A Friday Chat with Olga Romito, Front of House Supervisor at St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar24 December 2021
Olga Romito has been part of the Searcys team since 2018, making the leap from the kitchens in some of London’s best-known restaurants into the sphere of Front of House, where she brings an infectious energy and positivity to the team. She shares her thoughts on St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar with us for the last Friday Chat of the year and her aspirations for Searcys’ future as we approach the company’s 175th anniversary.
Hi Olga! Tell us about yourself – how did you start out in the industry?
Before I started working with Searcys I worked as a sous chef at Gordon Ramsey’s Heddon Street Kitchen. Before that, I was a sous chef at the Ivy Collection. I had one of the best times of my life there – cooking has always been my thing. In 2018 I decided to start a Dietetics and Nutrition course at university. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do a full time job anymore, so I decided to start as a part-time waitress and spend all that free time studying what I love. It was definitely it was worth it because I completed my degree, and I am doing my Masters now.
When did you join Searcys? What do you like most about your job?
I joined as a waitress in August 2018 when I started studying, and I’ve been here ever since – now I’m front-of-house and I greet customers, meaning I’m their first impression of the venue. I love our regular customers who make you feel comfortable – some of them I’ve known for years. It’s great when they make an effort to ask for me by name and always ask me when I am not there, it makes it all worthwhile really. A lot of guests come almost every day for business meetings. I know what they are drinking, so we serve them their favourite drinks and food before taking their food order when they sit down.
What do you think is the secret to success when it comes to great customer service?
Make even a little conversion with every guest makes a big difference. That’s the way to make people remember this venue, even if we’re really busy. Problem-solving is a really important skill too – that ability to sort out a situation as quickly possible if any issue happens. And then a great product knowledge. I think that one brings a lot of confidence and flawless to service.
Give us three tips you’d give a person who starts a job in a front-of-house role?
Balance seriousness and fun. Treat all your guests as you would want to be treated. And finally, listen – always listen to guest requests and do everything you can to make this experience special.
What’s something that not many people know about St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar?
We’ve got a genuine gold leaf ceiling. Also, we’re the longest Champagne bar in Europe, and before Searcys opened the venue around 10 years ago it was a storage space for beer.
What is the most popular menu or event type at your venue?
I’d say definitely business meetings and companies inviting clients to dine with them, so we really try to cater for this.
What changes or innovations have you introduced since Covid?
Having hand sanitiser points everywhere, social distancing, and we don’t accept cash to minimize the spread of the virus.
What about the customers? What is the most frequent request these days?
Many of our guests now ask for quiet tables in the corners of the restaurant. I think after pandemic, so many groups of family and friends haven’t seen each other for a long time, and so they often just want to enjoy private conversations and stay together. Guests don’t want to be disturbed as much, they prefer to be left to it a bit, so we have to adapt to new situations and respect that.
What has been your most unusual customer request?
We don’t get too many, but I have to say it always surprises me when a guest asks us to add ice to the wine. I never could understand why you’d want to make your wine more watery, but it is a matter of taste.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve recently been promoted to a supervisor level, so I’m busy training new employees to keep high standards and attention to detail. I am also learning to manage big events.
What is your favourite kind of event you do at St Pancras?
The Christmas period is the best time in my opinion because it’s the busiest period of the year. It’s challenging to serve that many guests, but it’s the best feeling when the venue is full, and people enjoy this magical festive time.
As Searcys approaches its 175th anniversary, what would your birthday wishes for the company and your colleagues be?
I wish the company another 175 years and more success! As well as wishing many more years of great hospitality, I hope Searcys can open more venues across UK and other places around the world. To my colleagues – I wish them a lot of energy and patience to keep the highest level of customer service possible for our lovely guests.