Berni Inn

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]

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The Berni Inn logo

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]

HistoryEdit

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]

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

The first female manager within the Berni Inn franchise was Gerda Thut,[5] 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.[6]

The chain was sold to Grand Metropolitan for £14.5M in 1970.[3]

Berni Inn was sold to Whitbread in 1995, who converted the outlets into their own Beefeater restaurants.[3]

Aldo Berni died in 1997 at the age of 88.[7] Frank died 10 July 2000, aged 96.[8]

FareEdit

A typical dinner at the Berni Inn:[9]

The most frequently ordered meal, even as late as the 1980s, was prawn cocktail, steak and Black Forest gateau. 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".[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Welcome to haute cuisine: how Berni boys brought dining out to the masses". MansfieldPeople. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Aldo Berni". Oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d "Brothers Frank and Aldo Berni revolutionised how we ate out with their 'Temperance Bars'". Western Daily Press. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Berni Inn Newsletter". Retronaut. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Berni Inn newsletter". Flickr. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "The Lady with the Keys". Flickr. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Aldo Berni". Oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Frank Berni". Telegraph.co.uk. 12 July 2000. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Nigel Slater. "Nigel Slater serves up a second helping from his new book, Eating for England". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "The Prawn Cocktail Years". Lindseybareham.com. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)