Meet WA bartending veteran Simon Hough


He’s been on the Aussie bar scene for more than a decade and is a central figure to Perth’s burgeoning scene. We asked the man better known as The Hoff what he’s learned, and about his new role as manager at The Flour Factory in Perth.

Can you tell us a bit about how you got your start behind the bar?
The bar scene was always a calling for me. I wanted to be Brian Brown, so on my 18th birthday I handed out resumes around Perth and before I knew it I got a glassie job at Universal Bar and the rest is history.

Can you describe what it was like running Luxe Bar — particularly the Sunday nights?
Luxe Bar was always a major career goal for me. It’s certainly a different world when the venue has already been in the scene for sometime. I suppose the biggest challenge was maintaining the drinks culture whilst still moving forward with international cocktail trends and sticking to the “ Luxe style”.
Sunday nights. Whether it was people dancing on the bar while we continue to make cocktails dodging their feet or a hostile hospitality take over of the entire venue with a thirst for tequila and The Rolling Stones, Luxe always has the best Sunday night in town.

Since Luxe Bar, you’ve been at Darlings Supper Club and now The Flour Factory. What kind of adjustments did you have to make in your management style?
Darlings Supper Club really switched things up for me. Learning the ins and outs of how to manage a restaurant with Sam Astbury was awesome. There’s something about not hiding behind the bar and serving tables that opens your eyes to another avenue of service.
The Flour Factory for me is right on the money. A combination of both Luxe Bar and DSC styles of management and service, a multi-levelled venue with both food and drink focus, a couple of bars, restaurant and café all in one.


What’s it like to open up a new venue? What’s the part you like most about opening a new place and why?
It’s really all about the anticipation. There’s always the blood, sweat, tears, stress, sleepless nights, interviews, meetings and so on but then next thing you know the doors are open and you are off and racing.

Tell us a bit about The Flour Factory and what else is in store?
When we completed the development in May we will hopefully be tackling the fortified market head on, managing a 500 capacity venue that includes a butchery, bakery and rooftop bar with WA’s only vermouth on tap and a function centre to boot – it’s a game changer in the CBD of Perth.

What are the challenges involved in running an outdoor rooftop bar that other bars don’t have to worry about?
Weather is numero uno. Unfortunately without a roof the rain likes to come party even when it’s not invited.

Tell us a bit about what a typical day involves for you?
I’ll wake up at 8am, maybe push snooze once or twice, check emails, smash a smoothie with some multivitamins, get all clean and prettied up and try not to choke on hairspray or get it in my eyes. Then it’s work, work, work until it’s time to sit with the crew and knock the top off a cold one with a sherry on the side, garnished with a loud braaaap! Then I’ll head on home ready for sleep — and maybe have a cheeky whisky before bed while my cats judge me for drinking in front of them instead of feeding them.

What mistakes have taught you the biggest lessons?
It sounds cliché but any mistake is an opportunity to learn. Like throwing bottles towards your face doesn’t end well but flair scars are cool.

Who have been the influential mentors in your career, and what did they teach you?
Although he doesn’t remember, I met Andy Freeman in 2003 when we were doing a flair show together for Johnnie Walker. I thought I was awesome and he smoked me in about 2 seconds. So on top of helping me hone my cocktail craft, he showed me that there is always someone better than you so never give up, challenge yourself and stay humble. Now we are business partners here at The Flour Factory and the teaching doesn’t end there.

What is it you like about the Perth bar scene?
Perth has really come around in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. No longer is Perth chasing Melbourne or Sydney, we are creating our own drinks and food culture.

Here’s Hoff’s tips for a smooth shift

Organisation: Setting daily tasks helps plan out the week and always write daily to-do lists at the start of your shift and tick ‘em off as you go. Just like working the cocktail bar. Prep prep prep.

Training: Regular staff training really helps with keeping their service up to par. Whether its one-on-one or in a group, it always helps. It never hurts to re-learn something either, it’s also a good way to brush up on your own knowledge/skills.

Leading: Being a leader is a lot different to being a boss. If you show your staff that you will do anything that you ask of them, they will follow you and love you for it.

Meetings: Weekly management meetings help keep you and your team close and in the same head space. Regular staff meetings
are great for the rest of the crew, keep them informed on what’s happening and they will stay at
ease in their roles.

Service: It’s not hard to give good service. Keep on your staff, don’t let them or yourself get lazy and know your regulars — they are ambassadors for your venue after all.


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