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The week in ideas, November 12, 2012

The Northeast is pulling together and fighting as a team in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, McDonald's is providing shuttle service for employees in Texas, Taco Bell is cooking up some competition, and if you're not ADA compliant, the U.S. Attorney's office may come knocking.

When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeast, there was no predicting how much damage she'd leave in her wake. Afterwards, business owners scrambled to find their employees, survey the damage and get their insurance agents on the phone. Even if it meant calling from a bathroom at their gym, like Danny Meyer did.

Idea #1: Food trucks = onsite meals. NYC’s food trucks aren’t likely to be found in their usual territories for a while. Mayor Bloomberg’s Fund To Advance NYC has contracted with 21 food trucks through the NYC Food Truck Association to bring food, water and supplies to those still in need.

Idea #2: When you re-open, help them find you. Ryan Sutton, New York food critic for Bloomberg News, has stayed on the job after the storm, eating in restaurants throughout the city. He offers a number of suggestions for restaurants struggling to bring in customers after returning to business, from harnessing the power of social media to including philanthropy on the menu.

Idea #3: Eat Down, Tip Up. Inspired by a tweet from chef and author Anthony Bourdain, a neighborly movement called “Eat Down, Tip Up” has begun as an attempt to help restaurants in Lower Manhattan and their employees. To participate, people follow three simple steps, according to the official website: eat downtown, tip generously and share the hashtag with friends.

Idea #4: Whatever you do, stay safe. And don’t store gasoline in your restaurant.

In other areas of the country…

Idea #5: Shuttle employees to work. Labor issues in West Texas have operators offering bonuses and perks to employees, but McDonald's is getting creative by increasing the use of their McShuttle service. They provide free curbside service to employees, picking them up and dropping them off at their homes each day.

Idea #6: Check your ADA compliance. A Minnesota U.S. Attorney announced his office is sending ADA compliance questionnaires to a number of restaurants in downtown Minneapolis. Don’t get caught with inaccessible entryways or missing signage.

Idea #7: Cookin’ up a little competition. As if Doritos Locos Tacos weren’t enough, Taco Bell has announced they’re rolling out several new “restaurant sized” menu items to compete outside the fast food market.

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