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The 11 worst restaurant-related ideas of 2012... so far

We’ve seen a lot of great ideas so far this year: McDonald’s idea to ban gestation crates. Chefs organizing against fracking. A restaurant security guard using a sword to hold back a robber!

Those were some of the 2012’s best ideas so far. These are not. These are 11 very, very bad ideas, split into 5 handy categories.

Category #1: Alternate sources of funding

Operate a heroin ring out of your restaurant. Eighteen people, including owner Amado Pardo, were arrested from Austin restaurant Jovita’s in June for selling heroin. "The investigation into this organization revealed that Mr. Amado Pardo, AKA 'Mayo,’ led this criminal operation and was responsible for daily heroin trafficking," Austin police said. "The organized criminal drug operation was estimated to have daily sales between $3,400 to $6,250.” This isn’t Pardo’s first run-in with the law. Police said he’d been convicted twice in the past for murder.

Operate a marijuana ring out of your restaurant. The owner of Iowa City, Iowa’s Hawk Dawgs Deli & Grill was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana and using the cash to keep the restaurant afloat. The owner—27-year-old Ryan Foust—could be charged with money laundering as well. The restaurant says it has a “chill environment, local owners who care and work hard to bring you the freshest toppings on all hot dogs, gyros, Italian beef and chicken.” Customers might want to inspect those fresh toppings a little more closely.

Bad checks don’t constitute a second income. Seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? Not to some.

Category #2: Endanger your customers

Grease pit, swimming pool, what’s the difference? This is a special idea we send out to Tennessee-based Sonic restaurants. Guys! Cover your grease pits! In May a five-year-old fell into the Clarskville, Tennessee-based Sonic’s grease pit, located a few feet from the restaurant’s patio. The child wasn’t hurt, but fell in 5-feet of grease. This is the fourth—fourth!—report of children falling into grease pits at Tennessee-area Sonic restaurants.

Customers, hostages, what’s the difference? This is a beaut! A group of diners goes out to La Fisherman in Houston, Texas, for an evening out. According to one of the diners, Jasmine Marks, the service was really bad: rude, inattentive, some dishes didn’t show up. When the check arrived, it had a 17 percent gratuity added, because the group had more than five people. Marks complained, said they didn’t intend to pay the 17 percent tip. What did the restaurant do? They called the cops and locked the group inside. Can’t say that qualifies as “hospitality,” folks.

Kill your customers. It’s great PR! It’s a testament to the brand that when a Heart Attack Grill customer was rushed to the hospital with an apparent heart attack people couldn’t tell if it was real or a PR stunt. Apparently it was real, according to founder “Doctor” Jon Basso. Basso claims the chain would never fake a stunt like this. But after all the media attention it garnered, the less-than-politically-correct Basso might change his tune.

Category #3: Social media “jokes”

Use domestic violence as an ad hook. A Georgia chef promoted his restaurant’s sandwich, the Caribbean Black and Bleu, on Facebook saying, “Chris Brown won’t beat you up for eating this unless your name starts with a[n] R and ends with A,” referring to singer Chris Brown beating his then-girlfriend, singer Rianna. The chef, Richard Miley of Hops & Chops, returned to Facebook days later after getting pounded for the remarks, saying in a statement, “The owners of C&H would like to make sure everyone knows that we and our staff DO NOT SUPPORT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Many of us have been affected by domestic violence in some manner and realize that this is no joke.” 

Stupid Twitter trick. It’s can be so hard to be subtle or to convey a sense of humor online. Especially when you make a joke about a drug that might have led to cannibalism. SOHO Kitchen and Bar in Ohio City, Ohio, recently tweeted “summer cocktail tip: for an element of unpredictability, try rimming your margarita w/ bath salts.” “Bath salts” are the name of a new synthetic drug blamed for the recent face-eating assault that garnered headlines in Florida and nationally. Slammed for its joke, the restaurant returned to Twitter to apologize.

Category #4: Bad restaurant names

Naming your restaurant “Bastards” isn’t advised. Nicholas Velez and Calvin Spencer served in Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines infantry unit, the “Magnificent Bastards.” So when they got home and opened a sports bar they named it after their band of brothers. "I didn't really think there was going to be a real big stir in the community," Velez said. He was wrong.

And don’t use one of these restaurant names either.They just don’t work.

Category #5: There is no category for this. The worst idea of 2012… so far.

Eat me. If you are squeamish stop reading now. We’re serious. Even if you’re just easily grossed out. We mean it. This is a bad, bad idea we’re getting ready to report. Ok? You know what, just don’t read anymore of this, whoever you are. It’s that bad. But for anybody still sticking around, here goes: A chef in Japan had the idea to cook and serve his own genitals after undergoing elective surgery to have them removed. There. We said it. Now all we have to do is figure out how to erase it from our minds.

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