FOH interview: Jozef Pesta at W Doha

The trendy hotel's restaurant manager on what makes the spice of life

Pesta says motivating staff is crucial to an outlet's success.
Pesta says motivating staff is crucial to an outlet's success.

W Doha’s Spice Market restaurant manager Jozef Pesta explains why he has moved from Spice Market in London to the same brand at the W Doha Hotel & Residences

What is it about Spice Market that made you stay with the concept?
It is the idea behind the Spice Market; the warm atmosphere from front and back-of-house team, ambiance, the food we present, service we provide and last but not least the people with whom I’m working.

Combine all of this with passion and you have the perfect workplace. This is the reason why I’m staying with Spice Market. It is what makes us special and different from other competitors. Spice Market is a place where you can get closer to the guests, provide exceptional food and create an irreplaceable rapport between the two.

What are the biggest challenges of the role?
I’m sure all my colleagues’ managers would tell you the same; it’s a combination of financial performance of the venue, staff motivation, and maintaining a restaurant’s consistency.

Hospitality these days is a constantly changing and challenging environment in which you need to be quick in adapting yourself. It is vital to be on top of the game if not ahead of it and only then can you healthily compete with your competitors.

Do you see any difference in the business in the region compared to London?
Well, London has its own strong, very bustling, competitive and innovative restaurant scene. And with regards to Qatar hospitality and restaurant industry I can see it is growing extremely fast and well. There is certainly no simple answer to the question. The demand of good places in Doha is rising very rapidly.

I can see Qatar’s importance in the culinary world and this will, in turn, earn its place in the hospitality world. There are lots of new and big-name restaurants opened already and many more opening soon, so I’m sure that the competitiveness will be here.

On the other hand the increased competition will make you think ‘what else can I do for the guest who enters my restaurant or hotel?’ Doha will definitely play a very big role in the culinary world very soon if not already.

Is the customer always right or can you sometimes say no?
Well here I have to be very careful with what to say. The key is achieving satisfaction on both sides, satisfaction for the guest and for the restaurant. I would put it this way — the guest should always leave your restaurant or hotel happy no matter what.

What tactics do you employ in a competitive market to ensure the success of the restaurants you manage?
This is a vast area where I can name many strategic things or points, however if you don’t have a warm, friendly and knowledgeable service providing exceptional food in great surroundings and ambiance you can easily struggle to deliver your own and the company’s goals.

What will be the next step in your career ladder and why does that role appeal?
I would love to be area manager where I can expand my professional network and manage even more people than I do now. It is a great passion to pass on the knowledge and experience that I have – I would love to share all of this with others.

Do you have to be most loyal to the chefs, the service staff, the guests, the general manager of the hotel or the owner?
I can’t put one in front of the other to be honest with you. They are all linked so close together so they create an imaginary ring which, as a manager, I need to keep in perfect shape.

Five ways to achieve repeat customers in a restaurant

  1. Think as a guest. You have to anticipate what your guests will want and make sure you can cater to their requirements.
  2. Rewarding guests is a great way of creating loyalty and enticing a customer back again and again.
  3. Recognising your most frequent customers is a fantastic way of making people feel wanted and a part of the establishment.
  4. Addressing guests by their name creates a bond between them and the restaurant and increases the chances of them returning.
  5. Realising the difference between a customer and a guest is vital and will change the attitudes of all involved.

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