We chat to Lauren who works as the Operations Manager of Twisted Burger Co in Sheffield about a day in the life managing a developing food franchise and her growing collection of beautiful tattoos…
How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
I got my first tattoo when I was 18 so it’s not like I’ve got this underage story of a shit tattoo, even though it is a bit. I don’t think I’ll ever get it covered because I like that it’s my first tattoo, I like the back story. It was done in some dodgy tattoo shop in Rotherham and I got it because I wanted to know what a tattoo felt like. It’s just below my ankle and it’s ever so tiny, just a little daisy with some really shitty swirly stuff around it and I think it cost a tenner. I was bit worried that my foot was going to drop off but at the time I thought that it was the shit, like the bees knees, that I was so cool and took loads of pictures to put on the internet like ‘look at my new tattoo’ but I do still love it.
What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you?
Richard Lazenby from Crooked Claw Tattoo who is doing my right arm sleeve. His stye is very traditional, thick lines and bright colours that’s the kind of style that I like. There’s also someone I like called Filip Henningsson who works at Red Dragon tattoo in Sweden who I religiously follow – he is incredible. One day I want to go to Sweden just to get tattooed by him, he does really cool flash as well as a lot of necks and hands because obviously he is that good. And then my friend Alexandra Bawn her tattooing is incredible it is so intricate but she’s really versatile and changes. She also just got engaged to Matt Webb who is also a tattooist and I love his style and insanely bright colours. I usually just wear black so I kinda like my bright tattoos.
By Richard Lazenby at Crooked Claw Tattoo
Can you tell us about some your tattoos?
I have these three party dots on my hands, which I have matching with Anthony Allen from Skull & Bones Boys Club. We actually tattooed each other at 3am when we were absolutely hammered in my kitchen. We decided whilst drunk that we were ready for our party dots. So we bleached down the kitchen, got a sewing needle and some biro ink and put these black dots on each others hands. It was very silly but they’ve sort of grown as our friendship group has now got them too.
Then I’ve got ‘CFTHY’ which stands for Cult For The Haggard Youth which is an album by Dead Harts. I think there are now 14 or 15 people with this now in different places which is incredible. Next to that I have my brotat with Dom from Dead Harts as it was Friday the thirteenth and Niall Shannon was doing £13 flash so we got matching ones.
By Niall Shannon at Forgiven Tattoo
My baby is this one on my forearm, which is my late grandad. He passed away in February 2014, and I’ve got his nickname Sonny and my late grandma’s name Joan as well. I gave the task to Richard Lazenby and said here’s a picture of him do it in your traditional style. He did this beautiful traditional portrait of him but it’s not realistic but still a likeness of him in Richard’s style. I was originally going to get him on my leg but I changed my mind once I saw the design and I had him on my forearm, so it is definitely my all time favourite. Then I have a butterfly for one sister, a horse shoe for my other sister and some of my sleeve was paid for by family members. I’m building up bits and bobs like that and I’m getting some for my mum and dad further up my arm.
How did you get into your current role?
I actually started working for The Harley (flagship Twisted Burger Co venue) in October 2013 as the assistant manager of The Harley not Twisted Burger Company and within the space of a couple of months I moved up to being general manager, running the building, the club nights, managing all the staff and everything like that. From that my boss, Dave Healy saw something a little bit more in me, saw my ambition, saw my passion for food and my work ethic. I have always worked really hard all my life and he said right I don’t want you to be general manager anymore I want you to be the operations manager of Twisted Burger Company they need someone and I think you are the right person. I’d never been an operations manager before, I had no clue what I was doing and he said not to worry he’d teach me. So as well as the operations manager my role also entails being the area manager, the brand manager and I do all the marketing.
Did you have to get qualifications or did you work your way up?
I’ve been in the hospitality industry since I was 14, waitressing and working my way up. I also did some other management jobs before I was at The Harley but at the same time I went to university and got a degree in media studies and got a couple of NVQ’s in hospitality and catering so I got my qualifications as well. I originally wanted to go into radio but my career in hospitality just took over and I kept getting promoted. I’ve never had a company that has pushed me to be so creative and it’s definitely brought out the best in me.
Dead Twisted Vegan Sauces
What is a typical day like?
I’ll just describe what has been happening in March and that may just show you how crazy my career actually is! We’d planned to release our sauce range with Drop Dead, a new menu and a unit at the Moor Market in Sheffield City Centre. But originally these were all spaced out in our business plan for the year. Various things happened and it all ended up dropping into March. So in the space of like five weeks we launched the unit at the market, we launched a sauce range and we launched a brand new menu across all our franchises. So it has just been a really crazy past few weeks. But obviously everything that we’ve done with the sauces, from designing the labels with Tom J Newell, to coming up with the right recipes to the names on the new menu has just been mad.
It is just myself and Alex Malins who do all the day to day working for Twisted Burger Company, he is the executive chef but he has a lot more involvement than just the cooking- we do a lot together. It’s a very fun job, hard work but very rewarding.
Sweet Potato Fries from Twisted Burger Co
How do you dress for work? Do you show off your tattoos?
We dress however we want, most offices have a dress down Friday but usually I do dress up Fridays but just on my own because I do like to wear smart clothes and dress up a bit! If I’ve got meetings with future franchieses and I’m doing a sales pitch I will always dress up a little bit.
Do you find in hospitality people react more to your tattoos?
I actually worked for Wetherspoons before I worked here and as soon as I got my first visible tattoo my boss sort of said ‘you’re covering that up’ and they wouldn’t let me have my nose ring in either. Here there is a lot more freedom and it took me quite a while to get used to it after having to dress so smart all of the time. So coming to Twisted Burger Co and letting myself go was a bit of a weight off of my shoulders in a strange kind of way. But when I was working behind the bar, customer facing you do get a lot of comments or people touching you are grabbing where your tattoos are. But you just kind of get on with it.
The new Twisted Burger Menu
Do you have any advice to other people considering their careers when getting tattooed?
In the day we are in now I don’t think it matters as much as it used to but obviously with things like face or hand tattoos you’ve got to be quite discreet unless you know for the rest of your working life that you are going to be in a company that doesn’t mind you having those. But even with that sometimes when I have business meetings with future Twisted Burger franchisees I do cover up just to look a bit more professional rather than risk that judgement.
Even as a tattooed person I have that opinion that to look smarter you should cover your tattoos up – it depends entirely on who you are with and what you are doing. I don’t want to risk a bad decision for this business but then sometimes that is the quirk of Twisted Burger Company in that we can dress and look how we want. A few of us are tattooed and Alex Mallins my colleague has his eyebrow pierced so he is a bit of a goth as well. So if we turn up to a business meeting I bet sometimes people think God what have we let ourselves in for and then we sell our product and they think it’s a great product and a great brand. We’re so proud of TBC so its really easy to say great things about it because we love it as well.
We just want to grow in Yorkshire and keep getting bigger. It’s a lot of work to do but I love working here and I love my job!
After we spoke to Lauren we then had the pleasure of checking out Twisted Burger Co’s new menu.
From the ‘Return of The Mac’ burger with a pesto and mac and cheese combo to the incredible ‘Bury me in Smoked Sausage’ their new menu did not disappoint. If you’re into your chicken burgers but fancy something a bit different it’s well worth it for the creole mayo and smoked sausage topping.
Return of the Mac Burger
Bury me in Smoked Sausage Burger
But it was the ‘Drop Dead Twisted Barbecue Burger’ that really raised the stakes with a double vegan ‘meat’ patty, vegan ‘cheese’ slice and bbq jackfruit in the new Dead Twisted sauce which made this carnivore think twice before she orders another TBC burger.
Drop Dead Twisted Barbecue Burger
But if you aren’t in the mood for burgers Twisted’s ‘Jalapeño Business Fries’ hit the mark along side more amazing new sides to the menu. The incredible ‘Highway to Falaf-hell’ with coconut and coriander drip and ‘Hang up the chick habit’ consisting of a basket of confit chicken wings has an unbelievable blue cheese dip and will fill you up as much as any burger!
Pig Pimpin’ Fries
Crack ‘n’ Cheese
Highway to Falaf-hell
Jalapeño Business Fries
Next time be sure to check Twisted Burger Co at one of their venues across the North.