The Week in Ideas, May 27, 2011

It was NRA Show week in Chicago, and we’ve got ideas from the floor. We’ve got two ideas from North Carolina, both of which might be fake. And we’ve got an idea that involves really big forks. What more could you want?

Idea #1: Showy ideas: The NRA show saw increased attendance and exhibitor space this year, and it also saw some interesting ideas. First off, on the food truck front, there was one on display with a working brick pizza oven built into the side. On the food manufacturing side, a plank salmon that’s shipped with portioned salmon atop little cedar planks, all ready to cook up. And recycling? The big idea is to get your customers to do the work for you. According to NRA research nearly nine out of 10 consumers are eager to lend restaurants a hand in recycling their trash.

Idea #2: The big fork idea: Researches at the University of Utah say restaurants can help their customers eat less by giving them bigger forks. When a hungry diner goes to a restaurant, the researchers found, they will eat smaller bits on a smaller fork and end up eating more food overall than with a larger fork and larger bites. The problem is in the lag time between your stomach being full and your brain receiving the message that it’s full. "To help compensate for this lag time, diners look to external cues to help them gauge when to finish a meal," said researcher Himanshu Mishra. "In this case, when you eat with a larger fork it visually appears that you are making measurable progress in attaining that goal [of satiation] and you'll stop eating sooner. Using a smaller fork doesn't give that same visual indication, and as such diners will end up eating more."

Possibly fake idea #1: Our first possibly fake idea comes from Kinston, N.C., where the Kinston Free Press reports that a new restaurant called Lefty’s is serving leftovers. The paper says that locals can bring leftovers from home and sell them to the restaurant for $1.50 per pound. The story stinks like leftover shrimp. Says “restaurant” owner Hines Ward: “We caught a couple of truants going through the soup kitchen line and bringing the food over here to sell. I know the police are busy, so I made them go out and bring back a switch. You just can’t beat the compassionate discipline of a well-formed magnolia limb.”

Possibly fake idea #2: You can boost sales by going English-only in your restaurant. That’s the idea and Greg Simons, the owner of Reedy Creek Diner in Greensboro, N.C., is sticking to it. Simons put up a sign in March that read, “No speak English, No service,” after being accosted by a group of non-English-speaking customers who weren’t able to communicate their order. Simons says since instituting the policy sales have tripled. That’s an awfully big number. But, interviewed by a Fox affiliate, Simons said he’s been on Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck’s radio programs. So maybe you can make it big excluding some customers if you get enough publicity.



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