Interview with Marianne Long, HR co-ordinator at the Zetter Group about new concepts, the competition and how they find great staff.Thu 05 2017 | admin
It’s no surprise that we’re huge fans of all things Zetter Group, from their award winning cocktail bar at The Zetter Townhouse to their gorgeous boutique hotel in Marylebone, not to mention The Grain Store restaurant in Granary Square, set in the most awesome warehouse space. Their service and staff never cease to amaze us so we figured we’d have a chat with Marianne Long, HR Co-ordinator for the group to get the inside scoop!
Q. When and how did you begin your career in hospitality?
Like most, I started out working in hospitality part-time whilst studying, and just fell in love with the buzz of the industry! After university, my first role was as an Operations Assistant for a Private Member’s Club for families that had just opened, a fantastic way to get to know all the different roles, departments and systems that glue the business together. And now I’m in the HR department at The Zetter Group.
Q. Tell us a little bit about The Zetter Group and what it’s like to work for a venue group with multiple concepts:
The Zetter Group, is an independent collection of hotels and restaurants. Our venues are known for having bags of personality and we have a serious commitment to being green! For example The Zetter Hotel, our 59 bedroom converted Victorian Warehouse, has a 1,500 ft bore hole underneath which supplies all of our water.
The Zetter Townhouses (in Clerkenwell and Marylebone) seem more like the residence of an eccentric ancestors thanks to every corner being awash with antiques and curiosities. Both have award-wining cocktail lounges with some very special drinks. Our restaurant Grain Store is located in King’s Cross and has a very innovative approach to food, where vegetables take the starring role in the dishes. So, it is definitely busy working across the different concept and brands – but it’s never boring!
Q. What do you love most about these concepts?
Our forward-thinking Directors tend to pick buildings with history in surprising locations, where they see a bright future. There was very little in terms of restaurants in Clerkenwell when The Zetter first arrived in 2004, and look at it now – it’s one of London’s favourite neighbourhoods for foodies! Similarly, Grain Store was part of the urban regeneration of King’s Cross, an area that people would actively avoid less than ten years ago. In 2018 we will be opening a hotel in an old Fire Station in an area of Manchester that’s been almost derelict for 30 years, which is exciting.
Q. What are the main challenges that you have face in this industry?
Hiring chefs of course! I think young chefs are put off by imagining long hours and Gordon Ramsay style shouting matches, but that isn’t what ALL kitchens are like. Our kitchens are the most sociable and fun departments, and from day one chefs are given the opportunity to make their mark on the menus.
Q. What do you love the most about this industry?
Like I said, it’s never boring. There’s constantly new openings and new competition which means we’re constantly aiming to be innovative and exciting, while ensuring all of our guests have a great experience with us.
Q. If you could give one very important tip to someone looking to work in hospitality, what would it be?
Try everything, those who ‘get to the top’ often do so with experience in lots of different roles. Plus you’ll be adaptable, knowledgeable and confident in what you’re doing.
Q. Who is the ideal candidate for you venues?
We look for warmth, excellence and originality in all of our employees. So, we always look for candidates who can demonstrate these values and who will fit in with our ethos and our unique brand.
Q. When hiring, what special personality traits do you look for?
Warmth is key since our guests are at the heart of everything we do here.
Q. What is more important to you in a candidate? Training or passion?
Definitely passion, with a willingness and openness to learn. We can train candidates in anything – it’s much harder to instill a passion if it’s not there!!
Q. What trends are you most excited about in the London restaurant scene at the moment?
I think menus that minimise food waste and use less meat, more veg are very interesting right now. Grain Store has always been at the forefront of these trends, and now we’re seeing lots of chefs getting really into and I’m excited to see the ongoing impact it will have.
Q. What’s you take on the London bar/restaurant scene?
There’s nothing you can’t find in London. But, sometimes I think it’s too easy to get excited about ‘newbies’ on the scene – don’t forget about the ones that have been doing it well for years!
Q. What’s in store for your venues going forward?
We’re very excited about Kitchen Culture, our new supper club which takes places on the first Monday of the month at Grain Store. Bruno works with our chefs to create one-off menus that represent the (12!) different cultures and countries in the Grain Store kitchen. The Zetter Hotel is undergoing a renovation, so all of our rooftop rooms will be freshened up by the end of the year. Our much-loved Afternoon Tea has just launched at The Clerkenwell Townhouse, so we’re expecting to be busy with that!
Q. What’s your favourite dish/drink at The Zetter and Grain Store?
I love the Green Martini at Grain Store – who knew savoury cocktails could be so delicious?! It’s -made with gin and green bean, broad bean and pea vermouth.. so getting those 5-a-day in!
Q. What are your 5 favourite venues in London? And what are their signature dishes and/or drinks?
Salon in Brixton Market is a favourite for Brunch – Nduja mixed with scrambled eggs on toast.
The Dairy, Clapham for just their Sourdough and salted butter.
Dirty Bones, High Street Kensington – ‘The Mac Daddy’ (mac & cheese ON a burger!).
The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone & Clerkenwell– Wicked Uncle Seymour’s afternoon tea (the heartier of the two options!).