Thursday, 30 June 2011

Flatbread on a Flatplanet

I have long been a fan of flatbread and its possibilities.  This Soho operation - Flatplanet - is a winner.

One of the really good cafe operators, Company of Cooks, uses flatbreads to produce nutritious, freshly prepared flatbread pizza for kids at its Kensington Gardens Playcafe.

Vital bit of kit: conveyor oven

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Pret Coffee Kitchen

We all need to keep up with what Pret is planning with its new format Coffee Kitchen; one of which has just opened in Windsor.  They plan a large regional roll-out.  These photos were taken at the London prototype store and very impressive it is too - open kitchen, sandwiches out at ambient and no big stainless steel multideck chiller units.  No big changes on the product front although a couple of neat additions - small round brownies and the ubiquitous cup cakes.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Saving the Planet

Wholefoods have long been championing recycling with their multi-shaped clearing stations.  Most of us recycle at home.  What are you doing to save the planet ....... and reduce your rubbish collection charges?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Dare to be Different

Luggage tag labels as price tickets in Pasta Box.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Telling a Good Story

How good is yours?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cakes for Special Diets

Take care of special interest groups and you have a friend for life.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Anyone for Tennis - Fun with Flowers

Seen at Tower 42 reception - fun, timely and even the colours are spot on for Wimbledon

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Salad Bars have Moved On

Large platters of interesting combinations dressed to serve - salads have moved on from iceberg and coleslaw.  Check out Ottolenghi and his cookbooks.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Mouth Watering Display

Baker & Spice

Fait Maison


Monday, 20 June 2011

Challenge Convention - The Off Centre Saucer

Costa and their off centre saucer and cup - more room for that snack, no need for a plate and it's something different.  Bellissimo.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Pancakes on the Panini Grill

Another clever idea from Starbucks which draws on their US heritage and uses the panini grill to the full.

It allows them to promote their breakfast offer big time.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Smile, Smile, Smile

Spotted on the till at healthy fast food unit Leon.  I'm never too sure signs are read by staff (or customers) but the staff at the Carnaby Street location greeted everyone warmly with a SMILE, SMILE, SMILE.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Billy No Mates

Some cafe operators don't have a clue - they need our London Cafe Tour to see what the best guys do.  This was taken at a cafe off Regent Street.

Golden rule:  avoid the last one left look and then there is the stainless steel platter, the plastic cloche and odd bits of fruit.

This joins the Horror Hall of Shame displays which will not tempt your mid-morning and mid-afternoon trade to open their wallets for anything to eat.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Window Dressing

What a window - L'Eto Caffe in Soho - with healthy message and contradictory but tempting cake display.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

In Starbucks, not Denmark

Marmite is the love/hate brand and it does differentiate the offering.  What are your ideas to provide interesting yet familiar items?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Are you a Butterfly or a Snake?

Is nothing simple?

This blog celebrates the quirky but these toilet signs at The Botanist in Sloane Square don't make it easy.  At least they get the place talked about.

Somewhat more obvious at a pub on the Oxfordshire Way
This could become a whole blog subject on its own  ........ no way.     Just be grateful you are not colour blind at the River Cafe in Hammersmith where I quickly realised blue for boys.  At least there is demonstrable creativity in the catering industry!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Forget the Flowers

Fresh herbs on every table at Chop'd; so much more original and foodie than the usual flowers.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Colour Me Beautiful - Part 2

Conran's Boundary Hotel's rooftop restaurant with multi-coloured seats plus sunhats (when hot) and rugs (when cold).

The man really is a genius at getting the detail right.

Colour Me Beautiful Part 1 at

Leon's colourful picnic tables in Spitalfields Market

Friday, 10 June 2011

Three Tiered Impact

Sales of three tiered cakes are booming and it's all down to that visual impact.  Obvious, sad, fattening and true.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Clever Counter Heating Unit

The story is great.

My good mate and entrepreneur Stephen Minall saw an inexpensive but really well made counter-top heating unit at a trade fair and now has the exclusive rights in the UK.

It is made by the same German folk who warm your car seats.

Unobtrusive, washable and ideal for keeping hot food warm.

Sadly, I am not a shareholder;  contact Stephen at and he can send you more details.  I think Carbon Heater will be big.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Cup Cake Revolution Continues

Knitted cupcakes and very realistic they look too.  Popular as Christmas decorations and as kitchen table ornaments.  Good display material as well.
   Photo credit: The Deeley family

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tea Cosies

We mentioned the road to retro in one of our early blogs - see - and now tea cosies have inspired a brand of tea.  Granny better start knitting.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Counter Service R.I.P.

There has been talk in the world of garden centre catering of the benefits of table service for cafes - I'm from the restaurant business and appreciate the increased average spend, greater customer service and better plate presentation that it can deliver.

However, counter or self-service cafes are great when:
  • you want to encourage the mid-morning and afternoon market where that cake sale depends on customers buying with their eyes
  • customer numbers are inconsistent - ie due to weather or season - and you cannot afford to have expensive staff standing idle
  • table-blocking and dwell time is a problem at peak periods when customers sit waiting for food to be delivered
  • you want to keep a real value proposition because the customer does much of the service themselves
  • customers like the self-selection process as in a supermarket or with a buffet
  • coaches or large groups need to be served quickly
  • finding and training smart, smiling, reliable, fast, English-speaking staff is an issue
Counter service has its fans and is far from Resting In Peace.

    Sunday, 5 June 2011

    Effective Signage?

    Interesting to know whether this gets them more coffee sales - big, bold and brash.

    Saturday, 4 June 2011

    Lettuce Boats & Wraps

    Great idea at Waitrose and the sort of thing you might have made yourself at home - healthy and inexpensive.

    These retailers are showing the way with innovation.  Note the premium price.  Caterers need to keep up.

    Friday, 3 June 2011

    Avoid the Corporate Look

    Les Trois Garcons in Shoreditch has to be seen to be believed.  Simply amazing.
    You just have to smile and marvel at the creativity of the three owners - a Malaysian, a Swede and a Frenchman.

    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    The Best Kids Offer?

    Tate Britain - best choice of healthy items
    Sandbanks Cafe, Poole - 5 items in a bucket

    I'm a VIP at Debenhams

    Worthy, if a little dull, at Peter Jones, Sloane Square; part of John Lewis

    Wednesday, 1 June 2011

    Coffee with Attitude

    The Brewed Boy Espresso cart on a street in Soho with its 'The Limey Bastard' special - lime, sugar syrup, double espresso; the shaken hard on ice seems to be said with some feeling!