Will Beckett, co-founder and CEO of acclaimed British steakhouse and cocktail bar, Hawksmoor, will be making not just one, but two appearances at this year’s show. Since opening the original Spitalfields-based restaurant with Huw Gott, in 2006, the brand has gone from strength to strength, with nine sites now operating around the UK and a new restaurant due to open in New York in June this year.
Don’t miss the chance to hear Will sharing his views on the past, present and future of Hawksmoor, the other impressive ventures he’s involved in, and the sector as a whole, at his talk on opening day (27 February). Later that day, you can also catch him alongside Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder and co-CEO of Competitive Socialising, and Tony Harris, CEO of Social Entertainment Ventures, in discussion with industry veteran Peter Martin (VP of CGA) about the opportunities, as well as the pitfalls to be avoided, when taking restaurant and bar brands outside their home market.
What restaurant & pub operators do you particularly admire and why?
Of the big boys in the pub world I like Fuller’s and Thwaites who seem to be balancing the old-fashioned virtues of pubs with progressive brewing and acquisitions. I like lots of the smaller players who focus on food, like the Anchor & Hope in London or the Seafood Pub Company in the North. I admire many people in restaurant world, but perhaps I should pick out Pret, Dishoom and JKS, who I think all do extremely interesting businesses and have scaled with real integrity.
What do you feel is the key for operators to successfully compete against their competitors in 2019 and beyond?
I think that people who really know who they are and why they stand out, but who also run their businesses with rigour will have every chance of success.
What do you see as key trends in the coming year?
From a customer point of view I think we’ll see bigger companies put more effort into product and adapting concepts to local environments. From an operator point of view I think we’ll see a lot less appetite for highly financially leveraged investments.
What’s your bestselling dish / drink at the moment?
Always and forever… fillet steak, our £45 Malbec and Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew!
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Someone told me that all restaurateurs are either people or product people. I’m a people person and seeing staff happy and thriving is my single most enjoyable thing at work.
And the most challenging?
I don’t know any restaurant business, from one site to thousands, where maintaining consistency isn’t a constant challenge.
Who or what inspires you to be even better?
Our Chairman Karen Jones is a constant reminder to me that I/we could improve and grow without compromise and without ceasing to smile on our way to work every day.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Start with the end in mind.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know:
I’ve known my business partner, Huw, since I was 11 – we grew up living a couple of roads apart and have been friends for 30 years.
See Will at Casual Dining 2019
Exclusive Interview with Will Beckett, Founder & CEO, Hawksmoor (hosted by CGA’s Peter Martin): 12.15pm in Keynote Theatre 2 on Wednesday 27 February.
Going Global: The Practicalities of International Growth: 3.15pm in Keynote Theatre 2 on Wednesday 27 February. The session will also feature –
- Peter Martin, director of CM&Co and VP of CGA (chair)
- Matt Grech-Smith, co–founder of Swingers
- Toby Harris, CEO of Social Entertainment Ventures