Charlotte Keohane: Duty manager at The Book Club

charlotte keohane

Back in the day, Charlotte thought she wanted to pursue a career in prop making, little did she know, that her short stint behind the bar would leave her with a firm future in hospitality industry and working her way up to duty manager in the East London bar, The Book Club.

In her role she manages a team of over 20 people and oversees everything from setting up the sell out events in the basement venue, organising deliveries and helping design the new cocktail menu. The Book Club is part of The Mothership Group which also owns the Queen of Hoxton on Curtain Road, and Stories on Broadway Market and is famous for bringing together cultural events with some of the best food and drink in East London, including the customer favourite – pesto scrambled eggs, brioche toast, Parma ham and roasted cherry tomatoes.

“I love my job,” says Charlotte, “For me it’s perfect – I love the buzz of working here, I love knowing that you’re making people happy everyday and also I love alcohol and learning all about booze which really helps!”

Charlotte started in the industry behind the bar at Stories on Broadway Market. She had no previous experience having never worked in a pub or a bar before. “Someone asked me to put a vodka and tonic on the till and I didn’t even know which the vodka was!” she says. Despite her lack of knowledge of spirits, with help and training she soon moved through the ranks, taking on extra responsibility and becoming supervisor. Shortly afterwards she took up a trainee manager role at Stories.

Then an opening for a Duty Manager role came up in another venue owned by the group, The Book Club and within the last year Charlotte has seen her responsibilities grow as she develops into the role.

“We’re like a strange dysfunctional family here at the Book Club and we all get on so well. Everyone comes into work with a smile on their face and enjoys what they do, which is great,” she says.

For Charlotte initially her family and friends were sceptical when she told them she was working in a bar. “They were concerned at first and a lot of people said to me: ‘oh so you’re just working in a bar?’ – and I had to explain to them that yes I work in a bar but I’m managing a team of 20 people, it’s not just about pouring a pint.

“It does frustrate me when people have that snobbery around what you do. I went to New York and over in America working in the pub or bar sector is seen as a desirable career and people take so much pride in what they do, it’s like an art form. And then I come back here where people turn their noses up at it and it can be a bit depressing.”

However Charlotte says that once her parents saw how passionate she was about her job they soon changed their minds.

“They just want me to be happy and when they saw how much I love my job and how much I’m enjoying it, and also how much responsibility I have they have completely changed their minds. They also love the fact that I know all the best places to take them to drink in London! At Christmas they’re always getting me to mix them cocktails!” she adds.

Charlotte’s role is varied, one of her personal highlights was when she got the chance to design one of the cocktails for the new menu at the Book Club.

“Aoife our training manager normally has complete control over the cocktail menu, it’s her baby, but she was struggling to think of one and I came up with the recipe for the ‘Going Loco down in Acapulco’, (a mixture of tequila, chilli, Tabasco and cucumber), so seeing my cocktail up on the board is pretty cool.”

Cocktails

 

Charlotte also says that receiving positive feedback from customers is a particular highlight in her job.

“Recently we were really busy one weekend and the crowd at the bar was about eight deep, and after the shift a customer came up to me and told me how amazing my staff were, how happy and helpful they were despite being so busy and I felt like such a proud bar-mum! That’s why I do the job, it can be tiring and it is hard work but moments like that make it all worthwhile.”

Within the Mothership Group it’s clear that staff are given the opportunity to progress and move up the ranks, and it’s something that Charlotte thinks young people need to be made more aware of.

“Young people need to know that there’s an obvious ladder you can climb in the industry and you can climb it quickly if you work hard. There’s so many interesting sides to the industry and it’s easy to get a foot in the door if you’re polite, friendly and enthusiastic.”

For Charlotte, her ambition is to become General Manager of The Book Club and to keep progressing within The Mothership Group.

“If you’d told me 12 months ago I’d be duty manager of The Book Club in Shoreditch I would never had believed you, but it’s brilliant. I’ve learnt so much about myself and I really think I’ve found my niche.”

For more information on the Mothership Group please visit: http://mothershipgroup.com

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