Liam Keating, General Manager at Jack’s, reveals what it’s like operating a cafe inside London’s Business Design Centre
What’s a typical day like at Jack’s?
There’s not really such a thing. I prefer to let a day grow organically, that way I never feel under pressure when it nearly goes wrong. The one thing that definitely is organised are two single espressos, a quick smoke and a chat with the cat before I leave for the joys of the M4 at 5am.
What’s the biggest challenge of operating a cafe in a larger venue?
In the Business Design Centre we have multiple clients, each with different needs and desires, and the majority of clients also have their own clients. Trying to stay ahead and double guess what they’ll need on any given day is probably the biggest challenge.
How do you keep your cool when things get hectic?
Making sure the team is briefed and organised and being as flexible as possible means you never get sucked into dealing exclusively with one client or a single situation. I always try to be clear and honest.
How do you manage staffing around busy shows and quieter times?
I do my research on new shows and for returning shows I check numbers from the previous year. I also contact organisers on a regular basis for updates. If you understand the show, you understand the visitors – our customers.
Do you adjust your menu according to the shows?
Yes, with some shows we let the organisers choose a menu to suit their visitors, which means they share the responsibility of getting it right. It also gives clients a feeling of ownership. We listen to the small details and are willing to go that extra mile to enhance a show’s overall performance.
Any other perks to working in an iconic venue?
The show that I’ll never forget was the build for the Czech House (the Czech Olympic Committee were housed at the BDC during the 2012 London Olympics). It was the most amazing experience of my life – a mind blast from 7am to 2am every day for 36 days. My team and I rode a wave that we all knew we would probably never do again.
What’s the best part of your job?
Simple answer – my team. I can honestly say I work with some of the best human beings ever made and every day I tell them and thank them.