Since 1847, Searcys has been one of the UK’s most prestigious catering companies. At its heart is a diamond team of award-winning chefs, front-of-house and, let's not forget, the Directors working behind the scenes to make it all happen. FOUR Magazine interviews Joël Claustre, Retail operations Director, to find out what it is like overseeing London's finest fine-dining hang-outs including The Gherkin, One New Change Champagne Bar and St. Pancras Grand and Champagne Bar.

My typical work day starts at approximately 6:30am. After breakfast and coffee I’ll take the train into London, checking emails and the sales figures from the previous day on my iPad on the way in. On Mondays I’ll head to our Head Office in Battersea all day, as this is where we hold our weekly Exec Meeting to review operations, human resource issues, financials, and new business development. The rest of the week I’m outside of the office visiting sites, in meetings with suppliers, clients, and contractors, or researching new restaurant and bar concepts.

Day to day the people that I meet with or the projects I work on change dramatically. However, as we’re in the middle of opening up two new sites in London (Sixtyone Restaurant in Marylebone) and Birmingham (Birmingham REP Theatre), my days are currently filled up with the planning and organising of all aspects of getting them up and running on time and within budget.

The day starts with visiting a supplier showroom with our Exec Chef to look at options for the cutlery, crockery, and glassware for one of our new restaurants. I’ll take lots of pictures so that I can review later and decide which ones best reflect the style of restaurant we are looking to produce.                             

Next I will attend a meeting with our sales & marketing team and graphic designers to work through the branding and image we want to create for the restaurant. This will involve deciding on the design of everything from business cards to menu layout, as well as the all-important name and logo.

If I don’t have a menu tasting that day, I will have lunch at one of our restaurants, such as the private members’ club at the Gherkin, or champagne bars, such as the one at One New Change,  which I oversee. This gives me the opportunity to review service and the check the quality of the food to make sure that everything is to standard. Once lunch service is winding down, I will meet with the GM of the site to touch base and catch up on the business, as well as give feedback on my own lunch experience.

After lunch, I’ll sit down with our restaurant design company to review the proposed layout and interior design of one of our new restaurants. We’ll discuss budget and timelines to ensure the project can be delivered when we need it, and I’ll give feedback on the “look and feel” they’ve presented to us.

The rest of the afternoon will be spent interviewing candidates for the GM position or senior front of house roles for our new openings. I look for people with the right background, but I’m also interested in the right attitude and their ability to make guests feel welcome while carrying out their operational duties effectively.

For dinner, I will often visit our restaurant St. Pancras Grand or a new restaurant that has opened in order to keep abreast of what’s happening in the marketplace and, of course, enjoy some of the incredible food and drink that London has on offer!

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