Posts In: industry
May 19, 2018
How much is a great meal worth to you?
There seems to be a lot going on in the media at the moment about the price of meals in some restaurants. It seems that some people feel restaurants are charging too much and then, fortunately, there are those that appose this idea.
I originally wrote the below post just before Christmas. I had just paid my solicitor a huge amount of money and we had a couple of guests question the bill. Have a little read and see what you think….
“How much would you be willing to pay for a great meal? Now I mean a really great meal with a great experience. Not just another restaurant. This isn’t a blog post trying to find out how high we can push our prices but trying to get an understanding of the opinions of our guests.
Let me give you some context. As many of you reading this will know we have recently moved our restaurant to our new venue in Tring. During this process I had to employ the services of a commercial property solicitor. This isn’t a dig at solicitors I’m just using them as an example. Now the solicitor is doing something that most can’t, right? Law is written in some weird old world language that most can’t/don’t/don’t want to understand. I’m one of these. I can’t act in law so I have to employ someone that can……at around £300 per hour! That’s a lot, like a lot, a lot! Rightly so though, they have a skill that is needed so they charge a huge amount for it.
Now lets go back to how much you would spend on a meal. When you have an exceptional, talented chef that creates stunning food what should they be paid? Take my head chef Scott Barnard for instance. He has worked hard his whole career, like many of us chefs working 70+ hours per week. Wow, 70+ hours per week chef’s must be loaded right? Wrong! They get a basic salary and that’s it. No overtime just the honour and privilege to work in a restaurant with a famous name on it.
Why is it that we are happy to pay a solicitor £300 per hour but our head chefs £10 per hour? Yes that’s right £10 per hour. When you break their ok looking salary down over 70 hours per week that’s what they get. I personally feel that an exceptionally talented chef, like Scott is at least worth £300 per hour. The only problem with this is that I would have to charge every guest at least £400 for our tasting menu. I’d love to hear who would be willing to pay this?
I don’t know what the answer is to this problem. I’m working hard to create a working environment that gives my chefs a better work/life balance while being able to function as a business. The reality is that chef’s aren’t just some unseen “staff” that are the lowest of low. It’s about time that we started respecting the staff that work so hard for hours each day to ensure that you are happy for your short time with us.
Don’t forget the amount we pay our staff only makes up a fraction of what you, the guest pays. When you see our £80 for the tasting menu you can deduct 20% instantly as we are glorified tax collectors for the government. That leaves us £66 to pay for the produce on your plate, the staff and all the other fixed overheads. So while you may think that it’s expensive and we’re making huge amount of money, we’re not. I’m not saying it’s not expensive. I fully expect a lot of people to think it is, I’m just asking for everyone to put the cost into perspective.
Here’s to the superstars like Scott and I only hope we find a way to keep them creating what they do!”
Thanks for reading, Luke
May 14, 2018
The Bar at Crockers
The Bar at Crockers official launch weekend May 17th – 19th.
We have been working hard to bring you an exciting new venue to enjoy fantastic drinks and amazing food, all in a relaxed atmosphere. Well, we think we’ve done it! This weekend we are officially launching The Bar at Crockers with a great deal on our fantastic cocktails. Enjoy all of our cocktails for just £8.50 each.
When we decided that we would open a bar in Tring we knew we had to do something different as we had with the Chef’s Table. We have tested and tested our cocktails to make sure they are the best they can be. We have worked hard with our Sommelier Duncan to ensure that our wine list is exciting, challenging and above all great value. Scott has also been testing ideas for our bar food menu ensuring you get the same great quality you would get at the Chef’s Table.
Above all we want to make The Bar at Crockers a place for people to come, kick back and relax with friends and enjoy themselves. That’s what we’re all about. From May 17th the bar will open all day from 12:00pm until closing time. You don’t need to book a table, in fact we don’t even offer bookings. If the door’s open just come on in and grab a seat. We’ve got some lovely big sofas as well as some very comfy bar stools for you to while away the hours.
If you want to know more about our wines, cocktails and bar food just hit these links.
Thanks once again for reading and your support, make sure to say hello when you pop in!
April 8, 2018
New booking system now live!
At Crockers Tring we are always trying to improve the service that we offer. Even before we open our doors on April 24th we are working on ways to improve our guests experience.
We haven’t been happy with the booking systems we’ve used in the past both in the run up to the opening in Tring and in Potten End. We want our guests to have full control over their reservations with an easy to use booking system.
We are now proud to announce that we will be using Tock for all reservations. Tock really do understand the importance of not only the guests experience but also the restaurants experience when handling bookings. You may notice some differences in the way we are now taking reservations.
- We are no longer taking and holding your credit card details. Tock pointed out to us that holding these against you incase you either no show or cancel too late isn’t getting us off on the right foot. We are now taking a small deposit at the time you confirm your booking online. This eliminates the need for us to handle your card details ourselves improving the security of the booking. Don’t worry, you can still cancel the bookings up to 7 days in advance and get a full refund.
- We were let down on far too many occasions by our previous booking system by them not emailing reminders to our guests. Tock will 100% be doing this but you can also expect a call from us a week from your booking. We don’t want you to lose any of your deposit so we will call to confirm your booking before it’s too late.
To celebrate our new system we have now opened our bookings all the way through to the end of September! Grab your chance to get an early booking in now before you go back to three months in advance.
March 16, 2018
Our favourite grape varieties
One of the trickiest things about wine is understanding the grapes that are used. Let me get out a little disclaimer first, I still get so lost when it comes to the grapes around the world! The beauty of working in this industry and with our fantastic Sommelier Duncan is that I get to try a lot of different wines. This enables me to experience so many different grapes and see what I really like.
I thought it might be helpful and possibly interesting if I put together my favourite grapes used on their own but also blended. This is my personal choice and I’m sure we all have our favourites. I’d love to hear from you all if you have certain grapes you like in the comments below.
The superstar grape of the Piemonte region of Italy, Nebbiolo is the grape behind Barolo. It packs complex flavours and aromas like rose, cherry, truffle, tobacco and leather making it a very enjoyable drink. Nebbiolo has high tannin and acidity enabling it to be paired with some nice big flavours including roasted meats, garlic and herbs. I love a Barolo and we will certainly be seeing them again in Tring.
The darker cousin of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah is packed with antioxidants so it’s basically a health drink. Accented by blackberry, blueberry, pepper and herbs it’s a great match for red meat. Often found in the Rhone valley in France but also being produced by some fantastic New World vineyards. We sometimes have a Jim Barry Shiraz on the menu which is easily the best Shiraz(Syrah) I’ve tasted.
Pinot Noir is the lightest of the red grapes and probably my favourite wine at the moment. It’s nice and light yet packed full of amazing flavours like cherry, raspberry, vanilla and mushrooms. It does tend to spend a little bit of time in French oak which helps give it that wonderful vanilla edge. A relatively mild tannin and acidity level make it a very drinkable wine with or without food.
Oh dear another one of my favourite wines, sounds like I may have a problem. Let’s just accept I love wine. Cabernet is the totally opposite end of the scale to Pinot Noir. Big and juicy, packed with dark fruit like black cherry, black currant and blackberry it really does suit a nice juicy steak. Add in the bold tannins and it just gets better.
An often over looked wine but one that has featured on our list for a long time now, Viognier really does give amazing value for money. A nice full bodied wine with apple, citrus, pear and peach it’s one of those wines that you can easily drink with or without food. We often put it alongside a slightly more complex fish dish but it also works well with food with a little spice in it.
Oh Reisling, what did Blue Nun do to you? Much like Chardonnay this fantastic wine has been given a bad reputation by some shocking wine making practices. Did you know they aren’t all super sweet? This grape can pack some fantastic fruit flavours including apricot, peach, apple and lime making it an obvious choice for a nice light fish dish. A common scent to get from Riesling and possibly why some people get put off is petrol. Yes you heard it right, the stuff you stick in your car. Don’t let this put you off as it really is a stunning drink.
Yet another wine with a bad reputation due some dodgy techniques. Gone are the day of steeping the wine with oak chips or even adding oak essence. A good chardonnay with have great lemon, apple, pear and pineapple, followed up with vanilla, baked tarts and butter. Not all Chardonnay goes into oak either but when it does and it’s done properly it is a stunning, big, bold wine. Oh and don’t forget, that chablis and champagne you love? Yeah, that has chardonnay in it.
Known at Crockers as the white wine drinkers safe choice. We absolutely love Sauvignon Blanc and it’s wide array of flavours and scents. We have a particularly good one on at the moment from New Zealand which will be following us to Tring. Packed with lime, green apple, lemon grass and elderflower it really does tick a lot of boxes. Add in a bit of vanilla and butter if it’s spent some time in oak it really is a great rounded wine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into the wines that I love and we sell at Crockers. Don’t forget I want to hear what your favourite grapes are and why so please leave a comment below.
February 19, 2018
Crockers Tring – 10 weeks to go!
Yes that’s right it’s just 10 weeks to go until we will be open to the public!
I thought it was about time to post a little up date on the progress at our new home in Tring. The builders have been in working hard for a number of weeks now and things are starting to take shape. The destruction has stopped and now the team are in starting to re-build.
This week has seen the frames going in for the new Chef’s Table. These custom built metal bars will allow us to float the table top and take away the need for legs. We want our guests to be able to spread out and relax.
There was a moment this weekend when there were no trades on site, the sun came out and really lit up the dining room. I can’t wait to stand in this same spot looking out over our guests having a great time, basking in the sun.
Hopefully this week we’ll start seeing the walls and ceilings being finished ready for paint and tiling. It doesn’t look like much at the moment but I feel like we’re about to turn a corner and the new Crockers Tring will be emerging soon.
If you want to see more daily updates head on over to our Instagram page. I try to update with videos and pictures on the feed and also on our story. Don’t forget, bookings are now open for when we open in April. You can currently book 120 days in advance but when we open this will reduce to 90 so take advantage of the early reservations while you can. Head over to our booking page now.
Have a great week, Luke.
February 1, 2018
Why do restaurants take card details?
The taking of card details by restaurants, including mine seems to be a bit of a contraversial issue. Some people don’t want to give their card details while some are cautious. Most are happy to comply with the reservation policy. But why do we need to ask for them?
Essentially, guests card details are our insurance against any kind of loss of revenue. As horrible or greedy as that may sound that is the reason.
You see, guys like me start a restaurant out of a passion for food, dining experiences and ultimately making our guests happy. We don’t do it to get rich which generally means we’re not making any money from the business on a personal basis. If we have someone cancel last minute or even worse, not show up at all it has a huge impact. We still have to pay for the food and the staff’s time but now we don’t have any revenue to use from that one booking.
I would go as far as to say that it’s even worse for a tiny establishment like Crockers. Take this past weekend for example. We ended the previous week fully booked for lunch and dinner on Saturday. Six days out and within our current cancelation policy we lost the lunch booking. No major issue, it just meant we had more duck breast than we needed so everyone on the three course menu got breast instead of leg. Now we get to Saturday night, 7:30 rolls past and no one has arrived. 8:00pm approaches and still no sight of any guests. I call to check the guests arrival and leave a message. 8:30pm comes and we have to assume that they’re not coming.
So here we are, Scott gets in at 8:30am to prepare just for this table. All the food is ready and most of which that is slow cooked is already cooking. We had to bin a huge amount of food because we aren’t about to freeze it and then give that to someone else. I still have to pay for all that food and pay Scott but what am I supposed to use?
This ladies and gentlemen is why restaurants take card details and this is why we are now extending our cancelation policy to seven days in Tring. We are also taking deposits on bookings of 10 people or over and I am seriously considering a pre-payment for the food.
I am a huge advocate for a change in the way the hospitality industry runs mainly centred on treatment of staff and pay. This however isn’t juts down to the employers of the staff but also down to you, the guest. Guests need to start treating staff of all restaurants better. We’re not just the staff, the caterers or some sort of sub level human. We deserve as much respect as anyone and this include showing up for your reservation.
Let me finish on a little comparison. If you book a flight for a holiday and for what ever reason you can’t make it, do you get your money back? You do if you have insurance but otherwise no you don’t. So if you let down a restaurant why shouldn’t you have to pay?
Luckily we have the most amazing guests at Crockers but recently we’ve had a few people disrespecting us and querying why we take card details. I hope this post goes some way to explain the system from the perspective of the little guys.