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The Week in Ideas, April 1, 2013

Bad ideas. Good ideas. Questionable ideas. And a couple of restaurants doing what restaurants are supposed to do: show hospitality.

Idea #1: Don’t serve cops. We’ve always said that we cover all ideas here—not just the good ones. And this one falls squarely into the other category of ideas. A Buffalo Wild Wings unit in Manassas, Virginia, refused service to a group of police officers whose guns were showing. Another diner who saw the interaction notified BWW headquarters, the local paper picked up the story and the national media followed. The chain went into full crisis-prevention mode, visiting with the police to apologize and sending out press releases clarifying that “It's our policy to allow law enforcement officers to carry their guns in the restaurant," as a spokesperson said.

Idea #2: Make healthier kids’ meals. If you do, you’ll stand out from the pack. A study released last week showed that 91 percent of kids’ meals served at the nation’s largest restaurants failed nutritional standards set by the NRA. A full 97 percent failed to meet the stricter standards set by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the body that commissioned the study.

Idea #3: Call out no-shows. Beverly Hills Vietnamese restaurant Red Medicine is on a Twitter campaign to shame reservation no-shows. “Hi Kyle Anderson (323),” one tweet reads. “I hope you enjoyed your gf’s bday and the flowers that you didn’t bring when you no-showed for your 815 res. Thanks.”

Idea #4: Show your customers you care. A family goes to Olive Garden after helping at the dad’s parents’ house, which had just burned down. Making the rounds, the manager stops by their table and asks how they are. The daughter tells him, Grandpa’s house burned down.” The manager comps their meal.

Idea #5: Show your customers you care II. A mother takes her autistic 7-year-old daughter to a Chili’s. The young girl orders a cheeseburger, but is heartbroken when it shows up “broken”—it had been cut in half. Their fast-acting waitress relays the problem to the kitchen, which cooks another cheeseburger, which is delivered “fixed” to the table.

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