Employer Feature - POLPO inploi Team | 18.07.2017
This week we met with the team at POLPO, the award-winning Venetian restaurant group. We spoke with Thea Hage, Assistant Manager at their Covent Garden site, to find out what it’s like to work for the POLPO family.
Leaving school in Denmark at the age of eighteen, Thea was looking for an opportunity to work abroad and try something new. Arriving in London, she walked from restaurant to restaurant, handing out CVs to find work. She eventually landed on her feet and quickly came to love London’s hospitality industry.
“I’m quite outgoing and I love talking to people, and I got paid for that - it was amazing. I’ve been told that waitressing is like having friends over for dinner. You want to make sure they enjoy themselves. Also you can see the effect of your actions straight away. It’s instant reward in this job. You can tell by looking at people's’ faces - people emote things straight away. I like that instinct of communicating things - this job is perfect for me.”
Thea moved from working in the kitchen to front of house, preferring the bustle of customer service and interaction. She also transitioned between venues as she got to know London, taking note of the places where she would like to apply to work.
“I’d been to POLPO a couple of times in London. I had family come to visit me from Denmark and they love Italian food. It appealed to me that POLPO had no uniform. I took them to POLPO in Notting Hill for dinner. And when I last went home my grandma had been making an album of my time in London, which is now 2.5 years, so it’s a pretty big album! But the last time I looked through it, she’d actually put it in there, and this was a year before I started working here.”
Thea joined the Front of House team at POLPO’s Chelsea restaurant, just off Sloane Square. Now just over a year on, she has worked across four of their sites, building her skill-set, her knowledge of the POLPO brand and progressing to the role of Front of House Supervisor.
“I think one of the main things for POLPO is that you care about POLPO. You have just got to have the passion and initiative itself. I think a lot of people who come to London come here for a challenge and to grow as a person, and there’s space for that here. They’re willing to teach you, anything you need to know to succeed, which I think is very rewarding, because it’s all about you growing as a person. I don’t think there’s a limit within this company, as long as you do your best.”
Founded in 2009 by Russell Norman (a teacher-turned-restaurateur), POLPO sets itself apart from the milieu of London Italian restaurants by being distinctly Venetian. Having previously helped to open The Ivy Club, J. Sheekey, Scott’s and other well-known establishments, Norman turned his attention to POLPO, wanting to create a traditional ‘bàcaro’-style restaurant; as often found on the back streets of Venice.
“Everything is so deliberate, which I really like. There’s so much passion behind it. They all really care about this company. There’s never really any doubt about why things are the way they are. They are always the POLPO way for a reason.”
In addition to great training opportunities, the staff at POLPO have access to other perks and benefits including, ‘massive staff parties’, discounts on POLPO food and drink, membership to Perkbox, access to tasting events across London, (most recently to Sipsmiths gin distillery and Beavertown’s beer brewery); as well as competitions for trips to visit suppliers in Italy. Whilst overseas, POLPO staff get to learn all about the craft production of the ingredients and beverages served in their restaurants. It’s an all-encompassing fun-fuelled education for those who love the food and beverage industry.
"There’s so much happening all the time. We’re all young people, we all want to have fun. You become a family. I think that’s a London thing as well. Not many of us have family here, so the people at work they do become your family. I find the busiest shifts, you have the most fun, you just feel your whole team assembling with you. Everybody just focuses, and you come back down after and it’s just amazing."
Finally, we asked Thea what advice she would give to someone thinking of applying to POLPO:
“Just do it. If you want to have a lot of fun, if you want to meet a lot of interesting people - we’re very open to you being who you want to be. Come in, have fun. It is about fun in the end. Understanding that sometimes you have to work hard, but you see the rewards of it. Hospitality is never going to be a bad thing. It is people skills, and no matter where you are or what you do, you need people skills. Do it, apply for it.”
Interested in working at POLPO? Take a look at their job openings by visiting the POLPO company page here.