Q&A: Dav & Frankie

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Dav Eames
Bar Manager, The Gilbert Scott

My Assistant Bar Manager, Frankie, recently celebrated his 5th anniversary at The Gilbert Scott. I’ve worked with him pretty much since the beginning, so what better time to take a trip down memory lane and see how far he’s come?

You recently celebrated your 5th anniversary at The Gilbert Scott. Can you tell us a little about your journey and how it all began?
When I arrived in London (I’m originally from Southern Spain), my English wasn’t very good and I felt that nobody would hire me because of that. I managed to find a job as a Kitchen Porter in a nearby family run restaurant, but I soon got fed up with it, so I came to The Gilbert Scott to look for work.

I was offered a job as Commis Waiter, which I did for 6 months, but I didn’t feel comfortable with this role as I was very conscious of my poor English. Chantelle (Nicholson), who was General Manager of The Gilbert Scott at the time, told me to work in the bar, to help build my confidence and show off my personality more. So I did, and my job was to serve coffees and water, which suited me at the time as I was still finding my feet. But after several months of floating on the floor, my English began to improve and I felt more confident, so I was promoted to Demi Chef de Rang. I eventually worked my way up to Assistant Bar Manager, which I now love! My work now feels like my home.

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What helped you get through your difficult time at the beginning?
Chantelle was a big influence. She can be tough, but she knew how to push me in the right way, so I was always learning and developing. She helped me grow in confidence a lot and was so supportive. I respect her a lot.

The bar has changed a lot over the years and has become much busier. Why do you think this is?
The quality of service and cocktails have improved a lot. Even if customers ask for water, we still go the extra mile to make sure guests feel they are being well looked after. I know I’m biased, but the cocktails have become amazing over the years too. They are definitely the best in London.

…I know I’m biased, but the cocktails have become amazing… They are definitely the best in London.

As Assistant Bar Manager, your role involves 3 different styles of service. Can you describe them?
Bar & cocktail service is stressful but very enjoyable. If certain things aren’t 100% right on a busy night, it upsets me as I’m a perfectionist. Everything has to be spot on. But at the end of the night, I feel proud of what I’ve achieved.

Afternoon Tea is slick and mechanical, but really nice to serve. I love being able to see 3 generations – grandmother, mother and daughter – enjoying a beautiful Afternoon Tea together, especially when it’s booked for a particular occasion. It’s a special experience being able to serve it.

And the best part about Brunch service is that we have a lot of returning customers, who’ve been visiting for years, and they’re like family to us. I’ve even received Christmas presents from them in the past which really touches my heart.

…I love being able to see 3 generations – grandmother, mother and daughter – enjoying a beautiful Afternoon Tea together.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt whilst being here?
How to be more PC… I’m a very straightforward person and I say it like it is, which is why I think guests like me. I can read people very well. But when I worked as a Commis in the restaurant at the beginning, guests used to not like me or complain about me, because my straightforwardness came across as rude, and the language barrier didn’t help… But now, I know how to be more polite and professional.

What is your personal favourite cocktail?
Rhubarb and Ginger Sour! I could drink it every day. The Bramwell’s Ruin is also one of my favourites too, but all the cocktails are amazing. They are all so different, but taste great in their own ways.

What’s been a highlight for you at The Gilbert Scott?
The people. There’s always a good team spirit. The people I work with aren’t my colleagues, it’s like working with friends.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
Making people happy. When customers give me a genuine smile, or tell me they’ve enjoyed their time with us, it makes my day. A guest recently shook my hand, smiled, and said ‘thank you for your hospitality’. That’s the best thing that could happen to me and means I can end the day on a high.