You could say Nick Wright lives in bars. He’s not a party animal, but has worked in pubs and restaurants since he was 14. Now he’s King’s’ first hospitality manager.
“Quite honestly, I love the Wardroom, and the Galley as well, but the Wardroom … I have a special fondness in my heart for it. When I found out that the position was open … I saw that there was an opportunity to maybe get out of a wait staff position into a management position. I thought I might as well apply and see where that takes me,” Wright said over the phone.
The hospitality manager is responsible for the operations of the Galley and the Wardroom – a working atmosphere all too familiar to Wright, who has worked in the service industry for nine years.
This will be the first year with a hospitality manager at King’s, as the responsibilities of the Wardroom and the Galley were previously left to the internal coordinator.
“Last year John Adams was doing both that and his job as internal coordinator. So they sort of split the position in two with the internal coordinator being a position which now has more of a focus on stuff within the office,” Wright said.
Anna Dubinski, president of the King’s Students’ Union, explains that the creation of this position came from the re-imagining of the internal coordinator. While Dubinski was not on the executive committee when the decision was made, she says that it was apparent dividing the two roles would benefit everyone involved.
“With the introduction of the Galley into union services it was felt that the time and resources that it took to manage the businesses was such a considerable effort … that the job was a little bit too big,” Dubinski said over the phone.
“I think it was also thought that the Wardroom and the Galley presented – and the management of those businesses – presented a fairly unique skillset that was very easily divisible from the other kinds of services that we offer, such as the health plan. So I think that it was just very, very clear that that was the way to go.”
Dubinski says that apart from managing the day-to-day operations, the hospitality manager is also responsible for keeping the Galley and the Wardroom in line with the vision that the union and the student body have, as well as answering to a board of directors.
Wright, who is originally from Charlottetown, PEI, brings an incredible amount of experience to the table. Every summer, Wright worked at bars and restaurants to pay for his tuition, mostly in the front of house, but in the kitchen too.
“I have basically done everything within bars and restaurants. So I started out at the age of 14 I was washing dishes and I was also hosting at a restaurant called Fishbones … which was a jazz bar – very nice place … That was a great, great summer job for me and a great way to start,” Wright said.
From there, Wright worked at an Irish pub, and when he turned 19 years old he began serving there. Eventually, he ended up in a place called Peakes Quay.
“It was basically during the day a very touristy, deck, patio type thing, but at night it was part of Charlottetown’s answer to the Dome. So it was a sort of club style atmosphere where they pushed, packed as many people in as they could, and got them served as quickly as possible. So on that end I really got experience behind the whole volume service thing.”
Wright worked at Peakes every summer until he graduated from King’s, where he did theFoundation Year Programme and then focused on English literature.
After graduating in 2012, Wright ended up working at the Carleton, where he still works every Saturday. After being shown the ropes by John Adams this spring, Wright began hosting alumni events on campus, and has been opening The Wardroom throughout the summer.
“We’ve been open more this summer than we have been in any other year in anybody’s memory, I don’t know if we’ve officially set a record or not but I’m trying for that” he said.
As for the coming year, Wright hopes to continue on the “phenomenal” systems John Adams put in place.
“I’m completely indebted to him for that and my plan basically would be to take those systems that he put in there and then improve upon them.”
Wright says that Frosh Week is his biggest concern at the moment, and that it will be a “trial by fire” once the students arrive.
“My favourite memories probably would have been actually my Frosh Week, which is half the reason I’m so worried about making sure that everything goes off without a hitch.”
“Within a week of arriving at King’s, by the time Frosh Week was over, I realized that it was exactly the place for me and exactly the community that I wanted to be a part of,” Wright said.