Backstage at The Lowry: Rick Bithell – Casual Waiter/Barman

ric

The Lowry is the perfect employer for me.

I’m 27, and this is a part-time job because I consider myself, first and foremost, an actor.

I grew up in Knutsford, went to university at Lancaster, drama school in Wigan and now I base myself here, in Salford Quays.

The Lowry offers me brilliant flexibility. As an example, just today I’ve been offered an audition for tomorrow – I should be working, but I’ve managed to ring around a couple of people who I know would like the work. They can cover for me, and I can tell my boss Mike that I’ve got an audition but that I’ve found some cover. It’s that easy.

It works both ways of course; you have to find the cover, you can’t just leave them in the lurch. But they play fair by you and allow you to swap.

A lot of the waiting staff in the restaurant are actors, probably a good 70%. So that makes it a great team here, working in the restaurant.

“The Lowry support me with my acting when I need them to, and in return I work very hard…”

I own my own theatre company, troublehouse theatre, and I have had a couple of diners mention that they know of the theatre or have even seen me in things. That’s really nice.

And we have Sam, a member of staff, who was in Shameless when that first came out, and two others, Ashleigh and Rose, who do a lot of theatre work locally. I know they’ve all experienced complimentary comments from tables too.

A lot of the actors who are waiters here are very charismatic and talkative, and that can make for a good experience at the table.

It pretty much guarantees good communications skills when meeting the public – I often find waiters are who are actors are very good at talking to strangers straightaway. Actors can judge when a table of four want to chat, so then they can engage, but equally a table of four can be very closed and not want to talk.

I want to be an actor, but from a very young age I was taught that if a job’s worth doing you should do it properly, and that applies to my work here at The Lowry.

The Lowry support me with my acting when I need them to, and in return I work very hard during the shifts that they give me. There’s a mutual respect there.

If you go out for a meal, a waiter can make or break it. So when I come to work I know I can really influence someone’s evening.

Beauty and the Beast

Watch out for special dining offers for the big shows, such as BRB’s Beauty and the Beast.

We get a lot of diners panicking that they’re not going to get served their whole three-course meal in time for the show.

Often they don’t realize that everybody in the restaurant is going to the theatre. They’ll come in and think that they are one of maybe six or seven tables who are going to the theatre, when it’s really everyone.

There is plenty of time for everything, from a starter at the beginning to a coffee at the end.

People always arrive at around five o’clock for a half-seven show – you don’t need two-and-a-half hours. We can comfortably serve you your meal in an hour, maybe a little more.

The staff here are very good at communicating with one another and working as a team to ensure every table is looked after.

I’ve been here for five years now, starting in 2009. I have no thoughts on leaving; something would have to drastically change… though if I become a Hollywood superstar tomorrow, I’m off!

But I promise I’ll come back and do a show in The Lyric if that happens, maybe even do a meet-and-greet with people!

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