Cheers Roy, you gave us a lot now enjoy the rest!

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The late power house that was Roy Ackerman, holding his Industry Award.

ONE OF THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY’S ICONS has passed away at the relevantly young age of 75 from a stroke.

Roy Ackerman was indeed a giant of our industry.

A bon viveur, the original ‘foodie’ who liked nothing better than a great meal, a fine bottle of wine, a good cigar and someone decent to share it with.

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Over the years he accumulated a mass of friends, fans and followers.

He was born in Bristol in 1942. He first started as an apprentice chef, a title he used for a TV programme he later made.

His hard work and enthusiasm culminated in the opening of his first restaurant Quincy’s Bistro in Oxford in 1975 which is where I first met him.

Even in those days you could see the man was determined to leave his mark on an industry that he loved so much.

He joined forces with the late Michael Golder and between them they forged a formidable restaurant chain – Kennedy Brookes – which went on to operate 130 restaurants and hotels.

Following the sale of Kennedy Brookes, Ackerman went on to be appointed as chairman in myriad restaurant company and consultancy groups including Simpsons of Cornhill, 190 Queen’s Gate, the Restaurant Partnership, the Restaurant Factory and, more latterly, Tadema Studios.

His involvement with these businesses resulted in the opening of a plethora of restaurants and concepts in London, among them Bistro Bistrot at the Montague and Bailey’s hotels and Refettorio at the Crowne Plaza City, as well as breathing new life into such lauded venues as Elena’s L’Etoile, the Gay Hussar and the White Tower.

Ackerman was also something of a Renaissance man, exploring various aspects of the arts, but always with a connection to hospitality.

As well as producing a series of highly respected restaurant guides, he launched CoolCucumber TV, an early online food magazine programme.

More recently he headed up Ackerman Studios, an art consultancy which partnered emerging artists with restaurants and hotels, such as the Dorchester Collection’s 45 Park Lane, to provide them valuable gallery space.

One of Ackerman’s most significant successes came in 1987, when the Licensing (Restaurant Meals) Act came into force.

As chairman of the Restaurateurs’ Association of Great Britain (RAGB), he spear-headed the campaign to reform the archaic licensing regulations of the time and even led a march of 200 RAGB members on Downing Street, two years earlier.

The new law enabled alcohol to be served with restaurant meals in the afternoon for the first time, transforming the sector by boosting business and profits.

Ackerman was involved in many other organisations. He was chairman of the Hotel and Catering Training Board and held numerous honorary positions, including president of the Academy of Food and Wine Service, chairman of the governors of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and chancellor of the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom.

Among some of the accolades bestowed on Ackerman throughout his long and illustrious career was an OBE presented to him in 1990 for his work on promoting tourism and training which was followed by the CBE, given for his services to gastronomy in 2004.

Ultimately, Ackerman will be remembered for the kindness and support he showed so many people throughout the industry and his love of life.

Hundreds of individuals over the years will have benefited from his willingness to help them in furthering their business ambitions – he would frequently work on a no-fee basis in order to support aspiring young chefs and restaurateurs on setting up their businesses on a confidential basis, as well as supporting community projects and charities.

He leaves behind his wife Sally and their children.

Cheers Roy, you gave us a lot, now enjoy the rest!

TRIPADVISOR IS BACK IN THE NEWS, does it ever go away?

This time because, a venue has complained about a review posted by a disgruntle customer.

High Rocks, a restaurant and wedding venue in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, has hit back after a visitor left a one-star review on the travel site.

A Sarah Gardner visited the restaurant in March and apparently had a less-than satisfactory experience.

She decided to share her opinion about what she felt was ‘mediocre’ food and ‘rude’ staff by writing a review.

Within a week, Sarah received a letter from London law firm Cohen Davis Solicitors instructing her to remove the post which they deemed as defamatory and therefore against the law.

The letter claimed that High Rocks had caused “financial harm worth tens of thousands of pounds” and the firm intended to prepare a High Court claim against the lady in question.

The law firm, which is owned by Yair Cohen, provided a statement which says that Sarah Gardner had falsely claimed, in three separate TripAdvisor reviews, to have attended their clients’ establishment in March 2017 when, on her own admission, apparently she had not.

They claimed that, because of that, her reviews could not be described as a fair and accurate review of her experience or an honestly held opinion.

Ms Gardner’s false reviews came about because she was banned from booking our client’s establishment having been extremely rude and offensive to staff over the telephone.

Ms Gardner also claimed to have recorded a telephone conversation with the owner and his wife but, when pressed to provide a copy of the recording was unwilling or unable to do so.

Her false reviews were noted by many potential clients of event restaurant business and were therefore damaging the venue’s reputation.

In response to the claims, Ms Gardner claimed that she was never ‘banned’ from the establishment and that she was neither offensive, nor loud.

It was claimed that she had never visited the establishment, despite her providing proof that she had, consisting of emails, bank statements and photographs, while the venue and their lawyers provided nothing.

She claims that “Mr Cohen is banking on me not contesting the lies, I am unfortunately in this position because of my honesty and unwillingness to continue to be bullied”

Her review has since been removed from the TripAdvisor website.

“The reviews were removed due to bullying, not for any other reason,” continued Sarah Gardner.

This is not the first time that the High Rocks has been involved in legal action after complaints from clients.

Also a look at their TripAdvisor reviews show that of 130 reviews, 84 were excellent (64 per cent) but reading through the comments 10 were average, seven were poor and five were terrible.

The poor and terrible reviews did claim that service, attitude and poor staff and food were the main grievances.

Long may the rows continue!

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN McDonalds TV add which depicts a mother and her son discussing ‘his Dad’ in the past tense.

How he liked this and that and football etc It turns out that the boy had little in common with his late dad, until he arrived with his mother at a McDonald’s when it transpired that the boy enjoys a Filet-oFish in just the same way that his father did.

“That was your dad’s favourite too,” the mother tells her son in the advert ‘getting tartare sauce over his chin!’

Personally I found the ad quite poignant and it was handled well and whatever one’s opinion of McDonalds and their food the basis of the ad was to show that memories are good and can be shared with the family.

Would you believe that the company has been made to withdraw the advert?

The company initially said that it had no plans to pull the advert.

However, as the number of complaints on social media and among bereavement charities grew, McDonald’s announced that the advert would be removed and apologised for the upset it had caused.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “It was never our intention to cause any upset. We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us – our customers.”

The last advert was broadcast on Wednesday 17 May.

“We will also review our creative process to ensure this situation never occurs again.”

The Advertising Standards Authority, which received more than 100 complaints, said it would be looking at the advert to assess whether to take the matter further.

Someone out there should get a life!!

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