Bar + Block

Why work for Bar + Block?

All you need to know with General Manager, Bernard Valapinee

General Manager Bernard Valapinee tells us his story working at Bar + Block, a part of Whitbread, and exactly why a job here is one you need to go for – right now.

Bernard Valapinee at Bar + Block

Currently working as General Manager at Bar + Block in Kings Cross, Bernard joined just over a year ago, previously helping out at various sites across London. Starting at Whitbread two and half years ago, he joined knowing he wanted to manage an upcoming Bar + Block that is soon to be open. 

“Bar + Block is unique to other steak restaurants because we don’t have a generic menu. Our steaks are cut to size and that’s what really attracts people. In fact, people will actively choose a hotel to stay at knowing there’s a Bar + Block, as it’s a restaurant they want to dine at.”

“But it’s not just about the hotel guests – we get a lot of people externally from the hotel coming to dine here, so it’s a great mix of people.”

“All our meat comes in as a large piece, and we butcher it ourselves. We prepare steaks to go for service, but we also hold back large pieces so customers can have a steak of their choice. If someone wants a 20 ounce steak or a 30 ounce steak for example, we can cut and prepare it for them specifically to order. All our steaks can be prepared however the customer wants, which makes us stand out.”

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“All our restaurants have a laid-back, casual feel – our restaurants serve great quality steaks but are also accessible to all people.”

“We have an open-plan layout. Our kitchens are on display. We have a big marble butcher’s table. We’ve also got a separate cocktail bar where nothing is pre-mixed. Wherever you’re standing or sitting, there’s always a viewpoint into the kitchen. The only thing that happens back of house is our butchery and kitchen porter. So it’s an open and honest space.”

“I’d sum up Bar + Block as an earthy, casual dining environment with a fresh look. It’s a versatile place – you can celebrate a birthday here, throw a graduation party, have a meeting, or simply come down for a relaxed lunch. It’s welcoming and not pretentious.”

Bernard also tells us of the great career progression opportunities within the company, and his experience supporting growth within his team:

“When I began as a General Manager here at King’s Cross, we were looking to hire a Restaurant Manager. I always believe it’s better to grow from within the team, so I worked with one of our Team Leaders to help him progress and become Restaurant Manager, which is his position now. Whitbread as a company has a lot of structure that supports growth.” 

“Our current Kitchen Manager used to be a Kitchen Porter within Whitbread six years ago. At Whitbread, we’re willing to help you if you’re willing to work your way up.”

“Even though I started here already as General Manager, I knew if there were things I wanted to learn or branch out to, like going to Head Office or working in HR, Whitbread would support me. There are always projects you can get yourself on to help yourself with your own personal growth.”

In particular, Bernard talks about the importance of working for a stable company:

“Whitbread itself is a good, stable company. Which meant we were looked after well throughout the whole lockdown, people were given bonuses, extra pay and in some cases a whole month’s extra salary. You don’t have that instability of an independent place.”

“So you’ve got stability, the ability to progress, and a versatile environment that’s not stand-still. You have the choice to move around and work at different sites if you want, too.”

And finally, a memorable moment Bernard tells us from his time at Bar + Block so far:

“There was a guy in a wheelchair who once came to dine at our restaurant, and one of his wheels broke whilst he was here. So, we went over to one of the maintenance guys at Premier Inn (also a part of Whitbread) and asked if he’d help out. Even though he’d never fixed something like that before, he ended up fixing it with one of his tools. It made the guy so happy, and it was nice to be able to take a few moments out to help someone out and work together with Premier Inn.”

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You can also apply for these amazing roles at Bernard’s venue at Kings Cross, right now: