by Christina Golding
RESTAURANTS are hoping to cash in on "World Cup widows" this month by promoting football-free havens for those wishing to avoid it.
"There are plenty of people who hate football and we are going for a football-free zone," said Max Renzland, joint proprietor of Le Petit Max in Hampton Wick, London.
But Renzland added that the restaurant will have to cope with the absence of two staff who will be attending the World Cup in France this month.
Laurence Isaacson of Groupe Chez Gérard said that he is expecting a great deal more women in the group's restaurants over the period, while Conran Restaurants' Zinc Bar & Grill is offering a free bottle of Champagne for groups of four women throughout the competition (see panel).
But the company is playing it safe in its Mezzo restaurant by offering a big screen showing football upstairs and live bands downstairs.
"Partners can meet up at the end of the evening," said a spokeswoman.
Bass is heavily promoting football viewing in 1,700 of its pubs, but a spokeswoman said its female-friendly All Bar One chain will be reserved for those wanting a "quiet drink".
A FORMER restaurant boss has been banned from entering Newcastle city centre after allegedly threatening to kill his wife.
Alex Cuscani, who in the early 1990s ran the Godfather restaurant in Newcastle's Market Street before it was gutted in a gas blast, has been told he will be arrested and jailed if he enters the city before his next magistrates' court appearance later this month.
Newcastle magistrates were told that 48-year-old Cuscani had made threats about his ex-wife Jill Jefferson - who now runs Cuscani's former restaurant - to her employees.
Cuscani, of Jesmond, Newcastle, said he would vigorously deny the allegations.
Under Cuscani's ownership the Godfather became one of Newcastle's best-known restaurants, attracting stage and sports stars including footballer Paul Gascoigne - who had his own table and a pizza created specially for him. But in 1996 Cuscani was jailed for tax evasion.
A MIDLANDS trio appeared before Newcastle magistrates after trying to pay an £800 hotel bill with just 34p in the bank.
Teenager Lisa Pack from Coventry, boyfriend Reginald Wort from Birmingham and 51-year-old Alan Luckman, also from Birmingham, booked into the £90-a-night Moat House hotel at Newcastle Airport over the 25 May bank holiday.
They ate food and drank Champagne, but when reception staff became suspicious, climbed out of a bedroom window. They were captured by staff and security guards. They were given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay off the bill at £5 per week each.
THISTLE Hotels' share price soared by 7.5% on Tuesday after the group announced it has received approaches that may lead to an offer for the company.
US investment companies have long been rumoured as bidders. But industry insiders last week said that Bass could make a bid. A Bass spokeswoman said: "We never comment on industry rumours."