Michael Patterson, the Cocktail Bar Manager at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, describes his job and reveal why a career with the Merchant is a great choice for ambitious job seekers looking for a career in Northern Ireland’s thriving hotel sector.
What do you do?
I manage all aspects of the Cocktail Bar at The Merchant Hotel and no two days are ever the same. However the main ambition at The Merchant Hotel is always the same, to provide an outstanding level of service in our magnificent surroundings and to surprise our guests with our product offering, especially our extensive range of spirits, wines and of course, our cocktails.
My role also includes organising events, liaising with the marketing team, staff training and development and creatively developing new products on offer.
Describe your career path?
I started off in the hospitality industry at the tender age of 15, bussing tables in a tapas bar. I continued to develop my career in Scotland, working for G1 and Fuller Thomson. I then moved back to Belfast to work as Assistant Bar Manager for JK Pubs within The Spaniard, before crossing Skipper Street and joining the team at The Merchant Hotel.
Outside of work life, I have a passion for food and drink and enjoy extending my knowledge on production and exploring new styles. This has involved many distillery visits and tastings on my travels.
Describe your typical day?
The hotel is a 24 hour operation and my role varies drastically depending on the time of day or day of the week. I can often be found overseeing the operation of the cocktail bar, ensuring the highest customer satisfaction and a top performance from my team. I also attend quite a few meetings; within my own department, to keep in touch with the other food and beverage outlets in the hotel and also with other departments such as HR and marketing.
My responsibilities include working to financial forecasts and meeting budget targets; recruitment; staff development and training; marketing our unique product and position within Belfast’s hospitality industry and offering our customers something different with events organised throughout the year. The role involved lots of juggling priorities but this keeps it interesting and rewarding!
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best part of my job has got to be the people. I have learnt a great deal in the past 4 years at The Merchant Hotel from my colleagues, managers and customers.
What’s the most challenging?
The Merchant Hotel has been a focal point in Belfast for luxury and unique experiences for many years now and The Cocktail Bar has played a strong part in this. It is important to keep it fresh with new products, seasonal twists and signature events to encourage new custom and to retain loyal customers.
What additional skills are needed in your role?
It is important to be able to work well under pressure and keep composure during busy periods. This extends to good organisational skills with the ability to manage workloads and prioritise tasks. Management skills are essential to develop a strong team and people skills are necessary to build rapport with colleagues as well as customers.
What advice would you give somebody applying for a job with your company?
The Merchant Hotel is part of Beannchor, one of the largest independent owner/operators of licensed premises in Ireland. This presents many opportunities for training and development in a hospitality focused career. My job has given me the chance to train alongside high-profile industry professionals and learn from the wider Beannchor team. Working with the company has also allowed me to progress in my career and I look forward to new challenges as Food and Beverage Manager in our new hotel, Bullitt.