I think we made a rod for our own back when we opened up the entries for consumers to vote in our awards… mind you, I never imagined that Bruce Springsteen would put his oar in! Just goes to show you! So, yes we do check who has entered the nominations, which is a mammoth job too.
Next month, we will have all the finalists, but this month our mystery shoppers will be out and about, and the judges too. I have to say I love this part of the awards – getting to see new places, catching up with some familiar faces and travelling the length and breadth of Scotland. So roll on 16th August.
Talking about traveling the length and breadth of Scotland… I went to meet Iain Pert last month at his new place the Fork and Field, formerly The Torphichen Inn… but silly me, I went to Torphichen in Torphichen and not the former Torphichen Inn in Mid Calder! Iain thinks I am a dumpling! I am! At least they are only 30 mins apart.
The recent Hospitality Industry Trust dinner at The Hilton was a great success. More than 400 guests enjoyed a slap up Indian meal which fitted with the Bollywood theme, and some great entertainment. The only fly in the ointment was at some point ‘Last man standing’ Ollie Norman said he was doing a cycle challenge between Scotland’s hotels. Not to be outdone… the guests at my table, led by the MD of Tennent’s Alastair Campbell suggested we ladies did one too – well seeing we were drinking… pinky pledges to do a 400 mile charity cycle from Fallon Cowley (Manorview) and Lisa Wishart (Lisini) and me (albeit reluctantly) followed! Since then I have roped in Anne Nixon from Kopparberg… it won’t be til next year … but if any one out there fancies sponsoring us to make sure we do it… please do!
Jim Grierson, On-trade Sales Director of Maxxium retired at the end of last month having spent some 30 years working with Famous Grouse owners Matthew Gloag and Maxxium UK. He will be sorely missed – he helped us set up the Mixxit Apprentice Programme some 10 years ago, and he and Jim Tulle also introduced me to the Ben. Jim and I have had lots of interesting discussions over the years, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone more dedicated to the trade than he. His long-suffering PA Margaret Henderson has also retired. As well as a multitude of jobs, the one she probably least relished was as ‘keeper of his diary’ …well she tried to keep his diary! Very best wishes to them both from all of us here.
I’m looking forward to seeing Colin Beattie’s new-look Jarvie’s in Yoker. It burnt down last year and Colin has been busy renovating it. He tells me he has brought a touch of ‘The Hamptons’ to Yoker! Sounds interesting.
The Donna Mortimer Bannatyne Ball run by the Mortimer family to celebrate the memory of Donna, helps fund the Kilbryde Hospice. They raised a mammoth £164K – that is really tremendous. It was a great night too. See roundup.
Maybe Brewdog will have to re-think its PR strategy… how long can a brand boast about being anti-establishment and irreverent when it’s two founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, have got MBE’s from the Queen? You can’t get any more establishment than that! Maybe they will revise their suggestions that their customers “ride toward anarchy”. But then again, perhaps that’s why they have named their latest beer Paradox.
Brexit is now a reality and I am personally not sure what to make of it. I really didn’t think it would come to this. What will the impact be? To be honest I’m probably in the same boat as every business person, politician, banker, etc. Nobody knows what the eventual outcome will be.
Or whether it will save us or cost us. But on the day the result was revealed Revolution Bars, (RBG) which is in the process of going through due diligence with a pub estate in Edinburgh, informed the Stock Exchange… that it was in “discussions regarding a proposed acquisition of four bars in Edinburgh for approximately £16m. In the year to 26 April 2015, the bars reported an aggregate site EBITDA of £3.3 million. The proposed acquisition is expected to be significantly earnings enhancing for the group’s financial year ending 30 June 2017 and would enlarge the group’s portfolio of bars. It would also introduce a further brand, which the directors believe to be capable of being rolled out to other sites. The consideration is expected to be funded via new debt, a relatively small placing of new ordinary shares for cash and the issue of ordinary shares to the vendors. Discussions are ongoing and in light of the EU Referendum results may or may not result in any transaction, whether as described above or at all, being agreed.” Here’s hoping for all concerned that it is not the case! If it was, on it would be the first licensed trade transaction impacted by Brexit!
Cover Story – I have to say I love the fact that my local the King’s Arms in Fenwick has opened a Chippy… in fact I enjoyed the new menu the day of the Fenwick Gala Fete. My local hostelry, which for the past few years has been less than successful, has had an injection of energy since the new owners took over. Of course I put it all down to the fact they now take dogs! And talking of dogs… we got more than 200 entries for Dog Friendly Pub of the Year… Jock the dog is going to be busy.