The Week in Ideas, June 24, 2011

Our idea gaze shifts abroad this week, where Taiwan had an idea for dealing with restaurant critics, Wendy’s had an idea for spicing up its new Moscow unit and a French chef had a counter intuitive idea about his Michelin star. We still found a little idea love down in Texas, too.

We don’t want to know if you like this idea: This is one idea for silencing your critics: send them to jail. A Taiwanese blogger was imprisoned for 30 days and fined for writing an unfavorable review of a local restaurant. The courts found that her criticism went overboard—for instance she said the restaurant’s food was salty, when she only had one dish. She also said the owner was a bully. Will we see a rush of U.S. restaurants opening in Taiwan now?

When in Moscow idea: Wendy’s spiced things up for its first unit in Russia, and we don’t mean the heat in its Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The chain ditched the wholesome Pippy Longstocking-esque look of its mascot, Wendy, for a more, ahem, adult version. Greeting guests at the grand opening were two scantily clad women. They retained the ponytails, but the skirts ran short. The stockings were risqué. And the heels? Let’s just say Dave probably wouldn’t have approved.

Michelin shmichelin idea: A Michelin star is something every fine dining restaurant aspires to… right? Wrong. France’ s Le Lisita restaurant gave back its recently awarded star because it was hurting business. With higher prices to cover the cost of top flight service and cuisine expected of a Michelin restaurant, Le Lisita saw its customer counts fall when the world economy tanked. The restaurant gave back the star this week and is reinventing itself as a casual bistro.

Charge while you wait idea: A Texas restaurant has just installed a charging station for electric vehicles in its parking lot. Whisky Cake Kitchen and Bar, an eco-conscious, farm-to-fork kind of place, has tried to reduce its carbon footprint wherever it can. "These commercial charging stations reinforce what Whiskey Cake aims to be as a restaurant: forward-thinking, locally sustainable, eco-friendly, and customer-oriented," said Randy DeWitt, CEO of Front Burner Restaurants, which operates Whiskey Cake. Of course, the new feature also lets DeWitt recharge, He just bought himself an electric-powered Volt.


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