Several years ago, Clement Demarais decided to give a helping hand to an Australian couple to develop their Key Restaurant Maleny concept, taking the General Restaurant Manager’s job. The main sticking point was how to promote a restaurant serving Western African cuisine, in a remote and highly conservative region of Australia. Maleny is a picturesque little town about 90 km north of Brisbane in Queensland.
Three years later, this Vatel Nimes 2005 alumnus is proud to have met this challenge. With weddings, conferences, product launches, original lunches or dinners, the Key Restaurant has now become a benchmark, not only in Maleny, but also on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane. He’ll tell us about this.
How did you get the job you are currently doing?
I just sent my resume into the right place. I had a short job interview with the company managers who called me back the next day for a trial period. Two weeks later, I was hired.
What does the job of a General Manager of a restaurant entail? What are your daily activities?
This job varies a lot depending on the activity and demand. You have to be flexible and be able to work in three skill sets:
- Planning revenues and profits by developing the “Key Restaurant Maleny” brand name;
- Creating, developing and promoting the gateway for our customers: the restaurant’s internet site;
- Setting up appropriate and coherent advertising campaigns;
- Managing and updating social utility sites;
- Negotiating prices with neighboring hotels.
Accounting and performance of the restaurant
- Keeping the books on our software package;
- Reconciliation of accounts;
- Managing accounts and relationships with suppliers;
- Analysis, estimations and performances of our company.
- Insight and competitive analysis;
- Definition of financial goals, checking and monitoring them;
- Development and roll-out of marketing initiatives to meet new goals;
- Customer satisfaction monitoring;
- Managing the kitchen and restaurant staff;
- Setting up a continuing education for the personnel.
My daily tasks really differ from one day to another.
In just three years we were able to satisfy our customers and turn them into repeat customers. This is because of all the events that we offer: weddings, conferences, product launches or simple the Key Restaurant experience for lunch or dinner. We have now become a benchmark not only in Maleny, but also on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane.
What are the Australian opportunities like in the hospitality industry? And in Brisbane?
There are a lot of career opportunities in Australia even though you can’t forget the difficulties linked to immigration and getting a visa to work. From what I’ve seen when traveling in the country, I think that large cities have more work-related opportunities.
I do know, however, Vateliens who worked in the Outback. Australia is a fabulous experience and a unique adventure. There’s really something for everyone here!
And when you decided to attend Vatel, did you find what you were looking for?
I certainly did. When I was a teenager, I traveled to several French regions, as well as European and North American cities. These trips broadened my horizons and made me want to enroll in an international school. I’ve got great memories of my days at school and the friends I made at Vatel.
Where did you do your internships and what did you do? What lessons did you learn from them?
I did my first internship in the La Fuste Hotel and Restaurant in Manosque, France, where I was born. Daniel Jourdan, the Chef, was 66 at that time. He was still working proudly in his kitchens, and displayed his degrees as well as his Michelin Guidebook star. I had the opportunity of working with Vincent Thebault, a Vatelien.
Vincent was an excellent internship supervisor, and brought me support, expertise and knowledge about the jobs of Head Waiter and Wine Steward. At Vatel you not only learn to do things, but you also learn how to teach people to do these things!
Then I worked at the Hotel Le Toiny, a Relais et Chateau group hotel in Saint Barthelme Island in the Caribbean Sea, and I did my final internship at the Evian Royal Resort, as the Groups, Conferences and Incentives Coordinator, managed by Stephane Hanriot.
What do you see for yourself in the future?
For the moment, I’m open to new opportunities any place in the world.