Peter Avis has a wonderful life story that captivates and inspires people. Thoroughly engaging and a natural speaker audiences immediately warm to his story that all can relate to and be motivated by.
Since 2000 Peter has been the Restaurant Manager at the prestigious Babylon Restaurant, at The Kensington Roof Gardens in London. During this period he has worked directly for Virgin Group Chief, Sir Richard Branson. In 2009 Peter won the highly coveted UK Restaurant Manager of the Year Award and a prestigious Catey Award for Manager of the Year in 2014.
What Peter has achieved and how he has done it make for a wonderful example to everyone of how hard work, humility and perseverance eventually reward those who put in effort. Peter has jumped through some extraordinary hoops on his way to his present day success.
Peter Avis describes himself as a dyslexic lad from a council estate in Liverpool. Having left school in Liverpool at the age of 16 with fewer than a handful of GCSEs to his name, he was unclear which direction his career was going to take until, aged 18, his sister, then working as a model in Miami invited him to visit for two weeks and he stayed for four years.
Peter’s first job in Miami was as a dishwasher. “I loved the job,” says Peter. “I went in every day knowing that each and every dish I washed was going to be done to the best of my ability.” With such an attitude it was hardly surprising that within a couple of months he had been spotted by the owner and was asked to help out as a commis waiter.
Extraordinarily, after just one service on the floor, Peter never returned to the kitchen. His boss Nick had been so impressed with the way he handled the customers that he decided to rid Peter of his aprons for ever. “Your people skills are fantastic,” praised Nick. “Keep at it and you will get to the top of your game.” The rest, as they say, is history.
In the intervening years Peter has been head waiter at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, where the importance of training, communication, service, consistency and grooming were instilled in him; a waiter at the Royal Garden Hotel, London, where his general manager spotted his burning ambition and put him on a trainee manager course; and assistant manager at a private restaurant in Knightsbridge, London.
In 2001 Peter was approached to join the opening team of Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens in Kensington part of Virgins portfolio. His first job was as the restaurant supervisor. He became restaurant manager in 2006. In 2008 the restaurant scooped the Best London Restaurant award at the Visit London Awards. Peter and he stresses his team have taken the restaurant to the respected position it enjoys today. In 2009 he was crowned UK Restaurant Manager of the Year.
Teamwork, Customer Service & Responsibility
“Never be complacent,” says Peter. “Always be ahead of the game and never lose your passion for whatever it is you choose to do.” Peter also believes that it is a manager’s responsibility to instil passion into his or her team to get everyone working to their very best.
“Over the years I have observed how not to manage people,” says Peter. Everyday the staff not only all come together for two half-hour “chat” sessions, but they also have daily “family meals together,” as Peter puts it. Not only does this ensure that everyone is well fed and consequently able to do their jobs better, but everyone knows each other, cares about their colleagues and works enthusiastically as a team. It also means, of course, that front of house knows about the food on the menu and can discuss it knowledgeably with customers.
Peter insures his assistant managers and team are very aware of the financial targets his restaurant needs to achieve. He believes making the team part of the business increases the motivation and aspirations of both the staff and the business; he does this by including all staff members in incentive programmes.
“Like me, Peter believes it is very important in a business to take a keen interest in the people who work for them. Their happiness reflects on their performance as well as on the pervading mood of the business. Peter always goes that extra mile with his team and guests, and truly loves what he does, and that shows.” – Sir Richard Branson
He insures his team give back to others less fortunate than themselves. Four times a year Peter invites a group of young people from Kids charity to Babylon to spend the day at the making cocktails and showing them that they to could have a good successful career in hospitality.
Peter’s team donate £1.00 from every red edition cocktail sold to help young people in Africa suffering from HIV and AIDS to get access to medications. In 2002 he founded an event at the Roof Gardens with the Elton John AIDS foundation called Revival where his whole team work for free including the chefs and all the food and wine is donated by his contacts. In the first year this event had 40 guests and made £2,500 last year the event was hosted by Alan Carr and raised £85,000.
Peter firmly believes that if you have passion and really care then you can make a difference. Peter and his team have raised close to £1,000.000 to help this fight against HIV and AIDS, and at the same time he as retained the majority of his team at Babylon!
He believes it is his simple business strategies like these which have taken his restaurant from making less than half a million pounds in the first year of trading to the multi pound award winning business it is today.
Peter is passionate about raising people’s awareness of the importance of front of house staff in his industry. He says “I also want to inspire people in the industry and, of course keep developing Babylon. I’m always on the lookout for new concepts.”
Richard Branson is highly supportive and complimentary of his employee whom he has worked with for the past 14 years. In 2014 Peter was the recipient of the Richard Branson Special Award for Services to the Community.
Peter is a true shining example of the basic ethic hard work really does pay of. His mother always told him that everyone has ten fingers and ten toes! it need not be frightening and that everyone should have the confidence to aspire to whatever level they may choose.
“I come from one of the poorest areas in Liverpool and I now work in one of the capital’s best restaurants. Never say never!”
Keynote – ‘The Man Behind The Crown’
Peter Avis’s story is very well told and one that all audiences can easily relate to. It appeals to anyone working in a sales, customer service, retail, hospitality and more. His message of simply getting on with it and being rewarded on the way can applies to everybody.
Peter is a highly trained to work with people and his presentation skills and confidence on stage reflect this. He inspires all types of audiences from young people to old showing them that anything is possible.
In addition to speaking Peter is also a highly competent and suitable Event Host for Awards Ceremonies.
'I have worked with Peter Avis on numerous occasions and I cannot recommend him highly enough. He is a real people person, a real motivator and the most inspirational speaker I have ever heard. He has a natural ability to get on to the same level as his audience, irrespective of age or social background. He has always been extremely well received on every occasion'
"Like me, Peter believes it is very important in a business to take a keen interest in the people who work for them. Their happiness reflects on their performance as well as on the pervading mood of the business. Peter always goes that extra mile with his team and guests, and truly loves what he does, and that shows."