Sue Says

susan 2

Straight-talking from our very own publisher – Sue Young

There has been a real flurry of activity in the market – I can’t remember so many new pubs opening and so many refurbishments. It goes to show that despite all the political uncertainty, the on-trade has not pulled back from investing. It’s a pity the Scottish government didn’t invest a bit more time in finding out what the real cost of operating in the hospitality industry is and stop using it like a ‘cash cow’. Paying rates on turnover penalises the very people who are investing in their businesses and that makes no sense.

I love it when people call me to tell me they have found a great pub as was the case recently. Marco Sarao went on a NC500 tour and came across the Inn on the Tay. He raved about it. Marco, who’s pub The Swan Inn took home Sunday Mail Pub of the Year last year, certainly should know a good pub. I intend to visit it as soon as I can.

I was in Dornoch recently and was so impressed by the quality of the hospitality offering – the bar and restaurant at the Dornoch Castle Hotel was fab, as was the service at The Links and The Royal Golf Hotel. It was first class. I can’t wait to go back. Well done to all concerned.

The research on red wine gets better and better, and just as well because it’s one of my favourite tipples. A new study has revealed that a glass of red wine each day could be beneficial for the gut microbiome of humans. That was this month’s conclusion. Last month, we found that the compound resveratrol found in red wine demonstrates stress relieving effects in anxiety and depression, according to researchers
from the University at Buffalo in collaboration with Xuzhou Medical University in China. I‘d better stock up!

And talking of research, I have to say I don’t know whether minimum pricing is really working or not and how much is really down to the reduction in the drink-drive limit. According to a study just published in the British Medical Journal, which looked at how much alcohol was bought in shops before and after the move up to the end of 2018, consumers are buying just over a unit less of alcohol a week and the heaviest drinkers 2 units less a week. I know it is a downward figure but, really, a unit less a week – and these figures don’t include pub sales. They analysed the purchasing habits of 60,000 English and Scottish households between 2015 and 2018. Just over 5,000 of them were in Scotland. The English households were used as a control group. While households in England increased their consumption slightly, Scottish purchasing fell. Personally, I think it is more likely that the reduction in the drink drive level is what is working in Scotland!
But the Newcastle team did acknowledge there needed to be longer-term follow up to see if the drop was sustained, as there
was some evidence that in the later months of 2018 consumption had begun to rise again. Meanwhile, Alcohol Focus Scotland is also calling on the government to require licensed premises to provide information on sales as a condition of their licence because data is based on natural volumes and not the alcohol content. Watch out for that one.

I was talking to Gordon White of FatBuzz recently who was explaining to me some of the more intricate issues around social media. He told me that he has banned his staff from using the term because it is actually so much more. It was fascinating. He runs Breakfast meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow where he tackles the issues and the solutions – worth attending if you get the chance, and there is no charge. The company is also now doing marketing training. Just saying!

Mario Gizzi’s DRG Group has closed Di Maggio’s on Ruthven Lane. It was the first ever Di Maggio’s and I have a host of memories
associated with the restaurant. But like many things perhaps it was time to adapt to changing food trends and it is now set to reopen as a Chaakoo – also owned by Gizzi and Paul Sloan. It will be Glasgow’s second Chaakoo Bombay Cafe. Meanwhile I hear that Ox and Finch are aiming to have their new west end venture open in time for Christmas – I look forward to seeing it.

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