Friday Wrap: A round-up of the week's hospitality news

by Chris Druce, Friday 6th March 2009 16:43

Gordon Ramsay may have finally filed his accounts and received two more Michelin stars (not as direct pay-off), but it was his Channel 4 chef co-star Heston Blumenthal that seemed to be omnipresent this week.

Having closed his multi-award winning restaurant the Fat Duck in Bray as a precaution after diners had fallen ill from an as yet unidentified ailment, the brainiac chef was on our screens turning his hand to producing a Victorian banquet. Finger-licking good?  

However, genteel as Blumenthal is, one still suspects he may have uttered something along the lines of duck under his breath when he learnt his restaurant would not be able to reopen as planned for this week's end. Health inspectors do sometimes move as slowly as Heston's famous snail porridge, it would seem.

In other news there was drama and there were Lights, camera, action! and some catering, too. Yes, Pinewood Studios, home of the James Bond franchise, and caterer Kudos Hospitality parted company leaving both, one presumes, shaken but not stirred.

Compass staff were caught up in the turmoil surrounding the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the caterer became the latest hospitality player to sign up to JobCentre's Local Employer Partnership scheme.

Tootsies looks like it will soon have another new home after current owner Clapham House Group hoisted the for-sale sign above the burger chain, and one group of restaurateurs took flame grilling way too far, when they burnt down their restaurant and half of the surrounding street.

Contract caterer Lexington was firing on all cylinders to debut in the Best Small Companies to Work For list, but the public gave the Government's proposed hikes in beer tax a frosty response. Well, you wouldn't want a warm one, would you?

In fact, with 2,000 pubs having closed since last year's increase in beer tax, it's increasingly likely that your local may be anything but.

Budget hotel chain Premier Inn's seemingly exponential growth was finally adjusted to more reasonable levels, and Hallmark Hotels decided recession or no recession it was holding firm to its own expansion plan. Let's hope it doesn't come down like a house of cards.

Luxury hotel operator Mandarin Oriental wasn't amused by all this carry on, and said something about never having liked the colour purple under its breath (probably), while its profits tumbled as business guests became far more careful with their expense accounts.

It was change that he promised and change that UK hospitality and tourism leaders now actually want him to bring, rather urgently in fact. Still, scrapping new laws limiting US business travel has to be one of the more unexpected demands President Barack Obama faces at the moment. God Bless America!

And don't forget to visit our restaurant blog Guide Girl this afternoon where you'll be able to watch today's Oyster and Champagne tasting event at Galvin at Windows streamed live to the site.
 

Editor's Pick 

Black holes and revelations with Michael Prager
Is God on Harbour & Jones's side?
Ark Foundation charity dinner video
Recipes from the National Cookbook by Oliver Peyton


Quote of the Week 

"I have serious regrets about the whole situation and it’s been deeply upsetting. But closing the restaurant was morally and technically the only option."
Heston Blumenthal on closing the Fat Duck. 


By Chris Druce


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