Barry Franklin has been at Potters for 25 years and we caught up with him to talk about putting David Essex on his bum at football, running out of turkey on Christmas Day and Brian Potter MBE…
Have you always worked in the restaurant?
I started out as a waiter and quickly became a restaurant supervisor and then joint manager of the restaurant, before looking after the Zest weddings and functions. I later came back to the restaurant, but wanted less responsibility as I just like being with guests, and I still look after the Sunday Carvery and the Christmas parties at Zest.
What is the best thing about Potters?
I love interacting with guests and have 20,000 friends I never thought I would have! Over the years, I’ve been invited to weddings, christenings and funerals, and seen babies return as adults. It is hard work but I have fun every day and enjoy coming to work. Potters is in my blood.
What are some of your favourite memories?
I remember serving the snooker legend, Steve Davis, with fish and chips in newspaper for the Queen’s Jubilee, and also playing five-a-side against David Essex and his team – I even put David on his bum!
Also on Christmas Day about 25 years ago, we ran out of turkey with 20 people left to serve. A member of the team, Ron, lived on site, and Brian Potter went to his house and took his cooked turkey, that they were about to carve, off the table so that we could serve our guests! Brian would do the same with his own wine cellar and was always so generous.
I have many fond memories with guests. A couple wouldn’t let anyone else do their ironing and it was a running a joke, so we put an ironing board in the restaurant as their dinner table. Another time there were some guests who loved the Sound of Music and Austria, so we decorated the table with mountains and changed their menu to ‘doe a deer soup.’ They loved it.
On a personal level, the Potter family have been very good to me and I repay them by working hard. I remember one occasion when Brian saw me standing at the bus stop and insisted on giving me a lift as far as Gorleston, where he was picking up his Chinese takeaway. I remember saying that his takeaway would go cold and then he sped off down the carriageway, so I said “I can see that it obviously won’t be a problem!” Brian always put the guests first and treated the team so well.
What is your secret to great customer service?
I am happy go lucky and don’t believe in stress. I just like talking to people and making them smile. Cups in the bowlers bar used to say our motto of ‘Never so much for 500 people’ and what guests get really is incredible.
Brian would always tell people that they should never be leaving the restaurant hungry as they can have as much as they want. His favourite was steak and mushroom pie and that was one of the things that guests would always get!
I have so many happy memories of Potters and I love the place.