The week in ideas, September 23, 2011

We don’t know much about New China Garden restaurant in Portland, Ore., but we do know they had the brilliant idea six years ago to hire Barbara Lane. You should all be so lucky. Plus: inside the guest’s brain, and the biggest bratwurst in the world.

Idea #1: Get inside your guests brain. A map to get you started. Bonus: inside the waiter’s brain.

Idea #2: Rate food like movies. More on the Darden healthy menu idea from last week. Some menu items will be rated PG, requiring kids to get parents permission to order.

Idea #3: Hire Barbara Lane. When a would-be thief jumped over the counter at New China Garden restaurant, he didn’t expect to encounter Barbara Lane. More to the point, he didn’t expect to run into Lane wielding a butcher knife. When the little punk told the 69-year-old night manager to back up, Lane pointed the knife at him and replied, “No, I don't move back, you move back!” The robber fled with no money from the register. As she explained to the Oregonian, “You don't want to get the old lady mad. I'm in the process of moving and I've been a bit crabby lately. He picked the wrong day.”

Idea #4: Don’t hire Tara Moore. Looks like she embezzled $3 million from a high end La Jolla restaurant.

Idea #5: If all else fails, make a really big bratwurst. It’s a tried-and-true marketing gimmick: get into the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s what Chicago restaurant Berghoff did with its 40-pound, 47-foot-3-inch brat. Needless to say, the bun and grill were pretty long, too.



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