Nestled in a Soho basement, once occupied by an illegal bordello, Hawksmoor alum Gordon Ker and his team have swapped one type of meat for another... Blacklock, named for the meat iron that weighs down the meat on the grill, specializes in serving awesome chops!
We came by for their pre shift staff meal and spoke to Gordon about his journey to Blacklock and how they do their staff meal a little differently than most other restaurants in London.
I was working in restaurants in the city helping them do a lot of different things, create new ideas, grow brands that sort of thing. I always wanted to run my own business, I just never knew what I wanted that business to be.
So then I worked in restaurants for about 4 years. I learned a smidge more about opening a restaurant, what it took on the financial end. I had an idea, which progressed, and then I got to a stage where I was like okay, I am going to do this. So I quit my job worked at another restaurant in London and then opened Blacklock.
The idea was to open a chop shop. I wanted a big charcoal grill and a really simple menu, gret chops, beef, veal... with cool sides. I just wanted it to be a really simple place known for doing one thing really really well. Those were the types of restaurants I wanted to eat at. When I wanted a great burger, I knew to go to this place, if I wantedt bao’s I would go to this place. I like places that specialize in their one thing. And we thought chops would be a really great thing to do.
We have been open for about 4 months now. We are still really new but it’s going really well, we are really busy.
Me and two other guys we all opened it together. Kirk is the manager of the restaurant. Marion takes the lead on all the food. We all have an input on the sides, what chops we do, how they are presented. So Kirk handles the management of the restaurant, Marion handles the kitchen and I handle the business, looking after all the branding, PR, and marketing.
At the beginning social media was really big for us. We had no PR. We had bought a lot of stuff off ebay got some off the street. We built it from the ground up. We got buzzy through things like twitter and also hired two of our best guys through the social media platform. They tweeted us and said ‘what you are doing is really cool, can we come and work for you?’ So we hired them!
In London, staff meal is not required, but we do our staff meal every day between lunch and dinner. It is a nice time to sit down, our chefs cook, we have a chat. It’s a nice pre-service thing to do. It builds a nice atmosphere and vibe amongst the team. Today the meal was just a social thing, but sometimes we do training over the staff lunch, we talk about a new wine or beer and taste them for example. But for us, often times, it's just catch ups.
Today we had pork burgers, chips and a couple of coleslaws and salads. The chefs always keep it different. But we never do chops, never do steaks. The chefs order specifically for staff meals. There is a budget so they order in different stuff everyday. Sometimes there are requests. We are going to try this new thing where we let the servers cook staff meals. They can go off the grid in that way.
There are a lot of places that don't do it. Everything is really fresh, lots of thought goes into it by the chefs. We also have other friends that own restaurants, so some days we may go to other people’s restaurants and eat their staff meal and then we invite them to eat ours.
We like to look out for our staff almost more than we look after the customers. If the staff is really happy in their jobs and love to work here that will filter over to the guests and they will have a really enjoyable experience.
Find them here!