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 be all but frisked to gain entry.

Because you are not going to find it dripping with celebrities inside.

Well certainly not in Harrogate.

More like a combination of wide-eyed tourists on their first visit and smug locals pronouncing loudly that they have dined there many times.

Laura suggested I would enjoy the experience of the new Leeds Ivy (apparently it has a bigger lobby) and has invited me to visit as her guest.

Which I will do.

Meanwhile I’ve been perusing some of the comments on last week’s blog.

“You should be grateful that you have such opportunities,” was one.

I’m not quite sure what it means, but I’ve been Googling a recipe for gruel just so I can keep my feet on the ground.

Another comment said: “One man’s/woman’s meat is another man’s/woman’s poison.”

I haven’t got a clue either but I’m concerned that comment doesn’t embrace the transgender community.

Finally I found a comment that I can learn from.

“In terms of service, yes it’s hit and miss at times but only you give permission to someone for making you feel like you don’t belong/they’re doing you a favour. Ignore it the next time and wear your best smile, you might be surprised at the outcome.”

Wise words.

So much so that I’ve cancelled my direct debit to my life coach.

The only problem is that if they won’t let you in the restaurant, or make it really difficult to get in, then you are going to feel like you don’t belong.

But I will smile next time – until the 250 quid bill arrives.


RHODE Island trade officials and senior business leaders provided a personal perspective of the opportunities for Yorkshire companies to export to New England at an event I hosted last week at the Leeds office of transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson.

With a schedule which took in visits to Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Hull and Manchester, the American delegation should have been exhausted but were bright-eyed and keen to discuss business opportunities.

The Rhode Island commerce team provided an overview of the state’s burgeoning technology, innovation, advanced manufacturing, medical, digital and renewables sectors as well as highlighting the opportunities for UK firms of establishing a presence on the East Coast as a way into the lucrative US market.

We also heard from Womble Bond Dickinson partner John Connor and Simon Pilling about their firm’s transatlantic links and opportunities.

Organised by ExportExchange, an initiative which brings together fledgling exporters with their more experienced peers, the seminar included a panel discussion involving Michael Sigourney of AVTECH Software and Angelo Marin of logistics business VPI who both gave US insight while Simon Riley of Quality Bearings Online and Oliver Rickeard of Atomos Networks provided the Yorkshire perspective.

Oliver’s Leeds-based IT business has a number of US clients and is looking at plenty more opportunities across the Atlantic.

Although I think his warmth for the USA may be on hold this weekend given he is at the Ryder Cup in Paris.


I WAS stunned to learn of the death of Yorkshire businessman Ross Pullan.

Ross died suddenly last Sunday afternoon at home.

A big, avuncular man, Ross was a warm and welcoming host, wonderful company with a great sense of humour.

He was only 60.

His family owned the fifth generation building firm Joseph Pullan & Sons which developed the Joseph’s Well office building in Leeds and many other sites across Yorkshire.

Ross had been at Elland Road with friends in the President’s Club at Leeds United’s match last Saturday and was apparently on top form.

His grandfather had owned the club during the Second World War and Ross laid claim to having been to every home game since 1963.

He took me as his guest to a match at Elland Road where the wine flowed, the conversation sparkled and Leeds won.

Ross was the type of person who always wondered what he could do for others but never asked or expected anything in return.

He was a proud Yorkshireman who Yorkshire can be very proud of.


THIS week I played in a golf day at Moor Allerton which raised money for the fantastic Lord’s Taverners charity.

It was a slightly surreal experience – and not just because of the state of my golf.

Each team was allocated a celebrity and so when I arrived I kept doing Jack Douglas-style double takes whenever anyone walked past me.

Our team had former Doncaster, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds midfielder Glynn Snodin who more recently has worked as assistant manager to Simon Grayson at Leeds, Huddersfield, Sunderland, Blackpool and Preston, achieving four promotions.

“Thank God I got a celebrity I didn’t have to look up on Google,” I told Glynn when we were introduced.

Others weren’t so lucky. When I asked a lawyer I know who his team’s celebrity was, he pointed and said: “That bloke over there but I’ve no idea who he is.”

There were plenty of well known names there, including England cricketer Jonny Bairstow, BBC presenter Dan Walker, football commentator and reigning Lord’s Tavs Balloon Debate champion Guy Mowbray as well as Simon Grayson, Nigel Martyn and Andy Ritchie from the football world.

Over dinner I sat next to Gina Campbell, daughter of speed record breaker Donald Campbell and granddaughter of Sir Malcolm Campbell.

She introduced me to Brian, her caddy.

Given he spent most of the meal with his hand on her knee, I think he does more than just carry her clubs.

Brian wasn’t a fan of the melon starter.

He used to be big in wholesale fruit and veg in Preston.

The after dinner entertainment added to my surreal experience.

Former world welterweight boxing champion John H Stracey singing Is This The Way to Amarillo and Forever in Blue Jeans.

Have a great weekend.

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1 Comment

  1. David, Had exactly the same experience stuck in the lobby, went twice, forgot Martina’s veg first time, left us waiting 3 times. Second time late main came after we finished eating had to chase it twice. Spoke to an imposing gentleman GM made me feel like they were very special and he was very surprised by our double poor experience. I’m not that desperate to be seen at one of their tables, so won’t be back in a hurry.Very poor all round, snooty ,made us feel like we were lucky to be in there more than 50% of the tables empty……


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