8 Floors up and a world away from modern day stresses on the city streets below, you enter a venue that seems like you are on top of the world… or the top of Adelaide more to the point. We are talking about one of our favourites, the gorgeous 2KW Bar and Restaurant.
With stunning views, a restaurant serving delicious meals, and meticulous attention to detail, design, and style you know you are entering somewhere special when you step in to this venue. One of the key players behind the scenes who keeps it all running smoothly is long time Hospitality professional Simon Adami, 2KW’s General Manager. Simon has been with the venue since inception four years ago and we sat down with Simon to talk to him about his time in the industry.
With 28 years in the industry Simon can be classed as a true career Hospitality professional. Originally getting into the industry for the social aspect and glamour of the industry, he’s been lucky enough to stay in the industry by having the right attributes and skill that propelled him quickly in to management roles early in his career, and provided a clearer career path than some in the industry.
Simon has been lucky to learn a lot of what he knows on the job, working in the early stages of his career in Sydney with the highly successful NSW Hospitality Group Merivale, boasting a staggering 65 + venues. He learnt a lot in his time with them.
“Mr John was a really influential guy who had many unusual insights”, insights that didn't make sense to Simon until later in his career, and now help him manage his team at 2KW.
By age 23 he was General Manager of one of the venues of the Merivale group. As is fairly common practice in hospitality, he was thrown in the deep end and learnt on the job. This experience is something he keeps in mind now when managing his staff.
“We put a lot of pressure on young kids to perform, and a lot of them think they are more experienced than they are at a young age”, something that Simon now understands having been down that path himself.
One of his greatest career achievements thus far has been in achieving an ownership stake in 2KW. Being a venue owner is the pinnacle aspiration for many long-time hospitality professionals, and Simon enjoys a great sense of accomplishment in having a great venue which wins awards that reward the hard work that goes in to running a successful venue day to day.
One of the positive changes in the industry is that hospitality is now seen as a legitimate career path, and there is “a lot more legitimacy in what the industry is all about now”. However, there is sometimes a tendency for people to see the glamorised side of the industry on TV, and feel they know how to do it all with limited experience.
Simon also sees the introduction of social media as an influencing factor on the industry as a double edge sword. On one hand, it’s a great tool to promote a venue and the industry;
“People are being a lot more adventurous through what they see on TV and social media to try new things” but this also makes customers sometimes quick to jump to conclusions about a venue without the full story, which makes it harder to run a venue.
The expectation is “You’ve got to be on song 24/7, and the reality is that it’s very challenging to constantly be on point”. It’s a big expectation for anyone running a venue in this industry, or any business for that matter, as you can be judged much more harshly in the online world.
Simon states that staffing and competition are some of the key biggest challenges facing modern hospitality venues in the current climate.
“The competition is greater, which is both positive and negative, and finding good staff is harder than ever before, with a smaller pool of staff, and more venues competing for those staff proving a constant pressure”
Simon firmly states that consistency is the key factor to a venue staying at the top of the game long-term. Most of the staff at 2KW are motivated by the success of what the venue is, and what it has become. Simon feels that to motivate his staff and to eliminate the “poaching” of good staff that goes on in the industry, they try and offer them things they wouldn’t necessary get at other venues such as targeted training, and staff days out for team building and to show their appreciation to their employees.
“There’s a fine line between managing burn out, managing a business that doesn’t go bust, and managing motivation of your employees, it’s a fine balance.”
Simon feels that what motivates him at his stage in his career, and what motivates an 18-year-old are two very different things, and this is something he actively takes in to consideration when looking to motivate his employees. “It’s often management on the run when trying to find the right balance managing staff in a busy venue. The hours of the day that they work is potentially one of the biggest challenges we face from a staff management perspective.”
“Some days you learn from your staff”. A great light bulb moment happened for Simon one day when chatting to one of his staff that changed his perception. This staff member stated that he really cared about his job and what people think of his service, which made Simon realise an important trait of those that do well in the industry.
“If you care, everything else falls in to place. With my staff, I teach them that if they care, I don’t need to teach them much else as caring is critical to succeed in the industry. If you walk past a dirty table and you care, you will clean it up, if you don’t, you won’t.”
Caring is something they actively recruit for at 2KW. Simon strongly believes that “I can teach skill, but I can’t teach personality”. Now, later in his career and with a young 4 year old at home, he has changed his perspective in how he manages things, handles life, and mentors his employees.
Being involved with the Merivale Group from its infancy, Simon has watched their growth with a keen eye, and is pretty impressed. He looks up to the Merivale Group and the people in the industry who have put it all on the line, doing the hard yards to make it work. “It can be a very draining industry, and those that give it a real go are great examples in this industry”.
One piece of advice to those getting in to the industry is to “Ensure you have some type of balance. Ensure you have something for you, whatever that may be”.
Simon, on managing 2KW in to the future, says that they are always trying to stay ahead of the curve. “The curve is tricky and it’s getting harder and harder to stay ahead of it”.
2KW will continue to provide a great experience and work to always exceed the expectations of what our customers want and expect when they come in to the venue. “We will continually work to have innovative food ideas, creative cocktails, and the offer the best of the best team going around”.
Head over the 2KW for a beautiful cocktail or two and admire the view.