The next instalment of our ‘Service Heroes’ blog looks back at the month of February, as we sat down with Paolo Altomonte to hear about what made February’s big romantic day particularly special on The Shard’s 31st floor. He also takes us through his career, what led him to the Aqua Shard restaurant, and what he thinks great service is really all about...
What’s your role at Aqua Shard?
My name is Paolo Altomonte and I am General Manager at the Aqua Shard restaurant.
How did your career begin and what lead you to your current role at The Shard?
During my summer holidays in Italy, I worked as a waiter, and then when I was studying for my college degree, I started working in a bar. After I completed my studies, I really missed the hospitality scene. As I loved food and beverage, I decided to go back into the industry and make it my career. I’ve also always wanted to travel and so came to London looking for jobs – ten years later, I’ve made it as a General Manager for one of the city’s most-loved restaurants and in western Europe’s tallest building!
How do you deliver excellent service at Aqua Shard? What’s the restaurant’s service ‘ethos’?
Our ethos is ‘the guest is king’. To deliver the best service, I always guide my team to ask themselves: ‘What would I like if I were dining?’. By making this personal connection to the situation, I think it ensures that our whole team provides a personalised experience to each and every guest.
What makes Valentine’s Day at Aqua Shard special?
We are very lucky to have uninterrupted panoramic views of London’s infamous skyline, which makes even the simplest cup of tea romantic. Therefore, we need to make sure that our food is always on par with the view, and our service is attentive but not intrusive. This Valentine’s Day, we added the finishing touch by offering a box of chocolates and a single red rose to surprise our couples, and we let them decide who took which gift home.
What does good service mean to you?
I like to feel cared for, and when entering the establishment to instantly feel at home and relaxed. Personally, I think the best service comes when you do not have to ask for anything.
What’s your favourite ‘service story’?
On my birthday last year, my partner and I went to a restaurant in Clapham called Trinity, and the service was impeccable. At the end of the evening, a member of the team handed me a handwritten birthday card with ‘Happy Birthday’ in several different languages; one from each member of staff that night. It’s little touches like this that are inexpensive but have the greatest effect.