I see that the Sunday Mail has brought back Pub Spy – I grew up with it, because it was my dad when he worked for the newspaper, that thought it up. And although many presumed the first Pub Spy was a man, in fact it was a couple of women who had gone into a pub in Ayrshire and were so horrified with the toilets that they reported back, and thus Pub Spy was born. I look forward to seeing the results of the new updated Pub Spy.
I had lunch with Harry Hood of Lisini, just before Christmas, and he briefed me on his view with regard to forthcoming rating evaluations and the fact rating assessors are hardly independent because they are employed by Councils. He also raised the issue that there have been two increases in the minimum wage in under a year. He told me, “The licensed trade is one of the biggest employers and gets no thanks.” He’s right – on all accounts. The trade around the country should be hitting their MSP’s and getting them onside. The trade definitely deserves a break.
Of course the licensed trade could act as one unit and refuse to pay the new rates… if every licensee in the country withheld their rates payments it would cripple councils and become an immediate priority for government. Just saying…
I had a coffee with Paul Crawford of Kiltr who very kindly demonstrated their app which has been designed in order to allow pubs to offer free wi-fi to their customers. The idea is that the pub can sell space on the app to brands and taxi co’s etc, because customers have to flick past the ads to get to the free wi-fi. It’s a good idea, and one that has already been taken up by a few of the more pro-active licensees.
Talking of people that are pro-active Bob Taylor (aka Uncle Bob) is threatening to make me one of his projects and train me for a cycle ride… as he is the Scottish Amateur Vet Champion cyclist I am a tad worried. So if anyone has a project that they would like him to do… please get in touch, you would be doing me a huge favour! Bob who has been working for Rekorderlig for the last few years, has now completed his task for Molson Coors. He told me, “The brand is in good hands.” However he still is not ready to hang up his boots. “I love the trade, and the folk in it, this is more of a hobby for me now.”
Congratulations to one of my favourite chefs Derek Marshall, Chef Patron of Glasgow seafood restaurant, Gamba, who has just launched his second cookbook, ‘Gamba – A Seafood Cookbook’. It showcases many of Derek’s popular Gamba recipes, including Fish Soup and a number of Gamba cocktails, alongside some new twists on traditional dishes. Gamba is arguably Glasgow’s best seafood restaurant, and Derek has been at its helm since day one. It’s not easy keeping a restaurant at the top of its game for years and years, but he and his team manage it. It’s award-winning and has two AA rosettes, but no matter how I try to replicate his famous soup, it’s never quite the same. Maybe with his new cookbook I’ll manage it. Here’s hoping!
Congratulations to Greene King, owners of Belhaven who saw group revenue rise to more than a billion in the 24 weeks to last October, a record high! Pre-tax profit rise 9% to £92.5 million. However the group has warned that 2017 could be more challenging with the impact of the National Living Wage, National Minimum Wage, and proposed increases to business rates, which are expected to have an impact on costs and margins this year. They are liaising with trade bodies to see if the Government will come up with plans to offset these initiatives. Greene King employs around 43,000 people and operates around 3,029 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Scotland and Wales so here’s hoping the Government will listen to Rooney Anand’s concerns!