Just days after Claude Bosi’s Mayfair foodie temple, Hibiscus, cut its opening hours in order to give staff more time off and improve consistency, another of London’s top dining destinations followed suit. Gauthier Soho, Alex Gauthier’s “beautiful, plush and quiet” Georgian townhouse which just “oozes romance and decadence”, has done away with Monday dinner service. This means the restaurant will be closed on Sundays and Mondays, effectively giving staff a weekend off.
Hibiscus meanwhile cut Tuesday and Wednesday lunch services. It is now open for lunch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.
In December 2015 Scottish chef Tom Kitchin followed in the footsteps of fellow restaurateurs by cutting staff hours to improve employees’ quality of life. His Edinburgh restaurants the The Kitchin and The Castle Terrace now close for a week every three months to give staff time off, thereby retaining talent for longer and hopefully bolstering the consistency of operations, as well as improving working conditions.
These two highly-regarded restaurants are the latest in a growing number of destination dining establishments to announce a decrease in staff hours in order to promote a better work/life balance for chefs and other industry workers – jobs that typically carry long hours in a high-stress environment.
In November Michel Roux announced that he was doing away with normal service at Mayfair’s legendary Le Gavroche on Mondays. Instead the dining room will be available for private events and pop-ups, the first of which will begin in January 2016. Part of the reason for the switch-up was to allow staff increased time away from their jobs.
And in the summer of 2015 the chef behind the Sunday Times’s Top UK restaurant, Sat Bains, told how he cut staff hours (without a cut in wages) to promote not just a better quality of life, but also to encourage employees to stay in their jobs. This was swiftly followed by announcements from Hedone and Raby Hunt, who did away with weekday lunches.
In an industry that traditionally has a high turnover of staff, and is notorious for poor working conditions in some quarters, it is great to see respected restaurateurs and chefs leading the charge for better quality of life on behalf of their employees.