How to reinvent normal: Five takeaways from Fiona Hall’s Top Table Podcast
1 ‘We’ve got a whole new set of problems after COVID’
If anyone thought hospitality was heading for the sunlit uplands after COVID, they’ve soon been set right. “Unfortunately we've got a whole new set of problems,” Fiona Hall said—not least in pricing. “We're seeing inflation in costs—one after the other, almost on a daily basis.” Staff shortages are creating more headaches, especially at back of house: “We definitely see that as a longtime problem, because there's no way we’re going to suddenly see a huge influx to the labour market.” It’s prompting Revolution to think more carefully than ever about how to attract and keep top talent.
2 ‘We need to be more flexible on menus’
Product supply is yet another challenge. While distribution has recovered somewhat from COVID, availability continues to be a major problem—which means bars and restaurants need to get creative. “We need to be a lot more flexible. Previously we would deign a menu according to what our guests were looking for and future trends. We’re now factoring the supply chain into those decisions… because you can no longer be sure that even the really huge suppliers are going to have the products.”
3 ‘We’re grabbing great sites while we can’
Revolution has hit the ground running after COVID restrictions. As well as readying new Rev bars for openings, it used lockdowns to cook up two whole new concepts: social gaming venue Playhouse in Northampton and food hall-style Founders & Co in Swansea. They’ve bedded in brilliantly, and give Revolution more options in a property market that’s tilted towards buyers at the moment. “Great sites are becoming available—let’s grab them while we can,” Hall says.
4 ‘Focus on the integrity of the idea’
After joining the Atlantic Club’s recent Miami Tour, Hall is buzzing with inspiration for venues and products. Her takeaways from venues like Chica and Kush include the need for great design, authenticity and a laser focus. “I just love their commitment to the execution of an idea. They're very focused on the experience, but also on the product and the integrity of the idea… and the service is incredible.”
5 ‘Women need to shout about their achievements’
Fiona Hall is a great example of what hospitality still needs many more of: women in leadership roles. Revolution has championed important initiatives like Plan B—featured on the Top Table Podcast—and Hall wants to see more like her break into the C suite. “Women need to be louder about their achievements—almost shout them from the rooftop, because it's harder to be heard. Don't feel embarrassed to share them, and let people know what you've achieved.”