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Wolseley and Barcelo hotel owner Dawnay Day to call in administrators – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

14 July 2008 by

Wolseley and Barcelo hotel owner Dawnay Day to call in administrators
Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Pubs and clubs will have to search customers for knives and guns
Pubs and clubs will be forced to search customers for knives and guns under a raft of new measures announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to tackle knife crime following the recent spate of fatal stabbings. Smith has written to police chief constables urging them to use their powers under the Violent Crime Reduction Act to crack down on licensed premises that could be at the centre of unruly and criminal behaviour. Pubs associated with knives or guns face losing their licence if they fail to search customers for weapons on entry. The measures will focus on pubs in knife hotspots in London, the West Midlands, Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Essex. - 13 July, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Chefs cut back on pricey ingredients to keep price down Restaurateurs are turning to "menu-engineering" to protect customers from higher bills without compromising food quality. This move could mean smaller portions, more potato dishes in place of rice, the use of standard instead of cherry tomatoes, and the disappearance of lobster, fillet steak and chateaubriand from some menus. Brasserie Blanc has responded to the increased cost of red peppers by developing a pepper-free gazpacho soup made with tomatoes slow-cooked for sweetness and is seeking alternatives to shallots, whose price shot up by 400% three weeks ago. The Searcy restaurant group plans to use cheaper cuts of meat and to reduce the size of the most expensive part of a meal because, said chief executive Duncan Ackery, "Fish has gone up 35% and meat nearly as much, and the price of 1kg of rice is £5.50, which is astonishing. Fruit and veg is up 20%." Jamie Barber's Villandry and Hush restaurants have removed chateaubriand, replaced fillet steak with rib-eye, and relegated lobster from the main menu to a midweek special. - 12 July, Read the full article in the Times >>

Banks seek restructuring specialist for Regent Inns
Bankers for Regent Inns are believed to have hired accountants BDO Stoy Hayward to evaluate the future of the struggling pub chain, whose brands include the Australian-themed Walkabout sports-bar chain, Jongleurs comedy clubs and the US-style Old Orleans restaurant chains. The banks - including RBS, Barclays, NatWest and HSBC - have held talks with a number of consultants in their search for a corporate-restructuring specialist. The chain, which is worth just under £4m, has seen its share price slump by 95% in the past 18 months and has debts of £80m. The smoking ban, falling consumer confidence, England's absence from Euro 2008 and the recent hike in alcohol excise duty have all taken their toll on the chain. Talks with potential takeover candidates, including Sun Capital Partners, fell through last month. - 13 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Two Playboy casinos planned for London
The Playboy bunny waitress with rabbit ears and cottontails are set to make a comeback in London as Hugh Hefner's entertainment empire plans to open at least two new casinos in central London that will recreate its lucrative Sixties venue. Playboy is understood to have signed an agreement with Agilo, the London hedge fund that owns the Sports Café on Haymarket that went into administration in January. This venue could be open by 2010 offering gaming, dining on everything from hamburgers and haute cuisine, and dancing to music by leading European DJs. It is expected to have three separate entrances for each facility. The original London Playboy club opened in Mayfair in 1966 and was one of the group's most successful clubs worldwide, netting around £15m (or £40m in today's prices) in its final year. It closed 27 years ago following a police raid over suspected but unproved gambling irregularities. Satellite clubs in Manchester and Portsmouth closed shortly afterwards. A large Playboy casino and hotel is also due to open in Macau, China, next year. - 13 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Cipriani owners hire Goldman Sachs for potential sale
The Cipriani family - which owns London celebrity haunt the Cipriani restaurant, Harry's Bar in Venice and the Rainbow Room in New York - is believed to have hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to advise on a possible sale. It is not known if the plans involve the sale of all the group's assets or of individual sites. - 13 July, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

By Angela Frewin

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