We hope you enjoy our first instalment with the hospitality legend that is Mr Liam Upton.
Hi Liam … can you tell us how you first got into the hospitality sector?
Hello! Sure, I started with a part-time bar staff role when I was 18 and never left!
What is your role at The Norfolk Mead and what does it include?
I’m the Assistant General Manager – I manage the running of the Hotel side of the business including dinners in the Restaurant, Hotel overnight stays, Afternoon Teas, Christmas bookings, and even the boat trips during the summer months.
Have you always worked front of house?
Yes; since I was 18.
What makes a good Front of House Manager?
You need to be approachable, keen, customer focused and inventive.
What is a typical shift like at The Norfolk Mead?
It is fun and very motivating … every day is different to keep us on our toes!
What do you love about your job? And what can make it difficult?
Where to start … Team Mead are so great to work with; the clientele are so lovely and always returning; Anna and James the owners treat us really well (staff trips, and great shift patterns); I’m always learning new things every day and I’m proud of the service and the quality of the food we produce from the kitchen. It’s the full package!
In terms of what can make it difficult, it is always difficult turning customers away if we are too full! I have been asking James for a bigger Restaurant but nothing has happened just yet :) The hours can sometimes be long but you feel great pride when you’ve completed a really busy shift.
What makes the Mead special?
It’s a home from home. I’ve always said that you shouldn’t work somewhere if you don’t enjoy it. All the staff, and myself thoroughly enjoy every day we go in regardless of our duties on that particular shift.
What do guests enjoy about their visit or stay?
The Trip advisor reviews speak for themselves! I can’t recall ever having to handle a serious complaint in the three years I’ve been at the Hotel. It’s so lovely to see lots of return faces. Guests will remember us by name from when they stayed the previous year and remember details from our conversations. I got married last year and all the guests came back and congratulated me; that’s really heart-warming.
How do you motivate the rest of the team?
I try and keep it a fun working atmosphere and keep the staff teas and coffees flying!
What advice would you have for anyone thinking of going into hospitality?
Be keen to learn new things every day. Don’t stop your passion; keep thinking of new ideas and ways to improve.
What do you like doing with your time off?
I play lots of golf and pool.
Why is Norfolk a special place to visit?
We are hidden away, off the beaten track. I love the Norfolk coastline from Sheringham heading out west to Wells next the Sea. There are lots of very good golf courses in Norfolk particularly Cromer Golf Club where I play. In addition to introducing new visitors to Norfolk, many of our guests live in Norfolk already and come to stay with us because it feels like such a retreat.
Do you have a favourite dish that the Restaurant serve? What about a favourite wine?
Our Executive Chef Damien produced a fantastic potato-wrapped, prawn-stuffed plaice as one of the dishes for a recent Taster Night … AMAZING! My favourite wine that we serve is the Uruguayan Tannat – big bold and heavy, and perfect with our beef fillet.
What’s your favourite bedroom at the Hotel and why?
Definitely Beechnut – it’s lovely a private summer house suite outside. This room has a lush colour scheme throughout, and also a fun fact for you … the Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington stayed in this room when he was house hunting in Norfolk my first year at the Mead!
If you could stay at any Hotel in the world, where would you go and why?
The MGM Grand – Las Vegas – I am hopefully still going there in June if the pandemic allows!
Is there a restaurant that you have heard about that you would love to visit? What is your favourite meal?
I’ve heard of Pamela’s in Great Yarmouth which friends have told me I have to try. A nice gamey starter, with a beef fillet to follow!
If you could start your career again but not go into hospitality, what would be your alternative career choice and why?
I was keen to join the armed forces a few years ago but unfortunately it fell through. Or my dream job would have been a golf coach :)