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Gordon Ramsay sells Hollywood restaurant – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

09 March 2009 by
Gordon Ramsay sells Hollywood restaurant – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Gordon Ramsay sells Hollywood restaurant
Slow trade has forced Gordon RamsayMail on Sunday and the - Independent >>

Health tests could keep Fat Duck shut for weeks
Environmental health officials have warned that the tests to discover what made diners at the Fat Duck restaurant sick could take weeks or even months. Three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal closed the restaurant over a week ago after reports that 40 customers had been struck down by a mystery illness. Since then, the number of potential cases has leapt to 400 between the end of January and 24 February, increasing the scale and complexity of the investigation. Two local environmental health officers and 20 officers from the Health Protection Agency are conducting three sets of tests: one on 60 staff, another on the 400 diners and, potentially, a third on thousands of ingredients. Investigators also want to test all diners who have eaten at the restaurant since the first incidence of illness. "It's still early in the investigation. It could take several weeks to reach a conclusion," said Tay Potier, a policy officer at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. The closure of the 40-seat restaurant has already cost Blumenthal at least £100,000 and is likely to be losing him £10,000 a day. 7 March, Read the full article in the Independent >>

Pizza Hut rebrand as Pasta Hut was a PR stunt, admits US owner
The short-lived rebrand of the Pizza Hut chain as Pasta Hut has been quietly reversed as the US owner admitted the move was little more than a "light-hearted" hoax to publicise the launch of its Tuscani pasta line. More than 15 Pizza Huts in the UK that had been rebranded since last October have now reverted to Pizza Huts. US president and chief concept officer Scott Bergren described the US rebrand as a piece of attention-grabbing "tomfoolery", insisting that "we will not be making a permanent name change to Pasta Hut." However, Pizza Hut UK says the U-turn followed research showing that 81% of customers wanted the chain to keep the Pizza Hut name and that the rebrand had been part of a serious effort to highlight its commitment to healthier menus. A spokesman said that, while the Pasta Hut trial had ended, "we are the keeping the changes we made to the nutritional content of our menu, with the salt and fat levels significantly reduced." - 8 March, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

US fast-food operators eye up Nando's
Nando's, the restaurant chain famed for its flame-grilled peri peri chicken, has attracted the interest of two US fast-food giants who are holding informal talks with its owner, Capricorn Ventures International. One of its suitors is Yum Brands, which has 36,000 restaurants in 110 countries and owns the KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's brands. Its rival is Brinker International, owner of the Chili's and Romano's Macaroni Grill chains. Nando's has around 700 mostly franchised restaurants in 25 countries, including 207 company-owned outlets in the UK and Ireland. It opened its first US outlet in Washington six months ago and is to open a second in the US city in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, analysts believe CVI could be poised to take over Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Real Greek operator Clapham House after building up a 25% stake in the company. - 7 March, Read the full article in The Times >>

Westfield tenants in revolt
Restaurateurs and retailers at Europe's largest shopping mall, Westfield London, which opened in October, are growing increasingly dissatisfied with footfall, the delayed opening of a 14-screen cinema, and increased service charges. A number of restaurants have already closed while many other shops and restaurants are seeking a way out of the mall, with many believed to have signed deals with smaller-than-usual exit penalties. A remaining restaurateur said, "It's news to me that the cinema isn't opening until November. We had been promised earlier. Our operation is doing okay but I know of a number of other restaurants and retailers that are not happy at all." Sydney-based Westfield, which owns 119 shopping malls across the globe, reported annual losses last month of more than £1bn, blaming poor performance in Britain and North America. Its value has halved in the past year to around £10.5b. - 8 March, Read the full article in the Independent >>

Sentenced ex-Belgo director maintains his innocence
Tim Power, the ex-Belgo director who last week was sentenced to an 18-month suspended sentence for insider trading, insists he was not guilty of the charges. Power, 43, was accused of leaking price-sensitive information about Belgo's £9.8m takeover by Lonsdale in 1997 and of its subsequent £10m acquisition of The Collection, Daphne and Pasha restaurants. Although he switched his plea to guilty last year, Power says he only did this to get a lighter sentence. ‘If I'm guilty, then where's the money I'm meant to have made from the deals? They never found any,' he said. Power was arrested by four armed policemen at Heathrow last April following a DTI sting operation. It emerged in court that the authorities were alerted by city trader Tim Lowe, whom Power had threatened over the phone to kill in 1998 after learning that Lowe was having an affair with his now divorced wife. Power was spared jail after claiming he was ‘broke, single and unemployable'. - 8 March, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>

By Angela Frewin

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