Meet Joe Harper, Assistant Bars Manager at the Savoy Beaufort Bar
Know about the dramatic, theatrical and opulent Beaufort Bar from its Assistant Bars Manager, Joe Harper.
The Savoy Hotel is located in the heart of London on the edge the vibrant West End on The Strand and has close associations to the rich theatre heritage of the area. The Beaufort Bar is located within the hotel as one of the bars of this iconic hotel and provides a theatrical, art deco setting in which to enjoy cocktails that push the boundaries. The award-winning 12 strong teams have created a menu designed to intrigue and excite guests with each drink listed entirely unique to the Beaufort Bar. Joe Harper, Assistant Bars Manager, took some time out to reveal more behind the very glamorous curtain!
Tell us little more about The Savoy Beaufort Bar?
The Beaufort Bar is a dramatic, theatrical and opulent bar within the heart of one of London’s most iconic hotels. Our current menu, Music, Magic and Drama, celebrates the room’s history as a stage, highlighting Champagnes and English sparkling wines, mixed drinks and an extended selection of whiskies from around the world.
Is the current economic environment good or tough for pubs and bars?
Ultimately, any economic turbulence will drive change. Across the varying areas within the industry this will always be felt differently – a weak pound, for example, can promote tourism on one side, but be damaging for small businesses that cater to local communities. Consumers heading out to enjoy themselves are the lifeblood of the industry, though, and more people always do that in times of prosperity rather than austerity.
Even a small scale pub or bar has a million moving parts. How do you assert priorities and yet remain flexible to demand?
I think that ultimately the key is to trust in your team and delegate appropriate responsibilities to people with the right talents to follow through. Nobody can do it all on their own, and giving colleagues focus areas can be invaluable developmentally as an investment in their future.
What are the top 5 priorities in running a great bar?
In no particular order; the guest experience, colleague engagement, atmospherics, product selection and attention to feedback.
Which is most important beer, wine, spirits, non-alcoholic drinks?
I think that this really depends on your overall concept and market segment. For the Beaufort Bar, our mix is heavily spirits and wine based, predominantly through mixed drinks, whisky and Champagne. Doing without any of them is impossible though, I would say that having the best selection you can across all categories will help you to please the greatest number of guests.
What is the hottest drink trend in The Beaufort Bar currently?
I’d say recent focus areas for us have been grower Champagnes, English sparkling wines and whisky.
How important is it for suppliers to consider sustainability and environmental issues to pubs and bars?
I think that this is an issue that is crucial for all of us to consider, at all stages of the industry, whether we’re suppliers, end users, consumers or producers. We simply can’t do enough to change existing practices so any and all progress can only be a good thing.
Pubs and bars are still closing at 18 per week (CAMRA Aug 2018) – do pubs have a long-term future in the UK?
I think that Pubs are a staple of the hospitality industry and of British communities. They’ve weathered worse storms in the past, and as much as some may change hands and be picked up and dropped by larger companies a few times over in some cases, I can’t see them going the way of the Dodo.
Recruitment seems to be a big issue in the UK hospitality sector. What strategies and tactics can you use to manage it?
Ultimately, if you’re an attractive employer with attractive packages, you will have good candidates apply. If you’re struggling to get people interested in your positions, it might be time to look at what you’re offering, if you can. You can’t always change some of those factors, but being creative with what you can change can pay dividends.
What are bars such at The Beaufort Bar/Savoy looking for from their importers and distributors?
We’re largely looking for consistent and interesting products. We aim to surprise and delight our guests, so introducing them to things they haven’t yet met is essential.
What do bars such at The Beaufort Bar/Savoy really look for in selecting new wines for their restaurants?
Again, consistent quality and interesting products. Finding wines that will excite people is a huge part of providing the opulent and often celebratory experience that our guests expect from us.
Will Alexa replace bar staff?
Predicting the future with any real certainty is virtually impossible. I will say that I would be surprised if technology like Alexa didn’t start making its way into hospitality at some point in the fairly near future. But, a world in which we’re all replaced by omniscient computers with perfect service, and human bartenders are reserved for quaint “old school” bars, isn’t exactly what I’d consider around the corner – I’m comfortable in thinking that I’ll be long retired before that’s close to reality.