David Parkin on Ivy reaction, Rhode Island reading and surreal celebs

David Parkin on Ivy reaction, Rhode Island reading and surreal celebs

WHEN I wrote about a recent experience at the Ivy restaurant in Harrogate last week I have to say I didn’t expect it to get the reaction it did. The blog has been read by more than 5,100 people so far and attracted 73 comments and over 250 likes on Linkedin. That is in addition to numerous phone calls, texts and emails I’ve received, mainly from people who have had a similar experience to mine. Clearly the service I received wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Whether it is confined to the Harrogate restaurant I don’t know. But several people were keen to highlight the positive experiences they have had in other Ivys in Birmingham, Norwich, Richmond, St Albans and York, which perhaps suggests it is. Certainly that was the message from Laura Bamber, Operations Manager at The Ivy Collection, who read the blog and called me yesterday to apologise. Laura was polite and apologetic and keen to hear my observations about the Harrogate experience. She said that clearly The Ivy had failed on this occasion and accepted that given other people’s comments, it wasn’t just a one-off cock up and the restaurant will provide more training for staff. I said that whatever training is done, it doesn’t remove the challenge of having a small lobby entrance in which visitors are made to wait and wonder if they will be permitted to enter. I want to be treated like a grown-up when I go out for lunch or dinner. If the restaurant doesn’t have a spare table I’d like to be allowed to have a drink at the bar rather than...
David Parkin finds the Ivy all fur coat and no knickers

David Parkin finds the Ivy all fur coat and no knickers

ESCAPE rooms are an increasingly popular activity for groups of work colleague and friends. But I’ve got an alternative for you. Try getting into one of the many Ivy Brasserie restaurants that seem to have sprung up like knotweed around the UK over the past 12 months. If you do manage to get through the portals then your reward will be memorable – an overpriced meal and service which is painful. The staff are neither obsequious or arrogant, they just have a unique way of conveying the message that you are lucky to be there and they are doing you a huge favour. If this was the original Ivy – the century old restaurant in Covent Garden which has long been a magnet for celebrities – you might understand. But it was the Ivy Brasserie in Harrogate, one of 16 that have been opened in an aggressive strategy by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings in recent months. And celebs are in shorter supply in the spa town. Although I did see a local bank manager dining there who is a bit of a star – he gave out two business loans in the first half of the year, more than most are allowed to do. The latest Ivy opened its doors in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds this week. I did get an invite to the opening night, but after my experience in Harrogate last Saturday evening, couldn’t be bothered to go. When I visited the original Ivy some years ago I was impressed by every aspect of the place – food, service, decor and value for money. There was a...
David Parkin on four boys in a boat and nearly selling a selfie

David Parkin on four boys in a boat and nearly selling a selfie

WHEN four burly blokes surround you and ask you to do a job for them it is difficult to decline. Fortunately they are a quartet of top men who are aiming to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic and they want some help with a charity dinner then the decision to say yes is easy. Will Quarmby, Fraser Mowlem, Glyn Sadler and Duncan Roy will set out on their quest from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December and attempt to get to Antigua in the Caribbean in less 29 days. But before that they have had to train and raise enough money to compete in the challenge alongside holding down full time jobs and finding time to spend with their families.   Duncan Roy told me that the biggest challenge for most teams that want to enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is often not the epic row itself but raising the near £100,000 it costs to take part in the race. I first met the Row4Victory boys at Welcome to Yorkshire’s stand at the Great Yorkshire Show last year when they told me of their ambitious plan to not just row the Atlantic in a tiny boat but to do it in a world record time. It sounded a crazy idea and I wished them well, but not before introducing them to Welcome to Yorkshire Y30 member Nic Marshall, who said his firm, a growing Hull-based telemarketing business, called ResQ, would probably not be the best brand name for their boat to have emblazoned on it. But the lads shared Nic’s sense of...