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No Chef, No Problem?!

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

F&B can really put the icing on the cake when it comes to a hotel stay.

Inspiration can be found in other areas of hospitality – and some are really getting it right.

Simon Elliott shares a recent case study on some work he undertook with a pub in Leicestershire…


The Gate, like so many hospitality businesses, was set to re-open under new management following the Covid Lockdown in 2021 but with no permanent head chef proving a real challenge.

Our F&B Profitability specialist, Simon Elliott, met Cassie Davison, MD at The Gate on her online hospitality forum Kith & Kin during lockdown, and knew he had the solutions to address the immediate issues and set strong foundations for the future.

Cassie’s view on the result of the partnership is “meeting Simon has proved hugely beneficial to me and my business, saving me masses of time, helping me develop and roll out a menu I am really proud to serve my customers and a 75% food margin. I now have a highly proactive, focused and knowledgeable business partner”


The Gate Hangs Well is a lovely community focussed, riverside country pub in Syston, Leicestershire. Along with the pub, The Gate features a private event space for 100+ called The Boathouse with river facing decking, a 300-cover garden and outdoor festival style event spaces as well as a covered and heated dining courtyard and outdoor kitchen. The Gate is part of the Everards portfolio and operated by Cassie Davison and her family who took charge in March 2021.

Key Challenges

Food was always going to be key to The Gate’s success with the intention to reflect the pubs community focus, buying locally wherever possible and delivering real value as well as sustainable profitability. It became very clear that chef recruitment was going to be a real challenge before an Easter reopening and like many operators Cassie resorted to agency chefs which was both costly and limited the scope for food development from what was typical fayre and margins.

The last straw was the prospect of facing double time on a Bank Holiday Monday which would eat into already tight margins, something needed to change…….!!

The Solution

“Following an initial meeting with Simon it was clear he knew his subject and could really add valuable support and help us get the food offering right at The Gate and I asked for his full support” says Cassie. So, here’s a summary of what happened next…

Menu Clinic - Cassie and Simon discussed the 4 ‘P’s of Price, Product, Promotion, and Place and agreed the menu needed to deliver quality, consistency, and profitability with at the time a relatively limited kitchen team. The intention was to use local suppliers where possible, focus on provenance and include plenty of Vegan choice. The menu had to work hard, and we agreed a framework of Light Bites & Starters, All Day Toasties, Burgers, Pizza, Chips and Pies, solid pub fayre, executed to perfection.

Supplier Selection – Simon was able to work with suppliers old and new. This led to the retention of local butcher Gamble & Hollis of Syston and extend their range to include their award-winning handmade pies. Simon’s knowledge of the UK wholesale market led to an introduction to PizzaSi and an on-site demonstration where the quality, provenance, ease of preparation and cooking time of 3 minutes blew Cassie away. Simon also introduced a local produce supplier called AM Baileys to improve quality including proper and cut fresh chips and deliver a 30% saving!

Menu Costing and Photo Specifications – part of the solution would be to train staff on dish specifications, so Simon worked with Cassie to photograph dishes and produce detailed specifications including product codes, method of production, cooking and service to ensure consistency. Lastly a 4-week sales mix was reviewed for menu engineering opportunities with dish and tariff amends agreed to improve and consolidate profitability.

Bespoke Order Sheets - a fully priced order guide was developed and maintained in line with supplier pricing updates to optimise cost savings through best price purchasing again to ensure product consistency and customer satisfaction.

Flash Food Report & Ongoing Support – a chef focussed report tracking spend and revenue was introduced to measure profitability. Purchases made are regularly reviewed by Profit Hound for supplier overcharges, adherence to buying lists, and new opportunities. Market reports, food trends and general market intelligence are all part of the support provided.

The Results

“The processes that Simon has applied gives The Gate a strong foundation on which to build with confidence, we have improved quality, driven sales and exceeded my profit expectations and I would not hesitate in recommending Simon to any hospitality business”, says Cassie.

How to get Simon’s support…

Simon is available to support you with several treatments at the Clinic. Check out the following:

Get a quick overview of your menu and get hints and tips to drive your food sales and profitability in the right direction

Sometimes, you just want to chat with someone that knows what they are doing! Taking an hour to talk to Simon will help provide you with the direction and guidance to take your food operation forward.


While you are here, please take time to have a look around and see where the team might help you over the coming months.

Why not try a free introductory session (Free Treatment) on any area of support. Sign up and drop a note to and we will be happy to help.

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