Letters from Home

Treading Water at the Warrington

God, it’s gorgeous right now in Maida Vale… I just glanced down Clifton Gardens one afternoon and, suddenly, every tree is in leaf and the air is full of the smell of hyacinths in bloom.

Ahhh, spring… a time for freshness, renewal, of kicking open doors, shaking out rugs, polishing windowpanes, letting in the light.

Meanwhile back at the roundabout … Ramsay Holdings’ poor, ignored Warrington, with the same beer-soaked carpet. The same dilapitated picnic tables. The same chained-up restaurant, windows tarped over. The sad dart board with its stuffing oozing out.

An odd sort of time warp that is draining the poor life out of Miss Thing right now. Increased drink and snack prices; a revolving door of trial staff members; a string of formerly barred customers and stragglers from the closed Truscott Arms breaking glasses and raising the volume and aggression level; and the latest round of confused Ben’s Thai customers, still lost.

It’s true, I know, that the execution of change — and all great ideas — never happens quickly. Impatience is the primary cause of stunted growth, I believe. There is something to be said, however, for attending to passion and feeding a flame. Once the locals were mildly convinced (and it did take some time and genuine enthusiam on our part) that although John Brandon could never be replaced, the Warrington would have a good life ahead, it was time to strike. Opening in April or May would have done that.

Now, as we Ramsay minions stare openly into the face of No-Plan-Land, I can begin to feel myself — and my colleagues — tiring, losing hope. We were in for the long haul, but with little support from the head office and the man himself, I can see us all starting to sink from exhaustion.

When one customer last night asked about the delay in the restaurant opening, I repeated, again for the thousandth time, with a worn but hopeful smile, the story of planning permission and listed building status. “We hope it’ll be ready by the end of the summer.”

“So,” he said, grinning gleefully, “looks like your boss didn’t plan things too well.”

I didn’t respond. My plastered on smile didn’t move. I just shrugged. I couldn’t help myself. Was it true? Probably.

He turned to his friends and said, “You hear that guys? Gordon Ramsay’s %ucked it up! Haha!”

I would have argued. I always do. But we were swamped and understaffed, chasing ourselves coming and going. When we weren’t explaining where Ben’s Thai had gone, we were schpeeling about where the new restaurant (opening in April!) had gone, or where Martin had gone. Soon we’d be explaining about Justin, too.

I left it at that and didn’t worry. My boss is a divisive character. You can’t convince everyone you meet to like Man United, the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys.

I’ll go back to treading water better, on Sunday evening. For now, I’m going to barbeque with my friend’s in the sun, in Maida Vale. And if anyone asks me anything about the Warrington, my response will be: “Get me another drink, will you?”