Tuesday 8th May was the day that two semesters’ worth of planning, preparation and training (plus lots of food tasting!) came to an end. It was the day of Group A’s Restaurant Management project: Best of British!
As part of our degree in International Hospitality Management, the Restaurant Operations and Management module requires a small group of approximately nine students to run an event in the Lakeside Restaurant on campus and to attract at least 60 diners.
It sounds a lot easier than it actually is! We had to take into account everything that the management team of an à la carte restaurant would need to consider in order to run a professional establishment. This included everything from costing our dishes to the tiniest of details such as the colour of our menu.
The initial planning stages started right after the Christmas break, once our first semester exams were out of the way. We spent hours brainstorming ideas of what would appeal not only to the usual Lakeside customers, but also to the wider student community. We wanted to do something a little bit different, slightly quirky and fun. After much deliberation, we decided to go for the ‘Best of British’ theme and the main dish was going to be pie! This is when we came up with the iPie concept.
The concept was inspired by the laidback approach of an Apple retail store; where employees don the casual Apple branded t-shirt and the rest of their attire is entirely up to them! We wanted to apply this approach to a dining experience, with exciting food and drink and a casual approach to service without negatively impacting the already established image of The Lakeside Restaurant.
It was now time to split into two teams to tackle both areas of the restaurant – the Kitchen team who were going to produce the food on the day and the Restaurant team, the people who were going to make sure the food got to the table and that, most importantly of all, our guests were happy!
After a few more weeks, we’d finalised our menu and it soon became apparent that team iPie didn’t like doing things by halves. Not only had we opted to serve pie, which isn’t the easiest food to serve for over sixty people in the space of a couple of hours, we thought it would be a clever idea to serve three pies on the same plate with two sides (much to the dismay of the professional staff advising us on our project.)
We spent a lot of time on the branding and marketing of the event as we wanted to project our concept through our media. We created a range of marketing materials that spoke directly to our target customers with taglines such as ‘Nothin’ says lovin’ like a pie from the oven’ and ‘I sPie with my little eye, something beginning with P’.
We followed this theme through on our leaflets, social media and in-restaurant branding. We even went to the extent of handmaking every member of the group a branded ‘Best of British’ t-shirt and headed out around campus promoting the event and handing out samples of our dessert, which we’d now decided would be the British summertime classic, Eton Mess.We weren’t out promoting too long, as every single sample that we had prepared was snapped up within half an hour!
Tuesday 8th May had arrived and it was time to put all of our planning and preparation into action. The team gathered eagerly at Lakeside, raring to get going with the mise en place. As with anything, things don’t always go to plan and an issue in the kitchen slowed the whole process down slightly, but in true Surrey style, the team all pulled together and managed to work around it with as little disruption to the operation as possible.
Overall, the day was a great success and planning and running an event provided us with invaluable experience about a huge range of areas involved in being a successful restaurateur.
By Jase Vickers, first-year International Hospitality Management student.