How Covid changed the hospitality industry
The pandemic highlighted the need for a shift in attitude towards workers in the food industry – but what will that really mean?
I’m eavesdropping on the pre-service line-up at Davies and Brook in Claridge’s, a huddle of 20 or so staff led by general manager Anneka Brooks. Usually, line-ups are a chance to catch up on new dishes or prep for VIP guests. This one is a little different. Alongside menu updates and points of service, the team is sharing thoughts and fears and making affirmations in ways you’d expect at group therapy.
Over the past 18 months, restaurants have been reckoning with how they attract, retain and treat their staff. Labour shortages are rife, particularly in the UK post-Brexit. Morale and welfare have become key concerns. For teams returning from furlough, restaurants have been throwing parties as a means of rebuilding community and letting off steam. Among them was HonestFest, staged in a field in Reading for Honest Burgers’ 600-plus staff: it featured live music, street food, CBD cocktails, dodgems, a dunk tank, a “Total Wipeout” obstacle course, even a tattooist. “I don’t know if anyone got a burger tattoo,” co-founder Philip Eeles reports. “I kind of hope they didn’t.”