Back again for another weekly roundup of strange news stories from restaurants around the country. This week’s list was remarkably easy to compile. Some weeks I feel like I have to stretch to find interesting stories. This week most of the effort went into limiting the list to my maximum number of twelve. Here are another dirty dozen stories for you this week.
I am still tweaking with the format of this column. I decided this week to capitalize on the “man bites dog” aspect of each story. All great stories start with something familiar and then there is a twist. The twist is what transforms a normal story into something of note. Most of these stories are basic on the surface, but they all have a twist. Here is what I mean.
Story: Armed robbers break into restaurant.
Twist: Employees jump robbers and stab them. Score one for the back of the house. (San Antonio, TX)
Story: Owner has a hard time keeping restaurant afloat.
Twist: He sells weed out of the restaurant to make extra money. If he was a hot woman, he would probably get a Showtime series out of the deal. (Staunton, VA)
Story: Restaurant owner sues another restaurant owner over copyright infringement.
Twist: It wasn’t a menu item name. It was the owners of “Blue Basil” suing the owners of “Blu Basil.” The latter will be seeking the help of Vanilla Ice to explain the difference. (Charlotte, NC)
Story: Fast food restaurant gets robbed.
Twist: The employees working the shift knew the robber and conspired with him. They also apparently did not stand up to police questioning for very long. (The Woodlands, TX)
Story: Restaurant moves to a neighboring town.
Twist: Restaurant literally moves to a neighboring town. Like the building is moved. This one was pretty borderline until I pictured how happy Arnie Grape would be to see it. (Dalton, TN)
Story: Gun pulled at restaurant.
Twist: Owner pulls gun on former employees. Note that I said “former.” The article says, “fired.” When discussing gunplay, semantics matter. (Grand Chute, WI)
Story: University fights liquor license for restaurant opening nearby.
Twist: The restaurant is Chipotle. I have never been to Providence, but if Brown administrators are really worried that Chipotle might become the hopping college bar I plan on never going there. (Providence, RI)
Story: Vandals strike restaurant.
Twist: Turns out it wasn’t vandals, but the owner having a nervous breakdown. He then lies to cover it up. People hold fundraisers to help out. Media covers it (actually decided not to include the story in this column two weeks ago) and community rallies. Now he admits to lying. (Bedford, NH)
Story: Shooting happens at restaurant.
Twist: It was 8:20 am. Don’t talk to me until I have had my first cup of coffee. Avoid complaining to me until I have had my second. Gunplay is absolutely forbidden until at least my forth cup. (El Paso, TX)
Story: PETA protests restaurant.
Twist: It is over “dancing shrimp.” These are live shrimp that are partially de-shelled and sprayed with limejuice so they would squirm while you eat them. Not sure what I think of this one other than wondering how the hell you get live shrimp in Sac-town. (Sacramento, CA)
Story: Man robs restaurant (yawn).
Twist: He takes over $1,000 in food. Yet leaves beer and money untouched. Maybe it is too many crime shows, but after two weeks in a row with this happening, I have decided there is a thriving black market for pepperoni. (St Petersburg, FL)
Story: Man robs restaurant.
Twist: Owner gets shot.
Double twist: It wasn’t the first time he has been shot fighting robbers.
Triple Twist: After reading all the other stories you thought something much more interesting was going to happen. (Rockford, IL)
And now to the scoreboard.
This is shaping up as a battle between the West South Central and the South Atlantic. Florida got a little help this week from its neighbors. Texas was forced to do all the heavy lifting. The East South Central finally made the board leaving my home region of the West North Central as the only scoreless region. I am starting to get embarrassed.
For this weeks “USA vs The World” showdown, I came up pretty empty. The world was really disappointing. The best story I could come up with was a British owner who felt bad about closing his restaurant unexpectedly. Score one for the US of A bringing the running score to US:1 World:1.
One more bonus story this week. The Street brings us the top 20 restaurant companies at risk of bankruptcy. This is an interesting read if you work for a public traded restaurant company that isn’t named Darden.
That is all for this week. It is a beautiful day out and a beautiful woman wants to walk with me around the beautiful Country Club Plaza. Have a safe Labor Day and come back this week for more interesting posts on my countdown to 100 posts.