Ready or not, here we come!

If you’ve read a few of my posts here, you’ll know something of the core beliefs that drive us at Cucina and set us apart from our competitors.

We’ve always been about delivering what is possible, not what is easy. It’s so important for us to keep that up because we know if we ever veer away from the quest for perfection, we’ll stop being Cucina.

As per my previous column here, I’m very happy that we’re still right on message, turning out popular restaurant-standard food daily, to a happy clientele at 37 sites around the UK. But still, there’s that ever-present need to safeguard our service delivery. Which is why we’ve put together a new team to visit every Cucina site unannounced and on a regular basis.

This is something we’ve had in mind to do for quite a while. Alongside myself and co-Director Sam, the new visitation team comprises 3 chefs and our very own Cucina gardener. We operate on a rota system which allows equal visitation time, with every site being seen at least every 3 weeks. I’m delighted with that, and I actually think it’s an amazing achievement.

When you know the boss is coming round – human nature being what it is – you’re always keen to put on a good show. So we don’t announce these visits, and we see the restaurants running as they would on any normal school day.

I’m very keen to emphasise here that this programme is not about admonishing staff or catching them out. The idea is much more to praise and reward for excellence. Which is exactly what we’ve been able to do. (Side note: every single Cucina site manager will be paid a bonus this year).

On the other hand, it also means that we’re much more aware of specific challenges or difficulties that could be hampering a particular team’s operation.

The other thing the visitation programme has done is even things out for all the site catering teams. In the past, there has been a natural tendency for us to spend more time at the places where there are issues, or where events are being held. Or even where a high degree of hospitality which encourages us to stay a little longer than we really should.

Carry on like that and before you know it, 6 weeks have gone by and you realise you haven’t been to a site that’s actually running like clockwork.

With the visitation plan in place, we have a much better chance of more frequent contact with our best performers, which is as it should be.

This visiting experience has been an overwhelmingly positive one all round. I find that really gratifying. And what does it say about the ‘bang on message’ point I made earlier?

Till next time,


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