Suffolk restaurateur David Marjoram, co-founder of Gusto Pronto in Suffolk, on the restorative value of going out and the role of the hospitality trade in bringing comfort
Why, oh why venture out into the bleak, miserable weather? Especially now, post the indulgent festive period, when you’re trying to steer your life towards healthier eating and drinking habits. As someone who's grown up in the belly of the hospitality industry, I've pondered this perennial question endlessly. It's not merely about what drives people out in these winter months but rather what’s the essence of stepping out for a meal or a drink? What makes individuals leave the comfort of their home and willingly part with their hard-earned cash in cafés, pubs and restaurants?
I’d certainly love for you to do so. It is, after all, how I put bread on the table, how my team stays afloat and how we support our local suppliers. But let’s face it, my plight probably won’t tug at your heartstrings enough to coax you out.
Perusing through TripAdvisor, Google reviews or the printed opinions on dining spots, it's all about the food and drink. But is that the crux? Is a delicious plate or a great glass of wine all that’s necessary? Undoubtedly, a hospitality business hinges on an outstanding food and drink offering to thrive, but I argue there’s more at play here.
My theory veers towards a revelation hidden in plain sight, embedded within the core of the word 'restaurant'. It's fascinating to note the often-overlooked 'N' absence in ‘restaurateur’. Initially, like many, I casually dismissed it as a linguistic quirk. However, this sparked my curiosity to delve deeper into its origins. A 'restaurateur' isn’t just someone running an eatery; it signifies someone who is a specialist in the art of dining establishments. This title traces its lineage back to the French word 'restaurer' meaning 'to restore'. This seemingly mundane, yet enlightening find reshaped my understanding of our role in hospitality many years ago.
Our task isn’t solely about serving sustenance to the famished and parched. It’s about providing warmth, comfort and a momentary escape from the relentless demands of life. It's about offering a welcoming embrace, a safe haven and a familiar face. When at their best, cafés, pubs and restaurants aren’t merely places to dine and drink; they are sanctuaries that restore, offering respite, relaxation and that special feeling of being cared for.
So why venture out, particularly in these dreary winter months? It's simple - perhaps now, more than ever, you need a touch of restoration. Seek out a place that not only serves your favourite fare but also envelops you in a blanket of warmth and care. Find that spot where you can unwind, perhaps crack a smile and bask in the feeling of being restored.
In essence, go out not just for the food and drink, but to be restored and find solace and rejuvenation in a place you love.
David Marjoram is a well-known part of the Bury St Edmunds hospitality scene. Having spent his life in the hospitality industry he founded Gusto Pronto with wife Roxane in 2008 when they took on The One Bull. Now with five pubs, craft brewery Brewshed and wine shop Vino Gusto, it’s fair to say David is obsessed with all things food, drink and hospitality.
The other pubs in the group are The Beerhouse, in Bury, The Crown at Hartest, The Fox at Bulmer Tye and The Cadogan in Ingham.