Meet the newly appointed General Manager of the Coast Hotel, Brent Culkin. Brent has an extensive background in hospitality, and he has some big plans to improve the Coast Hotel. FOCUS had a chat with Brent to find out more …
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
Coffs is part of who I am! I was raised in coffs from two years old, and it is the place I can easily say I will always return to, no matter where my life may take me.
When I was 19 I moved away and spent several years in Sydney and on the Gold Coast, trying to further my career, but to be honest I always knew that Coffs was place where I’d want to raise my family. I wanted my children to have the same great experiences I had whilst growing up here. With my eldest son starting kindergarten this year, I jumped at the opportunity to move back to the Coffs Coast – who wouldn’t! And it hasn’t taken long to settle back into life with friends, family and the amazing lifestyle that is Coffs Harbour. I definitely feel blessed to call Coffs home again. It is not until you leave or travel that you realise how lucky we are.
Tell us about your role at the Coast Hotel.
I’m excited to be the newly appointed General Manager for the Coast Hotel, and I’m honoured to be working for Michael Cherote, who has such a heart for the Coffs Coast and all it can offer to both the local community and beyond. I’ve always loved the Coast Hotel and considered it to be one of the most inviting venues in Coffs, with its chilled, elegant outdoor area and its amazing atmosphere; that’s why I jumped at the opportunity to come back home and make my mark on such a great venue. I am also very lucky to have such a dedicated team behind me, who have invested into the vision of seeing this venue reach its full potential. Stay tuned …The best is yet to come!
Tell us what you’ve been doing recently.
Prior to moving home, I was the Operations Manager for the Rydges Hotels group in Port Macquarie, overseeing two properties, The Beach House and the Rydges Hotel which included the Zebu Bar and Grill and over 80 staff. This was a great experience, and one I’m very grateful for. It gave me insight into another side of the industry, and I gained invaluable experience overseeing a busy café, cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant – not to mention the large conferencing and events we would hold, and an extremely busy casual dining venue, the Beach House. Most of my experience previously had been in the pub scene and entertainment venues, so it was great to be able to develop my skills in other areas.
What changes have you implemented?
So far we’ve updated our TAB area with the introduction of some new technology, with the focus on delivering a better customer experience. We have also invested into our beer garden, with the addition of new furnishings and extra lighting to really highlight this relaxing beautiful area. We have also introduced a new cocktail list, with some exciting new cocktails that I’m sure our guests will love. And, we’ve also added some new craft beers, so no matter what your taste is, I’m confident the Coast has what you’re looking for.
Our main focus now is to exceed our customers’ expectations and provide a great experience for all our guests.
Aside from the bar experience, it would be an injustice for me not to mention that we also have a beautiful dining room headed up by the amazing Head Chef, Shaun Pilley. Shaun is one of the most talented and passionate chefs I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He has an extensive resumé covering a range of five star hotels and resorts and has recently worked for the past six and a half years at Latitude 30. Shaun’s devotion and passion for excellence is why we have the quality of a high class dining experience, without the normally associated costs. It’s always inspiring to see how much the wait staff feel so proud to deliver the delicious food that Shaun and his team serve.
What plans do you have for 2019?
Certain areas of the venue will be receiving a facelift and refurbishment, so stay tuned and watch this space. We will also be looking at booking some exciting new acts and introducing some new midweek offerings.
Have you got any specials and promotions throughout the year?
We have a new and exciting Monday promotion, “Industry Mondays” – great specials, with burgers, wings and loaded fries all $10 each, plus some tap beer (including cider) for $5; throw in $1 pool, and you’ve got a great Monday night.
My favourite promotion is our Wednesday night “Cocktails, Crafts and Acoustics”; we’ve got some amazing talented musicians playing in the big garden, and our whole cocktail list for the evening is $10. We have some great craft beer and premium wine specials as well, and our chef, Shaun has made an amazing pizza menu with some gourmet offerings and antipasto and cheese share plates. This is the perfect night for group gatherings and events for anyone after a midweek catch up.
Thursday night we have some great steak and ribs specials for anyone to enjoy whilst watching Thursday night footy on our big screens.
Our Monday to Friday happy hour has all our tap beers (including craft) for just $5, $5 wines and $7 cocktails on tap.
Then, on Friday and Saturday nights we have a happy hour for cocktails and spirits from 8 – 10pm.
What is your greatest achievement?
In regards to my working career, I think I’ve achieved success in all my roles, but I do believe my greatest achievements are yet to come! In my personal life I would say my greatest achievement would have to be my family! My beautiful partner, Patricia, who has constantly supported me with every endeavour, and my two boys – Jaxon and Max. All three are a continual reminder of why I strive to be my best. It is so important to take a step back whilst working in a role that can be quite demanding and consuming and balance your time between work and the ones you love; family is everything.
What is the best advice you have received?
This is a hard one. So many things come to mind, but one piece of advice that I always remember came from one of my old karate senseis. When you see something new or a different way of doing things, take in the good and leave out the bad. We are always growing and evolving better ways to do things.
You might think you know everything about a certain area, but don’t be close-minded to think you can’t improve on that.
Everyone has something to offer, and you might be surprised what you can learn from people you wouldn’t expect to learn from.
“Take the good, leave the bad”… Either that,
or, “The only time to set the bar low is for limbo.” Ha Ha.
What business leaders do you look up to?
I think previously I would’ve said Richard Branson, but more recently former Kmart CEO Guy Russo. The way he turned Kmart around into the juggernaut it is today is amazing. His business model of having a great product that’s value for money and a strong team culture are the most important things in any business. He also had the simple formula of a Good, Better, Best product range, instead of having 20 lines of the same product – which can confuse customers.