Passionate about hospitality since her teens, Rachel Harrison is happy to be studying and working in a trade that she loves…
Like many of those who appear in this monthly feature, Rachel Harrison (25), has been passionate about hospitality since landing a glass collector’s job in her teens.
Rachel, who comes from Warringstown, started work in the former Four Trees pub in nearby Moira when she was 16-years-old, launching a close association with bar work that has endured until today.
These days, Rachel combines her post as senior supervisor at Pretty Mary’s bar and restaurant in Moira with an honours degree in international hospitality – she’s currently completing her final year at Ulster University in Belfast.
‘I do two days in uni and three or four shifts a week in Pretty Mary’s and I still love the work as much as I did when I started,’ Rachel told LCN this month. ‘I just love hospitality. When I left school, I went to study for a degree in civil engineering, but I hated it. I took a year out and went full time in hospitality at the Four Trees. Then I discovered my current degree in international hospitality and signed up straight away.
When she was 21, Rachel did take a job as head waitress at The Wallace Riverside Pub and Eatery in Lisburn, but lasted just four months before she returned to a job at Pretty Mary’s.
‘I think I just missed working behind the bar,’ she says. ‘You have your regulars that come in and the craic at the weekend in the bar is always great.’
Rachel covers all aspects of hospitality in her current degree studies, everything from marketing and HR to running events and managing a hotel:
‘I’ve not quite decided on what my final goal will be, but I would definitely like to have my own business,’ she adds. ‘I am going to stay in the industry for a while yet though, to get more management experience.’
Rachel is particularly interested in social enterprise and very keen to see more opportunities extended to employees with special needs.
‘Not many businesses do that, but it’s something that I’d definitely like to get involved with in some way if I could,’ she says.
As for trends, she says that while the cocktail offering at Pretty Mary’s is stripped back in order to keep things ‘quick and simple’, she’s noticed a massive increase in the popularity of gin:
‘It’s just crazy at the moment,’ she reports. “When I started in hospitality, everything was vodka, now it’s gin 24/7, people just can’t get enough.’
Rachel says she intends to stay at Pretty Mary’s for the foreseeable future:
‘I’m very happy here,’ she tells LCN. ‘There are really only a couple of pubs in Moira, so we are constantly busy, which is good. I’m in the last year of my hospitality degree now, so I will finish with that and then see what opportunities come my way.’
35ml of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin
2 slices of orange
Splash of slimline tonic
25ml creme de mure
Cut one slice of orange into four segments and muddle in the bottom of the glass. Add the crushed ice to the glass and pour the gin over it. Mix together and add a splash of slimline tonic. Finally, pour over the creme de mure and use the final slice of orange for the garnish. Enjoy!