5 minutes with… Armagh City Hotel’s award-winning Liam McKenna

A career in hospitality is often most suitable to those who are confident and outgoing with a keen attention to detail and friendly demeanour. None quite fit the bill more than Armagh City Hotel’s recent award-winner, Liam McKenna.

Liam takes so much pride in his role. Waiting on the public brings him joy. He values friendship and teamwork and getting to know his valued customers beyond memorising their usual orders.

He humbly states that he has “no secret skill or talent”. Maybe he’s right. It’s not exactly a secret that he’s brilliant at his job!

Why did you choose being a waiter as a career/business?

The reason why I chose to work as a waiter is because I absolutely love the hospitality industry. I enjoy meeting new people and I enjoy making sure they have the best time while dining with us. The amount of different things that happen on the job keeps me engaged, and I take pride in providing top-notch service.

Additionally, the friendship and teamwork with my colleagues make the job even more enjoyable. Overall, being a waiter allows me to do what I love while working alongside a fantastic team. Within the hospitality industry there is so much growth that can happen, and I know it can take me anywhere in the world.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

One of the proudest moments of my career so far is winning the employee excellence award at the Irish restaurant awards for the best in Ulster category.

This award meant a lot to me as it shows that all of my hard work is paying off and it made me work even harder to prove why I deserved it.

This award made both me and Armagh City Hotel proud, reflecting well on how everyone works hard and why the whole team deserved this award.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The main thing I love about my job is the fact I get to meet a diverse range of people. I love that I am able to help so many different people from different backgrounds and different cultures and I want to make their visit as enjoyable as I can and hope they will visit again.

I also love working with my colleagues as they make everyday more enjoyable and all of us are always there to help each other if something goes wrong.

What has been the biggest challenge in your job?

Everyday is a challenge when working in hospitality. You have to deal with a lot of problems on the spot from if a customer who isn’t enjoying their food or if their experience isn’t what they expected or if they are not happy with a certain thing that has happened.

But this is one of the main things that makes the job feel more fulfilling. If you are able to turn it around for the customer and make them happy when they are leaving you can be proud that you have made that person’s experience even better.

What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

The most helpful advice I have been given in hospitality is don’t take everything to heart. This has taught me to focus my energy and thoughts on the things I can control rather than the things I cannot. This approach has helped me to be able to handle situations on a positive note rather than looking at it from a negative point.

What do you think your best quality is?

I think one of my best qualities is that I am always there for someone if they need to chat or get something off their chest and I am a good listener.

Name three things that you like doing outside of work..

The main things I love doing outside of work is meeting up with friends, trying to go for walks whenever I can and to play videogames.

Tell us about a secret skill that we don’t know you have.

I actually don’t have any secret skills or talents.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession would be my phone, as I am able to connect to so many different people and I am able to stay in contact with my friends and family.

What is your favourite food?

My favourite food is anything to do with seafood or sushi or Asian food. I just absolutely love it!

What is your favourite book?

I don’t normally read a lot but one of my favourite books would be ‘Talk to Strangers’ by Yes Theory as it has given me a better outlook on life.

What are you currently watching?

Two of my favourite TV shows are ‘The Rookie’ and ‘9-1-1’. I just love these shows.

If you were to watch a band/singer live, who would it be?

One of the bands I’ve always wanted to see in person are The Killers as everyone says they are one of the best concerts they have been to.

Dead or alive, who would you most want to meet and why?

The main person I would love to meet is Robin Williams. He is one of my all time favourite actors and I absolutely loved his moves when I was growing up.

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