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20 May

Once upon a time....


Once upon a time, in a small market town somewhere in England, there was a large restaurant - one of a famous chain of eating places, which did very well catering for people who liked the predictability of 'table d'hote' when they went out for their Sunday lunch and regularly booked a table there.

For the most part, their customers very much enjoyed their meals and, even when the food didn't quite come up to scratch, they still came back because it was really the only eating place in the area.

One day, in a premises just a few yards down the street, there opened a much smaller restaurant, offering 'a la carte' with local, organic produce, vegetarian and even vegan dishes at prices which differed not one jot from the those at the well known chain.

The manager of the large restaurant called a meeting of his staff and said, " If this new place takes off, we're all going to be out of a job. How dare these new folk set up shop right next door and try and poach all our customers! Make sure you all make a particular effort to be nice to all the people who eat here and let's do all we can to keep it business as usual".

Some of the staff became quite anxious at his words and, when they passed the staff of the new place in the street they refused to speak to them. Soon, from somewhere, rumours began to circulate about rats in the kitchen and chefs who weren't properly trained; however, when environmental health inspectors visited they awarded a five star rating.

So that was all right.

The new place slowly gained customers who appreciated the wide choice on the menu and enjoyed a smaller and more intimate venue. Some of the old place's regular customers gave it a try and liked it whilst others preferred to stay with the tried and trusted menu. Some ate their meal at the new place but adjourned to the old place afterwards because it was licenced and they fancied a drink. Bar takings actually went up.

So that was all right.

After a while, the new place had to take on more staff and a couple of the waiters who used to work at the old place decided that the ambiance of the new one really appealed to them so applied for the posts. Conversly, some who had moved to the area with the new enterprise decided that they would feel happier with the stability of a nationwide chain and applied for jobs there.

So that was all right.

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN. HOW DOES THE STORY END?

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