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Hawksmoor is an award-winning British steakhouse and cocktail bar, serving British grass-fed, dry-aged beef and sustainably sourced seafood with venues in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. We caught up with co-founder Will Beckett to discuss Hawksmoor’s roots, the challenges faced resulting from the ongoing pandemic, what from the menu he would pair a Las Olas Mai Tai with and more!
When did you start Hawksmoor and what was the motivation behind it?
I started it in 2006 with by best mate, Huw. On the one hand we had an ambition to do a phenomenal British steakhouse, but on the other we just wanted to try and open a restaurant that worked! We’d been in business together since 2003 and everything else we had tried had been various shades of failure!
What have been your proudest moments since launching Hawksmoor?
There have been three: the first one was when we opened our second restaurant, Seven Dials, and my family and friends walked down the stairs on the opening night. It was our first big, impressive restaurant and they all looked so shocked and proud! The second was when we stood in the flagship restaurants space in the new World Trade Center in New York. They were saying we were their preferred bidder on the space and we love New York so much. I remember feeling so flattered! The last one was when Huw and I went to Beirut for a trip with Action Against Hunger. A friend was cooking in a restaurant there and we went to support him. When the host introduced the friend he also pointed at us sitting in the corner and said, “we also have the owners of Hawksmoor in the room” and people kept coming up to us and telling us how much they loved Hawksmoor – In Beirut!
Do you have a favourite way of drinking rum, if so what is it and why?
I love it in cocktails. Even before Hawksmoor we were into cocktails, and rum is so versatile. Dark and Stormy, Rum Old Fashioned, Daiquiri, Mai-Tai … but to me the ultimate rum cocktail will always be the Zombie!
One of our signature cocktails is a Mai Tai, which is a mixture of Lime, Orgeat, simple syrup and rum. If you were tasked with pairing this with something on the Hawksmoor menu, what would it be?
It’s a tiki classic, so it’s fun and full flavoured. I’d maybe pair this something like our Kimchi Burger. This was one of the hottest dishes in London for a while about 10 years ago. A critic described it as ‘pop art in a bun’.
What have you found most challenging about COVID from a business standpoint? Has anything good come out of COVID?
COVID has made everything challenging! The most difficult aspects from a personal point of view have been seeing your ability to look after people as well as you would like diminished, dealing with the ever-changing rules and managing my own mood! Everything goes better if you are positive, calm and you’ve planned for various eventualities, so I have to make sure I role model those things.
What trends/changes do you foresee for the hospitality industry in a post-COVID world?
I foresee with total confidence a huge sigh of relief that it is over, but unfortunately that will only be those who survive (which I’m sure Hawksmoor will). Once it’s over it will presumably be a hugely creative time – there will be lots of opportunity for people to get started cheaply, as we did almost 20 years ago, and hopefully London in particular will regain its energy and vitality.
Plan your visit to Hawksmoor here.