Interview with Nick Emmott, General Manager

Nick Emmott has been with us for six years, working as our General Manager. Here we chat to him about his duties as manager, his involvement in menu development and his experience over the years in the restaurant business.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetNick Emmott, General Manager (right)

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The diversity and range of the tasks that you cover – it means that everyday’s different. My role includes budgeting and financial planning – we need to make a profit! – creating operational systems to deliver required standards; recruitment, training, development and motivation of our teams; anticipating customer requirements and trends; product knowledge and selection – very interesting with seafood and wine; menu development to influence customer behaviour; problem solving and decision making.

What’s your past experience in the restaurant business?
I took my first full-time position 17 years ago in London’s Piccadilly working for Terence Conran. Other notable employers have been Marco Pierre White and Brian Turner. I opened my own restaurant when I was 24 and sold it seven years later after being recognised in the Michelin guide.

Have you always worked in the food industry?
Yes, my first job was at the age of 12. I worked doing various tasks at the weekends in a family friend’s hotel and restaurant. That’s where I caught the buzz! Working in a busy environment with the camaraderie of a team was exhilarating. I worked there for three years before we moved from Yorkshire to Sussex.

How involved are you with menu testing?
I work closely with Clayton and Alessandro (Head and Sous Chef) to shape the style and range of the menu. It’s important to cover lots of bases with the English’s menu. Special occasion dining is key to our success so we need dishes for that, then light or spur of the moment eating needs to be catered for. It’s important at English’s to have a broad spectrum of price range; everyone has differing budgets and we aim not to be exclusive on price. Food and service, maybe, but not price. Then we look at the species that are in season and in the peak of their condition, and consider how best to feature those on the menu. We also look at time of year/weather conditions – we don’t want Bouillabaisse or our famous steak & kidney pudding in the summer time, but more salads and cold seafood dishes are good. Rich or creamy sauces are best suited to the winter, while summertime demands lighter, more refreshing styles of dish. Then we look at what is operationally achievable. Too many baked or slow-cooking dishes slow down the service when we are operating at the height of the season. We look at the demands placed on the various sections of the kitchen; one section getting too much of the work can sink a service. There are several classic dishes that we are expected to serve, so they remain. It takes about two months to plan a menu, draft it, cost it, negotiate with suppliers on price, trial it, taste it, choose suitable crockery to best display it, train the chefs to cook it – then we go live and let the customers enjoy it.

Do you get a lot of feedback from your customers?
As managers, we are always visible to the guests. We greet and seat every guest, so we get a lot of feedback. It’s very important information for us in order to spot areas for re-training, but equally it’s just pleasant to hear how people enjoy and appreciate what we do! Forums such as Trip Advisor, where guests feedback on their experiences, are a positive. Nothing helps to promote your business like good old word of mouth, and that’s exactly what it is.

What do you like doing in your spare time?
Young kids and a big soft Labrador keep me busy. Now and again we get out to eat as family, and occasionally I get to snatch a couple of hours out green-laning or trials riding.

Finally, have you ever seen any of the infamous ghosts that are said to haunt the restaurant?
Afraid not!

If you have any questions for Nick, you can email him at