Welcome back to another week of strange restaurant stories from around the country. I have been writing this column for several weeks now. Those of you who read it every week have already started picking up on trends. This week we have our first follow up story. We also have what I think qualifies as the strangest story yet. As a bonus this week I am introducing two new awards. I have decided to name them after characters from past posts on this blog and am allowing you to choose if they become weekly features.
Enough with the intro, let’s get to some stories.
Let’s start with this weeks most written about restaurant story. The fire at Tiki Tom’s in Oakland was written up several times by papers throughout the Bay Area. It was odd because the first story I read described the location and I knew exactly where it was. When I lived in CA it was not far from my house. It was not until I read the second write up, which contained a picture, that I knew exactly where they were talking about. If you look at the picture, you will know why. (Oakland, CA)
A group of chefs were surveyed on what they thought is the hottest restaurant trend. They voted gardens at the restaurant as the hottest trend. I don’t know as that I have ever seen this at a restaurant. Which makes me wonder how hot of a trend it really is. (Des Moines, IA)
I can comment on a few things I read this week I don’t expect to become trends. This list starts with “dancing shrimp.” I first brought up this story over a month ago. PETA protested a Sacramento restaurant until they stopped serving them. Given PETA’s tendency to use nudity and performance art to protest animal abuse, I was really hoping there would be a much more humorous ending to this story. (Sacramento, CA)
A little further across I-80, another restaurant is trying grasshoppers on the menu. I could tell you this is ridiculous because no one under 80 years old drinks grasshoppers anymore and bartenders hate making them. Oh it said, “Fried Grasshoppers.” Yeah, don’t see that catching on either. (Salt Lake City, UT)
To the south of Utah they have come up with a concept I think will catch on. A new restaurant is featuring breakfast, lunch, and hugs. I don’t have enough snarkiness in me to make fun of this story. A guy with Down Syndrome opens a restaurant and wants to give free hugs. I say, “right on.” Although I will say that if I give a guest a hug and they still can’t leave 20% then they are being real Ferruzzas. (Albuquerque, NM)
In a trend that I do not approve of, the Carolinas saw their 13th Asian restaurant robbery since the beginning of August. I have been reporting on “The Great Chinese Restaurant Robbery Spree of 2010” for a while now. Seriously criminals mix it up a little. These guys deserve a break. (Ravenel, SC)
In what is also becoming a recurring feature of this column we have another stupid restaurant robbery story. If you are going to rob a restaurant, take money. It is pretty light and I find that it spends well. These guys didn’t get the memo. They stole $12,000 in meat and ketchup. Unfortunately, they tried to do so on bicycles. I have seen some pretty big Sysco deliveries. None were $12,000 and all required more than a bike for transportation. (Camden, SC)
When writing this post every week, I search yahoo news for “restaurants.” I filter out all the stories about “restaurant week” and health inspector reports from local papers. They are usually too tame to be newsworthy in my opinion. Congratulations to Kim Huoy Chor Asian Cuisine for being the first restaurant to be filthy enough to warrant a mention. I know a lot of you are reading and thinking, “I’m in the biz, how bad could it be?” Don’t say you weren’t warned. (St Paul, MN)
I spent my time in management and have some good stories to tell. You often end up in situations that are not covered in training and have to improvise. A cook stabbing another cook is something I have never been trained to handle by any chain. I think the owner called it right here. If the guy who cooked your food leaves in handcuffs before you finish eating, that probably merits a free meal. (Reading, PA)
This week I decided to introduce two new awards into the mix. Every week it seems that one story cries to be recognized as a restaurant hero and each week one deserves to be called out as a villain. In order to make it more interesting to my regular readers, I decided to name each award after people they are familiar with from this blog. If you don’t know the names, just click the link to read why they deserve such high honors.
This week’s Chef Justus Award for the restaurant hero goes to Owner/Chef Andy Husbands. A guest complained about her drink taking too long. He saw the problem and comped the drink. This still did not make the guest happy so he came out to apologize personally. This apology lead to the guest making a bigger scene which was disturbing other diners. What he did next, wins him the award. (Boston, MA)
This weeks REDACTED for restaurant jerk goes to Geoff Lundholm. He shut down his restaurant while owing back pay to his workers. He made promises to pay and never has. He even closed down while his Head Chef was away on his honeymoon. Mr Lundholm, the Ferruzza is all yours. (Vancouver, BC)
Finally, the strangest story I have ever linked to. I do not encourage or condone any of the actions taken by this restaurant manager. I will however in the future be far nicer to any Olive Garden manager I meet. Seriously, this is bizarre. (Upper Providence, PA)
Now it is time to go to the scoreboard:
This week was pretty spread out with no region earning more than two points. Our neighbors to the north return to the scoreboard. The West South Central was shut out. The South Atlantic extended its lead.
For the US vs the World portion of our weekly countdown we travel to New Zealand. As a sign of solidarity to a classmate with cancer, some restaurant workers shaved their heads. The management decided they looked like skinheads and fired them. Which is a pretty classless move in my opinion. For competition sake though it still cannot top the last story. The point stays here this week bringing our total to US: 5 World: 2.
That is all for this week. What does everyone think of the new awards? Leave a comment letting me know if they should stay or go. Tomorrow will be another post worth reading. Monday I will leave my normal topics while on vacation and post my second video countdown, which will have you dancing in your seats.