This week’s exclusive Diary includes: industry big hitters getting involved in new company Red Oak Taverns; Jamie Oliver striking gold; Butlins’ curious definition of ‘lunchtime’; and the Duchess of Cambridge shunning the family beer drinking tradition. Red Oak revival Last month, we reported the news that Mark Grunnell and Aaron Brown, former associates of Robert Tchenguiz, had bought 32 pubs that were previously part of the Iranian property tycoon’s R&L Properties pub empire, through their new vehicle Red Oak Capital Partners. Diary now hears that the new pubco umbrella to oversee the business will take the name Red Oak Taverns. It also believes that a number of high-profile investors, including some current industry figures, have taken stakes in the new venture, suggesting that it won’t stop at just the 32 sites. Jamie’s treasure trove Some would suggest that Jamie Oliver doesn’t need any more lucky breaks, while others would argue, quite correctly, that the high-profile chef has worked hard for everything that has come his way. However, he recently struck gold with a new restaurant in a way even he wasn’t prepared for. According to reports, when the team behind Jamie’s Italian came to renovate the chain’s site, which opened in Manchester yesterday, they found a number of unopened safety deposit boxes filled in the building’s cellar. Inside they found items, including gold and jewelry, worth up to £1.1m. Not a bad first day’s takings. A Brit of alright News reaches Diary that the Ellangowan pub, in Creetown, Scotland - made famous by the film The Wicker Man - is available for offers around £200,000. The Ellangowan is better known to film buffs as the fictional Green Man from the iconic 1973 film, where the pints were pulled by Britt Eckland and supped by Edward Woodward. Alistair Letham, a director with selling agents Colliers International, said: “Of course, the Ellangowan attracts a significant of film fans who visit the area to take in the locations seen in The Wicker Man. Sadly, Britt Eckland is no longer working behind the bar, but the visitors to the bar partake in a lot less sacrifice than seen in the film, making it a popular local venue.” Talk about a late lunch... It’s the great restaurant operator’s dilemma. Diary isn’t talking about whether to serve straight or curly fries. Rather, whether to jump on the great discount voucher bandwagon. Because, as many famous establishments have found, once you’ve climbed on it’s very difficult to get off. But one operator appears to have found a solution. Diary had a spy at Butlins in Bognor Regis last weekend, where celebrity chef Brian Turner has opened a restaurant called, imaginatively, Turner’s. All Butlins guests receive a newsletter on arrival inviting them to sample the gastronomic delights on offer at the south coast campus. And in this newsletter was a discount voucher for Turner’s, proclaiming in big red capital letters: KIDS EAT FREE AT LUNCHTIME. For the hard-pressed working-class family enjoying a budget break at Butlins this surely represented great value and, with adult mains starting at “just £9.95”, Diary’s man on the south coast was anticipating a 2+2 family lunch in a top-chef inspired establishment with soft drinks coming in at around the £30 mark. However, on reading the voucher small print, disappointment loomed large. The voucher specified: “Valid 10-19 February 2012, between 5-9pm.” Now Diary is not sure when families in the C2, D and E consumer type categories eat their lunch, but surely it’s before it gets dark. So maybe this is the solution for restaurants looking to encourage bookings without actually having to pay for discounts – the irredeemable voucher! Leave those kids alone Talking of family dining, here’s a sign of the times tale from JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin. In response to a letter in Wetherspoon News, he gives a frank admission that the company’s policy on children is “an imperfect compromise which has possibly succeeded in alienating everyone”. Mrs Stokes from Berkshire complained that she and her daughter were told they had to order food if they wanted to be in a pub with her 12 year-old grandson. Martin explained that JDW’s rule is that all adults should eat if they bring in youngsters “in order to make sure that the under-18s are not participating in a drinking session”. “This seems Draconian to many people, but, given the extremely strict rules surrounding young people in pubs, it is very difficult for us to be more liberal.” Heir of the dog Whatever your views on the royal family, few would argue that Prince Charles isn’t a supporter of the great British pub, what with his successful rural pub regeneration scheme Pub is the Hub and the numerous snaps of him sipping a pint in a traditional boozer. Diary was slightly concerned, then, to hear that during a recent engagement, queen-to-be the Duchess of Cambridge chose to attend an alcohol-free bar run by the Action on Addiction charity, of which she’s a patron, and try - shock - a non-alcoholic cocktail. Oh well. Perhaps Harry will continue the family tradition.