Michelin star chef cancels lunch service at restaurant to save staff from “exhaustion”

Mike Robinson runs Michelin-starred London pub The Harwood Arms and The Elder in Bath

Updated on 12 August 2021 • Written By Caroline Hendry

Michelin star chef cancels lunch service at restaurant to save staff from “exhaustion”

Michelin starred chef Mike Robinson has announced in a new interview that his restaurants will no longer open for lunch service on weekdays, in order to protect the wellbeing of his staff and save them from exhaustion.

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Robinson currently operates three restaurants around the UK, including The Hardwood Arms in Fulham (which is London’s only Michelin-starred pub), The Elder in Bath and The Woodsman in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The chef made the announcement during an appearance on the Biting Talk podcast, explaining that he made the decision to halt weekday lunch service at his restaurants two weeks ago. He says the change has allowed him to “put the focus on quality and effort in the evening and have longer evening services.”

The decision to cancel lunch service is not the only change Robinson has made to prioritise staff wellbeing. He has also offered his teams the chance to work between 45 and 55 hours per week, a marked difference from the industry average of 70. Explaining his choice, Robinson said: “'By necessity there's a tradition of people working crazy hours in restaurants... and I think it is time this changed.”

In recent months, there has been much talk in the hospitality industry about venues being short-staffed and struggling to hire new recruits, with many believing the blame lies with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Robinson says the changes at his restaurants have been received well by staff and that it is important for him to prioritise the happiness and wellbeing of his employees: “If we want to get the restaurant industry booming again the one thing we have to do is look after our staff.”

In other restaurant news, celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo’s chain of Italian restaurants needed a £12.9 million bailout from his co-investors.