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AA launch Covid Confident scheme
The AA has announced the launch of a new Covid Confident accreditation scheme to help consumers travel again as the hospitality sector prepares to come out of lockdown.
The AA Covid Confident assessment scheme is free to all hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, pubs, self-catering properties, campsites, holiday parks and other accommodation, although applicants are encouraged to make a donation to Hospitality Action.
Properties do not need to hold an AA Star rating or Rosette to apply but establishments serving food need to hold a food hygiene score of three and above to be eligible.
The AA state that “accreditation will indicate to customers that an establishment has in place the necessary risk assessment, safety measures and staff training to reopen safely, in line with the UK’s respective government guidelines as well as UKHospitality and respective trade association guidelines, as they are published.”
Establishments will need to supply a risk assessment and evidence that procedures are in place and staff have been trained when they apply online. Businesses will also have to sign up to a code of conduct that includes a commitment to update procedures as guidelines change, called the Covid Confident Charter.
Industry bodies supporting the AA Covid Confident scheme include ASAP, Association of Serviced Apartment Providers, ASSC, Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, B&B Association, Glamping Association, HOSPA, The Hospitality Professionals Association, Hospitality Action, Hotel Marketing Association, Pride of Britain Hotels and the Wales Tourism Alliance.
Mark Lewis, chief executive at Hospitality Action said: “As hotels restaurants, pub and bars prepare to open their doors again in the coming weeks, there will inevitably be uncertainty, both among staff members and customers guests, around the levels of safety in hospitality environments. We therefore applaud AA Hospitality for creating an industry-standard accreditation scheme that offers the reassurance that workers and visitors can return to venues with confidence.”
Visit www.ratedtrips.com/aa-covid-confident for more details of how to apply.
Cornish hotel to open purpose-built socially distanced restaurant
Rock’s St Moritz Hotel & Spa is set to launch the UK’s first purpose-designed and built ‘socially-distanced’ hotel restaurant on 4th July.
Nicknamed ‘The Anti-Social Club’, the new summer restaurant will, according to the hotel, “not only surpass the expected Government requirements on safe and socially distanced dining, it will optimise them at every turn, providing a new and exclusive private dining experience for individuals, couples and groups.”
The brainchild of founders Hugh and Steve Ridgway, and the St Moritz Director of Restaurants Jonathan Domé, the new dining concept will consist of 16 private dining rooms, with a maximum of 96 covers and mix elements of “private members clubs, private dining rooms, cool beach clubs and summer pop-up restaurants”. It will feature multiple dining times and exacting operating measures to ensure two metres social distancing is met at all time. The owners hope this will “usher in a new ‘bubble’ dining ethos as an exclusive dining opportunity.”
The pop-up restaurant has been designed so that all individual dining rooms are accessed from the outside with service provided from a central atrium via a set of hatches. This design along with complementary operational procedures mean that the hotel service team don’t need to go into the dining rooms and staggering dining times mean guests won’t run into each other. The set-up also ensures that each room can be cleared, cleaned and re-set between each dining party.
Co-owner Hugh Ridgway says: “Covid-19 has stopped the industry in its tracks. Like all hotels, bars and restaurants across the globe, the virus has hit our business like an unbelievable sledgehammer. However, as ever, we have dusted ourselves off, and risen to this unpredictable challenge in our own creative, St Moritz way.”
Hugh continues, “Our purposeful architecture allows us to trade our rooms in a safe and socially distanced manner, however we can only sell those hotel rooms if we can feed our guests – and feed them well. Simply reworking our current restaurants and bars, and operating at 30% capacity doesn’t allow that, so our specially-designed summer ‘pop-up’ restaurant, overcomes this obstacle, adding to, rather than detracting from, our stylish VIP guest experience.”
Hugh’s brother, Steve Ridgway, former chairman of Visit Britain and former chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are forever talking about the pioneering British spirit and it’s true to say that out of adversity comes creativity. Within Visit Britain we have been encouraging the industry to discover, and unlock, experimental opportunities that provide a silver lining amongst the Covid challenges. With The Anti-Social Club, and other changes to St Moritz Hotel & Spa, I am very much putting my money where my mouth is – and we’re all exceedingly pleased to have landed on a new concept and dining solution that elevates the summer experience there. Thousands of customers do not want to miss their summer holidays and this will mean that they won’t, and that they can holiday in a safe and enjoyable way.”
St Moritz Hotel & Spa intends to re-open all the hotel rooms, self-catering apartments and villas, as well as launch the initial Anti-Social Club summer ‘pop-up’ restaurant, on 4th July 2020.
South West catering company launches Desk Dining initiative
Fosters Event Catering has developed a new initiative to create and safely deliver thousands of meals to the region’s workforce on a daily basis.
Desk Dining will be based at Fosters’ large city-centre production kitchens where experienced staff will make pre-packaged meals for direct delivery to workplaces, offices and schools.
Neil Lodge, chief executive at Fosters Events said: “As a large-scale, quality hospitality catering business, well-versed in delivering dinners for one thousand people or more at any given time or location, Fosters has been thinking about how and what we can do differently and what, for the time being, our ‘new normal’ could be.
“Great food and service comes in many guises and this is why Fosters is developing and producing high quality, locally sourced and seasonal pre-packaged meals in sealed containers which can be delivered direct to workplaces, offices, colleges or schools.
“That will help office staff or students to avoid busy restrooms or canteens and will also mean they don’t have to leave the premises to purchase food or snacks in places where they might run the risk of picking up the virus. Instead, they can collect their nutritious meal and take it to a place where they can socially-distance, confident that their meal has been safely produced.
“It’s all about adapting to what is being called the ‘new normal’,” said Mr Lodge. “Our new normal means that for the time being there are no large gatherings like sporting events, gala evenings or weddings where we would be doing the catering. Our new normal has meant that, although we’ve had to furlough 90 percent of our staff, 25 of them have volunteered to come in and provide 300 meals a day for front-line NHS staff through the Food For Heroes programme…
“Desk dining could become the ‘new normal’ for quite a long time to come… It stands to reason that we are ideally equipped to provide this solution – we have large central production kitchens where we can scale-up to feeding 1000 or 2000 people day. And we are talking about good nutritional food which has, for the most part, been sourced within just 20 miles of Bristol.”
Hall & Woodhouse confirms support beyond lockdown
Dorset independent brewer Hall & Woodhouse has confirmed the rent cancellation and loan suspension period for its Business Partner estate will be extended to cover the pubs’ reopening phase.
They have announced that publicans will now be exempt from paying rent for eight weeks after the Government confirms pubs can reopen, and service charges will commence after the first four weeks. After the initial eight week rent cancellation period, the subsequent five weeks of rent will be charged at 50 per cent of the normal levels, allowing trade to continue to build.
Loan repayments for fixtures and fittings will remain suspended and will recommence from October 2020. Repayment of any existing trade or rent balances from before the lockdown will be suspended until March 2021.
Chris Chapman, head of business partnerships at H&W, explained: “As pubs begin to enter the reopening phase, we acknowledge that our financial support must continue beyond the closure period. The global health crisis has impacted so many different sectors and it will take time for businesses to return to normal operating levels.
“As a company, we have taken quick and decisive action since the beginning of the lockdown to help support our Business Partners. Our Business Partnerships are built on solid foundations and long-term commitment and it was the only option to support them through this.”
LBW’s English wine sales up nearly 1000%
LBW Drinks has seen sales of its English wine increase by 994% this March and April, compared to the same period last year. The Devon winery has also seen its sales of fruit wine up 272% and mead sales have also had a boost of 283% year-on-year.
James Lambert, managing director, LBW Drinks, said: “Consumers are increasingly looking to buy local produce. This is to support local businesses during this unprecedented time, and as awareness of the high quality of local produce grows, but also due to rising concerns over climate change and food security.
“There has never been a better time for English wine. A culmination of education, experience, passion, and investment means we are at a great place and producing excellent wine as a consequence. This is something to be celebrated and British people are keen to support. With English Wine Week coming up (20th-28th June) we expect this upward curve to continue.
“People want more than their local supermarket currently offers. They appreciate the selection we have available and our reputation for quality and flavour innovation. We also offer free delivery on orders over £20 nationwide.”
Their Bacchus Block has seen the most growth in English wine orders, followed by the Pinot Noir Rosé while the crisp dry white Shoreline remains the bestseller for their Lyme Bay Winery brand. In the other categories, Cherry, Ginger and Elderflower proved the most popular fruit wine while Nettle wine has seen the most significant increase. In the mead range, Rhubarb Mead is outselling the others but Chilli has also seen a surge in sales.
Visit www.lymebaywinery.co.uk for more details.
St Austell Brewery ramps up for reopening
St Austell Brewery has started brewing draught beer in preparation for the possible reopening of pubs from 4th July – based on timings indicated in the Government’s roadmap to recovery.
Production started with 440 barrels of the Brewery’s flagship pale ale, Tribute, accounting for almost half of the company’s weekly barrelage. The independent brewery supplies over 3000 free trade customers as well as its 182 managed and tenanted pubs across the South West.
As well as Tribute, St Austell Brewery says they gearing up to brew other core cask brands including Proper Job, Cornish Best, Trelawny and Hicks. Draught Gem and Prophecy is also being produced again at Bath Ales’ Hare Brewery. Keg brands being produced for both breweries include Proper Job, Korev, Mena Dhu, Cubic, Monterey and Dark Side.
Andrew Turner, managing director of St Austell Brewery’s Beer and Brands said: “I’m pleased to say that we are back in production and getting ready for the long-awaited reopening of our great British pubs – which we’re hoping the Government will confirm as soon as possible. We’re proud to be playing our part in the national effort to restock cellars with fresh beer.
“Cask beer is an integral part of pub culture in the UK – there’s nothing quite like it. It’s been months since we’ve brewed draught beer – the longest time since 1851 – so we’re delighted to see production up and running again.”
Throughout the lockdown St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales’ entire production effort has been focused on bottling and canning core beer brands for supermarkets, sales of which have risen by 32%.
Their flagship pale ale Tribute is now also available in over 300 Marks & Spencer store across the UK for the first time. Andrew Turner added: “We’re very proud to see Tribute on Marks & Spencer shelves across the country, for the first time. Its taste credentials and consistency has made it a firm favourite with beer lovers for over twenty years and it has a loyal and growing following today.
“We hope that existing fans of our flagship beer will be pleased to hear about the new listing, and that it will appeal to beer drinkers who are yet to discover Tribute. A true taste of Cornwall, it’s the perfect remedy for those who are missing their trips down to the West Country at this time.”
Since pub closures in March, online shop services for St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales have also seen a combined increase of over 1000% in comparison to 2019.
Bournemouth and Southampton hotel associations join forces
Hoteliers in Dorset and Hampshire have joined forces for the first time to help get the industry back on its feet as it recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Tim Seward, chairman of Dorset’s BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA), and Richard Powell, his counterpart in the Southampton and Region Hoteliers Association, say they are speaking with a united voice for the first time.
In a joint statement, they said: “United voices in such time of uncertainty have never been more important than it is now. During these strange and ever-changing times, it is essential that we all work together to share best practice collaboration and helping each other out is key to our future success. The hospitality industry has been hit hard, it was one of the first impacted, and likely to be a long road to recovery ahead. We are all working hard behind the scenes to understand the vast amount of information out there, and very much reliant in government initiatives and consumer behaviour. There have been countless webinars, podcasts, zoom calls and blogs on what the future may look like.
“The ability to navigate our way through the vast amount of information, and to share best practice across the region is very important. We want to make sure that all our businesses are fit and ready to give guests confidence to return as soon as able.”
They added: “A united voice has been a key focus. For the first time ever, we have united the hotelier’s associations across Southampton, and BAHA (BH Area Hospitality Associations), and are starting to work with contacts in Weymouth, Portsmouth and the New Forest, with the chairperson across each of those regions maintaining regular communication and cascading information as appropriate. We have also joined forces with local councils, city, town and coastal bids, Business South, economic development offices and the Institute of Hospitality. We joined each other’s Zoom calls and communication updates.”
“We have worked together on various initiatives, such as codes of action and best practice, so that we can ensure team and guest confidence on a gradual and safe return.
Hospitality is one big family, and having a United voice across central South has never been more important than it is now.”
First Taste of the West Product Awards announced
The annual Taste of the West Awards scheme has announced its first round of Gold, Silver and Commended Product Awards for 2020.
The judges, working independently in what has become the UK’s largest regional food and drink awards programme, were impressed by new products including Somerset’s Dr Gelato with their Bath Blue and Caramelized Fig Gelato and Cornwall’s TirimasUGO with their Tirimasu which both won Gold. Traditional West Country products such as beef, bacon, beer, cider, jam and chutney also picked up the top award. For example, Buxton Butchers based in Bristol with their Himalayan Salt Dry Aged Cote Du Boeuf, Somerset’s West Country Water Buffalo with their Buffalicious Water Buffalo Mozzarella, and Waterhouse Fayre in Devon with their Exmoor Pond Weed Chutney all won Gold. While Denhay Farms in Devon had another successful year with a string of Gold awards for their bacon.
So far, Taste of the West has awarded 168 Gold Awards, 89 Silver Awards and 59 Commended awards in this year’s programme with around 400 products still to be judged.
John Sheaves, chief executive of Taste of the West, commented: “This year we are particularly pleased that given the difficulties the sector has faced with the Covid-19 crisis, the level of innovation in product development has been higher than usual. Through our experience of running the UK’s largest regional food and drink awards programme, our aim is to raise the bar in terms of excellence. In this way, we know that we can offer a product to a discerning consumer market which has been thoroughly tested and evaluated. So far, and there is still some way to go yet, we have seen a very high standard in food products.”
Cornish Vodka wins SFWSC gold
Aval Dor Vodka, distilled in Cornwall from potatoes grown on a farm near Lostwithiel, has been awarded Double Gold at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
The Double Gold accolade is awarded to the few entries that receive Gold medal ratings by all the members of the judging panel.
Colwith Farm Distillery owner Steve Dustow has also given the champion spirit a new look to celebrate. The distillery’s Stafford’s Dry Gin also came away with a Bronze award. It has Aval Dor as its base and seven Cornish botanicals and was launched in 2019 to mark the anniversary of the distillery’s opening.
“This is only the second year that we’ve entered the vodka distilled here by myself at our plough to bottle facility and so I’m absolutely made up to have achieved Double Gold,” says Steve. “And for Stafford’s Dry to come away with a Bronze less than a year after we launched it is fantastic news too.”
For more information on Colwith Farm Distillery visit www.colwithfarmdistillery.co.uk
Exmoor Distillery wins multiple Golds
Exmoor Distillery’s Northmoor Classic and Navy Strength Gins have won Gold Medals in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. They were one of only 24 gins from around the world and seven in the UK to achieve double Gold thanks to their Northmoor Classic Gin, with the Navy Strength also picking up a Gold.
John, head distiller, said: “We are incredibly thrilled to win this global award. We have been trading for less than two years and to receive such an award now justifies all of the efforts we have gone to. Our products are now truly world-class. The aim has always been quality above all else and that has now been recognised by some of the world’s leading professionals. It gives us a real sense of pride to be able to pass the news onto our ever-growing band of loyal customers.”
Visit www.exmoordistillery.co.uk for details.
SOUTH WEST INITIATIVES
Shalims Indian Restaurant
Shalims Indian Restaurant in Weymouth has launched a ‘Give Back Sunday’ initiative for a local charity.
This follows their Key Workers 2020 initiative which saw over 600 takeaway meals donated. Shalim Abs, owner of the family-run balti house, said: “We launched our ‘Key Workers 2020’ initiative on our social media platforms at the end of April. The aim was to donate 20 Indian takeaway meals every day for 20 days during May to ‘Key Workers’ across Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester. We ended up providing well over 600 meals to the hardworking heroes who have put themselves on the front line to keep us safe and kept our community and economy running.”
The new initiative recognises that many local charities are struggling and seeing their revenue dry up. Shalim is asking people to nominate local charities that are close to their heart.
“What we are asking people to do is to visit our website, click the ‘Give Back Sunday’ button and nominate a local charity that they would like to help. The only thing we ask is that it must be a local charity. My team and I will choose one charity and then on Sunday, 28th June we will donate 50% of all of our takings to that charity,” he added.
You can get involved by nominating a local charity at www.shalimsbaltihouse.co.uk or on Sunday 28th June by ordering a takeaway from Shalims Indian Restaurant on 01305 783515.
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
Gloucester Brewery’s new IPA
The “Earth-conscious” Gloucester Brewery is launching Tropic, a new can beer IPA, this month.
This “super juicy” mango IPA (5% ABV) is the latest special from their sustainable bread mash range which uses leftover loaves from the Authentic Bread Company in Newent.
Available from mid-June, it will the first of their 2020 specials in cans due to the current Coronavirus situation. Tropic costs £30 for 12 cans or it can be mixed and matched with the brewery’s other ranges. They offer free delivery to many local postcodes or nationwide with deliveries over £50.
Go to www.gloucesterbrewery.co.uk for more details.
Lyme Bay Winery launches new chardonnay
Lyme Bay Winery has released the 2018 vintage of its award-winning Chardonnay. This is the first time the Devon-based drinks producer has released a still English Wine vintage ahead of an older year and will move straight on from 2016 to 2018 leaving the 2017 Chardonnay in the cellar.
The team at Lyme Bay believe the 2017 vintage will benefit from a longer period of maturation while the 2018 English grape harvest, recognised by producers and English Wine experts for its quality and quantity, is now ready to be enjoyed.
James Lambert, managing director at LBW Drinks said: “As an experienced producer, we consider each harvest in relation to how the growing season will influence the wine. Our focus is to ensure each wine has structure and delivers in terms of flavour and varietal character. As a result, we release each wine when we believe it is ready and most likely to delight discerning drinkers. We are able to do this because we work with a small group of growers that share our interest in nurturing selected still wine clones – an approach that is perhaps unique amongst English producers.
“Our ambition, through minimal intervention in the winery, is to allow each wine to develop so it is the best expression possible of the grape, the vineyard locations and of the particular growing season. That’s why we made the decision to release the 2018 now and allow the 2017 to develop its full potential.”
Lyme Bay Chardonnay 2018 retails at £22.49 per bottle and is available directly from www.lymebaywinery.co.uk.
Sheppy’s Cider show their Redstreak
Somerset cider maker Sheppy’s is launching a new medium-sweet cider called Redstreak.
Made with single variety traditional Somerset Redstreak apples, its 4% ABV “makes it the ideal drink for lazy summer days in the garden” according to the 200-year-old cider family.
In an initiative to give back to front line workers, Sheppy’s is also releasing 1,000 limited-edition bottles of Redstreak where 50p from every sale will be donated to the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. The rainbow bottles will be available from The House of Cider and its e-shop.
Owner and director, Louisa Sheppy, commented: “Musgrove Park, our local hospital has looked after many Sheppy family members over the years. We have fond memories of the wonderful staff we have met during those times and the quality of care which was given. We recognise that it is time for us all to give something back to the NHS and we are truly delighted to be able to do this with our limited edition cider.”
Sheppy’s Redstreak cider will be available from www.sheppyscider.com/online-shop. (RRP: £29.99 for 12 500ml bottles.)
INDUSTRY ONLINE EVENTS 2020
Institute of Hospitality (South) Food Safety in Hospitality Post Covid-19 Webinar
Wednesday 24th June 2020, 12:15pm
In collaboration with the Southern Branch of the Institute of Hospitality, Southampton Hoteliers Association, New Forest Hoteliers Association and BH Area Hospitality Association, join a live webinar on Food Safety and Best Practice in Hospitality Post Covid-19, with a host of guest speakers.
To register, please visit https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqceGopzMoGNK0yD6AAlOVCJrlR1zA8ICa
Southern Region Hospitality Network – Drop-In and Catch Up
Wednesday 8th July 2020, 19:15pm
An Informal catch up with hospitality professionals across the South, including the Institute of Hospitality (Southern) members and non-members, Southampton Hotelier Association members, New Forest Hoteliers and BH Area Hospitality Association members. There is no set agenda, just discussions on topics which are currently affecting hospitality businesses and networking.
To register, please visit