Can you tell us a bit about yourself, when did you join the industry, and why?
I have been in the hospitality industry for bang on a decade this August. I started my first bar job when I was going into my second year of university in Leeds working for Arc Inspirations at Trio bar and grill. I guess at that time my motivation was purely financial and wanting to be more self sufficient a bar job was fun, sociable, had plenty of good music and worked nights so it didn’t interfere too much with studying for my degree. Little did I know it would turn into a lifelong passion!
After The Savoy Bar, you moved to NYC. How was that experience?
The time was right for me to leave The American Bar in September 2019 as I was ready for a new challenge. At the time I wasn’t sure what that was going to be and I was so busy having just launched the Coca-Cola Signature mixers partnership I was happy to be travelling around Europe on various trade shows and taking some time to spend with my family and friends.
An opportunity came up in November for me to be part of the opening team for a new bar on the 63rd floor of a sky scraper in the financial district of NYC. I jumped at the opportunity as half of my family are in Philadelphia and I was excited to pack up and go for an overseas adventure for a few years.
I started working in Crown Shy with Harrison Ginsburg and Jonathan Lind in January 2020 with the ambition of opening Overstory in the coming months of spring. It was such a wonderful feeling to get back behind the bar and make new friends and explore new places.
What happened when Covid hit?
It was March 16th I came home, I had been in NYC exactly two months to the day. My sister is a doctor and I remember speaking to her intensely that weekend, as I’m sure many other people were with their families, about the situation and the safest place for me to be. The advice was so varied and changing so quickly it was hard to keep up. I went to bed Sunday night planning on staying in NYC and by 9am the next morning I had booked one of the last flights out of NYC; by 10pm that evening was half way over the Atlantic. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really have much time to process until I got into the cab to go to the airport with only half of my belongings. I cried the entire way there.
When I landed in the UK my sister and I decided I should go to stay with her rather than see my parents so that I wasn’t putting them at risk coming off of an international flight. Both my sister and her partner are medics so we were pre-empting a busy few months for them ahead. I spent most of my time for the next three months working out or being a willing housekeeper and dog sitter, cooking, cleaning and making drinks for a few different one off consultancies to pass the time but to be honest there really wasn’t any work going around. I wasn’t eligible for furlough as my job had been overseas so I was on unemployment pay of £74 a week.
When did you decide to get in touch with The Drinks Trust?
I didn’t get in touch with The Drinks Trust until a little while after I’d been back in the UK and my last paycheck from the US was coming to an end. I’m pretty sure that one of my former American Bar colleagues sent me the application for the one time grant. When I left the USA I think I was half expecting to be on a flight back a month to six weeks later and it was becoming more apparent that was not going to be the case so in the face of uncertainty I decided to apply for the grant which would keep me going for a little while longer.
How did The Drinks Trust help you?
To be honest at that time my outgoings were extremely minimal – I guess that’s what happens when your income is also! I spent the money on food and paying off part of the credit card bill that a last minute flight home from New York had cost me.
We want to thank you for sharing your story with us today. What is your current role today and what advice would you give to those who might find themselves facing the same difficulties?
Advice? Eeep. To have courage in the face of adversity; nothing lasts forever.
I’ve been involved in a few events over the past year – The Last Dance and Tucci X Tanqueray No Ten that have both been curated in support of the drinks trust. The combined total has raised around £18K for The Drinks Trust and I’m so happy that my current role and previous role at The American Bar have both been able to contribute to this amazing charity. It’s really gratifying when life comes around full circle and you have the opportunity to repay the people that have helped you.
Thank you Drinks Trust, from me and everyone else you have supported in the last two years. I think you’re incredible.