A satire, set against the background of adventures in the hospitality trade. In the quiet and timeless hamlet of Birton Sodbury, Hacker Black has re-built the reputation of the local pub. A successful entrepreneur, he had previously developed a listings business in the Manchester area before selling both it and a Leeds nightclub that the police thought he had torched.
A new arrival, Euphony Blurr appears a thrusting and dynamic business woman, but her past includes a long period as a call-girl after being thrown out of a leading accountancy firm. She converts a derelict farmhouse into an up-market restaurant but clashes with the local authority and some of the long-standing village residents. The “old sods”, as these residents describe themselves, see Euphony as a threat to their carefully guarded way of life. It looks like the restaurant could go belly-up – especially when the drunken chef writes off some customers’ cars in the yard.
Eventually, with Hacker’s help and a new chef, Euphony re-brands and re-opens the restaurant. When it is taken up by the foodies and gets rave reviews, its future looks assured, but Hacker is becoming increasingly concerned about Euphony’s business practices. Some of the kitchen staff don’t have the proper papers and are poorly paid. The suppliers have to wait a long time before their bills are met.
Impressed by her resilience, an international conglomerate Hedge Inc. asks Euphony to re-style some of its ailing restaurants. The initial pilot goes well but the wider roll-out turns into a disaster for Hedge Inc. and it only just manages to survive. Euphony moves on to start the Third Way, a franchise operation that combines country house accommodation with her restaurant’s cuisine. This blossoms, though only Euphony and the franchisees know it as Herdway. She is soon in demand as a leadership guru and, despite Hacker’s advice, buys out what is left of Hedge Inc. He washes his hands of her and returns to running his pub.