Scott Assender (ex 100 Burgers Group, Belle’s Hot Chicken) has joined Kickon Group as Operations Specialist.

Assender got the call to join the dynamic pub group after announcing he was leaving Melbourne’s Welcome To group. Assender and Kickon Group director Craig Shearer have known each other for a long time – even going to the same high school, although they didn’t know each other then – and been great admirers of each other’s careers. Shearer was eager to bring Assender into the Kickon Group team.

“I’ve known Scott both personally and professionally for many years, and to say I’m excited to finally be working alongside him is a massive understatement,” stated Shearer. 

“People of this calibre and experience just don’t come along all that often.  His values align with ours wonderfully well, and he brings to the table the ability to see things from a perspective different to most, so I’m pumped to see what this diversity of opinions within our team will lead to.”

For Assender, the chance to work at venues the calibre of The Continental Hotel (better known as The Conti) in Sorrento, and The Osbourne Hotel in Brisbane, was a no-brainer.

“The venues are simply incredible. The Conti is probably the most beautiful venue I’ve ever worked in – the scale of it is pretty astounding too. Six kitchens is a challenge. Plus, I’ve been a long-term admirer of the Queensland properties. The Osbourne is my favourite pub in Brisbane, and every time I’m up there for business I find myself at The Osbourne. The Plough is a lot of fun as well.”

Assender has a wealth of experience in a variety of hospitality venues, working in everything from fast casual eateries to nightclubs. He’s worked in the industry in four countries, opened 42 venues and had a hand in operating another 60. His jack-of-all-trades experience is his strength when it comes to operating venues.

“I’ve run everything from food trucks to 2500 pax nightclubs and venues, so I just find that what I can offer is a pretty unique perspective. A lot of people are pigeon-holed into one style, be it fine dining, pubs, or fast casual restaurants. Whereas I’ve had experience in fast-casual with Belles Hot Chicken and Mamasita; I had a lot of experience in nightclubs when I was younger; and a lot of pubs, bars and restaurants in the last 15 years.”

For Assender, regardless of the type of venue, it all comes down to delivering a great customer experience.

“It’s just about making someone’s day. If you make someone have an enjoyable visit, they’ll become an advocate and come back.”

Assender’s first project for Kickon Group as operations specialist is getting The Conti ready for summer trade.

“I’ll be there for at least the next few months, just getting everything ready for next summer, that’s the main focus. It’s a big beast and it needs some long-term strategies. I’m just bringing some focus and better planning for future success.”

This is especially important given the level of service and the reputation that The Conti aspires to – flipping Assender’s model of lowering expectations on its head.

“It’s all about being world-class here. So we’re definitely not under-promising. That’s been a slight adjustment for me. But then again, what we’re trying to do is just give that experience here that you don’t get anywhere else. Most people who come here are on holiday so they want to have a good time and have as much fun as they can, and we aim to deliver that.”

With so much hospitality operations experience in a wide range of venues, Assender sees one big trend that venues need to get right, and that’s the role of customer-facing tech and how big of a presence it has within a venue. He argues that a venue level, operators have to figure out how much interaction patrons want with apps, and how much of a personal experience they are after.

“The rise of technology was a major trend emerging from covid, when everyone discovered their favourite ordering app. I think what you’ll find now is we need to find a happy medium.

“There will be some venues that embrace technology one hundred per cent because their clientele love it. But there will be others who embrace a happy medium with some tech, but also do love chatting to the staff. It’s finding where your venue sits. At The Conti for example, there’s an older demographic mid-week, so we’re pretty cognisant of providing the best service with less technology than you would use in other venues.”

The Conti will not be Assender’s only focus, with the ops specialist moving throughout Kickon Group’s venues as required.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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