Monday, December 22, 2008

Very naughty ones among the nice

Coal prices will likely spike tomorrow as the market reflects several notable additions to Santa’s Naughty list. As any flying reindeer would tell you, the coal penalty is likely to be doubled because these infractions involve restaurants, and He Who Makes the List, a.k.a. the Chimney Clogger, is clearly a fan. And who wouldn’t be outraged by activities like these?

THE BIG CHECK SCAM: Businesses in Canada are being warned about a con that grifters tried to pull on a Winnipeg pizzeria, with similar stings apparently attempted in Toronto. According to the press coverage, the louts in Winnipeg almost succeeded. They contacted Gondola Pizza and said they needed $4,400 worth of pizza for a multi-day meeting of students. Then, two days before the deliveries were scheduled to start, the “customer” called back and said only half the original order would be required because of cancellations. Would the restaurant mind refunding half the payment ASAP?

Of course, the $4,400 check was no good. The crooks were betting that they could get the $2,200 refund before the place heard from its bank that the bigger check was bogus. It's another indication that restaurant scams are as common as snowflakes this holiday season.

Santa’s sentence: At least a ton of anthracite.

A THUMB IN WASHINGTON RESTAURATEURS' EYES: Operators in Snohomish County, Wash., caught a slush ball in sensitive parts when they recently opened their annual bills from the country health department. According to HeraldNet, a local news website, the department had raised the fee to $700, or double the charge for 2007. Places that didn’t remit payment within three weeks would pay double the charge, according to the news report.

Clearly someone forgot to inform the country health department that restaurants are fighting for their survival in the current economic environment. How can they absorb a hit like that? And, according to the coverage, it came as a complete surprise.

Santa’s sentence: The bituminous output of western Pennsylvania.

WISHFUL GREEN THINKING: News broke this morning of another ecologically minded initiative from Chipotle Mexican Grill, the burrito chain with a reputation of being far greener than the industry norm. This time around, according to the reports, the concept was switching to “sustainable” cutlery, or disposables that bio-degrade, starting with a restaurant in Millbrae, Calif. The only problem: It wasn’t true.

A supplier issued the press release without Chipotle’s involvement, approval or concurrence with the assertions made, according to the restaurant chain. It released a statement several hours later refuting the supplier’s announcement, explaining that it does indeed use compostable knives, forks and spoons at a Millbrae restaurant. But, it said, those eco-friendly disposables have to be used there because of a local ordinance. The chain stressed that it had no intention of switching to the degradable utensils at the other 799 restaurants in the system.

No doubt the home office was a little touchy because investors have been warily watching the one-time Wall Street sweetheart. Like every operator, it’s under intense demand to keep costs low. And bio-degradable disposables can cost anywhere from 10 to 40% more than the conventional type, according to suppliers.

Santa’s sentence: Three turns of a windmill blade. (Hey, the supplier is a green company. It’s probably allergic to coal.)

No comments: