Welcome to the “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” edition of Weird Restaurant Stories. This week was full of mayhem, fire, and theft. Restaurants closed and restaurants reopened. As always they were documented by local reporters and read by me. I filtered out the generic stories to bring you the twelve stories I think best defined this week in the restaurant world.
Mayhem really is the theme this week. Fire was a main cause. Every restaurant needs to have a fire plan. The Country Patch Restaurant felt they had one. In hindsight the owner running out screaming was not really the best plan. (McMinn County, GA)
Still the best fire story of the week comes from The Silver Flame. Yes, that was the name of the restaurant before the fire. Investigators know the fire was arson, but have no leads. The phrase “A lover makes a liar” being spray painted on the building first seems like a pretty good indication to me that the owner now owes his wife another extended vacation. (Tulsa, OK)
Fire is not the only thing that can close a business. Vermont just lost it’s “family-friendly restaurant featuring ‘Yankee-style fare,’ a breakfast buffet, a full-service bar and artwork for sale on consignment basis.” Gee who could have seen that lasting only a couple of months. I hear Darden is already calling to buy the concept for a new franchise. (Barre, VT)
Which I suppose is better than hiring new staff when you cannot make payroll on your old staff. That is what this guy did. That is also why he has a parking lot full of pissed of people for a reporter to interview. The best was the irate bride. On a related note, if a restaurant wants a $10,000 deposit to host your reception, this is why. (Seaboard, TX)
On a lighter note, even if your restaurant avoids fire and hurricanes, you still have to focus on some other important issues. Two of the most important are what you will serve and how much you will charge. This is why I predict charging $85 a plate for bugs is not the best business model. It is like Fear Factor where people receive too much money for being forced to eat gross things. Actually, it is the exact opposite. (New York, NY)
Some things are just beyond your control though. Like owning an Asian restaurant in South Carolina. Seems like a practical business plan. Unless you own one during the “Great SC Asian Restaurant Crime Spree of 2010.” Eight restaurants have been robbed recently and all have been Asian. Somebody get Benson and Stabler on the case. (Summerville, SC)
In just another case of Sonic emulating sit down restaurants, they have their own crime spree brewing. Only it is the same Sonic and in North Carolina. This is not a subtle case of middle of the night robbery. This crook comes in with shotgun blazing and shoots out the front door. Did I mention there was video? (Greenville, NC)
Not to be left out of the fun, a restaurant in Maine had its “Thank You” sign stolen. This is a pretty boring feat compared to the shotgun-wielding criminal above. Almost too boring to be interesting. Except that it actually was the lead story of the local crime blotter. Which makes it interesting because it was boring. Aren’t you curious what was less interesting and didn’t make the lead? (Bucksport, ME)
Sometimes it is the story that catches my attention. Sometimes it is the subtly of the story. This one was the author. Janine Reyes is my favorite local reporter. Crook breaks into a successful bakery. That is dull, until Ms Reyes explains that he just wanted “a piece of the pie.” She then talks about how the crook got in two nights in a row. The first night he cut through a screen. The second night he pushed over the plywood covering the hole in the screen. The owner intends to actually nail down the plywood for the third night though. The police are looking for the big bad wolf as a person of interest. (Corpus Christi, TX)
What that owner should have done is hired these cooks to work at the restaurant. They caught a guy stealing speakers from a car in the parking lot. Then they chased him down and cornered him until police arrived. During which some server was standing in the window wondering when they were going to get that extra side of ranch for table 23. (Athens, GA)
Enough with the mayhem. Let’s talk about a real hardship restaurant owners face: government officials like Nashville Councilwoman Karen Bennett. She was dining on a patio and saw patrons dining with their dogs. Some people see this as great (dog owners) and some people see it as gross (non dog owners). Ms Bennett saw it as an opportunity to charge restaurant owners $20 for another stupid permit. (Nashville, TN)
Finally, back to where we started this post. REM front man Michael Stipe has a new gig as a restaurant reviewer. I thought only servers who were old and out of touch became restaurant critics. Turns out that it works for musicians as well. Stay tuned for my review of Mr Stipe’s new album in a future post. (New Orleans, LA)
Time for a new look at the scoreboard.
If your region does not touch the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, you struck out this week. The South Atlantic and West South Central regions are running away with this contest. The West North Central remains scoreless. This brings the countdown to two weeks before I take matters into my own hands to get my home region on the board.
Today’s US vs The World competitor comes from Beijing, China. There is a new restaurant where you sit on toilets, eat from toilets, and wipe with toilet paper (your face that is). While this is pretty absurd, it does not mention paying the equivalent of $85 a plate to do so. For this reason I am giving the win to the US for the $85 bugstravaganza. This brings the running tally to USA 3 World 1.
That is all for this week. Come back next week for more weird restaurant stories. In the meantime, feel free to check out past weeks stories. More articles of interest can be found by clicking the tabs at the top of the page. Stick around for a bit and read something. I hear it is good for you and all the cool kids are doing it.