Sorry if I sound a little rusty. Since Nation’s Restaurant News laid me off Tuesday, I’ve not been blogging, at least about the restaurant business (though I have been doodling about my new status at Pink-slipped). I figured I’d clear some of the cobwebs by offering a few observations about the industry’s week that was:
Pretty soon T.G.I. Friday’s is going to start giving away living room sets with every meal you order. The casual chain’s frequent-guest program, Give Me More Stripes, started out with the usual bonuses for heavy traffic. Then it tried to sweeten the deal by throwing a free helping of chips and dip into the mix. Now the sector’s granddaddy is adding the whipped cream of a free dessert to any card carrier who visits a unit next weekend and buys an entree. I’m holding out for a steak-knives offer.
Taco Bell president Greg Creed has cajones bellgrande. First the chain proves it’s a badass by dissing 50 Cent. Last summer it suggested the mega-star reprise a Chihuahua’s role by serving as an unlikely pitchman for the Bell. Change your name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent or 99 Cent, the home office publicly offered, and we might be able to come through with bling-bling—a $10,000 payment to the charity of your choice [Thugs Without Bullets, perhaps? Teeth Grills for the Disadvantaged?). The proposal was put forth just as Taco Bell was rolling out a new value menu, an event that may not have snagged much publicity on its own. But Taco Bell tweaking a nasty mother like 50 Cent? Big news, dog.
50 Cent, the only rapper whose music I refuse to let my wife play when I’m in the car, responded with a lawsuit. He may try hard (and convincingly) to come off as a gangsta in the hood, but he’s a brilliant businessman who’s not going to let his name be used gratis as part of a publicity ploy.
Taco Bell should’ve been grateful that the response wasn’t a drive-by. But instead of dropping the matter, it filed a blistering defense that accused the Gangsta Formerly Known as Curtis James Jackson III of not being able to take a joke.
Indeed, the Sept. 19 court filing, brought to light yesterday by the gossip site TMZ was one big bitch-slap (Fast Company called it “counter-blathering.”) Taco Bell alleged in its filed response that 50 Cent nee Jackson “has a well-publicized track record of making threats, starting feuds and filing lawsuits,” and that his suit was merely an attempt to “burnish his gangsta rapper persona.”
“Instead of responding to Taco Bell's sincere offer in the friendly and humorous spirit in which it was issued,” the suit reads, “Jackson launched an aggressive, offensive attack on Taco Bell in the press. In a heavily publicized sound bite, Jackson threatened legal action against Taco Bell stating, "When my legal team is finished with them, Taco Bell is going to have a new
corporate slogan: 'We messed with the bull and got the horns.'"
The filing—technically an “affirmative defense”--disputes or denies each on of 50 Cents’ assertions in turn. It then asks the court hearing the action to dismiss it and make the the rapper pay Taco Bell’s legal fees.
A heads up to Creed: Remember Tupac, my man.
Just think ‘pizza’ and your delivery order will be placed. Maybe we’re not there yet, but the major delivery chains are certainly inching closer to that Isaac Asimov-ian vision. Domino’s, a leader in online ordering, added the option last week of letting TiVo users put in for a pie via the set-top box. Papa John’s announced that it would try to protect IM fanatics from malnutrition by allowing them to buy a delivered pizza without leaving Facebook, an option that Pizza Hut started added in mid-Oct.
So, let us review. Want to order a pizza? You can now do it via your phone (cell or landline), computer, Facebook account, TiVo, video game, or text-messaging capability.
My money’s on Pizza Hut as the first to accept brainwave orders. The chain should just hope it doesn’t intercept any that were beamed by 50 Cent at its sister brand.