As if the economic realities of running a restaurant weren’t tough enough, the social and cultural aspects often add a thick layer of complexity. Witness the nightmares that beset the industry in recent days, starting with a full-fledged international incident.
‘Off with his crown!’
There was a day when Burger King would have made nice with the citizens of a market it was entering. But that was pre-social media, where sheer volume can matter as much as the substance of what’s being bellowed. What better way to gain attention than loudly knocking the legitimacy of the new territory’s beloved sovereign?
The specifics sound innocent enough: get the attention of Belgium’s consumers by jokingly asking who they should honor, the fast-food chain’s icon or the real monarch, King Philippe. And the cheeky stunt did snag plenty of attention, as we reported yesterday. But not all of it drew golf claps and polite titters. The royal palace showed real anger in criticizing the campaign, and officially demanded an explanation.
Burger King finally dropped the campaign—and literally edited “King” out of the main logo on its website, saying only Philippe deserved the title.
Most important pre-raid meal of the day
The restaurant industry hasn’t hid its exasperation and disagreement with heightened efforts to nab immigrant employees who lack proper work documentation. Its aggravation was likely ratcheted upward by reports of what happened recently at an establishment in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sava is neither the first nor the last restaurant to be raided by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But the officers involved gave the enforcement routine a twist by having breakfast in the dining room before they moved into the kitchen and apprehended three employees.
Some might call that a taunt.
The hungry authorities were looking for a particular employee, according to press reports. They decided to fuel up before they nabbed him—only to discover the individual hadn’t arrived for work yet. Instead, the agents reviewed the documents of the whole staff and found three instances of papers not meeting official standards.
‘Not in that getup’
A stringent dress code—by far the most extensive and detailed set of rules we’ve seen—hasn’t reassured neighbors of Chicago’s Bottled Blonde that the popular restaurant and nightclub is tempering its permissive ways. Indeed, the exhaustive rundown of what not to wear has fostered accusations the hotspot is only intolerant when it comes to race.
Included in the 28-line posting of unacceptable garb are such items as Michael Jordan and Air Force One models of sneakers. Hoodies and puffy jackets are also forbidden, as are excessively baggy or saggy pants. Critics say the rules are intended to keep out African-Americans by banning clothes that are popular with people of color.
The controversy is seen as one of the triggers for the local liquor authority’s decision to investigate Bottled Blonde. The authorities say it wants to verify the establishment is a restaurant and not a bar, since it’s licensed as a food establishment.
Neighbors say the place draws a loud, rowdy crowd that tends to use the great outdoors as a bathroom and al fresco drinking area.
Bottled Blonde has remained mute as the dress code controversy has unfolded.
‘Whose website? Ours, you say?’
Restaurants in Washington, D.C., couldn’t remember posting certain tidbits of information on their websites—or even setting up the sites in the first place. Yet there the pages were, erroneous information and all.
Turns out an enterprising local design company had decided to strut its stuff by setting up cyber locations for local restaurants on spec. Establishments visiting their own site found a notice inviting them to contact BentoBox, the concern that designed, built and ran the cyber pages.
Not every restaurant was pleased to learn from customers that the establishments now had a website, according to a local nightlife guide, Washington City Paper. Their anger wasn’t exactly tempered by the erroneous information they found, including incorrect prices.
The paper's website quoted a BentoBox representative as saying the practice has been discontinued.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.