There’s more to Christmas and autumn than an early setting sun, rising moon and blossoming new moods and synergies on Oxford Street’s overflowing 2.5 km-long shopping zone. Festival illuminations have been beautifying the street from November every year since 1959, switched on by a celebrity with music. The street is awake again for yet another gigantic bash. I relish the mystic glow as stars come down collectively in multicolour eclipses and seal every space in the street. Flabbergasted in the cooled waft and sporadic snowflakes, you will be transported to a cloudland.
Embracing this fresh season and chilled with zeal, I jumped at the prospect of addressing a group of dynamic management students of Syracuse University from New York. In a lively interaction, we touched Rasa chronicle, missing ethics in business sphere and essentials to a new enterprise as we see the rise of colossal number of young business graduates. We aired on how idea, analysis, execution and consistency with a dash of devotion could result in a fruitful enterprise.
Exuberance sustained through dusk, I encountered an American couple Glen and Sonia and eavesdropped on their manifestations of joy in discovering our cuisine and how it has transmuted their existence. Like a pilgrimage they come every year to London and have many meals with us in few days, as they say, “ Then wait for a whole year to get back!” What a treat to hear such words and felt so proud of being part of food business.
Retaining those melting dewdrops of all the snug emotions of the day, I gazed inwards into an established business of ours and rest of the industry. There’s a mounting concern of workforce scarcity shaking this trade day by day. In the past we never knew about this problem, work permits for skilled chefs were easy, every restaurant succeeded in fetching their own teams to manage the business, students merged in to serve part time and this trade appeared flawless in restraint.
Regrettably the team dilemma is growing a bit acute nowadays. It’s not just about one area, every section of this business is confronting this issue. People say nearer the election periods, Home Office procures strong instructions to kerb immigration for political parties to approach electorates since it concerns local people. Funny thing is, restaurant careers and layman’s labour doesn’t attract people here anyway, at the same time catering industry is a enormous segment in terms of size. So far nobody has raised this issue with the government and it is inevitable to sort it out before it inflicts any serious damage.
Reliable sources substantiate disparities within the existing work force and their grievances against employers. Some say bosses don’t care enough about their workload to meet with a demanding and packed season. It’s astonishing to hear about insensitive outlook of reckless superiors who make the condition ruinous. Wonder what’s the point of generating more money with displeased staff gazing at you for they don’t get rewarded for additional shifts.
On the other hand, various restaurant operators are weary of this matter related to staff deficiency on top of increasing business overheads and uncertain seasonal sales. The time ahead seems bleak despite enormous demand for good restaurants all over the world unless we can tackle staff shortage at the highest level. With specific support and required guidelines, it could be modestly settled. To respond to demand of the industry and deserved candidates to reap rewards of success in this profession, we need to have persistent passion and loyalty from everyone.
Glen’s laugh softened the cold air, a spectacular day ended with a visit to Tower of London to experience “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”, installation of ceramic poppies for the centenary commemoration of Remembrance Day of First World War. It’s been a colourful start to our winter spell and hopefully a great celebration to follow to end an exciting year.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants