Case study: running a company culture day

Bar Douro restaurant counter top

Bar Douro is a Portuguese restaurant and wine bar based in London, employing over 30 staff. The concept was born out of a love of Portugal where owner Max spent his childhood and where his family business is based, producing wine in the Douro Valley for over two centuries. Its first site, Bar Douro London Bridge, opened in 2016 with a second site, Bar Douro City, opening in January 2020.

The challenge

The original Bar Douro embodies the culture that owner Max envisaged when he launched the business. After opening up its second restaurant site in the city,  the management team felt there were mixed messages between the sites and the teams were operating independently of each other. The team’s challenge was holding onto the culture of the original site while expanding the business.

What’s more, the second site opening also followed a period of change within the management team. The team felt there was a need to pause, reset and inject the culture back into the company that the brand was built on, and ensure this was consistent in both restaurants.

The solution

It was clear that staff across both venues needed to be brought together to understand the culture and values of the business – something that’s not always possible to coordinate around service and opening times. As a result, Bespoke HR devised and hosted a company culture afternoon for all staff. The aim was to bring together all staff from both sites for a fun day to share important messages, gain feedback, and align the company culture.

Staff were paid to attend, and the event took around three hours in the afternoon (before evening service began). The first half an hour consisted of operational updates, covering any specific messaging impacting employees’ day-to-day jobs. During the second half an hour, the chef presented new dishes and launched a new menu to all staff.

The second two hours of the event focused on fun activities for the team and a Ready Steady Cook challenge. This involved the front of house working in the kitchen and the chefs experiencing the front of house. Front of house were tasked with writing the allergens, naming the dish, and presenting it to the management team. This was followed by a quiz based on the management team, the dishes, the steps of service, and the company.

The staff fed back that they enjoyed the day, and the informal approach to communicating corporate messages (but in a fun environment). It was also hugely beneficial for the chefs to compare notes and improve communication with front of house staff.


Although Bespoke HR created and hosted the first event, the team is now in a position to run the events themselves. They are now established as regular events in the calendar and take place every quarter. Since the launch, the team have used the events to make announcements (most recently using the culture day to launch the new staff handbook). This has meant that all staff are delivered key messages consistently and at the same time. In total, only two people have ever missed the culture days out of a 30-strong workforce.

Communication and consistency across the sites have improved and it has proved a great platform to gain feedback from the team on what’s working and what’s not. A culture day after Christmas also doubled up as a thank you to staff for their hard work over the festive period.

The challenge for us when growing the business was always going to be replicating the culture and ethos of the original Bar Douro across additional sites. Hosting culture days has been a great way in which to keep this culture alive, ensure consistency, communicating important news as well as bringing the team together. By ensuring company culture and people are working together towards success, can only have a positive impact.

Ana Laura Gomez

HR Officer , Bar Douro

Tips for culture days:

  • Culture days don’t always need to be paid for, often staff are happy to come along and appreciate the gesture.
  • Activities can include anything from wine tasting, chocolate making to physical challenges or quizzes.
  • Volunteering days can be a good way to get the team together and go towards CSR goals.
  • It’s an ideal opportunity to thank staff and recognise achievements, so always factor this in where possible in addition to delivering key messages.

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