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The Week in Ideas, April 15, 2013

Sometimes the best idea is to ask for help. Using trademarks against your competitors. Dumpster-diver cuisine. And an idea to deal with reservation no-shows.

Idea #1: Ask for help. Sometimes it’s as easy as that. When bridge construction killed 40 percent of traffic to North Carolina bbq restaurant Lexington Style Trimmings, the owners posted this on Facebook: "We are doing all we can to stay open but you know this bridge closing is killing us!! We (are) holding on by the skin of our nose and we don't want to close so please remember us when you are planning to grab a bite to eat!" And guess what? People responded. “Business has damn near doubled,” said owner Mike Swing.

Idea #2: Competitive trademarking. Doug Guller, owner of Texas restaurant Bikini Sports Bar, has trademarked the term “breastaurant,” which forbids competitors from using the term to describe themselves. Sneaky!

Idea #3: Free-gan restaurant. A Tufts University student has set up an underground restaurant serving food others have discarded, mostly stuff found in grocery store dumpsters.

Idea #4: Sell tickets. Trois Mec, a much-anticipated restaurant opening soon in Los Angeles, has a plan to cut down on reservation no-shows: you’ve got to buy a ticket to come to the place. "We considered everything — no reservations, putting a deposit on a credit card," says Krissy Lefebvre, chef Ludo Lefebvre wife and business partner. "But people pay for tickets for entertainment. This just happens to be entertainment in the form of dinner."

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