What has Hospitality’s closure taught us about the industry? Webinar summary

Victoria Crisp

30 April 2021

5 min read

To watch the full webinar visit: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/hospitality-closure-panel-discussion

To celebrate the reopening of Hospitality venues Indeed Flex is hosting a series of webinars. The webinars are here to support business owners and workers alike, with up to date information on regulations and useful insights from professionals in the hospitality industry. 

Indeed Flex’s own Phil Houlihan was joined by experts…

  • Mark Reynolds, Executive Head Chef at Compass Group

Mark has 12 years of experience being a Chef across various high profile stadiums, including Tottenham Hotspurs,  Wembley and Arsenal stadiums. He’s also the National Vice-Chairman vice chairman of the Crafts Guild of Chefs.

  • Nick Wood Development Chef 

Nick has an extensive portfolio of experience within the hospitality industry. In 1998 he joined BaxterStorey (then Halliday Catering) and had over 23 years as part of the team.

  • Paul Shaw, CEO at Restaurant Collective

Restaurant Collective is a not-for-profit organisation, created to connect and support independent restaurants across the UK. Paul’s background is in hospitality, leisure and restaurant tech, previously working with an impressive list of industry giants.

The panel session discussed a range of topics surrounding the changes to the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has your job role and organisation been impacted by the pandemic?

Mark Reynolds kicked off the discussion with his experience. He shared that he had been working right through lockdown, with some of the team at the stadium being on and off of furlough as the regulations changed. 

“It’s been tough, we’ve had to make some tough decisions within the business at Tottenham. We went from a full-time team of 54, down to about 22 now.” 

Giving back to the community, Mark and his team have donated over a quarter of a million pounds worth of food to an important charity that helps feed the homeless and key workers. This stemmed from the aim of reducing waste following last-minute restriction changes.

“We’ve been doing a lot with [With Compassion, London charity], preparing meals with them.”

Paul Shaw was a voice for the independent restaurant owners as he shared the shocking reality of the effect of the pandemic.

“There’s something like 3000 fewer restaurants now than there were in March last year when lockdown began…it’s a long term problem”

What should hospitality venues be doing as they reopen?

Paul Shaw said he was cautiously optimistic, sharing how important proper planning is as the industry reopens.

“There’s an awful lot of work to do, to make sure we can service our customers and be good to our teams. [We must] make sure that we are COVID safe, make sure we are doing the right risk assessments so that we know what to do when we open and how to keep ourselves and our customers safe.”

Mark Reynolds noted some positive effects the pandemic has had on the industry.

“The innovation you’ve seen come out of restaurants has been phenomenal. Some of the ideas that people have come up with and the ways they’ve adapted has been phenomenal. Long may that innovation continue.”

“With staff coming back, I think now that staff that want to be in hospitality will come back. People who were in it before just for the money, are gone now… the guys who are truly passionate about our industry will come back.”

The importance of mental health in hospitality 

Mark Reynolds told us some information about the seminars he has been doing around mental health as well as how his organisation has raised awareness.

We’ve learnt a lot. Keeping in contact with your staff, checking in and making sure they’re alright. It’s tough these guys have gone from working 40-70 hours a week to doing nothing” 

“We’ve got a sensory room upstairs. If [staff] choose to talk they can, I’m one of the mental health ambassadors here at the stadium.

“Some people if they are struggling with mental health they just like to write things down…they can sit there and write their thoughts down.”

Nick Wood opened up about his incredible journey to a positive mental space, sharing light on how organisations need to support their staff throughout their return.

“I feel really good. I appreciate life and I appreciate family more. Before this, it was all work work work.”

“One of the big things I’m worried about is when people come back into the business. They haven’t worked for a year and it’s going to be hard… we’ve got to look after them and we’ve got to be understanding.”

Nick went on to share what he did to look after himself whilst on furlough.

“I tried to get into a routine and it really has helped…I do some exercise… I meditate, I’ve never done that before…I do a lot of learning…Did I have hobbies before? I’m sure I did but it was all about my job.”

What are the main lessons you have learned from the pandemic?

Mark Reynolds Value your time. We’re all guilty of [putting the job first]. But I’ve definitely realised in the last 12 months, take time for your family… Leave the work at the door.”

Paul Shaw “It’s awoken that sense of community… We’re not just on our own. We are all in this together.”

Nick Wood “We’ve been very adaptable, innovation has been really good. People, our teams and our suppliers are the most important to us. We’ve got to look after them and their well-being. You’ve got to be positive.”

It was fantastic to hear the experiences and advice of hospitality professionals from all different walks of life. Thanks to our guests for joining us in discussing such an important topic as the industry reopens.

To watch the full webinar visit: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/hospitality-closure-panel-discussion

You can attend the next sessions by registering your place here.