Monday, 8 January 2018

Chess Pieces & Tripe

Given Hay has been feeling rather ill of late and somewhat low, I decided to take her for a short jaunt into Bath yesterday, ending up in Patisserie Valerie. I was disappointed to discover Patisserie Valerie had changed hands from the family that used to own it and had been purchased by one of the large food businesses - in fact it has changed hands a few times. 

It's such a shame that family businesses that have been going for years - decades even - end up as chess pieces being swapped and switched between large companies having nothing but growth as their targets. Time was when a good return, even if steady, was all that a family required - an income. Growth, especially in the catering industry, can only be achieved by expanding and putting pressure of suppliers, after which corner cutting is the only way to go, with a resulting drop in standards.

Looking at businesses that have sold out to the conglomerates drew my attention to a restaurant chain I remembered as a boy in Southport - The UCP restaurant chain - which my dad loved, as he had a weakness for offal. Until yesterday I never knew what UCP stood for, but suspected something industrial - apparently it's United Cattle Products, which makes sense when you realise that their key dishes were tripe and brawn. Obviously, UCP came about before firms started to consider marketing as a means of enticing a customer base; a chain called United Cattle Products can only be targeted at a specific demographic, and it can only be northern. Sounds more like an animal feed company than a restaurant chain. While it may have worked in the 50s, I doubt such a name would work today.

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