New job aged 78

Frank Curley talks to about starting his job as doorman at a Corbin & King restaurant at the age of 78.

frank curley


Read about National Older Workers Week

Frank Curley took up his job as doorman at Corbin & King’s The Delaunay restaurant in central London seven years ago at the tender age of 78 after a lifetime of working in customer service.

Frank applied for the job after he saw an advert in the window. He’d always been fit and healthy and the job looked perfect for him, given his experience.  So he rang the head office to find out more. He was interviewed and offered the job, but because it was approaching winter and the job was an outdoor one he deferred until the weather improved. Now he is used to being outdoors and says the uniform he wears is very warm so he works all year round.

“I look after myself,” he says, “and we are very busy and I enjoy it. There’s no time to get cold. The job keeps me active and I like meeting people. It has kept me going.”

Frank hadn’t been looking for a job at the time. He has a long track record of working in retail, having worked, for instance, for DH Evans, Harvey Nichols and Harrods where he ended up working for Burberry. “I met many people from all over the world. It was a real education being at the heart of London,” he said. Just before he retired he worked in security for a family business in Old Bond Street before moving to Sotheby’s where he was “on the door, keeping an eye on the art work”. “It was marvellous,” he said.

It was also the perfect training for his current job. “I had great customer training in the big stores,” he says, “and I always remember that it is the customers’ money that pays my wages.”

When he retired he spent a lot of his time looking after his mother until she died and he found the job at Corbin & King. Initially he worked weekends, but after a break for health reasons he reduced to one day a week and also covered for the full-time doorman when he needed a day off.

Back on the door

He says Corbin & King never mentioned his age at interview. Frank offered to get a doctor’s note to show he was in good health, but they didn’t need that. During Covid, however, the restaurant was closed and staff were furloughed. When it reopened he was rung by the general manager to ask if he wanted to return and if he could provide a doctor’s note to ensure he was safe to work. “I was expecting to be made redundant,” says Frank. “I take nothing for granted. I feel very lucky.”

Frank is the oldest employee in the restaurant and he says he is polite and friendly, telling customers to have a lovely evening and helping them with directions. He describes his fellow employees as very friendly and respectful. 

Frank has no plans to leave, although he says he will let his manager know if he can’t manage, for any reason.

For now, he is loving being back in the West End, seeing the darkened restaurant brought back to life after Covid and greeting the customers in his usual way. “I really love the job,” he says. “And many of the customers remark that it is lovely to be met by a smiling face on the door.”

*Corbin & King is sponsoring our Managing multigenerational teams event at the inaugural National Older Workers Week, which runs from 22nd November. The week will include a series of online events for employers and candidates with leading experts and employers. In addition to the multigenerational teams event on Wednesday, there will be a panel discussion on the results of our survey of older workers’ experience of Covid and their attitudes towards their working lives, a best practice event on everything from eliminating age bias in the recruitment process to returner programmes and lifelong learning and a candidate-focused discussion about finding a job you love. Find out more and register for the free events here.

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