Q&A: Don Buckley, The Castle Hotel, Macroom

This year’s 9th annual Knorr Great Cavery Awards saw Castle Hotel, in Macroom, Co. Cork, run away with the award for Knorr Great Carvery Hotel of the Year Island of Ireland 2018.

Overall winners from both the hotel and pub categories received; 200,000 worth of UFS Chef Reward Points, a state of the art Wüsthof 7 Piece Silverpoint Roll Set, a commemorative plaque and framed certificate and a chef jacket.

We spoke to The Castle Hotel proprietor Don Buckley about what the awards mean to him and the business, carveries in Ireland, and what advice he would give to others in order to create a brilliant customer experience.

Food for Thought – FFT.ie: How does it feel and what do you believe it will mean for your business and your people to have won this prestigious award?
Don Buckley: It’s a tremendous boost both for business and our staff, as well as our long standing loyal customers. These awards are so well recognised and are highly sought after by all our industry professionals. The title we have achieved is a testament to our continuous hard work and will only spur us on to continue to strive to provide great quality carvery offerings.

Why does your business incorporate a carvery element? Is it a difficult thing to achieve amongst your other business units?
The carvery element has been a long standing success and a very prominent part of our business. It is a great addition to our already busy a la carte bar food menu, award winning B’s Restaurant and bustling Next Door Café.

Does the Irish carvery get the prominence it deserves? How does this award help?
In our catchment market, the Irish carvery is very prominent and this is one of the reasons The Great Carvery Competition means so much to us. The fact that it acknowledges Ireland and Northern Ireland’s love of carvery, recognising the very best pub and hotel carveries that the island has to offer, will only strengthen our business as a whole.

How many staff operate the carvery, how many service periods per week and, which are the busiest?
Between 4 and 5 staff operate our carvery, depending on the level of business, with other team members involved in the preparation and between three and five staff on the floor tending to customer’s requirements. The carvery is open from 12.30pm to 3pm, seven days a week, with Tuesday, Market Day in Macroom, being very busy, in addition to the weekend.

How does one balance profitability with customer service and the quality of the offering?
Getting the balance right is like our secret ingredient! An excellent and award winning food offering must have in its mix, the ingredient of superb service. Fortunately, this is something the wonderful staff at The Castle Hotel serve in abundance.

If you had one bit of advice for others that would help them reach the heights your business is at, what would that be & why?
“Hard work pays off!” It’s great to receive this recognition for the hard work of our dedicated team. Delivering fresh, delicious food, using local produce is our ethos and we’re delighted to be rewarded for fulfilling that promise.


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