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Table talk

All in for the hot desk shuffle

Post Office caterer Quadrant has introduced a new working practice for its top management team – hot desking.

This is nothing to do with spilt coffee or food fights during working lunches: the entire board, along with the quality team and operations development controller, are from now on to share just four desks.

The aim is to force people out of the office and into the company’s restaurants, while also cutting down on office space and saving money.

It could be cosy at the next office party.

Guessing the game?

Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and nowhere more so than in staff restaurants. Employees at Arco British, in Camberley, Surrey, liked Sutcliffe’s “Unusual Dishes of the Month” promotion, but were hungry for something that beat pheasant and rabbit for novelty.

Catering manager Carl Lindsay hit on something even more adventurous. He offered mystery dishes, invited customers to taste for free before buying, and challenged them: identify the dish and you win a free meal.

Among the correct answers were shark, alligator and ostrich. And the day that kangaroo was served, Carl sold 27 out of 30 portions.

Drawing hotel life to a close

What do you do after being sales and marketing director at a five-star hotel? How about selling curtains?

The change sounds drastic but is not completely illogical. Sally Ball left the Dorchester, London, last July after her second child was born. Having looked for a business which would mix with her family commitments, she has now opened the London Curtain Agency.

“I’m currently acting for five of the big five-star hotels and some country houses,” Mrs Ball told Table Talk.

Working at her shop in Kew, West London, she finds new homes for curtains which hotels discard when they refurbish.

This is good news for the hotels, who are getting a return on their partly-used stock, and very good news for buyers, who can sometimes get nearly-new curtains for about a third of new prices. The good news for Sally is that investment in refurbishment has picked up again this spring.

Great infestations

Publicans don’t usually brag about finding insects on their premises, but Barry Scott is doing just that. Director of the 10-bedroom Black Lion pub at St Albans, Mr Scott is excited about some weevils which have been dug up there.

An archaeological dig at the Black Lion unearthed a Roman malting oven and the flue of a corn drier – and the latter gave up two weevils which the experts have identified as tarratostichus stussineri.

St Albans Museum Service says this particular weevil has never been recorded in the UK before. As they originated in the Eastern Alps and Carpathians, they must have been brought in by the Romans.

Taken together, the evidence proves there was an ale house on the site of the 18th-century Black Lion between 60AD and 250AD.

For many years Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a mile or so distant, has claimed to be the oldest licensed pub in the country. Now Mr Scott will be putting up a plaque with a rival claim.

Injecting a note of exteme caution

Labour’s Scottish health spokesman, John McAllion MP, warns environmental health officers of a new hazard in Dundee’s cafés and fast food restaurants: drug addicts are using the vinegar bottles to clean their syringes. You have been warned.

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