Starting Up with Shaun Dickens @ The Boathouse, Henley
It’s nice to finally be able to write a few lines about the restaurant without it being flooded!
Like a number of businesses on the river we’ve endured our fair share of challenges but we’re back open and really proud of how we turned a really bad situation into a shiny new restaurant.
With the redesign we feel we have created a restaurant that really fits what we represent and who we are.
With a new glass frontage, we’ve brought the restaurant closer to the river and the view is even better.
Obviously this is great now but perhaps a little nerve wracking if it starts to rain as we will have front row seats watching the water rise.
Since my last blog, the regatta came to town which brought a certain amount of mayhem. It was great fun and the town had the excitement of Cheltenham, Ascot and Wimbledon all rolled into one for an entire week. I’ve never seen it so busy and it was obviously great for us as we enjoyed our best week ever. That’s not to say that it wasn’t an incredibly tough week for all of the staff with early starts and late finishes.
A terrific characteristic that runs throughout the team is that even in the midst of long and tiring days we all have fun. We welcomed guests for champagne breakfasts from 9am and bade farewell to others well after midnight which was a real test of our stamina. The reward was some very well-deserved jugs of Pimms.
For many restaurants with a relatively small team, one of the biggest issues is always staff. We have a great team but for one reason or another it seems inevitable to find ourselves with a shortage of good people from time to time.
This seems to be a common trend with a lot of establishments so we have decided to be creative and try and ‘grow our own’.
Perhaps not the most eloquent of phrases and I can assure you that no staff will be placed in pots!
Instead, we are currently looking to create an apprenticeship scheme for chefs and waiters. We believe that if we can teach the right skills at a young age we can help develop our future staff and offer an exciting future to your people. It will inevitably be a bit more work for the business in the short term but we believe that we will reap the rewards in the future. With all the great weather we have been enjoying we have been seeing some fantastic ingredients coming in the back door.
A local farm, The Patch, has started to really see all their hard work come together and the fruit, veg and edible flowers we buy from them is truly incredible.
We’re dedicated to using local produce wherever possible and during the floods, when the restaurant was flooded, our team went to the farm for a couple of days to help with the planting. It’s great to know that we played a small part in creating the ingredients that form the basis of our dishes.
Long may the summer days last although I fear that an autumnal twist to the menu sadly isn’t that far away?
The Boathouse, Station Road, Henley-on-Thames. Call 01491 577937 or email enquiries@shaun dickens.co.uk
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