New dialling codes for some cities and the addition of a "1" to all others will come into place on Phoneday on 16 April.
A hospitality computer company is offering free software to simplify the changes for its customers. Welcome customers just have to send the company a disk formatted to suit their machines.
New customer loyalty bonus software enables hoteliers to automate happy hours and discount-night offers. Customers can pick up loyalty bonus points which can be doubled for slack times of the day or week. It costs £150.
Software for pro-forma invoicing for groups and tour operators can now handle all the variants of group billing, including different rates for different periods of hotel guests' stays. Price is £50 to existing customers and free to new ones.
Tel: 01604 821970
What a sauce
Self-service customers can now dispense their own measured amounts of sauces. Free-flowing units can be used to speed up recipe preparation without the need for hand-held sauce guns.
Inn-Dispense's Series 300 condiment dispensers come in single and multiple versions and can be fitted into fixed units or mobile carts. The sauces come in 11-litre bulk containers which offer cost savings, reduce waste and increase hygiene, says the company.
Series 300 portion-controlled units cost £425.60 and Series 300 free-flow units cost £373.60.
Tel: 01202 668822
Self-service coffee dispenser
A survey of the opposition convinced a catering equipment company that there was a need for a self-service hot water dispenser for coffee-making which fitted in with front of house decor.
Olympic's Gold hot water dispensers come with a standard brass finish instead of the usual stainless steel.
The best temperature for coffee-making is 97ºC, which the water heater maintains when up to one litre of water is drawn off at a time, says the company. Capacity is7.8 litres.
Price is £575.
OLYMPIC CATERING EQUIPMENT
Tel: 01245 265355
Greater choice for greater numbers
Caterers wanting to offer more variety in the ready-made sandwiches they serve can now have them in 500g packs as well as 1kg or 2.5kg packs. The smaller packs are to allow small catering operations to offer the same varied choice as larger caterers without making unnecessary bulk purchases.
The new sizes come in a range of 40 varieties, including chicken in lime ginger mayonnaise, small vegetables in from age frais and chicken tikka in yogurt and mint.
Prices for the 500g packs range from £2.40 for corned beef and onion sandwiches to £4.45 for prawns in mayonnaise or Marie Rose sauce. Prices for the 1kg packs are between £4.50 and £8.60. Prices for the 2.5kg packs are £11.10-£21.40.
The sandwiches can be delivered anywhere in the UK within 36 hours.
Tel: 01509 233327
An incandescent radiant cooking bed is at the heart of a new type of barbecue from Flavorsavor.
All fats and oils from the food and marinades are burned up by the radiant bed so there is no need to clean drip trays, according to the company.
The flavour of barbecued meat comes from the vaporisation of the fats and juices when they hit the heat source. Flavorsavor claims the high temperature of its barbecue delivers a high proportion of radiant heat which seals meat juices in and helps to keep meat tender.
The radiant bed is said to produce a better result than imitation coals and gas-fired char grills.
Price is £1,695.
Tel: 01425 403430
Get smart card
The cashless society is coming a step closer with an automatic coffee machine which accepts smart cards.
Customers buy non-rechargeable cards which they can use to get coffee from Autobar Beverage Systems' Cafe Autobar 3-08 countertop coffee machines. Coffee options include cappuccino, cafe au lait, cafe mocha, chocolate, choc-o-latte and espresso. The cards come in 10- or 30-drink denominations.
Leisure catering is the target market because customers serve themselves and so do not use up staff time. Pre-payment is good for your cashflow, says the company.
The system can be rented from £19 a week and a number of financial packages are available.
AUTOBAR BEVERAGE SYSTEMS
Tel: 01494 472323
Today's strict food hygiene requirements mean that different departments of a catering organisation often need dedicated temperature thermometers rather than those with interchangeable probes.
The Atkins 330 series of food thermometers, stocked by Gilberts, measures a temperature range from -55ºC to 200ºC with an accuracy of plus or minus 0.6ºC. They can be used for measuring the temperatures of frozen foods and hot fats, and monitoring refrigeration performance.
The 330/32 costs £135, the 330/33 costs £123 and the 330/34 costs £126.
Tel: 0181-864 6566
Healthier fish coatings
The continuing mania for healthy eating is driving demand for lighter fish crumb coatings which processors say bring something new to proven popular lines.
Young's golden cod nuggets and golden plaice goujons come in a light crumb which is intended to showcase the taste of the fish. No artificial colourings, preservatives or flavourings are used in a crumb with a natural colour.
After market research, the company's strategy is to add value to well-known products to create interest and drive volume. The strategy will underpin all future launches.
Prices are £6.28 for a 1kg pack of golden cod nuggets and £2.29 for a 300g pack of golden plaice goujons.
Tel: 01472 359111
En croute seafood dishes
Royal Greenland is using a new method of peeling cold-water prawns to make en croute prawns in cream cheese sauce with dill and lemon pepper.
Other dishes in the company's en croute range are smoked haddock and prawns in Cheddar cheese sauce and flakes of smoked trout fillet and broccoli tips in Cheddar cheese sauce. Oven bake from frozen at 200ºC for 20 minutes. Price is £14.80 for a box of 20 x 200g portions.
Tel: 0161 4858385
Over here from over there
American bread is thicker and toasts more quickly because of its high sugar content, says a British catering equipment company distributing American toasters in the UK.
A machine which could toast 600 slices of American bread in an hour will toast only 400 slices of British bread. British bread's higher water content has also been taken into account and adjustments made to the heating elements.
Frialator's Hatco conveyor toasters come in 10 versions in three ranges. Prices start at £1,018 for a TQ-300 Toast-qwik model and rise to £1,741 for a Toast King TK-155B three-part bun toaster.
Tel: 01925 821280
Down the drain
One way of avoiding charges for food waste disposal is to use a machine to grind it up and flush it down the drain. That method also avoids the costs and hygiene problems of storage before collection.
IMC's latest 500 series of compact food waste disposers are designed for smaller caterers and can be fitted under sinks or left freestanding. For larger caterers, their compact size means that food waste can be disposed of at source.
Prices in the 500 Series are £670 for the 523, £1,040 for the 525 and £1,245 for the 526 units.
Tel: 01923 779311