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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.

Wine List | Cocktails | Bar Food

Thanks once again for reading and your support, make sure to say hello when you pop in!

Luke.

The night before we opened our new home in Tring I took some time to reflect on the journey we’ve been on and the amazing support shown by Tring locals. Below is the guest blog I wrote for the fantastic Tring Buzz blog.

 

“Here I sit, the night before the dream becomes a reality. Tomorrow night we open the doors to our new restaurant in Tring and I couldn’t be more excited and proud. This thing we call Crockers nearly didn’t happen.

Two years ago the idea came to me after months of trying to find the money to open it looked like it wouldn’t happen. Well, as you can see it didn’t end there. I have managed to surround myself with some truly amazing people. From the investors that went from regular guests to shareholders to the amazing new team. I am one lucky guy!

It doesn’t stop there. Tring and the people of Tring have blown me away. The response to us converting a knackered old building into what I hope will be a destination for great food, cocktails and just relaxing with friends, has been amazing. The most mind blowing and humbling response has been from the local businesses. Andre Lussman even appeared in the kitchen the other day to say hello and welcome us to the town.

Katy and Matt from this very blog, Tring Buzz have supported us from day one in Potten End and I can’t say thank you enough to them.

Since announcing the re-location to Tring we have a huge amount of support. It all started with Ruby Tuesday interiors. Jules has been an absolute superstar and is responsible for the look and feel of the whole building. She was generous enough to offer me her time for free just to have the chance to be involved. Her attention to detail and work ethic has blown me away. I hassle her all day every day and she just keeps going. Thank you Jules.

One day Jules showed me this crazy mirror that was a TV and gave me the card for the guy that supplies them. Fast forward a few weeks and Chris from Home Technology and Cinema walks through the doors in Tring. Yet again he offers me an incredible deal just to be involved. Chris has worked incredibly hard with his business partner Greg to plan, install and setup our CCTV, network and speakers. Thank you Chris.

Next up was Suzanne from Tring Beauty Box. Yet again I get a random email offering services and product for free just to be a part of this. Just for the record I turn this down every time. Suzanne has been amazing in helping me pick two fantastic hand wash and lotion products for each toilet. That’s right, we have two fragrances to choose from for both hand wash and lotion. Find her on Instagram and you can see how much she loves our toilets! Thank you Suzanne.

We have alway had a great relationship with Tring Brewery. Scott and I both independently of each other stared working with their beers in our breads. It just makes sense to use the best. They have provided us with the beer for our bread and now the beer for our cheese from day one. Thank you Tring Brewery.

Lastly I have to thank Ben and Kate from Puddingstone Distillery. Ben was the one that told me that Hyatts was closing long before it was advertised so I have a lot to thank him for. Our businesses have supported each other a lot since day one. We opened months apart and from that day I have mainly only served Campfire exclusively. It gets better though, they are now making us own gin! Thank you Ben & Kate.

So there it is, tomorrow we open our doors on our new home in this truly amazing community. We know Tring was great but wow! Hopefully we’ll get to see you all soon.”

It has been a fantastic roller coaster ride so far and I can’t wait to see where we go over the coming years.

Don’t forget to pop in to the new bar and say hello.

Luke.

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.

Luke.