In the past, we have had weeks that focused on criminals. We have also had weeks where the police took center stage. Today, the judges and lawyers have their spotlight. This week’s stories feature follow-ups on some of the most interesting characters from past episodes. I would not consider them conclusions to the stories, because several of our past subjects have found new and interesting ways to get themselves in trouble. Of course, some new contenders have decided to challenge these familiar faces to bring some fresh blood to the column as well.
This week my search hits were up for a guy named Harry Hayman. I searched for it myself and found that the name turned up in my stories on McFadden’s and the follow-up from the following week. It turns out Mr Hayman has a whole new set of worries. Make that 20 counts worth of worries to be specific. (Philadelphia, PA)
One of last year’s winners for Best of Weird Restaurant Stories finally got his day in court. This restaurant manager/ meth cook found a way to do both jobs under one roof. As a result he faces 20 years and a $1 million fine. You don’t need a P&L to determine that this endeavor was not particularly profitable. (Stoddard, WI)
One other group making it a hat trick in this column is the owners of Charlie Brown’s . Their first appearance was for shutting down their restaurants without notice. The second appearance was just two weeks ago when New Jersey lawmakers proposed a law to prevent this from happening. This week’s story did not require a new law to be passed. Collecting kickbacks from your vendors is illegal and will land you in jail. (Trenton, NJ)
Restaurant shootings have been featured in this column several times, but usually addressed from the victim’s standpoint. There is another group affected by these shootings: owners. Denny’s recently found this out the hard way as they were hit with a $46 million judgment for not adequately protecting their guests. (Seattle, WA)
The biggest restaurant story of 2010 in my hometown was finally resolved. A majority of restaurant patrons got sick in a dining room and many were sent straight to the hospital. At first, it was considered food poisoning, but most restaurant folks were skeptical because of the rapid onset of illness. After an investigation, it was discovered that the real culprit was pesticide added to the salsa by a prep cook. She ought to be even better at prep after spending seven years in jail. (Kansas City, KS)
The story of Julia Hurley has been making headlines nationwide. This Tennessee legislator used to work as a Hooter’s Girl. For some reason this is seen as morally questionable. Can I point out that Sen David Vitter (R-LA) was implicated in a prostitution scandal? Sen Ensign (R-NV) had an affair with a staffer and is still in hot water. Three members of congress have been forced to resign in the last year over sex scandals. Is being a former Hooter’s girl really scandal worthy? (Lenoir City, TN)
I think this might be the better sex scandal of the week. A couple has sex in a restaurant. They get arrested. I have to think this plan wasn’t particularly well thought out. I would advise any other couples considering this over the Valentine’s Day weekend to not have a half ounce of blow in their pocket while doing the deed. (Pittsburgh, PA)
I generally try to cut McDonald’s some slack in this column. Then own more restaurant’s than anyone else, so naturally they are going to make the news the most often. My patience does not extend to stories this heinous. Holding down a co-worker and branding them with a swastika is not something that should happen at any restaurant. (Farmington, NM)
Sherriff Joe Arpaio is my least favorite lawman in the country. I am apparently not alone. He has issued a warning to his officers to be particularly careful when eating at McDonald’s. One of his officers was verbally assaulted and accused of working for a racist by some McDonald’s employees. There is a thin line between verbal assault and speaking the truth. (Phoenix, AZ)
Last week, there was a trio of stories about vigilante justice. This week we have a story of vigilante heroism. A fire breaks out in a restaurant. The fire department is called. Before the firefighters can arrive the patrons put out the fire and resume their meal. (Marine City, MI)
Finally, the least appetizing story of the week. A restaurant is offering a very interesting upsell to their steaks. A leather bag made from the hide of the cow you just ate. I am all for conservation and locally sourced products, but this is a little over the edge. (Brooklyn, NY)
That is all for this week. Come back tomorrow for another edition of the “Restaurant Industry Insider.” This new feature provides operators the news stories that effect their operations. I also have a huge story for those in Missouri coming this week. I hope everyone has a very romantic or lucrative Valentine’s weekend. I am off to get mine started.