Food Glorious Food
One of the first things that we wanted to change when we took over here at Galtres Lodge was the menus, so in this Blog post I’m going to talk about the process of doing that.
We moved to the centre of York to be near to the hotel roughly three months before we completed on the sale, and we used to walk past to see how business was doing. In the daytime, the place was - as it is now - very busy. The evenings however, seemed deserted. The lighting was very white and clinical, and there just wasn’t as much kerbside appeal as the many competitors on the street. Combine that with the menu style from the time, and we could see why Galtres Lodge was not a popular evening destination.
Firstly, the menu was huge, with an array of dishes from every type of cuisine. This is quite typical of what you find in many pub chains – with little direction towards what style of food is served, simply a wide range of items designed to please everybody. Inevitably and unfortunately, the sheer volume of dishes prevents the likelihood that any of them are made to a very high quality.
Secondly, I could immediately tell that not many of the dishes would be home made, as it simply would not be possible to store and prepare the ingredients required. This would be fine if it was popular and catered to what people wanted (for which there is an argument to suggest that this may have been the case), however it is not at all profitable. Chris and I are certainly not all about the money, but we do want to see Galtres Lodge not only survive, but thrive, and to do this, profitability does need to be considered.
Back in my marketing days, food was a key focus of mine, and I have worked with many incredible chefs, and even launched a food festival, so I was really keen to make the food at Galtres Lodge really special.
I want the food that we serve to be well thought-out, really tasty, and costed correctly – for me, the way to do this is for our meals to be home made. Yorkshire has an abundance of suppliers and producers so it would be silly not to use them. Furthermore, there are not that many affordable restaurants in York that serve traditional British home-made meals, and so we have found our unique selling point on a street which is filled with restaurants every few steps.
I decided that I wanted to enlist some outside help, and we were beyond delighted that my old colleague and friend Stephanie Moon was willing to offer her support! As part of my university placement year at Rudding Park I worked in the kitchen with Steph, and then when I moved into marketing, I spent many an hour typing up menus for her! Click here to read more about Steph >>.
Steph was able to make our vision into a reality – she worked with the chefs, and even gave us some very honest feedback about the limitations of the kitchen (it’s small!). She praised the team for producing what they had, given the many challenges with regards to space and equipment.
Through this process Chris and I have purchased an amazing (but expensive!) oven – this thing is so fancy that it can play Christmas songs if you ask it to! We have bought some new fridges and rearranged the kitchen to have more work surface space in an effort to make it more efficient.
This particular journey was not without its challenges – this was a huge change for the team both in the kitchen and front of house, and we are very grateful and proud of their support.
It was also, as it turns out, a challenge for some of our guests! I genuinely was not expecting a backlash from changing frozen/microwaved meals to delicious home-made ones, and yet some people were very upset with us indeed! It was never our intention to upset any long-standing guests, but the reality was that the business could not last much longer without some dramatic changes.
I now feel very proud of our menus, and after the initial shock, we do seem to have turned a corner, with our guests now highly praising our food, and gaining many wonderful reviews online – it makes me happy!
Thanks for reading, love Rebecca X