Berni Inn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Berni)
Jump to: navigation, search
text
The Berni Inn logo

Berni Inn was a chain of British steakhouses, established in 1955. It was established by brothers Frank and Aldo Berni, who modelled the chain on restaurants they had seen in America. The restaurants introduced the postwar British public to its own home-grown restaurant chain, which came with its own pre-stylised restaurants with Tudor-looking false oak beams and white walls.[1]

By 1970 the chain comprised 147 hotels and restaurants, including the New Inn at Gloucester, the Mitre at Oxford, and several in Japan.[2] It was the largest food chain outside the USA.[2]

History[edit]

Brothers Aldo and Frank Berni, alongside their partner Paul Rosse, opened the first Berni Inn on 27 July 1956 at The Rummer, a historic pub in central Bristol.[3] More outlets were opened, and the company went public in 1962.[3]

The chain offered slick service and value for money, achieved partly by offering only a limited meat-based menu and a relatively small wine list. It had a loyal and regular following and quickly expanded through the 1960s, first throughout Bristol, and then through much of the rest of the country.

Unlike other restaurants, Berni Inns did not do their own butchery but bought in quality steaks already prepared. Behind the scenes, staff training manuals showed that they expected high standards from their employees.[4] In addition, the company was keen on in-house achievement; ranging from bonuses for high sales and good reputation, and setting company records for staff skill.[5]

The chain was sold to Grand Metropolitan for £14.5m in 1970 and then sold to Whitbread in 1995, who converted the outlets into their own Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants.[3]

Their brother Marco managed the famous and prestigious Harvey's Restaurant Bristol in the 1960s.

Aldo Berni died in 1997 at the age of 88.[6] Frank died 10 July 2000, aged 96.[7]

The first female manager within the Berni Inn franchise was Mrs Gerda Thut,[8] who took over The Sawyer's Arms in Nottingham in the 1960s. This was noted as a progressive step in management and equality at the time, and Mrs Thut was known as 'The Lady with the Keys'.[9] Mrs Thut died on 17 October 2011, aged 86.

Fare[edit]

A typical menu was of the form:[10]

n.b. Stilton tended only to be available in the more expensive section of the restaurant.

The most commonly ordered meal, even as late as the 1980s, was prawn cocktail, steak and Black Forest gateau.[11] This is sometimes called the Great British Meal. As Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham note in their 1997 book The Prawn Cocktail Years, "cooked as it should be, this much derided and often ridiculed dinner is still something very special indeed".[12]

In popular culture[edit]

In the Red Dwarf episode "Better Than Life", Holly notes that even though loneliness weighs heavily on us all, "Personally, the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that we are over 60 billion miles away from the nearest Berni Inn."

The restaurants were also mentioned in the Only Fools & Horses episode "Yesterday Never Comes", where Del takes his date.

References[edit]