Steal, swipe, pinch, nab. Call it what you will, theft of property is a nuisance for any business. But in a restaurant, where decorations have been painstakingly selected to create a cohesive look, the disappearance of cutlery, linen and ashtrays can be even more annoying.
The furore surrounding the mysterious whereabouts of a silver spoon at London restaurant-of-the-moment Tom Aikens in Chelsea may have seemed like a storm in a teacup, but Aikens's right to confront a customer, despite potentially damaging that relationship and provoking loss of business from that diner, should be defended.
While customers, in fine-dining restaurants, for example, may have spent £60, £80 or £100 a head, it doesn't give them the right to acquire a little memento. You don't hear of people going to the ballet and then at the end of the show wrestling a dancer to the floor so they can take a slipper as a keepsake. And have you ever seen a groom coming back down the aisle after his marriage with a hymn book stuffed up his shirt?
Operators cannot turn a blind eye to this type of carry-on. If they do, they know that they have to regain their losses somehow and that means raising prices. So inevitably, those honest diners who chose not to take a spoon are forced to pay more for those who do.
The dangers of passive smoking were highlighted again this week by a new report showing that second-hand smoke kills. The new findings, which support Caterer's campaign to Stub out Smoking in the workplace, show what many health experts have been saying for years - that breathing in someone's else fag smoke is dangerous to your health.
This is why we feel so strongly that the Government needs to act to ban smoking in the workplace, and that means all pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels. Talk of the Government enforcing a partial ban excluding wet-led pubs presumably means that it cares less for the health of people working in traditional boozers.
That's why Caterer feels it should be a total ban across all workplaces - because everyone's health matters, regardless of whether you work in a hotel or a pub. To sign up to our campaign
British dishes True entrepreneurs always have new projects on the go, and Sir Terence Conran, entrepreneur par excellence, has more than a few launching at the moment. In fact, he has four London eateries opening this month. But it's the thoroughly British food being showcased at his Paternoster Chop House that has occupied him the most.
Helen Adkins, Restaurants & bars editor
The nitty gritty In the third part of our series on starting your own business, we speak to the experts about how to market your company effectively, find the best staff and build up a strong supplier network. We feature two journalists who opened their first hotel in August and a chef who launched a 30-seat fine-dining restaurant in May, while legendary chef Rick Stein shares his business wisdom of 30 years.
Amanda Afiya, managing editor (features)