cu l8r 4 pub grub

Image: Marcello

Image: Marcello

The trouble with modern technology is that it makes life too easy for some. It does away with the need to think about certain things – like how to spell. The predictive text feature on mobile phones has been partly to blame for some of the most glaring ‘mistakes’ that have appeared on a ‘screen near you’ lately and some would say, has led to the shorthand sms-type text that is prevalent today. For example: “cu@thepub” … “wot time” … “4ish.

Critics have labelled it the language of curt communication. One wonders whether the sign-writers at Sheffield High School used their mobiles to work out how to spell the word ‘category’ and ended up with ‘catergory.’ Perhaps they teach how to run a dinner party at the school? But it’s not something you’d expect from a high-fee type of school to have on display. And why wasn’t it picked up before someone who can actually spell spotted it and took a snap? Maybe all the staff and pupils are all in predictive text mode. Or perhaps we’re all just too used to scanning words and accepting them whether they’re correct or not. Possibly a fallout of prevailing trends?

One trend also causing confusion is the one of ‘how old are you?’ especially when it comes to serving alcohol. Publicans, shop owners and stocktakers will tell you what the law prescribes. And even that gets confusing when you consider whether the person is at home, with an adult, without an adult, ordering a meal, in Scotland, in a pub, at a supermarket etc. Most people will say you have to be “an adult over 18” and it cannot be sold to children. But now it gets even more complex since some psychologists have suggested that some under 25’s are still adolescents and not adults. And the conference in Brighton is also promising to bring the voting age down to 16. Would one then be able to advance the argument that “… if they’re old enough to vote, then they’re adults and therefore they’re old enough to buy a drink…”?

Malanoplus bivittatus

Malanoplus bivittatus

‘Parking off at the palace’ made mention of the versatility that stocktakers needed to exercise in their job so as to keep up to speed with developments, trends, innovations in order to keep customers efficient and profitable. Jon Rutter and his team are constantly kept on their toes as things change – but how would you like to be a fly on the wall (so to speak) at the Eat Ento restaurant. The new style of restaurant that serves various grubs, insects, maggots and other delicacies that are regarded as culinary delights in other parts of the world. Initially, Alice Audley was sceptical and a bit ‘flesh-crawly’ about it but her final verdict was that they were rather tasty.

This type of menu probably won’t be advertised on the sandwich board outside too many pubs, though. Much to the relief of the various stocktakers I suspect. How do you work out the profit margin on a bowl of maggots? Or an ant farm?

The final problem will be how to spell the dishes that are added to the menu. I suspect that it would be quite easy to get your Ageneotettix deorum confused with your Malanoplus bivittatus. Try giving that to a sign-writer! 

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I’m freegan out!

Image: Philip Jackson

Image: Philip Jackson

“Freegan” Libby Russell openly bemoans the fact that she has to go into the supermarkets when she wants to treat herself to a chocolate as because she doesn’t find any in the skips that she searches through to get the perfectly good food that she uses to stock her pantry. Freegans are those folk who pick up the bargains that supermarkets have tossed out as “beyond-their-sell-by date” – the downside for the freegan community is that sometimes they have to climb in and out of huge skips and bins, but hey, it saves them a fortune in food!

Image: Rawkus

Image: Rawkus

The good news for Libby is that she won’t have to wait much longer for some binned choccies to make their appearance in the waste bins. Because 3 months prior to Christmas the little red Santa’s and reindeer themed chocolate treats are already on the shelves (probably with those same ‘festive’ music selections as the last 10 years also playing in the background) so it won’t be long before some confectionery items will have reached their “expiry date” because they were probably made a year ago anyway. Merry Christmas, Libby!

You’d think that supermarket chains would use stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his crew to plan more carefully to avoid wastage and profit loss. It is precisely the planned strategies, specialist advice and effective problem solving that stocktakers bring to a business that make winners out of pubs and restaurants. And one of the stand out statements on hearing that Tom Gee had won the Best Freehouse 2013 title was that the judges had said that they felt, “… Gee was a licensee with a clear vision and a firm grip on the direction of the business.Jessica Mason, writing for the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, goes on to list all the winners. Congratulations to them all. For them to achieve that success probably means, among other things, that they have a very firm handle on the stocktaking aspect of their business too.

With the Premiership only 40 matches old and loads more to come, choose with care where you watch the matches. You don’t want to be sitting there with your favourite pint in hand and ten minutes into an important game find some bloke coming in with wire cutters, snipping the cable and walking off with the TV-top box because the landlord hasn’t got an official connection. One landlord has been fined nearly £6500 for not having the correct commercial subscription. I wonder if she had a stocktaker? They could ensure that this type of detail gets sorted before the trouble starts.

Following on from our account of the story of the pub with no beer (town with no pubs) – some enterprising chaps in New Zealand pranked their mate by re-plumbing his house to deliver only beer from the taps. Watching the video I don’t think his girlfriend was impressed, but it made for a bit of a laugh as it was soon reversed. Beer on tap in every room, what a thought. And even though beer is supposed to be good for your hair, it does take a bit of effort to get it to lather properly. Pity that.

Parking off at the palace …

Image: Wynand van Niekerk

Image: Wynand van Niekerk

The Premier Parking Solutions MD must have either read our blog of 5 June or he visits the Queen Victoria in Essex. The Queen Vic. Decided to make sure that their regulars had parking available by charging non-customers for using their parking area. But now Barrie Douglass (from Premier Parking) has decided to think laterally and he sees this as a solution to help struggling pubs. How? Charge the customers to park and thereby increase the pub’s income.

The only problem, Barrie, is that if I had saved my hard earned dosh for a couple of pints down at my local and then they wanted to charge me on top of the price of my tipple, I would have a sense of humour failure and probably walk there (so you’d lose my extra money anyway) or I’d go somewhere else and you’d lose my custom altogether. I don’t think it will really “help” the pubs. Go and read again what the Queen Vic. did – they decided to HELP their customers, not make them pay more.

In fairness to Barrie, he did suggest that the price of the parking could possibly be redeemed over the counter for a drink. This is something that stocktakers can implement after consultation with their clients. It seems that for Jon and his Stocktaking team there are always variables and changes they need to be making publicans aware of. They can’t sit still, which is a good thing as it ensures that their customers stay on track of being profitable and at the same time delivering good service and product to their patrons. A win-win situation. Who’d have thought a few years ago that “parking” would be a factor in a pub’s profitability equation?

And on the subject of profitability, we all moan at prices going up. But when they come down? It appears that there are moans too. And suspicion. Maybe the infamous Marmite advert has had an effect and more are being re-homed. Or maybe, as some suspect, it is a way to get rid of the glass bottles and introduce squeezy ones – in any event, the price of Marmite has plunged 30%! Marmite lovers are wondering whether they’re getting rid of “old stock” (does Marmite go off?) or is it a price war in the making. One question no one seems to have posed is why wasn’t it 30% cheaper ages ago? What type of profit margin were they making for all those years? Anyway, at that price you might as well stock up. It will be interesting to see what spin the Marmite PR machine puts on this development.

Image: Jennifer Smith

Image: Jennifer Smith

No PR firm could have done anything for the Met. this last week when it emerged that HRH Prince Andrew was accosted having a stroll in his mum’s garden. If he’d had a few corgis with him he might have been more recognizable. Or, as The Sun displayed, if the coppers on duty had been given a “who’s who” crib sheet. A bit like the way a new employee goes through an orientation programme when joining a large company … “this is our CEO (showing picture) her name is …

Posh Pubs and Becks …

Dan Sheahan had been looking forward to a large beer at the end of the day, in fact he had ridden 20 miles to get it! He was so distraught at finding that the US Servicemen had drunk the place dry that he penned the immortal lines to “The Pub With No Beer.” Slim Dusty was so moved by the story that he was persuaded to sing it on April Fools Day in 1957.

DSC_0012But there is nothing “foolish” about the events in Blackburn over the years. It’s turning into the town with no pubs, let alone beer! Dan Sheahan would have written a positively morbid and decidedly dreary poem if he was here today. This trend seems to be occurring throughout the country with some areas hit harder than others. And while there are many reasons / excuses cited as to why it is occurring what is indisputable is that for people to stay in business and serve their loyal clientele, they had better be on top of their game in the hospitality industry.

Stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his teams across the UK have goals to play a key role in delivering exceptional customer experience, helping to improve profits and know exactly what’s going on in their businesses so that, among other things, they don’t run out of beer and that they are able to stay in business.

In London, the David Beckham/Gordon Ramsay alliance seems to have gotten off to a flyer with all the seating booked and no standing room left in the terraces. It was reported that within half an hour of their website going live 1200 diners had booked tables! There were reports that DB himself had been visiting the premises and checking on progress in the factory-style restaurant in Southwark. Perhaps all those who booked tables are hoping that David will flambé something at their table, or that Gordon will have been persuaded to have had an arm inked. The Union Street Café has been designed so that diners will be able to watch the chef’s in action at the open, theatre-style kitchen. With Gordon in the house, that should make for some interesting and colourful expressions being heard.

But while it might be hot in the close-quarter kitchen with Gordon and Becks at least the customers can rest assured that their cars won’t feel the heat of it like the poor patrons across the river in Fenchurch Street whose vehicles have been fried by the building that was possibly designed to reflect light into the darker regions of the street below. Well, it does the job so well that it’s melted some poor bloke’s Jag. And there’s also a Vauxhall that’s been “torched” by the building. The owners have, understandably lost their sense of humour about the matter. The road below the building was lit up like it was in a spotlight.

And speaking of “theatre” – it was refreshing and amusing to view the Simon Cowell look-alike using a very clever script to tell folk about Jon and the team’s stocktaking credentials. It could be said that Andy Monk has taken Simon off to a “T.”