For the last few months, a group of restaurateurs and food professionals have been gathering together to discuss the forming of a collective of sorts. Most of them are from the borough of Hackney and all of them are women.
We come from all sorts of backgrounds and all our restaurants are very unique to each other. We frequent each others places as patrons and move the meetings from one venue to another. Some meetings are smaller and others we all manage to make. There are no rules, secret handshakes or application forms – if we know someone that we like we invite them to join.
Lily + Skinner (Cockney rhyming slang for dinner) has come together to offer support and for us to tap into our collective resources. We ultimately want the same thing – to run successful businesses that offer us creative independence that being an entrepreneur offers. It can be hard out there – and you often find you make the same mistakes as many other young businesses. Often due to fear of ideas being taken or of confidential information being exposed we keep our cards close to our chest. But often we actually realise that by sharing experiences (or even a well created excel sheet) saves a lot of time and effort and efficiencies can be made.
Another exciting part of this sharing of ideas and resources is in the diversity of each our restaurants. We have chatted about using each of sites to help provide more diverse training for our staff, by using our staff as ‘mystery diners’ or by offering vouchers that we swap to incentivise our teams. We have shared our database of staff looking for extra work, done kitchen takeovers to cross promote and have events in the planning where we can bring together our friends, staff and families together for a good ol’ knees up.
It is early days, and we are just starting to get a feeling for what could be possible. Who knows what and where this can take us but we can already see the benefits of a shared common goal – for people to know about Hackney as a great place to eat and drink and if we, together can create interest, then we are all the better for it!
We just had a lovely write up in the Evening Standard yesterday which you can find here!