Popular Plymouth restaurant brings in four-day working week for better work-life balance

Fletcher Andrews inside Fletcher's restaurant, Plymouth
-Credit: (Image: William Telford)

Plymouth’s award-winning fine dining restaurant Fletcher’s has given staff a four-day week in a bid to keep them stress-free. The eatery, in Princess Street, is keen to retain high-quality workers amid what it sees as a “weird” market with unpredictability affecting Plymouth’s restaurants.

“This has been the weirdest year with inconsistency in bookings,” said Fletcher Andrews, at 28 the youngest owner-chef in Plymouth. "I have spoken to a few restaurant owners around Plymouth.

"One minute it’s busy then the following week is the quietest for months, even years, and then back to being busy again. Really inconsistent. I think it is the cost-of-living, everything is going up. You can’t pinpoint if it is going to be busy or not. Really hard to predict.”

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Mr Andrews said it means it is imperative to hold onto his high-quality workforce. He said: “We have to employ good staff. And I would rather have staff with a better work-life balance.”

Fletcher’s has 20 staff, more than half of them full-time, including all but one of the kitchen staff. The kitchen team works four-and-a-half days a week, with front-of-house staff working four-day weeks.

“They get more time off, and we can keep their hours more manageable,” Mr Andrews said. “The days they are here they do full-time hours and get the same pay. We introduced that during Covid.”

The policy is working. Mr Andrews’ sous chef has been at the restaurant for four years, none of the full-time team has been there for less than two years, and some chefs who left to go travelling came back when their wanderings were done.

Fletcher's restaurant, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford
Fletcher's restaurant, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford

“Staff retention is one of the hardest things in the industry - keeping good members of staff,” Mr Andrews said. “People should not be penalised because they have chosen to be a chef. If you look after them, they will look after you. We want good quality staff to deliver the experience for people who want a nice time.”

Opening hours have also been cut at Fletcher’s to give the team more time to prepare. Mr Andrews said: “On Tuesdays and Wednesdays we don’t open for lunch to allow for more prep time, so we are not as stressed. We found Tuesdays and Wednesdays had dropped off after Covid.

“We are closed on Sundays and Mondays. But we do open for private bookings, we have a Wednesday wine club and weddings. We get a lot of celebration bookings on Fridays and Saturdays.”

Fletcher’s opened in November 2018, in a space once home to the bistro Chloe’s, and since then has extended and re-equipped the kitchen, built a new bar and put a large, light extension on the front of the building. Mr Andrews said close to £100,000 has been invested in the past five years.

Inside Fletcher's restaurant, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford
Inside Fletcher's restaurant, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford

With his partner Jess Harkom they have worked tirelessly to make the business successful, including taking no holiday for three years. And the 50-cover restaurant tries to be as sustainable as possible, aiming for zero wastage, supporting local suppliers and partnering with Ocean BMW which supplied it with an electric vehicle.

It wasn’t long before the honours arrived. Fletcher’s has gained two AA rosettes and a mention in the Michelin Guide, plus a Devon Food and Drink Gold Award.

Although Mr Andrews admits “we are not the cheapest restaurant in Plymouth” he said quality is worth the price and it is far from unaffordable. A set menu of two courses is £25, with three courses for £30. The a la carte menu rises to £55 and there is a taster menu at £90 a head. “Not everyone in Plymouth is going to want that, so we try to keep everyone happy,” Mr Andrews said.

And he is keen to promote Plymouth’s independent restaurants and call for the public to support them. He said: “I think you get a more personal and intimate experience, and there are many family-run restaurants in Plymouth.

“Chains are cheaper but you don’t get the best experience every time - it’s shipped in, heated up and sent out. Independent businesses are small people working hard every day, trying to look after their staff.”

Mr Andrews worked with and then took over from Masterchef winner Anton Piotrowski at the Michelin-starred Treby Arms in Sparkwell before opening Fletcher’s. He had trained at City College Plymouth and worked at a number of top Plymouth restaurants, including the New Continental Hotel, Morgan’s and the Mission before becoming sous chef at Treby, progressing to head chef. He then decided to go it alone and bought the majority stake in the lease to what was Chloe’s.

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