Being a client in London where immigrants do most of the serving

September 14, 2008 — Leave a comment
Be gentle on your wallet and find the best quality of food for the smallest prices

Be gentle on your wallet and find the best quality of food for the smallest prices

As my best friend Koen The has moved from San Francisco to London, it’s a good reason for me to start to learn more about London. I’ve already told my sales to generate leads, so that I can start working on my pre-sales competence for the English. To do pre-sales is always challenging; selling a solution to people with new problems and new backgrounds. As my inbox is still empty with leads from London / UK, I’d better start learning how clients are treated here in London.

So where are the English waiters?
Is it my choice of food or is it just true that 80-90% of the serving in restaurants is done by immigrants? Sure I my choice for food is usually covered by chinese, korean, thai and italian, but international is also frequently on my favorite list. And even in the Borough market nearby London Bridge, where vegetables are sold even cheaper than in the Netherlands (5 avocados for 1 pound), I have been helped by immigrants. Probably I should go into a pub or fancy English restaurant to get a feel of some real English-style serving. But in generally, I have never seen a city with such a multi-cultural establishment, not even in Amsterdam.

I guess London needs immigrants, who usually have less issues with these ‘cheaper jobs’, to serve the rich bankers in London city. Who else can live here in the inner city where hundreds to thousands of pounds are asked for property rental prices … per week. But despite of the lack of English waiters and waitresses I guess learning how immigrants sell to the rich in London is not a bad example to learn from 😉

And for some real lessons in English hospitality, I’ll just take a cab. With the taxi’s it’s more the other way around, more native English speaking cab drivers than a funny accent. Of course here I’m puzzled again, as in other big cities across the globe the cab driver profession is more often taken by immigrants.

Friendly with a 12,5% service charge
Up until now I must acknowledge that most of the service that I have received is with a smile, of course with different accents to it. The smile here is not a really big smile like you have in the US, but rather a smile that covers a very hardworking person who really needs the money. Probably many of the immigrants here are working hard to fund their study or need to send money back to home. But in general I think they understand that they need to earn the 12,5% service charge. It’s definitely different from the Netherlands, where still too often I find myself wondering why I should even tip because the lack of a smile.

Enough people to service
Another thing that surprised me is the amount of people available to provide service. In restaurants I usually encounter the double amount of waiters and waitresses than I normally would expect to see in a Dutch restaurant. Is the average pay for a waitress that low? Or is it just like in the big US cities where the amount of customers can also produce the necessary amount of revenue and tips to pay for all these waiters?

It is true that you can find restaurants, bars and eateries in abundance here in London city. But then again I don’t think a lot of people have a 9-5 mentality here in London. Shops are open until late, bankers usually start before 9 and end after 6, as my friend Koen usually works about 10-11 hours before going home. But then again, bankers here should not complain as their bonusses can easily go up to hundreds of thousands and even millions.

London has never been more gentle on my wallet
Despite of the ‘expensive image’ of London, I have been been surprised in the past 2 weekends with prices for food that are easily lower than in the Amsterdam region:

  • China town – where you can get a good meal for less than 10-12 Pounds
  • A good Italian restaurant in Chelsea – where pasta plates did not easily exceed 10 Pounds
  • The English pus – where you get a good pint of beer for 2.5 Pounds
  • A good Turkish restaurant in Maryble – where we paid 80 pounds for a company of 4 for a full meal

Usually the bill of the hotel eventually degrades my London visits from an 8 to a 6 as prices for a 3-4 star hotel can easily go up to 150 – 200 pounds per night.  But now with free living in the Montagu Mansions, I will have more time (and money) to allow London to convince me that they’re a worth a 9 or even a 10.


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