GETTING TO KNOW: GORDON KER FROM BLACKLOCKTue 11 2018 | Adaya
Q.1) WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START WORKING IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Just before I opened Blacklock I was working in the city in private equity advising restaurants on a variety of things, seed funding, investment etc. Some of my clients ranged from Cote Brasserie to Hawksmoor and D&D Group. I spent so much time advising hotels, restaurants, football clubs etc on various aspects of business but I really always wanted to run my own but wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do.
After 5 years working with restaurants I came to know the hospitality industry and I came up with an idea of the type of restaurant I wanted to launch. I had good contacts and so I took the plunge. I quit my job and went to work as a waiter at Hawksmoor. The on in Seven dials and Knightsbridge.
I knew the business side and the growth phase of restaurants but didn’t know operationally how to run a restaurant or what a pass even was hence my reasoning for going to work the floor at Hawksmoor. I was a waiter there for about a year and during the same time I was frantically setting up this place [Blacklock].
I’m very passionate about meat and I wanted to create something that focussed on really high quality meat cooked over the charcoal grill. I wanted the quality to be as good, if not better than Hawksmoor but well priced and really fun! Hawksmoor are actually the investors of Blacklock so they allowed me to take one of their chefs, Mirrik who is now the head chef at Blacklock.
Q.2) WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY?
It really is very hard work and without sounding corny or cheesy its very nice to be able to put a smile on peoples faces. The job description that all the waiters here stick to is that everyone leaves happy. It’s a really rewarding feeling when people leave happy or even better from when they came in.
Q.3) WHAT ARE THE BEST TIPS FOR WORKING A BUSY FLOOR?
Stay calm! Honestly, the restaurant gets so busy with people waiting for tables, the pass can be backed up with tickets waiting for people to action them etc . It’s so so busy so my best advice is to just stay calm and think methodically.
Also to be over generous! Always go too far and err on the side of generosity!
Q.4) IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE VERY IMPORTANT TIP TO A BUDDING RESTAURATEUR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Be aware! There are long hours, its very hard and there are lots of moving variables so its not like if you’ve created the Dyson hoover and every time you sell one its always the same.
There can be issues with suppliers or with chefs cooking something over a charcoal grill, there’s always that margin for error when a dish is served so be prepared for it to be very hard but it’s very rewarding if it all goes okay. And it’s certainly better than being a lawyer!
Q.5) WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A CANDIDATE? TRAINING OR PASSION?
Passion! Definitely! One of our best waiters started with us at the v beginning. never been a waiter before. Never! On his first day he literally didn’t know how to open a bottle of wine but had an amazing manner and such a lovely personality. You can teach someone how to be a waiter. You cant teach them how to be empathetic and caring.
Q.6) WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN GOOD WAITSTAFF?
We want people who care! Its big part of what we look for in employees. Are they interested in what we’re doing? Are they personable in their own way? Can they look me in the eye when we have a conversation.
Q.7) WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 MOST IMPORTANT RECRUITMENT/INTERVIEW TIPS FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO WORK IN A BUSY VENUE?
Know about where you’re going! Read up on us!
Its also nice if someone has physically been into the restaurant before the interview
Be on time
Q.8) WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CUT OF MEAT AT BLACKLOCK?
Q.9) FAVOURITE COCKTAIL
I’m really into the “Page 3” cocktail at the moment.
Q.10) WHAT TREND ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN THE LONDON RESTAURANT SCENE AT THE MOMENT?
To be honest, I’m not going in for all the concepts. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. What we do is simple: meat over charcoal grill, people like that!
In terms of trends, I think doing simple things really well will always be on trend. Simple, great service and consistent. Consistency over trends..!
Q.11) WHAT ARE YOUR 3 FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS IN LONDON? AND WHAT ARE THEIR SIGNATURE DISHES?