Rules Restaurant

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Rules Restaurant's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Rules Restaurant is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Serving the finest food and drink
Rules has welcomed families
for a number of generations
Rules is London’s oldest restaurant, founded in 1798, the
same year Napoleon began his campaign in Egypt. Thomas
Rule founded the restaurant as an oyster bar in Covent
Garden and it has remained on the same site ever since. It has
only been under the ownership of three families throughout its
history, with John Mayhew, the current owner, purchasing it from
the Bell family in 1984. Managing Director Ricky McMenemy tells
The Parliamentary Review
how its rich heritage and penchant
for pushing boundaries have survived for over 200 years.
Rules has been private and independent throughout our history, always with a touch
of the maverick. Our aim is to perfectly blend the new and courageous with heritage
and tradition. Historically, Rules has been the restaurant of the landed gentry and was
famously used in
Downton Abbey
, a series that was emblematic of this sort of clientele.
As a staff body, we act as custodians of a building upon which English Heritage
bestowed the Grade II listing and which Sir John Betjeman once described as a
unique piece of London’s history. Betjeman was later part of a campaign to prevent
the destruction of Maiden Lane, the street on which Rules stands. Many families
have been dining with us for over 30 years and we feel a genuine affinity with
those who have supported us. This is quite remarkable for a restaurant that is
based in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.
Outstanding food in a hospitable environment
The unique heritage that makes Rules distinctive isn’t just found in our location.
Very few restaurants in the UK specialise in classic game cookery like we do and,
»Owner: John Mayhew
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1798
»Based in Covent Garden,
»Services: Lunch and evening
Rules Restaurant
Highlighting best practice
in fact, we serve more game than
anywhere in the country. To ensure
the quality and authenticity of our
produce we have our own shooting
estate in County Durham that is used
to teach staff about game, husbandry,
estate management and the care and
cooking of game. Once it is transferred
to the kitchen, our chefs display great
skill in preparing and cooking a range
of dishes and they are well versed in
treating and nourishing game meat.
In the dining room itself, we maintain
the highest standards and aim to offer
first-class service in a relaxed, hospitable
environment. Engaging with the
customer in an appropriate manner is
vital. This entails knowing when to talk
and laugh and when to give them space.
Taking care of our guests and allowing
them to leave having had a great
experience is the most important part
of our mission. This service begins the
moment they walk through thedoor.
My role involves setting the tone of the
restaurant and ensuring the highest
standards are upheld at all times. We
have an outstanding team who bring
passion and skill to their roles, and they
allow customers to feel as comfortable
as they would in their own home. Many
of our customers have stressful, busy
jobs, but we offer them the opportunity
to relieve this burden and relax.
A pioneering approach to
At Rules, our staff are treated as
people rather than as a commodity.
We have always prided ourselves on
rejecting the bullying atmosphere that
exists in many kitchens and we place a
strong emphasis on allowing our staff
to enjoy a proper work-life balance.
Recruitment agencies have reflected on
our forward-thinking practices, which
allow us to demand 100 per cent
commitment during every shift.
Our carefully managed rota system
prevents staff from becoming
overworked and we have pioneered a
long-weekend scheme that gives staff
regular four-day breaks, while days off
are always positioned on consecutive
days. We expect high standards and
absolute commitment from our staff,
so it is vital we reciprocate this through
our management. As a result, staff
stay with us for a long time on fixed
contracts, either full or part time.
The only quieter period during the
year is August, when a number of city
workers are on holiday, so it is essential
that our staff remain motivated year
round. Our food and service require
keen attention to detail and our
historic location must be kept in the
best condition. If we don’t meet the
criteria that our discerning customers
expect we will lose business, but their
loyalty is testament to our work. We
have a number of fourth-generation
customers coming through our doors
every day, and retaining their custom is
an important part of our heritage.
Tackling the recruitment
Service is one of the hallmarks of the
Rules experience, so our recruitment
process is thorough and detailed. We
only employ those with a genuine
passion for food and hospitality, often
considering their enthusiasm before
Rules is London’s oldest
In the dining
room itself,
we maintain
the highest
standards and
aim to offer
service in a
experience. We want engaging staff
that love the sector.
Sadly, there are dwindling numbers of
qualified and enthusiastic young people
joining the sector and this is affecting
restaurants. The industry has failed on
some level to appropriately show that
hospitality is a rewarding profession, as
it is on the Continent; instead it is seen
as a temporary stop on the way to the
next phases in a career. Brexit has also
played a role, with many EU nationals
leaving the country in the wake of the
UK’s decision to leave. London and
the UK have become a less attractive
proposition for people across Europe
and this is affecting our sector.
We also attribute some of the blame to
the local council, who have approved
planning permission for too many
restaurants, some of whichfail.
Thisleads to the demand for
employees outstripping the supply, and
roles are going unfilled. We appreciate
that Covent Garden is an appealing
location, but we hope the council
consider the impact that a proliferation
of new restaurants will have on the
existing market.
There is only one Rules
As we look to the future, we will
continue to be innovative and open
minded in our practices, but we will
never shy away from preserving our
heritage and retaining everything that
has worked for over 200 years.
We have recently adapted an
underutilised part of the building
and turned it into a cocktail area and
winter garden, maximising our space.
To move forward, we are looking at
how we can best prepare Rules for the
next generation. When I hand over the
reins, I want to ensure it is at the peak
of its powers. Within the restaurant
industry there is a sea of change, but
we represent a sea of tranquillity.
There is only one Rules, and you
will have to come and experience it
Service is one of
the hallmarks of
the Rules
experience, so
our recruitment
process is
thorough and
Rules has created a
welcoming environment

This article was sponsored by Rules Restaurant. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy