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The Week in Ideas, March 11, 2013

This week, parents set up a restaurant-based trust for their disabled son, a baseball player gets involved in a mini bowling concept, the truck vs. store wars heat up in Houston, unexpected late-night disasters, and a terrible, no good, awful idea is backed by a very stubborn Canadian.

Idea #1: Successfully serving hugs.  Parents Keith and Jeannie Harris helped their son realize his dream of owning a restaurant, and created no little peace of mind for themselves in the process. What makes their story special is their son, 27-year-old Tim Harris, has Down Syndrome. A motivational speaker and Special Olympics medalist in his free time, Tim lives in a small apartment next to his restaurant, Tim’s Place, which serves Mex-American breakfast and lunch, and as many hugs as he can manage in a day.

Idea #2: Bowling, without the shoe rental. Not long after Tampa Rays third baseman Evan Longoria signed a $100 million-dollar contract with the team, it was announced he would be part-owner and investor in an upcoming Tampa restaurant, “Ducky’s Sports Lounge.” The concept seems, on paper, a bit schizophrenic. A “relaxed, upscale atmosphere” will feature state-of-the-art sound and screen equipment, creative cocktails and bar food, and “mini bowling.” Touted as a “smaller, simpler form” of bowling, mini bowling doesn’t require special shoes, but there are 80-inch HD projection screens—so you don’t miss the big game while playing a mini one.

Idea #3: Beat them at their own game.  The fires are stoked between a pair of Houston BBQ pit masters, and the conflict is one we’re all too familiar with: food truck versus brick-and-mortar. Well, CorkScrew BBQ food truck owner Nichole Buckman has had enough, and plans to park her critically-acclaimed 'cue in a permanent structure.

Idea #4: Be prepared for anything. From two different restaurants and two different regions come two surprising stories of late-night disaster.

First: Alice Water’s iconic Berkeley, Calif. restaurant Chez Panisse is currently closed – the fault of a yet-unexplained fire in the sub-level of the building. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the incident occurred after-hours, after the departure of the staff.  An emotional Waters has every intention of rebuilding and reopening… and maybe even expanding the space.

Second: have you ever heard of “Demolition by Neglect?” Maybe you should read up on it, especially if you’re near a structure that’s legally being allowed to fall apart. Chalin Rungruang, owner of Singha Thai Café in the Central Business District of New Orleans, received a call in the middle of the night alerting her that the wall of the adjacent building, which received a Demolition by Neglect citation a year ago, had fallen on her restaurant. The structure was believed sound, and the cause of the collapse is unknown, but Rungruang will have to rebuild her crushed restaurant, and her staff find other employment.

Idea #5: Confederate flags really aren’t good for your brand. Really. Things you don’t expect to see in Ontario, Canada? Confederate flags from the U.S. Civil War. Yeah, those flags. Owner Cameron Bailey is standing firm in the face of media and neighborhood criticism, even to the point of dealing with anti-fascist vandals, to keep his flags flying at his Hillbilly Heaven restaurant. How a Canadian can so staunchly defend such a horrifyingly bad idea, we don’t know.

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