It is no secret that working in hospitality comes with a unique set of challenges, such as long hours, late nights and a pressurised environment, but it is also an industry that opens itself up to definitive moments of joy that make those obstacles fade to the back. We spoke to the managers at Black Sheep Restaurants to uncover the stories that have made their time in hospitality really shine.
Vidur Yadav, Ho Lee Fook
Last year, while waiting for the elevator in the Shanghai EDITION hotel and wearing a Ho Lee Fook T-shirt, a group of guests came out to leave for the evening. The concierge escorting them introduced me as a manager from Black Sheep Restaurants who was in town from Hong Kong to launch Canton Disco. Suddenly, one of the ladies gasped, gave me a big hug and started crying. She told me that she had recently been in Hong Kong for a week of cancer treatments and had dined in Ho Lee Fook almost every night. She described it as the toughest week of her life, but that her time in our restaurant was the happiest as it helped her escape the challenges she was facing and kept her positive. She was full of gratitude for the delicious food, positive energy and caring service from the entire team.
That experience made me realise the impact we can have on people, even when we do not know it. It is so important to respect every guest’s decision to choose Black Sheep Restaurants because we might never know their circumstances or the purpose of their visit. So I remember to spread the love and light…always!
Marc Hofmann, Black Sheep Restaurants
We once had a guest who was planning to propose to his girlfriend at La Vache!, where they had had their first date.
The whole team got involved: Melody was on balloons, Donna was on cupcakes, two team members held big signs asking “Will you marry me?”, Sabi was in charge of music and I was tasked with popping the Champagne and filming the proposal. It turned out that I was shaking so much from the excitement that the video was a bit wobbly, but apart from my video skills, everything ran smoothly and the entire restaurant stood up and applauded when she said yes! That was a really special moment for our team. I might have even shed a tear or two. Now, whenever I hear “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, it reminds me of this emotional story!
Melody Li, La Vache!
Almost every night is a party at La Vache!, though one story does stand out for me…
During a birthday celebration, the last guest to arrive appeared very flustered and upset, holding a self-made birthday cake that she requested we serve after dinner. Unfortunately, upon serving it, they discovered that the cake tasted terrible and the friend who had made it was visibly disappointed. So we took one of our desserts, topped it with candles and a birthday message and turned their whole night around! The party thanked us and the friend who had brought the cake told me that she had just had a horrible day and felt so bad for thinking she had ruined her friend’s birthday. She said that our service cheered her up and brightened the celebrations and she was extremely grateful. Playing a small part in helping guests create happy memories is a true privilege and is something I think about every time I step into the restaurants.
Suraj Gurung, Black Sheep Restaurants
The best part of hospitality is that we have the power to transform someone’s day. Not many people can say that. Small gestures can be so meaningful and often we are unaware of it in the moment. I cannot pick just one, so here are two stories that stand out for me.
The first was on a rainy day at Maison Libanaise where a guest came in to get his takeaway dinner. He left quickly, but returned less than half an hour later, soaking wet, no longer with his food and looking very miserable. It was obvious he was frustrated so I replaced his dinner at no charge and found him an umbrella from lost property. The next day he sent us a wonderful message explaining that he had had a rough day at work and just wanted to get home and eat a good dinner. He told us that after he left the first time the rain had come down and he had tried to rush home without an umbrella. Just as he reached his house the now wet paper bag broke, spilling his meal on the ground. This felt like the last kick while he was down and he trudged back to Maison Libanaise feeling like the whole world was against him. He said that by taking care of him with a replacement dinner and an umbrella we had saved an otherwise horrible day.
The second story is from Motorino. A lovely couple came in to celebrate their wedding anniversary with their toddler. I guessed that with a little one they did not get much time to go out and even less time to themselves so our team brought the toddler to the kitchen to ‘help’ make pizzas, giving the couple a few moments alone. At the end of their meal, we toasted their anniversary with limoncello for the adults and a shot of milk for the toddler. It was a really fun night for us made even better when they emailed the next day to say how unforgettable and special their time with us had been.
Jonathan Leung, Black Sheep Restaurants
Many couples have their first date at Chôm Chôm because it is cool, vibey and has fantastic food and drinks. But something even more special is when we are able to watch relationships grow over time, with guests returning to celebrate milestones. One such celebration took place when a couple came in with each of their families. They were about to get married after having their first date at Chôm Chôm four years earlier and wanted to include us in their wedding festivities by reliving that first encounter. This meant a lot to the team, so we showered them with flowers and champagne.