Peter Avis is currently Restaurant Manager of Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens in London, part of Virgin’s Limited Edition portfolio of stunning properties. In 2009 he won the “Restaurant Manager of the Year Award” and is on a mission to raise the profile of front of house staff everywhere.
We all love rags to riches stories and Peter’s tale does not disappoint. Having left school in Liverpool at the age of 16 with less than a handful of GCSEs to his name, he was unclear which direction his career was going to take until, aged 18, he joined his sister for a two-week holiday in Miami – he stayed for four years.
Upon returning to the UK, Peter was approached to join the opening team of Babylon Restaurant. This enabled Peter to establish a close working relationship with Richard Branson and the Virgin brand throughout some of Virgin’s most spectacular growth years. Peter is in a unique position to give a personal insider’s view of the values and behaviours that make Virgin so universally successful.
“Over the years I have observed how not to manage people,” says Peter. Peter holds chat sessions with his staff and ensures everyone has lunch together in order for all staff to get to know each other. Working together as a team also makes sure that the team are very aware of the financial targets his restaurant needs to achieve. He believes making the team part of the business increases the motivation and aspirations of both the staff and the business; he does this by including all staff members in incentives.
In 2002 Peter founded an event at the Roof Gardens with the Elton John AIDS foundation called Revival. To further help this cause his whole team worked for free, including the chefs, and all the food and wine was donated. In the first year this event had 40 guests and made £2,500. Last year the event was hosted by Alan Carr and raised £85,000. Peter firmly believes that if you have passion and really care, no matter what, you can make a difference. With this attitude Peter and his team have raised close to £1,000,000 in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
It has been simple business strategies like this which have taken his restaurant from making less than half a million pounds in the first year of trading to the multi-award winning business it is today!”