Lime interview - Venues
Restaurant Manager - Babylon
Every month, Lime likes to go into the depths of the events and entertainment industry to see who keeps it ticking over nicely.
Peter Avis is restaurant manager of the Richard Branson owned, Babylon. We found out exactly why Peter’s finely tuned managerial skills led him to win the highly coveted award of ‘2009 Restaurant Manager of the Year’. And as Lime’s in the mood for love we thought you might like to know what they have in store for Valentine’s Day.
Working in the restaurant industry was a dream of yours. What was the attraction?
My dream was to do hospitality and I wanted to be a chef because I love food but I ended up in front house. My grandfather was a really good chef, but for me, the reality is that I was really bad.
What does a restaurant manager do from day to day?
Communicate. My day is much about communicating with the team, management, make sure they’re delivering, talking to guests - we make every guest feel uniquely special and welcome in our restaurant, most of my day is talking. Communicating is essential.
You’re originally from Liverpool, but what was it like working in Las Vegas and Florida?
It was an amazing experience. In 1993, my sister got a modelling job in Miami and her friend owned a restaurant out there and I went to work there as a waiter, then senior waiter and got trained. After three years of Miami I went to Vegas and got a job as head waiter and stayed there for nine months. Being on the Las Vegas strip at 20 was crazy. The States was very much about training, service and consistency and that has stayed with me and I understand how important it is to look after staff, provide good meals and communicate.
What kind of clientele does Babylon attract – is it the kind of restaurant that you go for star gazing?
The unique thing is that it’s priced for everybody. I’ve never been about celebrity – the biggest names dine here but I don’t call the paparazzi. You’ve got the normal 9-5 customers or you get your big rich city guys who pay £100 quid per head. We offer value for money at every price code.
As Babylon is a Sir Richard Branson owned restaurant, how does it compare to other restaurants you’ve worked at?
The Virgin group look after their staff so well. When I won the award in June he invited me to Necker Island for two weeks and I got to know Richard, Joan and the kids. .
What’s your favourite dish at Babylon?
Chef’s pork dish, served with butternut squash and parsnip and a hazelnut jus washed down with a beautiful glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Ambience is essential to creating a positive dining experience. How do you go about creating that?
Have a happy team, and a happy manager, make sure your team is fulfilled in what they’re doing as that creates a natural, happy energy. Then we do other thing like live jazz, a magician during Sunday lunch. It’s about thinking out of the box.
It’s Valentine’s Day this month – what does Babylon have in store?
The beautiful thing about Babylon is the view. We have a stunning five course taster menu with amazing dishes and it’s going to be a romantic, relaxed evening for our couples.
LIME’S IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
What’s the route to your heart, Peter?
I’ve gone all red (laughs heartily). I’m looking for a date as I’ve never had a date on Valentine’s day. Well you’ve got to be able to make me laugh, then I can make you happy.
Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens is part of Virgin Limited Edition – Sir Richard Branson’s private collection of retreats
Babylon is open for lunch: 12-3.00pm (last seating 2.30pm) Monday – Sunday, and dinner 7-11.00pm Monday – Saturday (last seating 10.30pm)
Born to do it