My Career: Service is a big part of my job

General Manager, Farmgate Café, Cork’s English Market, Ruth Feely
My Career: Service is a big part of my job

Khadija Bouncir, one of the students from Down Syndrome Cork Field of Dreams, setting the table in the Farmgate Café during her work experience in the English Market, with Ruth Feely, (left) and Evelyn Cotter, staff member.

Name: Ruth Feely

Age: 39

Lives: Cork

Job title: General Manager, Farmgate Café, English Market

Salary bracket; Negotiable!

Education background: Currently studying Human Resource Management at night time in CIT. Completed certification in Radio Broadcasting in IADT -DL.

Hobbies: Long walks with my dog, tasting and exploring new wines, baking, travelling.

Describe your job in five words: Busy, challenging, social interaction, diverse, fun.

Describe yourself in five words: Organised, stubborn, outgoing, motivated, friendly.

Personality needed for this kind of work? Resilient, hard-working, patient, sociable, problem solver.

How long are you doing this job? 19 years working in bars and restaurants.

How did you get this job? I started off as a waitress in the Market Bar when I was 20, I still remember spilling 7Up on the lady sitting at table 56 on my first day.

From the Market Bar, I moved to Odessa on Dame Lane and worked there for three years on and off while travelling in the middle.

A supervisory role came up in Café Bar Deli in Cork, so I decided to take the plunge and moved to Cork and I never looked back.

From there, I began travelling and worked in many bars in hostels all over South and Central America, working as I travelled.

On my return home, I worked for the Benny McCabe Group as a manager in both the Bodega and Arthur Maynes.

After Arthur Maynes, I decided that I wanted to learn more in the way of cooking and headed to Good Things Café in Durrus for a week’s cookery course, this led to me spending the summer and winter months interning with Carmel Somers and learning everything from baking to savoury cooking, organising cookery classes and lots more.

I was fortunate enough after Good Things Café to work with Mark Jennings in Pilgrims in Rosscarbery for three months, this role led me to a position in the kitchen at Paradiso, Lancaster Quay. I loved working here as I learned so many things, and how to make a vegetarian dish so tasty and delicious.

After a long stint of working both in front of house and in kitchens, and working lots of nights and weekends, I had decided that I wanted to continue my career in the service industry but with a better life balance.

Along came an interesting chat with both Kay and Rebecca Harte, and four years later I can say we are still having interesting chats every day.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? I don’t think that you need a particular qualification, but you definitely need to like working in very busy environments and enjoy working with people.

Describe a day at work: A day at work changes every day depending on where I need to be. First thing when I get to work, I will say hello to all of the staff both front of house and the kitchen, and get a feel for how everyone is and how the morning has been.

Conversations would involve troubleshooting any problems, discussing specials for the menu for the day, organising people’s breaks, and sections.

The reservation book would always be checked and I would note any special requirements for lunch service.

Service is a big part of my job and it is important to jump in and help wherever you are needed.

The morning will also involve catching up with the regulars and having a chat with the tourists in the summer.

I often explain my day like a game of Tetris, you are constantly moving pieces and making things fit.

I love how my job changes daily, it can be anything from waiting tables at lunch time, to covering the pastry chef when they are on a day off, organising rosters, planning small weddings, to opening a small stall downstairs to survive Covid.

It is making sure people feel welcome when they enter the restaurant, it is ensuring the quality of service is what any of us would expect when eating out.

It is about making people feel welcome and ensuring they leave happy and satisfied. It’s about a friendly face, an ear to listen, and a warm welcome.

How many hours do you work a week? 40 to 50, depending on the week. Christmas is always a busy time in any restaurant so it is usually more hours then.

What do you wear to work? I dress smart casual, with a really comfy pair of shoes, it’s usually a black dress, trainers and red lipstick.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: 7.

Do you work with others or on your own? I work with others and would find it hard to work on my own all day

When do you plan to retire or give up working? When I win the lotto!

Best bits: Meeting new people some of my best friends I have met in the service industry.

Learning new things and developing new skills. Having the chance to taste delicious food on a daily basis.

Worst bits: Before, I would have said working all nights and weekends, but now I work in a daytime restaurant which leads to a better work-life balance.

Never reaching the end of your to-do list.

Advice to those who want your job? Be open-minded and learn from people around you.

Intern in kitchens where possible, as it gives you a strong understanding of both front and back of house.

Travel and experience other cultures.

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