David Selves on transforming ‘big screen pub’ to AA Rosette winning restaurant

Faversham Creek Hotel

David Selves started in business for himself over 40 years ago forming a brokerage, which still operates, arranging funding for property development. The business expanded into other areas and is now The Selves Group. Although separate from the group, he also owns two award-winning restaurants in Faversham, Kent; Phoenix Tavern and the Red Sails Restaurant.

The Red Sails Restaurant, which is part of the Faversham Creek Hotel (FCH), was purchased in 2014 and in partnership with his wife, Tracy, David has transformed it from a “lads big screen pub” to a beautiful bespoke boutique hotel and restaurant, which opened late 2014.

“Challenge always excites me. Despite being past retirement age my ideas, energy and drive are as strong as ever and it’s great that Tracy and I have been able to create the hotel and restaurant together. We are great believers in having personal contact with our guests and customers and we walk the restaurant to talk, or more accurately listen, to customers. That contact with guests is reinforced by Tracy who works at least five breakfast shifts each week and it is gratifying how much this is appreciated by guests,” says David.

In 2015 the Red Sails Restaurant, along with the Faversham Creek Hotel, received its first award; 4 AA Stars as a restaurant with rooms. Then, in April 2016, they received their first AA Rosette.

Here David shares their approach to hospitality and how receiving industry awards helps grow their business.

What is the philosophy behind your restaurants?

We treat our staff well and our staff treat our customers well. There is a poem by Wilferd A. Peterson based on the little things being the big things and that is the philosophy we work to. We welcome people as we would welcome them to our home, we provide quality food at sensible prices.

We encourage our chefs to be bold and create new dishes. Our food philosophy is great ingredients, local where possible, where the plate is the canvas and the chefs use their skills to create dishes of great texture and taste with exciting visual effect.

Faversham Creek Hotel 3

How do you create and deliver great hospitality?

You have to have the right people and they have to be willing to work hard. Now being almost 70 years old and still working as hard as any of them sets a standard! People must have passion and must be interested in our customers.

One reviewer complained on Trip Advisor about the “Odd Elderly Gentleman” who came to their table to talk to them and found it intrusive. I replied suitably and now people ask to see the “Odd Elderly Gentleman”. We took it a step further and have badging agreements with some brewers, so we have a range of “Odd Elderly Gentleman” beers in the pub!

What do you believe helped you to win 4 AA Stars and an AA Rosette?

A belief in quality and service, not settling for things that are mediocre and having pride in what we do.

What does winning this accolade mean to you and your team?

That all of our hard work and that of our staff is independently recognised. It makes us even more proud of our staff who receive public recognition for their passion and commitment.

Faversham Creek Hotel

What is your best advice for others looking to achieve these types of accolades?

Keep it simple. Decide what you want to achieve and plan how to do it. Don’t try to be too clever! Pay attention to detail and do what you say you will do.

Do you feel that awards help grow your business?

Without doubt, though there can be a downside. People think you are too good for them. Thankfully our approach to hospitality, the way we treat our staff and our support for the local community overcomes that barrier. People know us and that we are no different to them.

How did you and your team celebrate the accolade?

We had our local Member of Parliament plant a rose.

What’s next for your business?

Focus on achieving the next Rosette and extend FCH to have more bedrooms.

Photos courtesy of David Selves

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