Survival menu for food biz

The market In dmrng and dnnkmg out rs boomrng. As we brrng you the latest edrtron of the Eating And Drinking Gc/icle To Edinburgh And Glasgow, we’re watching ground being broken for ever more new places. Last year, the average rate of growth was approachrng one establlshment a week.

How long can llllS contmue? Optrmrsts see the

possibility of cOntmual expansron. And why not.7 How many of us wocild rather stay m, cook and (lean up than go out? And yet we’ve seen what could be the lust srgns of a shakedown. In Glasgow Tun Ton met Its demrse after only a couple of years m bllSllK‘SS. The

fashronable Brunswick Hotel and St Vmcent Street's Budcla, both of \Vlll(ll had fully fledged restaurants, have scaled back therr ODOl'dllOllS to focus on simpler menus. In Edinburgh, there's a guestlon over the future of establlshments outwith the city centre. Davrd Ramsclen lS keeping hrs till/‘lHOltl‘y restaurant gorng ll‘. Lerth for the trme l)(‘lll(], but :t's srgnrfrcant that he'll be openmg a new place m Mornson Street In the summer lvleanwhrle, Lerth's Commerc :al Quay

contrnues to be a troubled locatton.

There are three factors affec trng the vrbrancy ol the food and drmk world whrc h are worth paying

attention to

Frrst lS staffing. There's a dearth of gualtfred employees available to man the decks. Serwc e has noticeably Improved In Scotland and patrons have come to appreclate krnd, courteous and Informatwe

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Gordon Laird is to succeed Iain Reekie as artistic director of 7:84 theatre company in June. Although young (he has just celebrated his 24th birthday)

8 THE LIST 1% 2/ in." 29f},

wartrng staff, rt brrngs them back. We applaud the rnrtratrve of Glasgow restaurateur Ferner Richardson In

Strathclycle schools for bnnqrng young people Into the business and emphasrsrng the future of servrce mdustrres m post—manufacturrng Scotland. And If poor

pay has made work In restaurants and bars undesrrable, at least the Labour government has addressed the problem by mtroducrng a mrnrmum wage. lt remams crucral, however, that proprietors shouch revrew salary scales regularly and ensure theIr workforce can earn a decent llvmg. We look forward to the trammg schemes outlrned by the SCOlllSll Exec uttve to be put Into practice for restaurants as well as hotel staff.

Second IS the bug charn outfrts whrcth have Identified the Central Belt as a target for expansron. The bug boys can reduce pnces, but are often locked Into

unrform menus and can be Impossrble to drstrngulsh

ll -lr7 All *llllli’l‘lll \ 'k' I i 'i" \J ! ILTSL"). fit .93: l U l; l l l l l D l\Ugllibl\LHltt

from branches located elsewhere. Locally owned

premrses have much more to offer: greater famrlrarrty

\\’|lll customers, more Interesting meals, mdrvrduallty.

Those In which the owners are also active In the

krtc hen are lrkely to guarantee a better meal. They

have a vested Interest In what appears on your plate. So, grven a level playmg freld, locally owned

restaurants and bars can compete with the corporate behemoths. But escalatmg property values could easrly trp the balance towards enterprrses wrth deep pockets and fr‘Iends In the right places.

Thrrd IS not unconnected: the

lSStl(‘ of lrcensrnc The tune has come to revusrt l

regulatrons not Just locally, but nationally. It should be a prrorrty for the new parliament. England has begun a debate on relaxation of openmg hours. So should Scotland A couple of years ago we made note of comments made by Fraser Laurie who owns the Babbrty Bowster Ill Glasgow's l\r’lerchant Clty.

'Thrs business as about respondmg to human

needs,’ he told The Sc otsman. He was rrght.

People should be able to enjoy a full range of

evening entertainment, and strll stop somewhere

for a dunk or a meal. No one apprec rates berng given the burn’s rush from a bar or restaurant simply

because the law has set a tune lllllll that Is both

and relatively inexperienced, he is already well known to the company and familiar with its artistic direction. He worked as assistant director on its productions of Stephen Greenhorn’s Dissent and the revival of David Greig’s Caledonia Dreaming while still in his final year at Glasgow’s RSAMD.

’l'm feeling so excited by the challenge ahead,’ he says. ’7:84 has got such a strong position in Scottish theatre and it's a real privilege for me to be developing its vision of political theatre. It’s so important at this point that theatre should be commenting on and scrutinising what the Scottish Executive is or isn’t doing.

’I firmly believe in the touring

arbitrary and out of step with the way we Irve our lrves laune sarci: ‘The authorrtles have to learn to trust us a lrttle more ' We can only agree. (Barry Shelbyl What do you think? 'le/l us at reac t@//st.c oulc

aspect of the company too. I came from the Borders so when I was growing up I had very little access to any professional theatre and the benefits that can bring so it's very important for me to be accessing areas which still don’t get enough theatre.’

Laird was brought up in Peebles and near Lockerbie and got a taste of on-stage action in local amateur productions. Seeing Bondagers at the Traverse fired his interest in new writing with a political dimension, which he developed when he came to Glasgow to study at the RSAMD. directing his own production of the play.

He takes over from Reekie, who was also a new kid on the block when he came to 7:84

The Quotes

'I wouldn't like to live in Glasgow again, much as I love it there. It’s not mixed enough, it’s not multicultural enough. If I could take a whole bunch of gay people and black people to Skye I would live in Skye. Or Mull.’ Jackie Kay on her preferred geography.

'People come up to me and go "do-d’doo- d’doo-doo-d'doo-doo” and they come up to her and go "Ah-ah-ah- ah”. We should do a remix, combine the two. Walk on The Superman. Superman Walk.’

Lou Reed on going out with Laurie Anderson.

‘I left Scotland with a smoking habit --I had stigmata on the palms of both hands from hiding my ciggies from the teachers.’ Doon MaCK/‘Chan on the perils of education in Scotland.

’Should I live with the rain and crap food, or the sunny climate where I can surf and snowboard in the same day and eat great food?’ john Hannah and the decision between living in Britain or Hollywood.

eight years ago, faced with the job of revitalising the company’s image and audience figures, a task he proved more than up to. Laird does not want to jump the gun and won’t disclose plans before he has taken up his post, but he hints at a shift in direction.

’When lain was artistic director he was looking at the time when we were close to devolution,’ he says. ’When the parliament started there wasn’t a huge amount we could grab hold of, but over the last couple of months we’ve seen the parliament bringing a lot of issues like Clause 28 to the surface and a lot of people are talking about it. We need to echo that in our theatre.’

(Fiona Shepherd)