Hawksmoor: Small business lessons from a successful steak restaurant

By Jake Martin

2 min read

Steak restaurant Hawksmoor is a special place. Described as offering the “best steak in London” by The Times’ food critic Giles Coren, this meat-lover’s paradise has an army of devotees seemingly addicted to its organic, Yorkshire-bred beef.

A recent ‘soft launch’ event at its new West End branch attracted over 200,000 email  applications. That’s a lot of love.

Hawksmoor has also been listed as one of the Sunday Times’ Best Small Companies to work for, an honour that comes from the philosophy handed down by its owners, Will Beckett and Huw Gott.

While your business may not be a restaurant, the simple, common-sense philosophies of Hawksmoor can inspire any type of company to grow. Here are five rules that Will runs his steakhouse by.

Have a core aim

“Our aim is to be the best restaurant we possibly can, not to make money. But when you do things really well then money will follow.”

Work hard, be nice

“We’ve all worked in places in the restaurant industry where mental chefs will scream at you and throw plates in your general direction. We’ve also been at restaurants where everyone turns up late and hungover. Neither are productive.

When we interview people for jobs we firstly work out whether they’re nice. Then we put them on trial and see if they can work hard. That’s how a modern business should be run.”

Profit is essential

“Unless you make money, then the business won’t work. It’s not the point of Hawksmoor, but it’s like oxygen – you can’t live without it.”

It’s not about margins, it’s about cash

“A lot of restaurants run their businesses on percentages. So, they’ll buy a bottle of wine for £50 and try to sell it for £250 to follow their rules on margins. But we’d rather sell that bottle for £100, meaning we make £50 rather than having that bottle sat on shelf for years as it’s too expensive.”

Let staff be themselves

“We want people to be the same in the restaurant as they are out of it – that’s why we let them wear their own clothes at work. One of our senior staff told her father that she thought her interview with us had gone well as she’d been allowed to be herself. He said, ‘You’ll never get it now’. But we love people’s individuality here, it’s absolutely key to what we do.”

What do you think of the Hawksmoor philosophy? What’s the top rule you run your business by?
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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