Since we have started getting the new Covent Garden site together things have been pretty hectic. I’ve been reflecting on how we should make the place look and feel. I wanted to capitalise on what we achieved at the garage in the sense of making people immediately feel at home. A sort of idealised sense of what that means, since most people weren’t brought up in a garage – though we did meet someone who literally lived in a barn as a child.
I want Covent Garden to be a sort of paean to my life, a record of some of my important memories, somewhere you can always see a story being told. So I’ve been hunting out posters and photos and pictures of some of my favourite people, artists and places. I’m also delighted that we’ll be hanging some works by the wonderful artist and printmaker Tim Southall and I hope some photographs from the intrepid filmmaker Freddie McConnell.
Talking of memory lane. The Belgian and I made a trip to Deal at the weekend. It’s on the coast of Kent and I spent four years living there as a child from 1967. I have all my earliest memories from that time. It’s an interesting edgy little town, punching way above its weight and lots of chutzpah. Freddie’s mum has interest in a great little cafe shop called The Allotment with an apartment above. It sells all the best produce for miles around and is a nice match for the Borough Wines and the local cheese shop on the same street. We had an evening at the Deal Dining Club, part resto – part private home where you are all crammed into small rooms but dining alone. Good food on the whole. Though I was a bit disappointed as I often am, that the service in so few places is ever more than barely competent. Perfectly polite but without any polish or verve.
Having said that, we’re looking for people ourselves at the moment and it hard to find people with just that mix of front of house experience, passion for food and most importantly, the knowledge of what a good customer experience should be. I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t actually go to restaurants, so they have no idea what it should be like.