A FRIDAY CHAT WITH SEARCYS AT THE GHERKIN’S FRONT OF HOUSE EXECUTIVE, HELENA KUNERTOVA19 March 2021
Helena Kunertova is Searcys’ front-of-house executive at the flagship London venue, The Gherkin, whose role encompasses all stages of the customer journey. Helena is the direct line between Searcys and the customer until the moment they arrive at the venue: she looks after everything from the initial enquiry from a restaurant guest to the fine details of their visit.
Helena, tells us a little about yourself.
I am from a small village in Czech Republic with a population of 380. I always thought I would never leave, that perhaps I’d live in a house outside of Prague with a big garden and space. But here I am, 10 years later, living in the best city in a beautiful flat located just 10 minutes from the London Eye.
What inspires you when it comes to customer service?
I strongly believe that if we want to be known for personable and sleek service, we must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money. For me, that is sincerity and integrity.
Tell us what makes you proud?
My greatest professional achievement was completing my degree in 4 years. I had no financial support from my family and had to work a full-time job. This taught me to prioritize my time, build great habits and stay focused on my goals. I’m proud of this accomplishment and I feel that what I learned is going to give me a big advantage in my career now.
What do you like most about your job?
I love that my job challenges me every day in different ways, and it means I am always learning.
Tell us about The Gherkin – what are the top three things you like about working here?
I love Searcys and The Gherkin. I always wanted to work here for many years, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity. Little things go a long way, such as remembering people’s birthdays, company training programmes or interesting courses.
I am learning all the time, from the best people.
Tell us about some unusual requests?
Well, one we actually get a lot, which might seem unlikely since you’re coming to the Gherkin, is asking for a table far from the window because people are scared of heights. Also, we had people asking to take the stairs up to the 40th floor due to claustrophobia and not wanting to use the lift. These can be accommodated of course!
…and most frequent ones?
Guests requesting a table by the window. While we do our best to accommodate as many requests for window tables as possible, the demand is exceptionally high (around 95% of people reserving make this request).
What drives and motivates you?
I have always been motivated by the desire of achieving goals. Setting and reaching these goals gives me such a sense of accomplishment. For example, when I tried to lose a few pounds I was training with my personal trainer and there was a moment when I was out of breath, in tears laying on the gym floor and about to give up and in that moment, I started to think: “Why did I ever start this?!” But I didn’t give up, and I lost 24 pounds within 3 months.
What were the great challenges when working in 2020?
I was absolutely devastated and emotional when we were forced to close back in March last year. It felt like all the effort we put it, all our commitments and hard work were gone. But plans are underway to re-open again on 17 May and I really hope there will not be lockdown again and everything will be back in normal by the end of this year.
I also had an opportunity to be part of re-opening the Gherkin for business last year and it was one of the best challenges I had. I’m forever grateful to be part of that team.
What is your favourite dish at Searcys at The Gherkin?
I love fish, so it has to be the Miso cod loin with roast cauliflower, verjuice and grapes. It is so soft and delicious.