Hotel and restaurant staff to be tested for spy's poison and more news from the weekend papers

27 November 2006
Hotel and restaurant staff to be tested for spy's poison and more news from the weekend papers

Hotel and restaurant staff to be tested for spy's poison Hotel and restaurant staff at the Itsu restaurant in Piccadilly and the main restaurant of the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor SquareThe Observer, 26 November.

Pubs may get poker-playing licence The government is paving the way for a gambling bonanza in pubs by easing restrictions on playing card games, including poker, for money in bars. Any pub will be free to hold poker games for cash under reforms to the gambling laws to be introduced next year. At present, only pubs with a special permit from their local council are allowed to do so. - Sunday Times, 26 November.

New Compass chief to announce annual results this week
Richard Cousins will this week produce his first set of annual results as chief executive of Compass Group. It is possible he could announce plans to close some peripheral operations, such as the group's Continental vending machines business or the troubled Italian division, in order to boost cost savings which had already topped the £50m mark by the end of the financial year. The cost cutting is also likely to involve a squeeze on prices paid to suppliers. - Sunday Herald, 26 November.

Ducasse signs with Sodexho in Eiffel Tower bidSodexho Alliance has teamed up with Alain Ducasse, the French chef-turned-restaurateur, in a bid to win the concession to run the restaurants at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. - The Times, 25 November.

Ireland B&Bs to get inspections
Ireland's state tourism board is set to impose a hotel-type grading system on bed and breakfast businesses in the next two years. It will tell customers the level of accommodation on offer in each of the state's 3,000 approved properties, and grade them on the basis of service and product standards. - Sunday Times (Irish edition only), 26 November.

Eco-friendly fish chain planned A new eco-friendly chain of fishmongers is being planned by the Loch Fyne company. It will sell wet fish and shellfish from sustainable fishing stocks, and varieties not on the Marine Conservation Society's at-risk register. Loch Fyne, whose sister company is behind the Loch Fyne restaurant chain, supplies seafood to some of the leading restaurants in the UK. - Sunday Times, 26 November.

VisitScotland to text special promotionsVisitScotland is close to signing a deal to send text messages to tourists' mobiles that detail "what's on" and special deals on offer during the winter festival season this coming year. The Scottish Executive is expected to announce today that it will give VisitScotland an extra £550,000 over the next two years to be used towards its new media division. The unit will be tasked with producing tourism-related content for mobile, internet and video-on-demand television. - Sunday Herald, 26 November.

Café Rouge and Bella Pasta may float
The private-equity firm L&G Ventures which owns Café Rouge and Bella Pasta is planning to bring the two brands back to the stock market with an expected valuation of between £200m and £300m. - Sunday Times, 26 November.

Old Orleans begins recoveryRegent Inns said it had made substantial progress with Old Orleans outlets since completion of their acquisition from Punch Taverns in mid-September. It had recruited a management team with a record of running the business successfully and had made progress on discussions with landlords about lease assignments, Bob Ivell, the chairman, said at Regent's annual meeting. - The Times, 25 November.

Ramsay TV show restaurant closes
A restaurant featured in Gordon Ramsay's TV show Kitchen Nightmares has gone bankrupt. Jackson's in Blackpool, which prior to the Ramsay makeover featured dishes such as salmon with strawberries, was owned by David Jackson, who blamed the turning over of Blackpool to stag and hen parties rather than families for the restaurant's failure. - Blackpool Evening Gazette, 25 November.

By Bob Gledhill
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