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Jakarta bombers posed as hotel guests – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

20 July 2009 by

Jakarta bombers posed as hotel guests Indonesian police believe that yesterday's explosions at two luxury hotels in Jakarta were caused by two suicide bombers posing as guests at the JW Marriott hotel. The explosions ripped through the Marriott and neighbouring Ritz-Carlton hotel two minutes apart just before 8am, killing at least eight people and wounding more than 50. Officers defused another bomb on the 18th floor of the Marriott after a bomb was set off in the hotel lobby, while security cameras showed a suited man with baseball cap, backpack and wheeled suitcase entering the Ritz-Carlton restaurant just before it was bombed. Many link the attacks to Jemaah Islamiyah, a South-East Asian al-Qaeda affiliateRead the full article in The Times >>

Little Chef reveals roll-out plan for Heston Blumenthal menu
Roadside restaurant chain Little Chef is to introduce a menu devised by three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal to its outlets in Kettering and York after a pilot scheme at its Popham branch in Hampshire more than doubled sales in just eight months. If these two conversions are successful, Little Chef's chief executive Ian Pegler says he has earmarked 10 further sites that could take the revamped menu, which was created during the Channel 4 documentary Big Chef Little Chef. Blumenthal was not informed of the plans to roll out his menu across Little Chef's 174 sites but Pegler said the idea had always been for Blumenthal to hand over the blueprint for the company to implement itself. Little Chef is expected to achieve profits of £3m on sales of £77m this year, compared with 2008's profits of £2m on a flat turnover of £72m. - 19 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
TV chef Richard Phillips under fire for tipping policy TV chef Richard Phillips has come under fire for using card tips to pay staff salaries instead of passing them on to waiters at two of the three Kent restaurants he manages. One waiter told the Observer, "The restaurant puts an 11% optional service charge on the bill which goes to the owner. Any tips on top of this get shared between the staff - last week I got £6.72." A waitress at Philips' Michelin-starred Thackeray's restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, who works up to 55 hours a week for £15,000 a year, said she did not receive any of the service charge. Phillips confirmed that the company kept card tips at Thackeray's and Aylesford restaurant Hengist but said the service charge at Chapel Down in Tenterden was shared between staff. "Waiting staff are paid their wage regardless of any discretionary service charge received from our customers, and often receive additional income through the distribution of cash tips, which is handled solely by staff," said Phillips, who appears on Ready Steady Cook, Too Many Cooks and Daily Cooks Challenge. - 19 July, Read the full article in The Observer
Middle Eastern property developer tables bid for Coffee Republic
Arab Investment, a Middle Eastern property developer, has joined the fray to buy the Coffee Republic chain of cafés that fell into administration earlier this month. The developer, which is known for its planned Pinnacle tower in the City of London, is believed to have outbid rivals such as the company's former management. Administrator KPMG, which said there had been a strong level of interest, hopes to clinch a deal by the end of this week. - 19 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
Celebrity chef to buy fruit and veg from school garden
Celebrity chef Oliver Rowe has agreed to buy organic fruit and vegetables grown by pupils at Hackney's Petchey Academy for his Konstam at the Prince Albert restaurant in King's Cross. The restaurant's quest to source its ingredients within the M25 - giving rise to such dishes as East Ham mushrooms and Norbury blue cheese - was featured on the BBC2 programme The Urban Chef. "I would certainly love to take produce from schools to serve in my restaurant - although I would pay an honest dollar for it. I wouldn't want people to think I was getting it on the cheap," commented Rowe. The school also hopes to be able to give some of its pupils work experience in Rowe's restaurant. The Academy, which replaced a struggling inner-city school, is the only one in the country to specialise in medical science, health and social science and it places food and healthy eating at the centre of its curriculum - one of its two chefs doubles as a chef at the Belgian Embassy. The pupil-powered garden has been operating for around one year. - 18 July, Read the full article in the Independent >>

Hilton to sponsor football shirts as part of new openings programme
Hilton is to become the shirt sponsor of the MK Dons as part of a deal to open a Doubletree hotel at the football team's stadium in Milton Keynes. The international hotel group is also planning to open its first Doubletree in Africa and a Doubletree in Bristol, along with new Hilton Garden Inns at Luton airport and Krakow in Poland, and a new Hilton in Sicily. - 19 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
Smaller French restaurants fail to pass on VAT cut
Just over half of French restaurants have passed on to customers the cut in VAT on restaurant meals that came into force on 1 July, according to a Government survey. The industry has lobbied for seven years for a lower VAT rate and the Government decided to slash it from 19.6% to 5.5% to revitalise the flagging sector, at a cost of €2.4bn (£2bn) in tax revenue. In return, the industry pledged to cut prices on at least seven popular menu items and to increase wages or staffing levels. But the survey found that, while 90% of chain restaurants had passed on the savings, only a third of the traditional, privately-owned family restaurants or small restaurant groups had reduced some or all of their prices. Christine Pujol, president of the largest French association of restaurateurs and hoteliers, warned that the Government might restore the higher tax rate if members did not pass on the cuts. But some restaurateurs say they have used the tax break to increases wages or staff numbers rather than cut prices, while others claim to need the money just to stay afloat. - 18 July, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday

By Angela Frewin

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