into perspective how necessary restaurants are, good ones in particular. There is a true art form to detailed, understated yet knowledgeable hospitality.
Within an industry so wide open to flaws and criticism now is the time to reflect on the ones who do it right and who love what they do. There is passion in hospitality, if you are good it will show, if you have no empathy and are just ‘passing through’ that will also show.
There are many years of hard work, learning the steps, the moods, the attributes and the cues of hospitality, as its own enemy too often these integral skills are over-looked for a person who can carry a tray, fill a void.
Today, industry staff and guests a like may find themselves recalling the times of camaraderie they have had with their colleagues or the memorable dinner two weeks ago and yearn to go back. To sit there and take it all in: the atmosphere, jazz playing in the background, the buzz of just being out and free.
For now we must embrace the memory and look forward to that fabulous meal and every sip of the glass of wine you can’t get your hands on right now. In the meantime do your part and stay home.
2020 doesn’t need to be remembered as the bad vintage for restaurants, on the contrary, we may look just over our shoulders and see that no vintage is a perfect one but you work with what you have, make the best of it and carry on as strong as before.
Perhaps, as an industry, when we return, we will smile as we always should, we’ll turn on that music, hold open the doors and welcome everyone home.
We will pull up our socks and show what this industry is all about. Do it for all the right reasons; you have to love it, your guests will love it and it will be a kind reminder that restaurants aren’t just a thrifty place to throw your woes to the wind.
They are a labor of love.
Morgan is sommelier and co-owner of the award-winning Barrow’s Keep restaurant in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
For more information, log on to: http://www.barrowskeep.com
Phone: 085 250 7461