Lisa Wedgwood, Co-Owner and Restaurant Manager, Wedgwood the Restaurant, Scotland

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th November 2016

Lisa Wedgwood is the Co-Owner and Restaurant Manager of Wedgwood the Restaurant in Scotland, which is listed in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants list and was voted Best New Restaurant outside of London in the Harden’s Restaurant Guide 2010.

>>> Paul Wedgwood, co-owner and head chef, Wedgwood the Restaurant

Originally forging out a career for herself as an events co-ordinator for a photographic training studio, Lisa and Paul, her husband and co-owner of Wedgwood Restaurant, decided to move to Edinburgh to set up their own establishment. Using the training she gained from her events career and time spent working in a local bar and restaurant, Lisa naturally stepped up to become the restaurant’s co-owner and restaurant manager.

Since it’s humble beginnings just over nine years ago, Wedgwood the Restaurant has gone on to achieve great success winning the SLTN Wine Award and ranking in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants list.

The Staff Canteen recently caught up with Lisa to find out how she and Paul maintain a healthy working relationship, encouraging her team to be proud of their job and how you can’t teach a personality.

Wedgwood Restaurant
Wedgwood Restaurant

You were an events co-ordinator before you got into the hospitality industry, what prompted the career change?

My husband Paul and I discussed launching our own restaurant and I really wanted us to work together so naturally it was an easy decision to make.

Can you tell us a little more about what your role involves?

I run the front and back of house, organise the accounts, etc. I basically do everything except the cooking. Paul takes care of the kitchen.

Coming from the Lake District, what attracted you and Paul to Edinburgh?

We originally wanted to launch our first restaurant in the English Lake District where we lived at the time but we couldn’t find the right property. We eventually started looking further afield and Edinburgh was the next best place we knew as that’s where Paul’s parents lived.  It was a big scary step to take but we took that leap of faith.

How do you find co running the business with your husband, Paul?

Before we entered into working together we had long discussions on how best to preserve our relationship as a couple. We are both passionate people and we both love what we do. We had some testing times at the beginning but we have learnt how to work together and most importantly respect each other’s views.  After nine years we have it finely tuned and I really enjoy it when we are on shift together.  I fully trust Paul’s vision and his own ambitions and we work together really well.  This was a big step into a new industry for me, whereas Paul has been trained since college. As I have gone along I have learnt from both Paul and from other mentors.

Info bar      

Worst behaved customer they’ve ever served...

I believe that some people genuinely feel they can speak to hospitality staff however they like.  I had one woman reduce a waitress to tears on her arrival and then offend her own guests so much that two of them left. She was just a rude individual. A gentleman was continually rude to me one evening, he said he expected to eat a three course meal within 45 minutes and that’s how all Michelin starred restaurants operated!  HHHhe threatened me with a bad review if he didn’t receive complimentary items and then he left a one star review on Tripadvisor.

Top 5 service experiences 

Paul and I love to eat and travel and we have been really lucky to eat in some amazing places around the world, these top restaurants all have such good memories for us.

Noma in Copenhagen

Joel Robouchon in Las Vegas (the bread trolley had about 30 different types of bread!)

Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain

DOM in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Attica in Melbourne

And one first favourite experience many years ago was in a tiny restaurant called Frascati in San Francisco.

Do you think FOH is sometimes overshadowed by the chef?

I think in the mainstream media the chefs have the spotlight but I think that can only be a good thing for our industry.  We need to start making this industry one where employees are proud to work as a chef or FOH, not necessarily using waitressing as a stop gap before they get a ‘proper job’.

Wedgwood Restaurant
Wedgwood Restaurant

In the day-to-day running of the restaurant, I feel, as FOH, we actually get all the compliments and the genuine happiness from our guests.  We get to hear their stories and about them.  We can personally pass on their thanks to the kitchen team but we are the ones that see it first-hand.

How do you think relationships have changed between the kitchen and the front of house team?

It’s important to realise that we are all one team and if there is any division then the restaurant can’t run properly.How do you find being a woman in the industry?

I’ve never come across any issues; I truly believe hospitality is really diverse.  I know a lot of women who hold General Manager positions in restaurants, quite a lot of my reps are woman.  It’s something I’ve never really thought about.

What should a young person expect from a career in food/drink service?

Long unsociable hours, but you will make the closest friends that you will ever have!  Hospitality is such a social industry; I am still friends with people I used to work with when I had my first waitressing job at 15.  

Also, take the time to learn everything you can, ask questions and also don’t be afraid to give your opinions (where appropriate).  Sometimes a fresh set of eyes in the place is great.  I am always happy to hear any suggestions my team have.

Venison with haggis
Venison with haggis

How important is training for you?

Very important, your team need to know what’s on the menu and how things are prepared. When a guest asks a question you want your team to be able to answer everything straight away.

What characteristics do you look for when hiring?

Personality and a smile! We train all our new members of staff in how we want things run but you can’t teach a personality.  When guest arrives at the restaurant you want them to be received with a genuine smile.

Who inspires you?

Paul always inspires me; he has always had a burning passion for hospitality and is always motivated.

When I worked as an event co-ordinator I worked for two very inspiring women who gave me the good standing and knowledge of how to run my own business.

In your opinion what do you think makes ‘good customer service’?

Being genuine and honest and take an interest in your guests. 

What is next for Wedgwood’s?

We are both ambitious, we want to continuously make sure that Wedgwood is firmly established and will be there to celebrate our 20th anniversary! 

 >>> Read more in our Are You Being Served series here......

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th November 2016

Lisa Wedgwood, Co-Owner and Restaurant Manager, Wedgwood the Restaurant, Scotland