Why hotel F&B needs to stop thinking of itself as “hotel F&B”

by | Mar 1, 2019 | Events, Experts

(From L to R): Heleri Rande from SUPPER Magazine; Martin Cahill, Executive Chef at Rosewood London; Julian Catzeflis, F&B Director at the Nobu Hotel Shoreditch; Cyrus Todiwala, Chef and Owner at Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen; Holly Hallam, Strategy and Marketing Director at DesignLSM; Amir Nahai, CEO of F&B and Lifestyle Brands at AccorHotels. Photo by Jule Grass.

Star-studded panellists at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR London agree that not calling it “hotel F&B” is the beginning of the right approach to running profitable restaurants in hotels.

Hotel F&B needs to stop calling itself “hotel F&B” in order to take itself more seriously, according to top hotel executive Amir Nahai from Accor.

Nahai was joined by senior members of the F&B sector within the hospitality industry for an honest discussion about how this tricky area of the hotel can be improved. We find out more.

The state of hotel F&B

At the recent TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR event in London’s impressive new Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, a panel of experts, including some of the top names in hotel F&B and the industry at large, got together to discuss the fate of this particular area of the hotel, and what challenges it needs to overcome in order to succeed.

The panel discussion, moderated by Heleri Rande from SUPPER Magazine, featured Julian Catzeflis, F&B director at the Nobu Hotel Shoreditch; Cyrus Todiwala, chef and owner at Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen; Martin Cahill, Executive Chef at Rosewood London; Holly Hallam, Strategy and Marketing Director at DesignLSM; and Amir Nahai, CEO of F&B and Lifestyle Brands at AccorHotels.

A restaurant in a hotel

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the panel discussion was put succinctly by Amir Nahai from AccorHotels when he said, “The biggest challenge is calling it ‘hotel F&B’. Success for us will only come if we treat it as a restaurant or bar: it just happens to be in a hotel.”

This is the approach that Accor is trying to employ when it comes to drinking and dining areas in their hotels, and Nahai reports that since its implementation, both employee and guest satisfaction has increased, by 16 and 15 points respectively. He also noted that footfall in their F&B facilities has grown four times faster than in the guest rooms.

Separation of services

Another challenge that was rightly brought to light by Julian Catzeflis from Nobu is the difficulty in providing a 24-hour customer experience.

This sentiment was echoed by other panel members, who agreed that the difference between a stand-alone restaurant and a hotel restaurant is that the typical restaurant can close its doors at the end of the night, but the hotel restaurant needs to be able to cater to guests at all times of the day and night.

So, how is the separation of room service and a more curated dining experience achieved in this context? Martin Cahill said that one way of doing this is to create a different identity for the restaurant.

“Have a different email, different uniforms, different entrances to differentiate the hotel restaurant from the hotel,” he suggested.

Integration and authenticity

Cahill says one of the ways that F&B in hospitality could be improved is by integration from the outset.

“Try to employ people with a restaurant background from the beginning. You have to get operators involved at the early stages, along with F&B developers,” he said.

Authenticity was also a key factor, with Holly Hallam saying it was important to be honest about your vision and framework of your F&B concept, and not to try and be “everything for everybody.”

Catzeflis said that Nobu was humbled when it landed in Shoreditch, and he used coffee as an example.

“We just used standard coffee, but Shoreditch has some of the best coffee roasters and best baristas in the city, so we had to adapt to Shoreditch. It’s about absorbing and understanding what the community wants. We had to humble ourselves to seem more approachable,” he said.

Cyrus Todiwala, whose Cafe Spice Namaste restaurant holds the Michelin Bib Gourmand for 21 years running, spoke about authenticity in the context of his restaurant, saying, “Indian food behaves differently to other food,” and so this needed to be reflected in the design and layout of the kitchen and dining room.

The next stop for the TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR is Singapore’s Swissôtel The Stamford on March 14. For more information on attending, speaking or sponsoring, please get in touch with TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.

LW has established a worldwide presence in recent years, with a large number of impressive, award-winning projects coming out of offices in Dubai, Hong Kong , São Paulo and London.

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