Advertorial Interview: Kerry Jones of the Cardinals Hatt talks Christmas challenges and party planning

The function manager of the Cardinals Hatt, in Saltash, talks to us about preparing for the festive season and what's is store for the venue this Christmas


Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I started at the Cardinals Hatt as the restaurant manager about a year ago. I’ve always loved the creativity required to develop a new menu and saw lots of opportunity at the restaurant for event-themed dining occasions I have a real passion for home-cooked, quality food. Underneath the new general manager, Adrian Lazarus, I was given the opportunity to combine my organisational skills and love of food to become the venue’s function manager.

What does your job involve during the Christmas period?

During the festive season, my day starts with a meeting with the chef and general manager to make sure our menus are in order. I’ll then make sure our venue looks beautiful, by adding any decorations and setting the tables. I finalise the details of any parties with my team planner, which includes checking the guest list, number of guests and any special requirements. If there is a function on that day, I’ll be there for the duration to ensure it runs smoothly.

What are the biggest challenges you face at Christmas?

Discussing individual requirements – it’s amazing what people now ask for! It’s also about making sure we have the right team in place during each event. Chasing payments can be really time consuming.

What is the secret to planning the perfect celebration?

For me, it’s vital to be organised, but I also like to get to know the guests. I also need to double-check orders, communicate with the chef and the team, and be prepared for anything that can happen!

What was the best Christmas celebration you organised?

It was a local company Christmas party last year, and it was our biggest event. There were over 100 guests and it was so much fun. In fact, it went so well, they have re booked with us again this year.

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Where do you seek guidance and advice?

I have regular meetings with my general manager to discuss bookings and upcoming events. I also speak to other hotel function managers in the local area, after an event, to find out how they have approached the event season. It’s also great to learn and share experiences with the wider Wickwar Wessex business. We have 18 venues across the South West, so I’ll often engage with other general managers and event organisers. When I am not in the middle of event season, I try to attend trade shows and fairs, so I can scope out any new opportunities or ideas.

What events have you got on the cards for this Christmas?

I expect our festive three-course dinner will be the most popular, as it’s really great value at £19.95 per person. We will be opening on Christmas day for the first time this year, so that should be exciting. I’ve helped with the creation of the five-course Christmas Day menu. It’ll be great to see this come alive. We are also hosting a Festive Friday Night party with fizz and a DJ. Our festive finale will be a big New Year’s Eve party, featuring a hot buffet, fizz on arrival and live music from an amazing local band, Whiskey Falls. I’m expecting our venue to be packed on that night.

What does your space offer for guests?

Our two function suites can be combined to accommodate up to 300 guests. In addition to this, we have a selection of chalet-style hotel suites, a recently refurbished bar area, large rustic restaurant, ample free parking and Wi-Fi, making us the perfect venue to host guests.

How do your Christmas celebrations set you apart?

We’ve crafted the most delicious Christmas menus on offer, using seasonal and quality produce. We are offering excellent value for money, for local businesses looking to take the stress out of the festive season. Our team makes us stand out from the crowd. Everyone who works for Cardinals Hatt buys into the success of the business. Our team are like a big happy family and we come together to give customers the best service and experience possible. The passion, experience and teamwork we have on offer, is something that money can’t buy!

What is your favourite thing to do at Christmas?

Eat, drink and be merry, but only once all our guests have been looked after, of course…

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