AFTER a lengthy 48-year spell in the City, it’s finally time to say goodbye to ship broker-turned-restaurateur David Hughes, who’s often been described one of the friendliest bar owners in the world.<br /><br />Hughes first came to the City in 1961, aged 15, working as a ship broker at the Baltic Exchange on St Mary Axe, which was later destroyed by an IRA bomb in April 1992.<br /><br />By that time, Hughes was long gone, having left in 1983 to gut and redecorate a derelict site just opposite Spitalfields for a new restaurant. It opened the following year as City Limits, and has been serving satisfied customers ever since.<br /><br />A quarter of a century later, Hughes – who was recently made an honorary freeman of the City of London – is finally selling up and closing the restaurant tomorrow, having received an offer that was too good to pass up from a couple of “youngsters” wanting to turn City Limits into a B@1 bar.<br /><br />“I’m getting ready for an emotionally-charged last few days – I’ll probably spend about £100 on Kleenex tissues by the end of it,” he tells me. “But I’m ready for a break. Life has changed in the City nowadays, and a lot of the human contact has gone. But business lunches and the like are so important because the relationships built over them go on far into the future and can be invaluable. I say we should bring the fun back to the City…”<br /><br />Now there’s a sensible suggestion if ever The Capitalist heard one – and good luck to Mr Hughes, who will be sorely missed.<br /><br /><strong>RECESSION ROM-COM</strong><br />A film producer is on the phone, telling me all about plans for a new romantic comedy to be set in the City “around the not obviously hilarious backdrop of the recession”.<br /><br />Intriguing. Apparently, the basic plot centres around a couple who meet on the steps of a City office having both been made redundant, and spent the evening talking and walking through the streets of London.<br /><br />Truly the stuff of great romance, I’m sure – and the producer, Sam Leifer, is keen for any emailed suggestions (at email@example.com) from people who have recently been laid off to find out what they did for the rest of the day.<br /><br />Perhaps The Capitalist can save him a lot of trouble, though; in the City, the only tried-and-tested remedy on such dark days is a trip into oblivion down at the pub.<br /><br /><strong>PLANET SANDWICH</strong><br />Sandwich fans all over the country rejoice: there may well be another competitor waiting in the ranks to challenge the Pret a Manger – Eat. – M&S lunch round rut.<br /><br />Robert Earl, the foodie entrepreneur behind the Planet Hollywood chain, owns a sandwich chain in the US, rather cleverly dubbed “The Earl of Sandwich”. (The business is actually a joint venture with John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, who is himself a direct descendant of the fourth earl of the same name who first came up with the sandwich idea. The concept originated back in 1762, when Montagu asked for his lunch to be squeezed between two slices of bread so that he could eat it while playing cards.)<br /><br />Now, after a stonking run over the pond, The Capitalist hears Earl is keen to bring the chain to Blighty, and is currently sizing up sites in London for a launch sometime next year. Watch this space.<br /><br /><strong>ANXIETY ATTACK</strong><br />A text arrives from a cheeky City contact, who writes that things are so bad over at Number 10 that tousle-haired Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle has rung Downing Street to check that PM Gordon Brown is OK.<br /><br />A touch implausible, The Capitalist admits, especially as the high-flying chap in question has oft been quoted in support of the Tories. Then again, an equally unlikely story made it into the papers recently, after it was claimed an anxious Brown had phoned up to check on Boyle after she was admitted to The Priory. So I’m hedging my bets: if it turns out to be true (and let’s face it, more incredible tales have been known to come out of government recently), you heard it here first.<br /><br /><strong>FALSE ALARM</strong><br />Much consternation down at the Spitalfields office of law firm Allen and Overy yesterday, as calls flooded in enquiring why half of the firm’s well-dressed lawyers were kicking their heels outside in the middle of the day.<br /><br />The Capitalist is pleased to set minds at rest: the culprit was none other than a rogue fire alarm alert, causing the evacuation. Crisis averted.