nick strangeway

Hacha leads by example

27 July, 2021

Back in 2002 celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched Fifteen, a restaurant made up of a team of trainee chefs from underprivileged backgrounds.

The non-profit venture lasted 14 years and although it eventually closed down, it was far from a failure. If just one person was given an opportunity to pursue a new career path then it’s a success in my eyes.

The news that east London agave bar Hacha is adopting a similar concept for its new site in Brixton is nothing short of admirable. The focus for Hacha is more on BAME community members and spreading diversity within the hospitality sector, which is something we desperately need.

In the UK the combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has left a void of hospitality staff and now that the industry is returning at pace we need a new wave of bartenders, and they’re right on our doorstep. This could be our opportunity to make the industry more diverse than it ever has been.

Independent bars in big cities are drawn to where rent is cheap, which is why pockets of new trendy places emerge together in often underprivileged areas. Hacha is leading by example to engage with its new local community, offering interviews for paid work experience to two or three BAME people at a time. The bar will also close one day a week to host community days to offer free education and networking opportunities.

Providing less advantaged people with a career opportunity is not only an incredibly rewarding process, but there are several business benefits too. If a bar truly engages with its local community, this leads to more regular locals, and therefore it’s far more likely to become a thriving business in the long term.

From my own experience, having a diverse bar team also creates a unique and dynamic working environment because you learn a lot more from each other when you come from different backgrounds and ethnicities. If new bars popping up off the back of the pandemic can adopt a similar approach to Hacha, then our industry will benefit from improving its diversity.

For years we’ve tried to address the gender imbalance behind the bar and, while some progress has been made, projects like Fifteen and Hacha’s BAME initiatives are exactly what hospitality needs in order to better itself after the hardships of the pandemic.

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