Saturday, August 23, 2008

A news sampler

My cubicle usually makes FEMA's newsletter two or three times a year. Mentions like, "Congratulations to Joe Smith in Dispatch for scaling Mount Everest this summer. What’s next, Joe, cleaning Romeo’s desk???” And there was that discovery of a condor colony during a routine bulldozing of the guest-chair area in ’06.

It’s not that I prefer the post-cyclone look of my workspace, despite its likelihood of being the next “Survivor” setting. I just can’t bring myself to bury news tidbits in files that defy easy labeling. I prefer to maintain a desktop Miscellaneous mound, so I can savor informational details that would otherwise be lost. Consider, for instance, these gold flakes in the recent stream of news.

Wal-Mart wants your pizza business. During primetime Olympics coverage, the retailing bully aired a commercial that should’ve had pizza chains sweating like Chinese gymnasts being asked for proof of age. The spot explains that ordering a pizza from a restaurant usually costs about $14, while bringing home a take-and-bake pie from Wal-Mart will set a family back just $8. “If your family eats pizza once a week, you could save $312 a year,” the voice-over explains. Better push those pastas, Pizza Hut.

Little burgers are now Chili’s biggest. Big Mouth Bites, Chili’s version of the mini-sandwiches that competitors of all stripes seem to be sporting these days, are now the chain’s best selling burgers, according to officials of parent Brinker International.

McCormick & Schmick take a different group-business tack. Everyone targets local businesses for catering and party business. M&S is trying the different path of pursuing companies on a national basis. The high-end seafood chain is reaching out to corporate accounts that are planning road shows to hawk their wares or services. The restaurant company offers those road warriors the ease of setting up the feeding operations of the whole tour with just one call to a centralized sales and support center.

Cheesecake Factory isn’t alone in trying delivery. BJ’s Restaurants, the high-volume chain headed by Cheesecake alumnus Jerry Deitchle, is already offering the service at 71 of its 75 casual-dining restaurants, according to executives. If it’s indeed blazing a path for Cheesecake, the latter may soon be seen walking the aisles at BestBuy. BJ’s is also upgrading its TVs to flat-screen models.

Outback’s parent sells its plane to familiar parties. As it was losing $176 million during the second quarter, OSI Restaurant Partners decided it was time to thin out its fleet of aircraft. It sold one on July 1 for $8.1 million to a company called Billabong Air II Inc., which happened to be owned by two of the company’s founders, co-owners and executives, according to securities documents. That’s not to say other residents of the executive floor will always have to fly commercial. As part of the deal, Billabong agreed to let OSI lease the plane for up to 200 hours a year, at a cost of $2,500 per hour. Blankets and pillows were apparently not part of the deal.

There are probably far more tidbits I could share with you, but there's movement under the pile of papers near my keyboard, and it could be something alive. Unfortunately, that’s also where I left the number of Animal Control.

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Anonymous steakman said...

How Ironic? I was cleaning out my old office files and found this article on Oil prices from 2005 (Im not kidding) "Oil could surpass $50 per barrel this summer.Analysts forsee $80 per barrel!. Also this tidbit from another congressional genius:
"Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., went on the defensive during last week's Senate committee hearing organized to address the food-vs.-fuel debate over corn and ethanol.

"Corn-based ethanol is not perfect, but it's been blamed for practically every problem under the sun," Nelson said. "What's next? Summer colds? Computer viruses? Bad hair days?"

Really Senator!! Maybe every restaurant he visits should surcharge him 30% for stupidity.

Sincerely, Steakman

August 25, 2008 at 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Renee Katz said...

Somehow I doubt that Walmart's pizza tastes as good as Pizza Hut. And don't you have to cook it?

August 27, 2008 at 8:41 AM  

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