The week in ideas, January 14, 2013

Some bad ideas from the Carolinas. The Associated Press wants to deliver news in a unique way to your diners. And a New York burger joint has a good idea for dealing with vandals.

Idea #1: Be racist. Unlike some in the industry, we at the Week in Ideas don’t discriminate: we cover bad ideas and good ideas alike. All ideas get equal treatment. You won’t find a Good Ideas water fountain around here. And in that spirit we bring you Taco Cid, a Mexican restaurant in West Columbia, South Carolina, and its very bad idea: a uniform t-shirt that reads, “how to catch an illegal immigrant,” above a cartoon of two tacos under a drop-box trap. Defending itself, the restaurant claimed on its website, “Our t-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants. There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group.”

Idea #2: Be homophobic. Oh, we’re not done yet. The industry outdid itself in the bad ideas department this week. For this item we head just a bit north, to The Sting Ray Cafe in New Bern, North Carolina. Lesbian couple Arielle and Shawnee McPhail had just paid their bill and were on their way out, when Sting Ray owner Ed McGovern gave them a hand-written letter. The letter condemned homosexuality as a crime against God, saying, “So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late.” So here’s a thought: If you’re not a hospitable person, maybe the hospitality industry isn’t for you.

Idea #3: News on your receipt. Ok, we’re done with the bad ideas and we’re off our soapbox. Now a good idea, or at least an interesting experiment. The Associated Press has teamed with the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C., to provide news updates on the back of customer receipts. Under the headline “The Latest News” and a date stamp, the service will provide details on “events that broke during the diner’s meal,” the AP said in a release. “The idea is to see if news updates will serve as a customer amenity and leverage thousands of existing restaurant printers as a new worldwide printing press,” says the release.

Idea #4: Welcome graffiti. When his surveillance cameras caught two vandals spraying the side of his restaurant, Vlane Carter wanted to find the culprits, but didn’t want to punish them. “A fine, and maybe a little probation and they’ll come out and do it again,” Carter told CBS News. “How can we do something to maybe change these kids’ life and make this a positive experience for everyone?” Instead, Carter—whose restaurant, Action Burger, has a comic book theme—wants the graffiti artists to come inside. “Draw something on paper that’s nice and pleasant, and let’s see how good you are,” Carter said. “We challenge them.”

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