An open letter from Andy at the Koh Summer Awards 2017
On Monday 3rd June, we closed down all of our restaurants to give our 312-strong team of staff a well deserved night off.
We shipped our staff from as far as Bath, Bristol and Southsea, all down to The Hilton in Bournemouth for an evening to celebrate the incredible talent nurtured within our restaurants. From our kitchen porters to head chefs; waiting staff to bartenders; from maintenance to our Training, Assistant and General Managers.
One thing is for sure, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the amazing people behind Koh, including our small but growing Head Office Team.
Our WINNERS on the night included:
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR – KOH NOI LILLIPUT
MANAGER OF THE YEAR – ALEXIA KAZIANI (KOH ROMSEY & SOUTHSEA)
KOHIAN OF THE YEAR – SHAWN MALLETT (KOH LOUNGE & BOURNEMOUTH)
CHEF OF THE YEAR – PRAMUAL SUNA (KOH RINGWOOD)
BARTENDER OF THE YEAR – ALEX WEST (KOH LOUNGE)
WAITING STAFF OF THE YEAR – SHARON BROOK (KOH BOURNEMOUTH)
THE COMPLETE DINING EXPERIENCE AWARD – JOANNA TELMO (KOH ROMSEY)
TEAM OF THE YEAR – KOH NOI WINCHESTER
SWISS ARMY KNIFE AWARD – DAVID COOPER (KITCHEN PORTER & ALL ROUNDER, KOH NOI WINCHESTER)
ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR – HARRY KIMBERLEY for getting a girlfriend (amongst other things); (KOH NOI CHRISTCHURCH)
ROOKIE MOMENT – SAM STAGG for setting the bar on fire (KOH SOUTHSEA)
NEWBIE OF THE YEAR – BRAD COWELL (KOH BRISTOL)
COMEBACK KIDS – KOH RINGWOOD
DIVA AWARD – VINCENT BOONSODAKORN (KOH NOI LILLIPUT)
WALLFLOWER AWARD – VICKY GALACHE-BROWN (KOH BATH)
SOCIAL MEDIA GURU – RYAN LEWIS (KOH BOSCOMBE)
OUR UNSUNG HERO – JON KENNY (MAINTENANCE/WAREHOUSE MANAGER)
To kick the night off, our CEO and Founder, Andy, stood to welcome us all to the Koh Summer Awards with a few words. As all of us were not able to make it and as an insight into our Koh Family, here is his speech, in an open letter to the Koh Team, present, past and future…
“As many of you know, our Koh story began in Boscombe, seven years ago with a small team of just 10. Yet today, I stand here in front of over 250 of you, with 13 restaurants and over 300 amazing employees!
It’s truly humbling to think that what started out as a small restaurant, built in a recession, has now so quickly grown into one hell of a big family as we transition into a brand that is becoming as recognisable as some of the bigger London restaurant groups.
We’re here tonight to celebrate you – our company’s greatest asset. Whilst most of you here today won’t remember setting up those first two restaurants – although I reckon there’s still about 20 of you in this room who can – from the moment you joined us, you have been an integral part of our company’s mission and it feels amazing to have you all on board with your undeniable energy and passion. And whilst I have most of you here tonight on this incredible occasion, I just want to say a big “thank you” and a heart-felt “well done” to every single one of you.
As we’ve grown, you may not get to see me as often as I would like, but I’m around all hours, still drinking copious amounts of coffee and when I’m not on my phone or laptop, you can find me playing Cars or Paw Patrol with my two-year-old son.
We are so very proud of our family of Kohians. An ever-growing group of like-minded eccentrics, where lifelong friendships are made. We hope that, whether you have joined us seven years ago or last week, you’ll have been welcomed in and feel as though you’re a part of something truly great.
Our customers continue to come back time and time again because of your individual contributions and because of what we deliver together and hopefully, you’ll agree that we‘ve retained that founding principle: “that our people are at the very heart of our business.”
It’s great to be able to bring you all together and celebrate what we have all achieved over the last 18 months…. Most probably the biggest news – together with Sophie, Paul and the Head Office Team, we have completed a Management Buyout, where we said goodbye to my original two partners and we are now very proud to be backed by on one of the best equity firms in the UK. A firm who were also behind the growth of Café Nero, Games Workshop and Krispy Kreme. It’s safe to say that the company is in very good hands and it’s now time to concentrate on what we do best and to become the very, very best in the industry!
Restaurant-wise, we’ve opened Romsey and have been very lucky to welcome the additions of Alexia, Alex, James and their team; Winchester with Lora, Luke and their team; Salisbury with Ash, Dave and team and; In Lymington, with Rhea comes a new Assistant Manager, Jordon and their team there. We also bolstered Head Office with Paul our new Chief Financial Officer, Emma and Lisa in finance and Jade, our new Marketing Guru!
Tonight, is our third Koh Awards. It’s the perfect time to recognise your achievements, individually, collectively and to recognise the fantastic jobs that you all do. Whether you’re:
- A chef like Modi in Bournemouth, who will quietly re-open the kitchen on a busy daytime at 3.30 to cook that extra order;
- Or a KP like Angelo in Bath, keeping every waiter with clean dishes whilst serenading them with his somewhat wacky choice of music;
- Or a waitress like Ellen Barber in Ringwood, on the floor serving up the very best in CDE;
- Or a characterful bartender like James in Bristol, concocting consistently awesome cocktails;
- It also includes our long-time Kohians like Chris Burge & Chris Snow, who have risen through the ranks and always deliver;
- And not to mention our new managers like Georgie in Christchurch, who jump straight in, to lead from the front;
- Its Pierre, Anda and Richard in our dedicated Operations Team, backing everyone up, every step of the way; or in the Head office, where the team are tirelessly working behind the scenes to make sure that the company keeps on ticking.
Every job in the company is important and every job makes the company what it is. Our goal is to be “consistently great” to our customers and to create the best and fairest working environment we can for all our staff. We don’t get it right every time, but we ALL try bloody hard to!
The market has been incredibly challenging across the past 18 months, for the company, but more so for the industry as a whole.Tonight, we celebrate our success over adversity in a moment of financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty, which undoubtedly will have an effect on all of us. I, however, can stand here now and say that: whatever comes our way and whatever problems any of you personally face, this company and I will be there for you, in whatever way we can.
Koh has developed a great name for itself and I’m so proud of the immense positivity around the brand. But it’s also important to remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn every single day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations. People want to know that IF they spend their money, they are going to enjoy it – so let us continue to make sure that Koh is the place that embodies the ethos that everyone knows us for. Koh is always “consistently great” and always their first port of call.
With new weapons in our arsenal like our new website and online bookings and a full complement of fantastic staff, we couldn’t be better set for whatever headwinds come our way.
My confidence in our company, and in all of you sat before me, has never been greater. We have weathered several different types of storms over the years, but our brand has never been stronger and we have never been more together. Yes, it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be serious fun!!”
Andy Lennox, Proud CEO & Founder, The Koh Group.