All of this design, all of this energy, means nothing without service and staff moving throughout the room. This room has to function as a restaurant on a daily basis, otherwise all this work has been for nothing. McConnell’s manager Leeroy Kirk-Walker is responsible for the daily operations of Golden Fields.
“What I do is get all the bits Andrew is envisaging and talking about and put them in place so that it works the way I feel it should be working for him,” he says. Kirk-Walker has worked at Cumulus Inc. for three years and is familiar with what his boss wants. “The menu is built around share plates and I don’t want the customers being overly serviced, so it’s less ‘restauranty’, a lot more casual and Andrew’s food is so good you can take those graces.”
The other decisions made by Kirk-Walker are often things customers take for granted: the wine storage systems; music on the iPod; contacts with beverage suppliers and linen people; what aprons will be worn. And then there’s the wine list, compiled by Kirk-Walker and head sommelier, Anthony Jones (formerly of The Deanery). “We are creating a list focusing on rieslings and pinot noirs, lighter reds and lots of sparklings from here and overseas,” says Jones. “We want wines that don’t have too much oak or tannin. Just clean, fresh acidity to allow the flavours and spices to come through.”
All the best design and intention in any dining space, without key staff and switched-on waiters, simply doesn't matter. The staff in a restaurant are the narrators in all of this. They work, surrounded by the narrative of the design on a daily basis and that's a large reason why good service and supportive kitchen staff are so very vital to restaurateurs - they tell the story and are the conduits of the experience everyday.