Pembroke: Zen lost on the masses

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ZEN, the elegant London chain of Chinese restaurants, has fallen into the hands of the receivers.

Zen, founded by Lawrence Leung, is only to be found in the better parts of town - Hampstead (ZENW3), Covent Garden (Now & Zen), Chelsea and Mayfair. However, it seems the demise of company was caused not by the death of the yuppie but by its expansion into other areas, such as mass catering.

The restaurants are still thought to be profitable, according to Robson Rhodes, whose partners have been appointed as administrative receivers to Blaidwood, the company that owned the restaurants. Zen employs 70 people and turns over more than pounds 5m a year.

Zen's patrons will be hoping a rescuer can be found soon.

A HUNGRY newshound was yesterday despatched to 'doorstep' Clare Spottiswoode, the Ofgas supremo whose appointment came under close media scrutiny yesterday.

He diligently pursued one Ofgas official to the sandwich counter of the local Boots branch, and could not be shaken off by a scurry around the aisles.

So what was the big scoop? 'I told him it was honey- baked ham and barbecue chicken,' the Ofgas man said.

BEN BRADLEE, the renowned editor of the Washington Post during the newspaper's exposure of the Watergate cover-up, has joined the board of Tony O'Reilly's (Irish) Independent Newspapers.

The two men must be great chums: Mr O'Reilly has only recently stepped down as a director of the Washington Post, where Mr Bradlee remains vice-president at large. He retired in 1991 after 16 years as editor.

Mr O'Reilly, whose day job is running HJ Heinz, recently bought a 29.9 per cent stake in Newspaper Publishing which publishes The Independent.

DAVID BRIERLEY, a former journalist, was yesterday promoting his first novel in the Royal Festival Hall's bookshop, just outside the hall in which Lloyd's was staging its annual meeting.

An inoffensive activity you might think. Wrong. Significant Loss is an everyday story about Lloyd's folk, involving fraud, greed, theft, false accounting and murder.

Strangely, this touched a raw nerve. A Lloyd's official sought to have Mr Brierley's book removed from the shop window. The displays were duly dismantled, and the author pushed inside the shop and out of sight.

Lloyd's were embarrassed into relenting after a complaint by a name, who was angry that Lloyd's would try to prevent its investors from seeing Mr Brierley's displays.

As one name said on hearing the story: 'I've heard so much fiction about Lloyd's inside the hall, I don't see why they should stop me buying it out here.'