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The judges thought it "commendable" how the Ham Yard team were able to maintain high levels of guest care and satisfaction in a busy establishment, with 100 covers in the restaurant, 120 in the bar and 40 in the bar courtyard.
The judges noted their consistent service and attention to detail, their great training records, and their ability to develop team members to grow within the company.
Over the course of the past 12 months, nine members of the team have been transferred into the restaurant from housekeeping and the kitchen, and 19 members of the restaurant and bar team have been promoted. Two of the current restaurant supervisors started their careers at Ham Yard as waiters but became restaurant managers after completing the Firmdale graduate programme.
Everything the Ham Yard team do focuses on the guest experience. This starts with the reservations team, who ascertain as much information about a guest as possible, such as whether it's a special occasion or if they have dietary requests, to ensure the floor team can provide the best service. In 2016 the restaurant team hired a maÁ®tre d' and a host team of four, whose responsibility is to create great experiences, recognise regulars and build guest profiles, which can include guest anecdotes and stories to help build relationships.
In order to keep up this high standard of service, during the team briefing a 10-minute training session is held around the order of service, standards or product knowledge, such as a recap on how to decant wine. Also, with every change of menu, one of the supervisors is responsible for creating a menu description
document for each dish that includes a photograph, ingredients, method and allergen information, and which is emailed to all the team members. After tasting, the team then undergo a menu knowledge test.
Since opening, the Ham Yard restaurant has grown in revenue in all areas through a number of incentives, such as pre-theatre menu in partnership with local theatres, the introduction of a junior sommelier, and the pairing of dinner with various events held in the hotel, which can be booked in conjunction with the Hot Gin Roof - a pop-up in partnership with gin brand Sipsmith.
In 2016, revenues at breakfast saw a 12% increase, lunch 18% and 11% at dinner. Afternoon tea and bar revenue was up 4% and 8% respectively. For the first six months of 2017, the restaurant and bar at Ham Yard has seen an increase of £444,000, taking the revenue to just shy of £5m.
The achievements recorded by the hotel would not be possible without the attention to detail, passion and enthusiasm shown by the bar and restaurant team on a daily basis.
What the judges said
"A huge operation that demands real teamwork. It's clear they have great succession, energise the team and keep everyone motivated - the application motivated me! Well deserved."
"The entry shouted out 'team effort!' Fantastic performance, with an exceptional emphasis on training and development, and real imagination on promoting within the restaurant operation. Many ticks for charity support, too."
Bovey Castle Dartmoor, Devon
Ham Yard London
The Stafford London
The Vineyard Stockcross, Berkshire
2016 The Balmoral Edinburgh
2015 Charlotte Street hotel London
2014 Northcote Langho, Lancashire
2013 The Montague on the Gardens London
2012 The Dining Room at the Goring London
2011 Chino Latino Restaurant Park Plaza Riverbank, London
2010 Brasserie Max Covent Garden hotel, London
2009 The Ritz London
2008 The Granary Beefeater and Peterborough (Ferry Meadows) Premier Inn
2007 Galvin at Windows London Hilton on Park Lane