Passionate people have been the secret of the stellar growth of Hawksmoor, its co-founder and CEO Will Beckett told CGA vice president Peter Martin at this year’s Casual Dining Show.
As much as its high-quality food and drink, Hawksmoor has thrived on the hospitality skills of its frontline teams, Beckett said. “To me, it’s a culture business—about people, how we treat them, and how they treat others.”
The Hawksmoor concept was inspired by the need for an alternative to stuffy high-end restaurants—a place where people could eat and drink very well, but without pretension. “The informality of Hawksmoor puts some people off—but for a significant number of others, the casual but very high standard thing turned out to be exactly what they wanted,” Beckett said.
Nearly half of Hawksmoor’s team members are British, which leaves it relatively well insulated against any threat to staff availability after Brexit. The business was very keen to recruit and nurture British talent through training and career progression, Beckett said. Genuine engagement is crucial, he added. “We try to make it [conversations with staff] as two-way as we possibly can.”
Hawksmoor now has eight restaurants: six in London and one apiece in Manchester and Edinburgh. It has opened beyond London with great care, adapting the formula for local tastes and habits, and the next new site will be a much-delayed opening in New York—hopefully, in autumn or early winter, Beckett said.
Hawksmoor has had injections of private equity money, but Beckett’s said his and co-founder Huw Gott’s long-term ambition is to leave a strong legacy rather than cash out. “We’re not trying to build this as a big as we can and then go and live on a Caribbean island,” he said. “We think about Hawksmoor as our life’s work… irrespective of how long we stay we want to look back at it and feel proud.”