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Men arrested after shots fired at restaurant at Birmingham restaurant – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

18 February 2008 by

Men arrested after shots fired at restaurant in Birmingham's Mailbox
BBC 24, 16-17 February

Major fire at Brighton hotel once bombed by IRA
Investigators are probing a major fire that forced the evacuation of more than 400 guests at the historic five-star Grand hotel on the Brighton seafront hotel. The blaze is believed to have started in a sixth floor bedroom at 8pm on Saturday night. Ten fire engines were called to the hotel where more than 50 firefighters battled the blaze. The evacuated guests were looked after and given tea, coffee and sandwiches at Brighton's Metropole hotel. The Grand hotel was completely renovated after an IRA bomb killed five people in 1984 in a bid to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. - Mail on Sunday, 17 February

Von Essen in talks to buy Inverlochy Castle and hotel in Monaco Luxury hotel operator Von Essen is believed to be in advanced talks to acquire the Port Palace hotel in Monaco and three more country house hotels in Britain, including Inverlochy Castle in the foothills of Ben Nevis. The group currently owns 24 hotels, including Cliveden. - The Times, 16 February

Clapham House considers sale of some restaurant brandsClapham House is considering a sale of one or more of its restaurant brands to reinvest in its core Gourmet Burger Kitchen and to help ward off a potential takeover from its largest shareholder. The group is believed to have received a number of enquiries keen to buy Bombay Bicycle Club, The Real Greek and Tootsies amidst speculation that Capricorn Ventures - the owner of the Nando's chicken restaurant chain that has built up a 29.9% stake in Clapham House - could be preparing a takeover bid. - The Sunday Times, 17 February

M&B boss unlikely to remain after Punch merger Tim Clarke, the chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers would be unlikely to stay on if the embattled pub group completes an £11bn merger with Punch Taverns. Although he was named as the prospective chairman of the combined group in Punch's merger proposal, sources close to Clarke - who is said to have a fractious relationship with Punch chief executive Giles Thorley - suggested he would probably not accept the post. M&B has begun a strategic review that could result in a sale or merger following its disastrous foray into inflation and interest-rates hedges connected to a property venture with Robert Tchenguiz. It is understood to have sent out confidentiality agreements last week to prospective bidders including private equity firms Blackstone, CVC, Permira and TPG. - Sunday Telegraph, 17 February

Price of tea to rise by 10% in 2008 The cost of tea in the UK is expected to rise by 10% this year as the growing taste for black tea in China - where tea consumption has surpassed India for the first time - combines with political unrest in the main export, Kenya, and rising transport and packaging costs. The gap between tea production and consumption is believed to have narrowed to its lowest level in a decade and prices hit a record high yesterday (of $2.48 a kg) in Mombasa, the world's largest market. - The Times, 16 February

Starbucks story sees printStarbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce & Culture is a new book that traces the rapid growth of the chain that gave the world a thirst for expensive coffee drinks. The book examines its early success as the Seattle-based company openeed a tiny, dilapidated coffee shop in Vancouver, serving 10,000 customers a week and turning hundreds away each day, and the international expansion that created a company with annual sales of £4b, 40 million customers and 13,000 outlets in 37 countries. Author Taylor Clark also points out the curious fact that Starbucks stores can be found in such unlikely venues as Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and the Great Wall of China - but not in the tiny town of Starbuck in Washington. - The Sunday Times, 17 February

By Angela Frewin

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