Jinnie’s Story- Book Six, Chapter Twenty-Six

A new Aunty JoJo’s

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Jinnie was excited and happy, the invitation to tea at the Palace had arrived, not just she and the twins were invited, so was Izzy. Kate has scribbled on the bottom of the printed invitation, ‘Please don’t get dressed up, I will be wearing jeans and a sweater, tea is strictly casual. Tell Izzy I have told Nanny she is coming, and she is planning tea for her in Nanny’s parlour, I’m sure they will find lots to talk about.’ But it wasn’t just the invitation that had put Jinnie in such a good mood, the board had agreed to go ahead with the Brixton Aunty JoJo’s test and Brian had just reported that he had agreed a six-month lease with a three-month break with the landlord on the basis that it they wanted more than six months that it would be a six-year lease with bi-annual rent reviews.

As Jinnie happily read her day’s emails, her mobile rang and Bill Furr said, “Hello Jinnie, I have got a draft of the ‘oldies’ story for you and Mr Farage to approve. My editor loved the story and is ready to lead with it once it is approved. He has agreed to all the conditions and said to tell you that the Press would also like to give 10% of all sales over an average week’s sales to the home. Now can I pop round and bring you a draft to approve?” “Of course,” said Jinnie, “but I better warn you that the road is guarded by Special Branch because Sir Nigel lives next door. Anyone the police don’t recognise gets stopped and questioned. I’ll stroll down and warn them you are coming.”

True to his word Bill arrived half an hour later and Izzy showed him to the garden office where Jinnie and Sir Nigel were sat waiting for him, with Larry snoozing on his knee. Bill handed over a couple of copies of the draft article and chatted for a few minutes before leaving them to read it. “I like this,” said Nigel, “It really reads well; it tells the story and tugs on the heartstrings. This will be picked up by the rest of the media and I think it will make money for the residents. I’m going to fax a copy over to Kate and see what she thinks.” “You have a fax machine?” asked Jinnie. “Yes,” replied Nigel, “Doesn’t everyone?” “No,” said Jinnie, “They went out with the Ark. Businesses use text messages and PDF copies. Wait a minute and I’ll scan it to PDF, and you can send that.”

Once Nigel had left, Jinnie phoned Belinda’s mobile to talk to her about the fit-out of the Aunty JoJo’s. Belinda’s design had looked good on paper, she had stuck with the same colour scheme and signage as the Bajan parent. Monica had flown over and had excitedly viewed the site and Andrew’s rendered images before she and Brooke had set about hiring staff. The waiters and servers were easy, the manager a bit harder but they agreed on an experienced man who had run a large central London KFC. But they wanted the kitchen staff to be familiar with West Indian and in particular Bajan food. It took them several abortive interviews before they had their chef and kitchen brigade, but they were finally satisfied and Monica was particularly pleased with the Bajan chef and he returned to Bridgetown with Monica to spend a few days seeing how Aunty JoJo’s worked and what was on the menu.

Belinda answered the phone and immediately she said, “Hi Jinnie, I guess you are phoning to ask when I can start at Brixton. Yes, I know, I have just got off the phone to Brian who was delighted to have finalised everything. I need a couple of days to get the orders for subcontractors and materials out, but there’s not much to do, new flooring, new IT system, decorations, deep clean, and new signage. The long lead items are the IT and the signage as it will need planning permission. Brian has been talking to DKL’s Nigel and he suggests we use the Bajan Aunty JoJo’s software as our base, but it will need customisation to work in Pounds instead of Bajan Dollars. The Bajan VAT rate is different, but the software allows for changes of VAT. I reckon we can hand it over in about 2.5 weeks provided if I put in for planning immediately. If it doesn’t come through in time, we can put up a temporary sign. But anyway, I will have people on site the day after tomorrow.”

“Great,” said Jinnie, “That will give Brooke three weeks to organise the opening, settle on the exact menu and finish staff training. I want to get some advertising sorted out. Can we meet on-site the day after tomorrow at say 11 am?” “OK,” said Belinda before ringing off. Next Jinnie rang Brooke who answered with her usual, “Hi boss, what’s up?” Jinnie replied, “Good news, it’s all go for the Chicken Shack, Belinda is starting work the day after tomorrow and I’m meeting her on-site at 11 am, are you coming?” “Of course, I want be in at the beginning,” answered Brooke, “Who’s the site manager?” “I think it’s Jason,” replied Jinnie. “That’s good,” said Brooke, “He’s done a load of the sandwich shops, so he should know what’s required.”

Jinnie’s next call was to Bill Furr. “Hi Jinnie,” said Bill, “Please don’t tell me you have problems with the draft.” “Not at all, I like it,” replied Jinnie, “Nigel is checking that the Queen is happy so I will be back when we have her comments. No, it’s something completely different, I want to ask for a bit of assistance, but it could be a story for you.” Jinnie paused, trying to sort out in her head how to best tell the story. Then she said, “l think I better start at the beginning, which was five months or so ago, Trattoria Trevi set up a couple of businesses in Barbados a wholly owned upmarket restaurant and a 50-50 venture into a fried chicken business.” “Go on,” said Bill. “Well, the plan was to inject cash into the chicken business with the aim of growing it quickly. We have grown it from a single branch to five in Barbados and another two being set up as we speak. We also have rights to open at St Lucia Airport. In under six months the chain is generating enough income for Trattoria Trevi not to need to put money into the chain.”

“Why have I not seen this in your half-yearly report?” asked Bill. “That’s easily answered. Our last reported six months was to August and the investment hadn’t been made then. It will all be clearer in the six months to February but they’re not due yet. Anyway, we are looking to move into other islands, and I can’t tell you where, but we have big plans. But we have decided to bring the chain to the U.K. and will be opening our first branch of Aunty JoJo’s Chicken Shack in Brixton in about three weeks. Now the story is yours I’m sure you will run with something like ‘Local company expands into fried chicken.’ But what I want is local advertising, you know the London locals, who do I advertise with for the best coverage of Brixton? Do you know anyone you can leak the story to?”

“Well yes, it’s a great local story and I have been taking notes as we talked. I’ll write it up for the next edition, but I may have to come back to you to check details and spelling. Now I reckon that I can easily get the story in the Evening Standard, but that’s London-wide, they’ll be more interested if you are planning more shops in London. Otherwise, I know people on the South London Press and on the Wandsworth Times, I’m pretty sure they both cover Brixton. If you put an advertisement in the paper and I offer the story they are sure to run with it.”


Jason welcomed Jinnie to the new branch and passed her the site register saying, “This is a bit different, I’m used to dark kitchens, restaurants and sandwich shops, but a fried chicken shack is new, I’m glad I’ve only got to follow drawings.” “Well Jason,” replied Jinnie, “If things go as well as they are in the West Indies, I reckon it could take off quicker than the sandwich shops.” “Really?” said Jason, “I like these quick in and out jobs, I get bored on some of the big jobs, a new dark kitchen is about as long a project as I want, Peter and Richard can do the big office refurbs but if you want me on these, I’m happy.”

Belinda and Brooke walked in together and Belinda quickly dragged Jason away to talk about the kitchen which was getting a couple of additional deep fat fryers installed and see how Gary’s people were getting on with the wiring. Brooke and Jinnie had a quick look around. It was too soon to see much progress, but the restaurant flooring was being changed, the electricians were running cables for the new IT system, and someone was working in the back office installing racking for a server and printer. In one corner were a stack of Dulux paint cans and boxes of vinyl flooring tiles. Jason saw her looking and said, “Lucy has excelled herself on getting the materials here, there’s going to be no hanging about on this job.” Jinnie could see Belinda smiling.

The three ladies had an impromptu meeting on the pavement outside the shop. Belinda said, “Well, it’s looking good, everyone who is supposed to be here is and what I had on the flow chart for today is almost done and it’s only lunchtime. Jason says the people who are doing the shop sign have been in to take final measurements and they reckon they could be here in 10 days, that’s way ahead of schedule. We may take a chance and erect it. The deep fat fryers are another one of the long lead items and I suspect they will be the thing that controls handover. I ordered them straight away as they are on two weeks delivery, so we need to keep our fingers crossed.”

Brooke said, “Patricia and Chef Blake are flying in on Friday. Patrica says she thinks he is clear on the quality she demands from the kitchen and can deliver. She is bringing copies of the Bajan menu, so we can get them printed and laminated here. I have been talking to our suppliers and one or two of the spices on Patricia’s shopping list are not so easy to come by in the U.K. and with 11 or 12 portions of fried chicken from a single chicken we are going to need a lot of chickens. But I think we are getting there.”

Jinnie explained, “I have been looking at advertising the new branch. I gave the story of Aunty JoJo’s to the local Potters Bar paper, and I am told it will be on their website tonight and in tomorrow morning’s print edition. The Evening Standard have picked it up and it will be in their lunchtime edition tomorrow. Then we have placed adverts in two Brixton papers, and they have been fed the Potters Bars Press story. I hope that is enough for others to pick up. I would like the story in the nationals and on the radio.” “That’s excellent,” said Brooke, “But have you spotted that man over the road, the one with the camera, he has taken several shots of us standing here on the pavement outside the shop, I reckon he’s local press.”


The following day Jinnie strolled down to the local shop and picked up a copy of the Potters Bar Press. She was delighted with the front-page headline, “Local restaurant chain taking on KFC.” It wasn’t quite true, but she didn’t mind. The story was by Bill Furr, Press Group Chief Reporter. He had clearly put in a bit of research as there was more to the story than she had told him. He had obviously been on the Companies House website and found that Trattoria Trevi (Holdings) owned, among many other things, 100% of Trattoria Trevi (Barbados) Limited and then found it owned 50% of Aunty JoJo’s (Operations) Limited. He had also found that (Barbados) owned 100% of ‘The Continental Restaurant (Bridgetown) Limited.’ His story basically said that the Press Group had learned that in the last few months the highly successful Trattoria Trevi Group had been expanding its business into the Caribbean where it now owned a restaurant, five (soon to be seven) fried chicken shops and one, (soon to be two) sandwich shops.

At this point, Jinnie thought, ‘At least he doesn’t seem to have found the link to Dark Kitchens (Caribbean) Limited’. Before reading on and finding Bill explaining to his readers that Aunty JoJo’s Chicken Shack was about to come to Britain with its first Bajan fried chicken outlet due to open in Brixton in a fortnight and it was sure to be followed by more. Bill said that in Barbados, Aunty JoJo’s was considered superior to other fried chicken outlets and people formed long queues outside to be served. He added that they had been expanding at the rate of one a month in the Caribbean but as they were doing so well the plan was to expand even faster in the future.

Jinnie now wondered where that had come from, she certainly hadn’t briefed it. Bill added that because Trattoria Trevi was a private company owned equally by seven people it only had to file simplified accounts, so it was very hard to understand the company structure and just how profitable it was. Jinnie thought, ‘Amen to that.’ Finally, Bill said as soon as Aunty JoJo’s was trading the Press Group would have a review and it would run a competition for a reader and their partner to eat there and experience the food for themselves. Jinnie was quite happy with the article, if it got people talking then it was good advertising.


Patrica had wanted to stay fairly close to the new Brixton Aunty JoJo’s, so they had booked her into the Brixton Premier Inn. Jinnie warned her that it wasn’t a wonderful hotel but would be a clean, modern, functional room with WiFi, TV and a coffee maker. Also, the hotel’s restaurant was pretty limited, breakfast was OK with a good choice from an ‘all you could eat’ buffet, but dinner was rather limited and if you stayed for more than a few days you would soon get fed up with the limited choice of pizza, pasta and curry. However, it was only 10-minutes walk from the site and was bang in the middle of Brixton with loads of eating places. Brooke had met her at Gatwick and drove her to the hotel. Patricia had flown on a Thomson flight that normally carried passengers to the P&O cruise ships but had recently added scheduled passengers to its eight-times-a-week flights to fill up the flights.

The flight had arrived in the early hours of the morning and it being January Patricia had been unprepared for the cold with only a thin coat. Brooke turned her car’s air conditioning up and suggested they should go shopping for thermal trousers, sweaters and a padded anorak and gloves. So that Patricia had immediate access to the hotel room, Brooke had paid for the night before her early arrival and after checking in she carried Patricia’s suitcase up to the room for her. It was one of the better ‘Plus’ rooms and came with a 40” TV, coffee machine that used pods and air conditioning which was immediately turned to hot.

Patrica had never been out of the Caribbean and was astounded how busy everywhere was. Brooke explained that Brixton was quite a long way, about four miles, from central London and had been chosen for the first branch because it was a suburb with lots of West Indian residents. Patricia was anxious to see the restaurant and was delighted when Brooke suggested they could walk there in under ten minutes, but it would be better to take a short diversion via Marks & Spencer’s to get her the warmer clothes.

It was a well-wrapped-up Patricia who arrived at the new site in the rapidly growing Aunty JoJo’s empire. Brooke introduced her to Jason who got them both to sign in and quickly found Patricia a hard hat and a ‘Wright Refurbishment’ high viz Jacket, Brooke, of course, had brought her own. He said they didn’t carry spare protective footwear, but Patricia laughed and said her shoes were compliant. With all the restaurants the chain was building in the Caribbean she had thought it sensible to acquire some and these were very comfortable and didn’t look like work shoes.

Jason and Brooke walked Patricia around the site and explained what was happening and showed her the work programme that was Blue Tacked to the office wall. Jason proudly pointed out that work was already a day ahead of the programme. Patricia asked if she could pop in regularly and Jason said she would be welcome provided she didn’t tell his crew what to do, that was his job. She then asked when she could bring the chef in to familiarise himself with the kitchen and its equipment. Jason suggested he could come and have a look at any time, but it would be a week to ten days before they had the industrial cleaners in to sort out the kitchen and it was fit to work in. But if he just wanted to look, he could but he would need to wear the safety gear.

On the walk back to the hotel, Patricia expressed her delight in the outlet saying it was just what she would have chosen, and what a nice man Jason was. Brooke suggested they stop at M&S and buy a sandwich for lunch and then make mugs of coffee in Patricia’s room. Looking at the sandwich selection in M&S Brooke vowed to herself to see about opening a branch locally. Eventually Brooke chose roast beef and horseradish with watercress and Patricia picked a best ever prawn sandwich.

The couple had only just finished their snack lunch when Brooke’s mobile rang. Looking at the display she said her usual, “Hi boss, I’m with Patricia,” and listened while Jinnie asked how they had got on at the new Aunty JoJo’s outlet. Brooke said, “Hang on, I’ll put the phone on loudspeaker and she can tell you all about it.” Patricia said, “I think it looks good, and it is in a great location. I love the renders and I can’t believe just how quickly the conversion is taking place.” “Good,” replied Jinnie, “Belinda and I will be doing a walk round next Wednesday so I except you will both be joining us. Now I expect you realise that tomorrow is Saturday, and no one will be working over the weekend so I have been thinking how best you can use this visit, so how about you come up to me for Saturday and Sunday, the same applies to you, Brooke. Unfortunately, I don’t have the accommodation here to put you both up, but what I suggest is that Brooke comes over to you on Saturday morning and you get the Victoria Line tube to Finsbury Park then the fast train to Potters Bar.”

Jinnie continued, “I can pick you up at the station and take you to a hotel, I will book you rooms at the Ramada Inn, it’s only a couple of miles from my house then I will bring you both to my house and we can have a quick lunch with Paolo, the twins and Izzy, you know them all. We can order dinner from the Trattoria Trevi dark kitchen so you can see just what we will be offering in Barbados. Then one of us can take you back to the hotel. On Sunday, one of us will pick you up after breakfast. I have booked lunch for all of us at the Trattoria Trevi so you can see what a Two Michelin Star Sunday lunch is like. I suggest we have a walk around the Potters Bar Dark Kitchen, it’s only just behind the restaurant. I can then drop you back at the station, it’s five minutes away and you can be back in Brixton late Sunday afternoon, it’s under an hour on the train and tube. Oh, don’t give up your Brixton hotel room, you might not get it back, it’s only one night and it’s on company expenses and I’ll pay for the rooms at the Ramada South Mimms.”

“That sounds interesting,” said Patricia, “But it really depends on Brooke, I would never be able to able to find my way on my own, I’ve never been on a train.” “I’d love to come,” said Brooke, “And my Boyfriend is piloting a plane to Cairo on Saturday and will not be coming back until Sunday so it couldn’t be better.”

In Chapter 27 – Aunty JoJo’s Brixton opens

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