With the oversized egos and unrelenting pressures that typify the restaurant business, it’s surprising Don King hasn’t set up pay-per-view showings of industry run-ins. This might be the week to do it, given how many title-caliber conflicts appear one catcall away from lapsing into bare-knuckled brawls.
Here are the bouts likely to be on the card.
Howard Schultz vs. Donald Trump
The CEO of Starbucks hasn’t called out The Donald by name, but a video clip of an employee meeting shows Schultz blasting over-the-top presidential candidates for turning the campaign into “almost a circus.” Since Schultz is a Democrat who considered running for his party’s nomination, it’s unlikely he was referring to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And he cited such particular offensive actions as “bombastic attacks,” yelling and failing to show respect for fellow candidates.
Bundled-up customers vs. New York City restaurateurs
Harsh winter weather in the Big Apple has given proprietors and customers a new flashpoint for fighting, as if either party needed more cause. Restaurants in the super-expensive real estate market tend to be small, making seats and closet space precious. Yet the audacity of customers is anything but small, as patrons demonstrated this week by turning empty chairs and tables into places to dry their snow-soaked coats, scarves and hats. So what if other patrons had no place to eat, or the establishments were losing sales opportunities.
The situation is festering into an out-and-out turf war that even has its own name: winterspreading.
Starbucks vs. British tradition
Angry Brits are blasting the U.S. coffee chain for hastening the death of an institution across the pond: the neighborhood pub. Real estate pressures and lifestyle changes are already thinning the ranks of pubs at a rate of 27 casualties per week, according to one expert. The momentum could surge if Starbucks turns more of its coffee shops into evening hangouts serving beer and wine, as it’s doing in the States. Publicans say they fear a one-two punch: Starbucks will not only steal patrons by transforming caffeine parlors into bars, but will also wean Brits off pubs by buying up the alehouses and turning them into a different sort of what sociologists call a “third place.”