Interview: Rik Campbell – KricketThu 03 2017 | admin
Q. When and how did you begin your career in hospitality?
A. Officially, I’d say with Kricket but unofficially it actually started a lot earlier than that. I had owned a promotion and events business at university and had been heavily involved in running events, anything from 200 to 1500 people, from club nights to student nights, so I guess thats where the initial interest in hospitality really started
Directly before Kricket though, I was working for Deloitte in Corporate Finance for 3.5 years and a lot of my clients were hospitality clients like Soho House, so I was definitely exposed to it in that respect as well and was very interested the industry from an inside perspective.
Q. I understand you were working at Deloitte, what do you prefer about hospitality?
A. Without sounding cheesy, it’s really the interaction with customers and making people happy that I love.. Working 16 hours days six days a week isn’t easy but its the positive feedback and the fact that you literally bring happiness to people that keeps you going.
When someones says something like; “Wow! I really love this food”, it makes it so incredibly worth it and you wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Kricket and what it’s like to run two venues across town?
A. It’s of course a lot harder as we can’t physically be in two places at once but what makes me happy and confident is knowing that we have great staff at the right places.
We place a lot of emphasis on reporting, overviews and debriefs each week so we can make sure we’re on track with service and consistency. I think what we also do well is bring in some of the staff from the Brixton branch to do one or 2 days a week in Soho to ensure consistency across the two venues which is really important to us. So we’ll get the Head Chef in to come and monitor those levels of consistency of the dishes across the board.
To be honest, I’d like to enjoy running these two sites for because it’s only gonna get harder as we grow and managing consistency is key, but happy to say that we’ve definitely been lucky. In terms of feedback and reviews, we’ve had no comments about opening in Soho and dropping that standard in Brixton; we’re still getting consistently getting good reviews, which is how we like it!
Q. What are the main challenges that you have faced in this industry?
A. The site wasn’t too hard to find really, despite it often being a nightmare for many restaurateurs out there looking to open a place. Investment was slightly tricky but we had a lot of interest which was great!
I’d say staffing is really the key challenge. When we opened brixton we had no-one and had to build teams from scratch but now its really about finding the right staff, not just any staff.
The opening is all about getting hands on deck but now we’re totally focussed on finding good quality stuff who buy into our values and ambitions which is really important to us.
Q. What do you love the most about this industry?
A. Managing a lot of people is very rewarding. We’ve got 30 employees plus the Brixton lot; it’s a lot of people to look after but yeh, it’s very very rewarding.
Plus of course the customer interaction. I really love that too.
Q. If you could give one very important tip to someone looking to work in hospitality, what would it be?
A. Be prepared to work very long hours. Be prepared to sacrifice a lot because it’s a 24 hour business pretty much.
Be prepared to get stuck in is more my point I guess. I mopped to the floor each night for 6 months at Brixton – you gotta start somewhere!
Q. Who is the ideal candidate for your venues?
A. Someone who is enthusiastic and actually wants to learn.
Q. When hiring, what special personality traits do you look for?
A. Personable, well-organised, attention to detail.
Q. What is more important to you in a candidate? training or passion?
A. Passion for sure!
Q. What trends are you most excited about in the London restaurant scene at the moment?
A. Chinese food! I love A.Wong!
I don’t know too much about Chinese food to be honest but I’ve been to China and I know what it’s like over there and it feels like it’s really on the verge of changing over here! Which is exciting because when it’s done well, its damn good!
I’m excited to see who is gonna do for Chinese food what Dishoom, for example have done for Indian food? Who’s going to be the ones to make us eat Chinese food for breakfast?
Q. What’s your take on the London bar/restaurant scene?
A. I dont’ think there are enough good late licence bars. If I wanted to go to my favourite bars they have 11pm licences on weekdays which is ridiculous.
My passion for this industry is just as much for the cocktail bars so would love to see more late night speakeasy cocktail bars popping up.
Would also love to see more wine bars; more Sager and Wilde’s in central London would be good!
Q. Whats in store for your venues going forward?
A. I think our first priority is Soho and getting this beast running smoothly and effectively, improving on feedback and reviews we’ve had and make sure that the quality is there whether Will and I are not.
We’ll plan to get something in the pipeline for early ’17. It will definitely be a Kricket but I can’t say too much. Something with a different take on it, maybe breakfast, maybe a focus on veg and fish, we’ll see!
Maybe a bigger bar focus, more cocktails maybe.
Q. What’s your favourite dish at Kricket?
A. At the moment, the Karnatakan Mussels. They’re awesome!
Q. What are your 5 favourite venues in London? And what are their signature dishes and/or drinks?
A. Clipstone – The calfs brain
The Palomar – The bread! The Kubaneh Yemeni pot baked bread served with tahini & velvet tomatoes 6. I think I’ve been to the Palomar more than any other restaurant ever.