Dining at a restaurant isn’t just about great food (though that certainly helps), it’s about the overall experience. When you eat out, you don’t want to be treated like a number, the next in a long line of chores.
Customer service can make or break a restaurant’s reputation; it can take you from zero to hero or leave you sitting firmly at the starting line, so it’s something that should never be overlooked.
As Galway restaurant Brasserie on the Corner celebrates its fifth birthday, we chat to general manager Eimear Killian about her experiences over the past five years, and why she thinks the restaurant is so successful.
Hailing from Co. Meath, Eimear’s life has been in Galway for the past 14 years, she’s married to a Galway man and has called Brasserie on the Corner her place of employment since the restaurant first opened.
As we speak on the phone, she describes her career as a “vocation”, and recalls her time working in Ryan’s pub at home in Meath when she was 15 years old. For her, “that’s where it all started”.
Seeking something different from the “normal 9 to 5 job”, Eimear decided to venture to DIT Cathal Brugha Street in order to study Hotel Management.
From there, she built up her experience in a number of hotels and restaurants around the country, including the Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford, the Bellbridge House Hotel in Clare, the Peacockes Hotel and Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway.
Eventually, she found herself in Galway city and at the beginning of a new adventure with Brasserie on the Corner, and has continued to grow with the restaurant ever since.
Specialising in locally-sourced, top quality steak and seafood dishes, Brasserie on the Corner offers the very best in upscale casual dining in a buzzing yet relaxed atmosphere.
With both lunch and dinner menus, the restaurant serves dishes to suit all tastes, including a variety of vegetarian options, a dessert bar and a vast artisanal cheese offering.
Taking a moment to remember the restaurant’s early beginnings, Eimear says, “Well it was a brand new opening so it was hectic in the very first couple of weeks and months – they were a bit of a blur. And I suppose it evolved then into one of the best restaurants in Galway with a lot of blood, sweat and tears being put into it from the team here.”
Brasserie on the Corner went from strength to strength and within a year of opening, they picked up the award for Best Newcomer at the Hotel and Catering Gold Medal Awards, something that “was a great boost to us all”:
It was a great sense of achievement really, we’ve all brought it from zero to hero. We started off with a blank canvas and what we’ve created is a very busy restaurant in Galway. Working with the quality of the team that we have here is great.
Just this year, Eimear was awarded Best Manager in Connacht at the Restaurants Association Awards, something she is very proud of, saying: “It’s nice to be recognised in the industry for doing a good job.”
And it’s not just Brasserie on the Corner that has grown over the years, but the Galway food scene in general has completely evolved.
It really has evolved from having a few good restaurants to having everything from Michelin starred to street food, and the standards of food and service have been raised.
Looking at Brasserie on the Corner’s varied menu, Eimear believes that very few things can beat fresh seafood, with the restaurant’s pan fried scallops ranking among her personal favourites, although she is partial to a good ribeye steak when feeling particularly hungry.
For Eimear, a typical working day begins at 11am, though she tries to meet friends or spend some time outdoors beforehand. Arriving at the restaurant, she diligently checks over emails and reservations, while also getting the all-important updates from those on the early morning shift.
At lunch, she makes sure the customers have everything they need and, following the rush, it’s straight into planning for the evening, from stock and delivery checks, to emails and bookings:
Dinner service is when I’d be on the floor from 5 o’clock, meeting and greeting customers and looking after everyone. I finish up until around 10pm or 11pm, depending on how busy the restaurant it. It’s hectic but enjoyable.
With such a busy life, it can be hard to find a balance between work and having any semblance of a personal life. For Eimear, it’s the simple things that ensure she achieves this balance. She says, “I try as much as I can to get my two days off nearly every week. I love the outdoors, whether it’s walking, cycling or the gym.”
Chatting and enjoying the company of friends is a crucial aspect of life, but Eimear’s job also offers many opportunities for social interaction, especially with Brasserie on the Corner’s many regulars, whether they’re visiting the restaurant or their adjoining bar, Blake’s Corner Bar:
We’ve loads of regulars; we’ve people who come every day for lunch and guys who are in the bar everyday. There are great chats and the bit of banter to be had. There’s also regulars who come once a week on the same day at the same time, or those coming once a year for the Galway races or a weekend break.
Recognising these regulars is an important part of the job for Eimear, who says “people love recognition”, whether it’s a smile, a familiar greeting, remembering their usual seat or drink:
There’s a great rapport that you build up over time and I’ve gotten to know so many people from all walks of life. Seeing them return is what makes it and it’s recognising people, getting their usual table or drink, you know, people love recognition and that’s the key to the hospitality industry I think.
She also maintains that it is the team at Brasserie on the Corner who have developed a great reputation for “strong customer service”, along with their excellent food that has made the restaurant a must-visit.
Five years into her job, Eimear firmly believes that it’s the people she meets on a day-to-day basis, along with her great team of co-workers that make her job so worthwhile. She says:
It’s the team behind the restaurant who have worked with me over the years, particularly the core team who were here for the last 5 years making Brasserie on the Corner what it is today, and I want to acknowledge them for all their hard work and commitment.
She finishes by adding that it’s true what people say, the “no day is the same and you don’t know who you’ll meet or who the next person walking through the door is.”
From zero to hero, Brasserie on the Corner has grown into one of Galway’s best restaurants for both food and customer service. They’re currently celebrating their fifth year in business, so what better time to pop in for a visit.
We can almost guarantee that you’ll see Eimear pottering around ensuring that all customers have exactly what they need, be it a drink, a menu or even a smile – you may even meet her yourself!
Open Monday to Friday from 11am to 10pm, Brasserie on the Corner is located on 25 Eglinton Street in Galway city, just off Eyre Square.
Pop over to Brasserie on the Corner’s Facebook page to take part in their “5 days of giveaways”, celebrating the restaurant’s fifth birthday.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.