We talk to John Evans, Regional Operations Director at Restaurant Associates, about his vision for our new partnership.
This year Hinxton Hall Conference Centre began a new partnership with Restaurant Associates, as our provider of catering and housekeeping services. Restaurant Associates is focussed on providing outstanding hospitality through its food, drink and services, incorporating innovation and sustainability as part of its offer.
Hinxton Hall and Restaurant Associates recognise collaboration as a key feature of how we both work, with a shared goal of celebrating our heritage venue and delivering exceptional experiences.
As we look forward to an exciting year ahead, we spoke with John Evans, Operations Director, Restaurant Associates, about his vision for our partnership.
Hinxton Hall: We’re very much looking forward to working with Restaurant Associates this year, can you tell us what you’re most excited about, in terms of working with Hinxton Hall Conference Centre?
John Evans: The thing that excites us most about the new partnership with Hinxton Hall Conference Centre is not only being given the opportunity to enhance the offer and service standards but also being given the privilege to work with, and develop, the team on the ground. We have some fantastic team members that all exhibit passion and a desire to deliver first class service. Over the course of the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work closely with Katrina Robinson, Head of Operations for Wellcome Connecting Science, and the Hinxton Hall events team. And I already get the sense this is going to be a strong relationship built on a collaborative partnership.
HH: In terms of the year ahead, what innovations are you looking forward to implementing here?
JE: We are really looking forward to launching our new menu offers in the spring, which have been built by our Head Chef Chris Daniels with the support of our culinary leads Steve Groves and Ian Human. We have some fantastic new dishes which cater for all tastes and dietary choices.
We will also be enhancing the hot beverage proposition with the introduction of our new coffee brand, Blend 53. We donate a percentage of its profits to the social enterprise Foodinate, so this blend does more than taste good!
At Restaurant Associates Venues, we were recently awarded the three-star Food Made Good accreditation by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Their Food Made Good Sustainability Rating covers businesses’ activity across three pillars of sustainability: sourcing, society and environment, and three stars is the top rating. Sustainability will be at the heart of our new offers at Hinxton Hall, aligning with our Net Zero by 2030 commitment.
HH: More broadly than your work with us and the Conference Centre, can you tell us a little more about your role with Restaurant Associates and what it involves?
JE: My role is now a regional Operations Director, which involves overseeing 10 venues throughout the UK. Most of my venues are in the South East and I am local to Hinxton Hall Conference Centre. It is my job to support the General Managers and their teams in driving sales, standards, and innovation. I am the senior point of the contact for all of my clients and regularly work closely with them to devise and deliver on strategy and any initiatives that are important to that particular venue.
HH: And how did you start your career in the events sector?
JE: I have been in catering and hospitality since I was 16 and have developed a true passion for the industry. I have worked my way through the ranks to reach my current role, so feel confident in supporting the team at all levels. I get a real buzz from seeing an event delivered well, not only for the customer but also in seeing the pride it instils in the whole team.
HH: And finally, what does success look like for Restaurant Associates in terms of delegate experience at a venue like Hinxton Hall?
JE: Success for us in this area is receiving the feedback that delegates have truly been able to make the most of their day. Food and beverage can be a small but vital part of a delegate’s experience, and we aim to provide nutritionally-informed menus which can potentially support with concentration levels.
We want Conference Centre delegates to leave with a real sense that they have been treated to the very best food and drink, with the very best service, in a world-class venue.
HH: Thank you so much for your time, John. This is truly a very exciting time for us, and it’s great to have you and Restaurant Associates on board.