The Lighterman in King’s Cross opened just a few months ago and we sat down with Greg Rosser, General Manager to find out what he’s been up to and what we can look forward to from this stunning venue.
You recently joined The Lighterman as General Manager, what attracted you to this role specifically?
The opportunity to be in a company that was going places and had opportunity for development. I was also massively attracted by their approach to hiring – it felt like a truly people-focussed business, and that’s important for me.
What do you think makes this venue special?
Attention to detail in terms of design and delivery but also, most importantly, how much time and effort is invested in developing a strong team and creating opportunities for individuals to progress within the industry.
As a GM we’re sure your days are really busy, what’s your best and worst part of your job?
The best part is being able to make positive changes to people’s lives. I love the mentoring aspect of the role and am proud to say that I am still in touch with previous team members who are now GMs or higher in other venues. It’s very rewarding to be able to give individuals the tools they need to succeed, and gratifying when they do well. Probably the most challenging part is recruitment itself. It’s very tough in the hospitality sector to find truly great staff – and I think it’s getting harder all the time.
Has the introduction of the National Living Wage affected The Lighterman at all?
OpenHouse, which owns The Lighterman, has always paid their staff a fair wage, but I think the introduction of National living wage has made that more challenging. Previously, service charge/tronc was a great way to share the success of the business with the entire team, but this has become more and more difficult with the pressures of Living Wage. Ultimately, restaurants are too cheap – we have tight margins and I’m not sure being squeezed like this is good for the industry.
What are your views on service charge?
I absolutely wholeheartedly believe that service charge should be shared amongst the team that serves you. As a country, we need to get over the idea that only waiters should be rewarded for good service. A great restaurant/bar experience is also reliant on motivated chefs who prepare your food; dedicated dishwashers that clean your plates or glasses and countless others who are often forgotten by the guest. A more holistic approach to restaurant service charge is needed, and this requires a change in the mind-set of the public. I think that the public’s unrealistic expectation of how a restaurant service works encourages some businesses to be vaguely misleading in their approach to service charge, and this is now backfiring across the industry. Hospitality is about a whole team, and service charge needs to reflect this. Having said that, it’s key that all hospitality businesses are straightforward and honest about where the money goes.
Do you think the introduction of the 24 hour tube is going to have a positive/negative effect on your business? And if so in what way?
Positive, I think. I don’t really know how many guests it will attract as we close before last tube anyway, but it will definitely improve the quality of life for many of our team.
What do you think the hospitality industry could do better to attract more talent?
The hospitality industry should be treated as a valid career choice. My school recently invited speakers back to discuss careers with their students and I was told I could only attend if I had a degree! This is totally the wrong approach – hospitality can give you a great standard of living and amazing opportunities and this should be said to young people to encourage them to enter what is an exciting, growing industry.
As we head into the heart of summer, what can we expect from The Lighterman? Have you got any special events on?
It’s going to be a massive summer at The Lighterman! We’ve got big screens in the square showing Wimbledon, including a pop up bar. We have BBQs launching on the terrace, heaps of outstanding rose and some fabulous new cocktails to enjoy whilst basking in the sunshine.
What’s your favourite drink and meal to enjoy at The Lighterman?
I’m obsessed with our breakfast offerings. They’re great value and The Lighterman is a cool, scenic spot to enjoy breakfast Monday to Sunday. I feel it’s our best kept secret!
I also can’t get enough of our Sipsmith Summer Cup – its local, made with highest quality ingredients and knocks the socks off a standard Pimms – winning.
What career advice do you have for other people interested in front of house roles in hospitality?
Push hard and aim to progress fast. It’s rare to be handed opportunities in this industry, so shout about your talent and tell senior staff that you’re all about progression. Passion and dedication will get you everywhere, so go for it!
Interested in working a restaurant like The Lighterman?
The Change Group is a luxury and hospitality recruitment agency in London that specialise in placing candidates for back of house jobs and front of house jobs. If you are looking for a new hospitality job please feel free to call us on 02079236021 or search for hospitality jobs online