When the Bavarian oompah band strikes up at the Bierkeller Entertainment Complex in Manchester, general manager Hannah Smithies admits she gets a feeling of déjà vu.
“Every time I hear it, it’s like a time warp,” laughs Hannah. “That was one of my jobs when I was a student, as a waitress dressed up in traditional costume at the Bierkeller, so now I’m back I’ve got a permanent reminder!”
Hannah has just returned to the company, but this time as general manager of The Printworks venue.
At 24, she’s young to take on such a big challenge: four bars and restaurants – Bierkeller, Shooters sports bar, Around The World and the Ski Lodge welcome bar – within the same city centre venue. “But I’ve got plenty of experience and an old head, I know that,” she says. “And I’ve always enjoyed working, so although it’s a big job if you like working it’s ideal, you take it in your stride.”
Originally from Liverpool, Hannah started out working in bars as a teenager but, after a break to travel, decided to pursue a career in recruitment instead.
“I absolutely hated it, working Monday to Friday 9 to 5 didn’t suit me at all.” She admits, “and I realised I liked working in bars much more so I went back to it. I missed the atmosphere, there’s never a dull moment and that’s one of the things I really love about this job.”
Having a background in the business has helped her rise through the ranks to general manager, she says. “I don’t think you could ever manage a bar if you haven’t worked in different positions and seen the reality of what staff have to face,” she adds.
“I look after four bars in Manchester and each of them brings a different challenge which is exciting and interesting. I think most customers would enjoy something about all of them but they’re different concepts and need a different approach.
“It’s my job to build up the business and the customer base, especially midweek, and there’ll hopefully be a refit during the summer which I’ll be looking at.
“We’re in The Printworks, which is a destination in itself in the city, so I don’t see other bars opening around us as competition, it just makes the area busier especially if people are going from bar to bar. I see it as something positive for us, because people are attracted to The Printworks and then we just have to make ourselves stand out through service and price and the experience customers have once they’re in there. That will be what makes people come back.”
Hannah has just moved along the M62 to live in Manchester and, she jokes, she’s already seen an advantage of her new home.
Bierkeller Entertainment Complex had three separate bars under one roof;
The Authentic Bierkeller
Shooters Sports Bar
Around The World Bar & Lounge