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Koh Thai Tapas opening

Koh Thai Tapas opening


Koh Thai Tapas has revealed that it is to open in the Hampshire market town of Romsey. Romsey will become the group’s third location in Hampshire - its 11th in total, when it opens in mid July after a four week refurbishment. The announcement comes within weeks of the acquisition of a site in Winchester, which opens next week. A 12th site is expected open later in the year.

With around 80 covers the new Romsey restaurant will feature the iconic features of a Koh Thai Tapas venue. The popular concept has become known for its vibrant hand painted murals, ornate fretwork and the prominent wooden clad bars.

Koh Thai Tapas will replace, ‘Berties of Romsey’, which has closed after 21 years.

Koh’s first restaurant opened in Boscombe in December 2009. It was an instant hit and won “Restaurant of the Year” at the Bournemouth Tourism Awards 2010 in its first year. Three further restaurants followed: Bournemouth (December 2011), Southsea (December 2012) and, first two restaurants away from the South Coast, Bath (May 2013) and Bristol (Feb 2014). The first Koh Noi site in Sandbanks opened (Apr 2014) establishing the Group’s sister concept of the wet sales led Tapas Bars. Following the success of the first Koh Noi opening, a second followed in Christchurch in September 2014, then another KTT restaurant was placed in Ringwood, Salisbury and the latest acquisitions in Winchester (set to be the third Koh Noi) and Romsey takes the Group to 11 sites.


Oldest Swingers in Town

Oldest Swingers in Town


The refurbished Abergavenny Arms in Frant near Tunbridge Wells has announced a programme of summer events, hosted by its new septuagenarian landlord, Richard Burrell. At 70, The Abergavenny Arms’s new owner, Richard Burrell is thought to be Britain’s oldest entrant into the pub trade

“Seventy is the new 40 – I tried being retired, but I have too much energy, got bored and drove my wife mad,” said Richard, who puts in a shift at the pub each day.

He sold his chain of eponymous jewellery shops, which still bear his name, which had branches in Kent, Surrey and London – then decided he needed in a new challenge.

On Saturday 11th June the popular ‘SweatHeart Swing’ vocal duo will provide vintage entertainment at the pub with swinging sounds from the 1940s to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. The show begins at 5.00pm. A barbecue will be served all day in the beer garden which seats 50.

The Abergavenny will provide the beer tent for Frant Parish fete on Saturday 9th July between 11.30am and 3.30pm, with Fullers Butcher supplying the barbecue.

August Bank holiday will see the return of ‘SweatHeart Swing’ to “The Ab” on Sunday 28th August.


Euro Curry

Euro Curry


The Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents curry restaurant and takeaway owners, has called for its members to vote to ‘Remain’ the EU in the referendum.

“For large corporations trading internationally with powerful lobbying powers and sufficient resources to cope with the bureaucracy and regulations that come out of Brussels, the EU has many advantages,” said ACF chairman Yawar Khan. “But for small businesses serving a local community, the advantages of membership are less obvious.”

Khan has written to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting a personal meeting to discuss the problems faced by restaurateurs.

Some restaurant owners believe that if the UK were to leave the EU, they could recruit cheaper staff from outside Europe to alleviate the "chronic chef shortage", which has seen 600 curry houses close in the past 18 months.

However, whilst the ACF is lobbying the government to reduce restrictions to enable restaurant owners to bring in skilled chefs from outside Europe, it recognises the contribution of EU members – especially those from Eastern Europe who are prepared undertake the demanding work at anti social hours for low pay associated with the hospitality industry.

A firm believer in free trade, Khan believes there is a wider world than Europe and business should be also be looking for closer links with the growing markets of China, India and beyond, including Britain’s traditional Commonwealth trading partners.

He also calls for relaxing European trade barriers which prevent Third World nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, from exporting their way out of poverty.

The ACF is also lobbying the government to deliver the ‘level playing field’ promised by politicians ahead of the original referendum in 1974.

“In the UK we impose more duty on a single bottle of wine than the French have on a 12-bottle case,” said Khan, adding, “In France the VAT on restaurant and hotel bills is half that of the UK.”

However, Khan fears that even if we were to vote in favour of a Brexit, powerful vested interests would never allow the UK to leave and that a second referendum would be inevitable. He cites the examples of Denmark and Eire, whose citizens were subjected to repeated votes until their political masters got the result they wanted.

The ACF believes the economic uncertainty during years of renegotiations following a ‘Leave’ vote, would have a serious effect of consumer confidence, which would hit the hospitality industry especially hard.



Health Zealots

Health Zealots


Restaurant financier Luke Johnson has warned “health zealots” will end up taking food off tables and “knee-jerk, unwise legislation” is not the answer to ill health and obesity. Writing in the Sunday Times he said: “The UK hospitality sector has created more UK jobs in the past ten years than any other sector. For a huge proportion of citizens, food and drink are not simply about nutrition and survival – they are one of the greatest pleasures. But sadly the health campaigners are repeating the strategies they pursued with the tobacco industry – mandatory labelling, increased taxes and levies, restricted marketing, and much tougher environmental health legislation.

"All this is likely to lead to less investment and less choice, as certain goods become uneconomic to produce. Tougher regulation will translate into higher prices, which will hit the poorest hardest. Sugary drinks provide just 3% of the nation’s calorie intake – the idea that taxing them would make a material difference shows the campaigners haven’t really done their sums. Everyone disapproves of ill health and obesity, but knee-jerk unwise legislation is not the answer. I suspect there are many within the health establishment who would like to see restrictions on fat and calorie content in many packaged foods. They see this as a moral crusade and claim obesity rates are spiralling ever upwards. Yet the number of overweight children has not risen for ten years. But of course these inconvenient facts do not accord with the world-view of the health zealots, who see it as their role to boss around ordinary people because these ‘experts’ are condescending snobs.

"Rather than regulation and demonisation, consumers need choice, education and sensible advice about moderation, balance in their diets and exercise. The food and drink industry should make a positive case for well-rounded diets, pushing back against misguided interventions that are likely to have unintended consequences,” he said.

Luke Johnson, is a British serial entrepreneur, best known for his involvement with Pizza Express. He is a former chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4.


Ship Shape

Ship Shape


Kent brewer Shepherd Neame has reopened the Ship and Trades at Chatham Maritime following a three-month refit costing £1.2m. Shepherd Neame acquired the site at the former Royal Navy dockyard in 2001, transforming it into a bar, restaurant and hotel overlooking one of the yacht basins.

Works created 5 en-suite letting rooms on the first floor – two with waterfront balconies – taking the total number of rooms to 15. The ground floor features a wrap-around restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the marina, which can cater for an additional 80 diners. The investment has created 20 newsite, taking the total to more than 50 staff.

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We are delighted to unveil this major new development, our second-biggest refurbishment project to date. The Ship and Trades boasts a unique location in Chatham Maritime, which has become a vibrant place to live, work, and visit, and we wanted to maximise its potential. We are confident that with its expanded facilities and stylish new look, the Ship and Trades will prove a popular destination for leisure and business guests to eat, drink and stay.”


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