The week in ideas, February 17, 2012

This week: an inadvertent idea from the Heart Attack Grill. An edible balloon from Alinea. More racist receipts from idiots in our industry. And some disquieting news out of Technomic.

Idea #1: Kill your customers. It’s great PR! It’s a testament to the brand that when a Heart Attack Grill customer was rushed to the hospital with an apparent heart attack people couldn’t tell if it was real or a PR stunt. Apparently it was real, according to founder “Doctor” Jon Basso. Basso claims the chain would never fake a stunt like this. But after all the media attention it garnered, the less-than-politically-correct Basso might change his tune.

Idea #2: An edible balloon. Those crazy alchemists at Alinea are up to their old tricks. This time its an edible balloon filled with helium. These guys really have a lot of fun, don’t they?

Idea #3: Tell your employees not to do this. Or better yet, don’t hire idiots. Following the rash of stories about restaurant employees putting Asian slurs on receipts to refer to customers, we get the story of a black customer referred to by the N-word on his receipt. The restaurant, the Landmark Steakhouse in Orange County, California, settled a lawsuit with the customer, Mark McHenry, for an undisclosed amount.

Idea #4: Watch your back. A new Technomic study finds that people are growing fonder of retail foodservice products. Forty percent of consumers surveyed in Southern California agreed that "prepared foods from retailers are restaurant-quality foods at better prices." Nearly two-thirds say they've seen significant improvements in the quality and variety of retailer prepared foods over the past five years.




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