Play it again, Sam 13 December 2019 Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
In this week's issue... Play it again, Sam Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
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Booming summer, and Xmas options

01 January 2000
Booming summer, and Xmas options

Business is currently booming as summer approaches and we face the onslaught of the tourist season. It's also the time of year when our cashflow allows us to consider spending a little on the property or working replacements, so we are currently looking for quotes to resurface the drive and, subject to planning permission, replace some windows.

However, as we relax after a hard night's work with a bottle of something convenient and inexpensive, the dominant discussion at the moment does not centre on the continuing sales growth, necessary and enjoyable as it is, nor on the foreseeable but nonetheless worrying staffing problems to be caused by the attendance at university and agricultural college of two key members of staff in September.

No, the main topic of conversation is, and has been for some time, The Christmas Dilemma.

To open or not to open, that is the question. This will be our fourth Christmas in Hunton, and in previous years our financial situation has compelled us to open for lunch on Christmas Day - closing was simply not an option. This year, barring major calamities, we could, in principle, afford to close for the day.

Weighing up the pros and cons of the situation is difficult. People are prepared to pay well for a good Christmas lunch. Even so, I always feel the need to use expensive ingredients to justify, at least to myself, the price tag.

Staffing for such special occasions is always difficult and, although parental assistance is available, we still have to impose a little on staff who have worked their socks off throughout December.


The local drinking population may resent us closing their local for the day, but last Christmas Day we knew very few of the drinkers who descended on us - it seemed that we were the oasis for everybody.

All of the above factors have been considered, but the biggest problem we face is that, after working for the past 18 Christmas Days, we're not sure what to do with ourselves. I know that to most readers this would not be a problem, but we are a little confused.

The most recent suggestion was to invite all of our relatives to lunch and host a proper family Christmas, the like of which has never happened before and may never happen again. After all, you never know what the future will bring, and we do have the space and facilities to make it happen.

Then, in a moment of lucidity, my financially astute beloved broke into my reverie, observing dryly that if I'm going to cook for 20-plus people on Christmas Day, we may as well charge for it.

Any thoughts?

Next diary from Ian Vipond: 23 July

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