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  • Ted Schama 1

    Ted Schama: From third place to second place


    I am a family and community man. I live by Hampstead heath and revel in walking the dogs, meeting new people and seeing old faces. I suppose you could say I am a people person.

  • Philip Kolvin QC

    Philip Kolvin QC: Regulators v insurers, the verdict


    Sometimes white smoke appears from a chimney and the result is clear. Sometimes, smoke rises from the battlefield, casualties are counted and it takes a century or two to work out who won and lost.

  • Restaurant

    Editorial: Ain’t nothing going on but the rent


    Okay, that’s not strictly true. The industry has only partially reopened, social distancing remains in place delivering a widespread reduction in covers, the industry is under close government scrutiny to ensure it’s compliant with the safety guidelines, EOHO has stimulated the industry (and debate!) and the invaluable furlough scheme continues ...

  • Nando's interior

    Editorial: Eat Out to Help Out a billion pound bonanza


    Eat Out to Help Out has worked better than expected. With four days left of the scheme, 64 million meals have been ‘sold’ with 84,000 restaurants taking part, many of whom are yet to claim their money back meaning the final number of discounted meals will be far higher. Particularly as the scheme has become more popular as the weeks have gone on. Week one hit 10 million meals, in week two the total tripled to over 30 million. So it’s on a trajectory to hit, or even exceed, 100 million meals. If all of those claim back the maximum £10, Rishi could be looking at settling up a billion-pound bill, a bit like when you order lots of sides in Wagamama.

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    Peter Martin: A postcard from commuter country


    It would be ironic if 2020 turned out to be the year that the British fully and finally learned to embrace continental café culture. Going out has changed, perhaps even permanently. We rarely stand by the bar with pint in hand, not that we are generally allowed to. We are all getting used to booking a table on-line, waiting to be seated on arrival and then ordering at the table, even for a beer, wine or coffee and often from an app on our smart phone. Table service is obligatory. No more heading straight to the bar. If we can we’ll venture outside.

  • KFC lick

    Editorial: KFC stunt leaves a bitter taste


    I love Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC is one of the tastiest things in the world. But it’s tasteless to deploy the coronavirus as a marketing stunt. There is no reason the coronavirus should have caused it to drop its famous finger lickin’ good catchphrase, but it knew it would spark debate and get people talking about KFC, and in that respect it’s a marketing job as juicy as a delicious drumstick. But it’s an ill-judged move for KFC to exploit the coronavirus to get people eating more fried chicken.

  • Eat Out to Help Out

    Peter Martin: ‘Eat Out to Help Out an opportunity to consolidate consumer connection’


    Operators must utilise what time remains of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to consolidate a consumer connection, and encourage a return visit, MCA’s The Conversation has heard.

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    Peter Martin: Impact of weather on consumer behaviour the “one thing that hasn’t changed”


    British weather, in all its unreliability, is the single most unchanging factor in its impact on consumer behaviour, MCA’s The Conversation has heard. Speaking at the event, MCA contributing editor Peter Martin told attendees that in his ten years of operating the Coffer Peach Business Tracker – a sector sales tracker produced by CGA in association with The Coffer Group and RSM – “the weather is the one thing that hasn’t changed over the years.”

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    Dominic Walsh: Casual dining one of ‘big losers’ of pandemic


    It used to be so simple. Come up with a restaurant concept and a brand, open one restaurant, then a second, then aim for five outlets then ten and 20, and if it’s still working, press the button on a nationwide rollout. Well, something like that, anyway.

  • Eat Out to Help Out

    Editorial: Will Eat Out Help Out?


    Eat Out to Help Out went live on Monday, and so far the signs are looking every bit as good as rare steak for dinner after you were forced to skip lunch. Of course it’s too early to see total sales for the traditionally quiet early week trading period, but anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests the word ‘unprecedented’ could be due a comeback. I tried to book a table on Tuesday night at Bill’s and the earliest they could offer was 9pm. It was the same at Giggling Squid. Carmona Tapas, a small three strong chain, was empty the last time I went on 5 July. Now it was fully booked.

  • saturated fats

    Peter Martin: Going with the grains on healthy eating


    The eating-out market did at least have a fraction more notice of Boris’s new obesity crusade than those planning a Spanish summer holiday received about quarantine. But it still came as an unwelcome surprise for most in the restaurant and pub world, not least because only last week the majority of us were still celebrating the cut in VAT and the launch of the Eat Out to Help Out campaign.

  • restaurant cafe table

    Editorial: Huge events, important people and big decisions


    Where to begin? The events of the last four months have been disastrous for everyone, from the smallest SME to the global economy, not to mention the general public. And the face of hospitality has significantly changed. Since lockdown lifted I’ve been served by people in branded face masks, full face transparent visors and had my temperature taken with a thermo-imaging gun. I’ve been barked at for stepping the wrong way, smiled at for stepping the right way

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    Dominic Walsh: On not-so-Super Saturday and the pain that’s yet to come


    If anyone thought that July 4 would bring down the curtain on the 15-week coronavirus purdah, they were soon disabused of the notion. Super Saturday was – like the weather – something of a damp squib. While some of the big pub companies opened as many as 80% to 85% of their estates on day one, research by CGA suggests that only 45% of hostelries opened their doors on Independence Day.

  • parmheader

    Peter Martin: A global problem requires a global perspective


    Anyone who expected England’s pub and restaurant market to spring miraculously back to life all flags flying on the Fourth of July hadn’t read the programme notes. All the data pointed to a sedate reopening. Only just over half of operators said they would be opening even some of their sites. In the end just 45% of pubs and bars welcomed customers back.

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    Editorial: More bright spots on the horizon


    Soho! One of the most colourful, vibrant and edgy parts of the capital, it’s famous, and infamous, for its neon-lit nightlife. So although in this current coronavirus climate you have to question the mindset of anyone who sees a crowd and gravitates towards it, it was inevitable it was going to get a bit busy there on the 4 July. Grim scenes for any nervy hypochondriacs who could actually taste the coronavirus dripping down onto Soho’s cobblestone streets, but the reality is that the footage only served to demonstrate how isolated it was.

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    Peter Martin: The road from farm to fork is going to get bumpier


    Apart from the queues and early shortages of eggs, pasta and flour, the British public has not in general had a problem being fed during the coronavirus crisis.

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    Peter Martin: Cutting the distance with customers


    Last week’s YouGov poll that showed a majority of the British public still in favour of retaining two-metre distancing should not have come as any surprise.

  • 10_Shop_Colleague Clean Down 3

    Editorial: A darker storm lies in wait


    “It was, finally, for everyone, a matter of waiting. You waited and you waited, for the hospital, the doctor, the plumber, the madhouse, the jail, papa death himself… The citizens of the world ate food and watched TV and worried about their jobs or lack of the same, while they waited.” That’s from Charles Bukowski’s novel Women, but it feels topical today. Anyone else fed up with waiting? Anyone else frustrated, impatient, angry and worried about waiting?

  • Costa

    Editorial: Where does this embattled industry go from here?


    I despise the coronavirus. To paraphrase R.E.M., I do not feel fine about the end of the world as we know it. Of course it’s not the end of the world altogether, however bad things seem right now everything could be worse. I’m fairly sure North Korea was about to blow everyone up with nuclear bombs a few months back. It could have been longer though, keeping track of time these days is tricky.

  • MARSTONS_Pint_Glasses

    Dominic Walsh: On the Marston’s and Carlsberg JV, and Just Eat


    Phew, the relief! For the first time since the lockdown here was a story that was not about coronavirus. And what a story: Marston’s to exit brewing. Well, almost. When its £780 million brewing joint venture with Carlsberg was announced, I described it as an acceleration of “the redrawing of Britain’s brewing landscape” and I see no reason to change my view.