Friday, May 22, 2009

Wear a pot as a helmet

You’re not going to believe this, but the restaurant industry is in the midst of an epidemic that’s turning innocent eateries into road kill. All they’re doing is serving up meals or topping off beverages as per the usual. Then, WHAM!, a 2-ton hunk of metal comes crashing through the wall in the form of a speeding Maxima or Silverado, the latest in a rash of restaurant rammings. And, no, folks, I’m not kidding, at least on this point. 

 The last few days brought seven news reports of moving car/stationary restaurant collisions. Think of how many façade benders must go unreported.   

Among the ones that did get media attention was the crash of a cab into Petterino’s, a hometown restaurant of Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterpises, during the NRA Show.  Apparently the vehicle caromed off another cab before hitting the Loop-area restaurant. What’s amazing is that another cab had slammed into the place less than a month earlier. 

 “Petterino's isn't a drive-in restaurant in the Loop,” quipped “It just seems that way.”  

We’re not talking about a restaurant situated on a highway median. Petterino’s is on a corner of Chitown’s theater district, where stoplights theoretically govern traffic. It really takes some work to hit it.   

Even trickier was the crash involving In The Raw restaurant in Tulsa, Okla. The car that hit the place was actually a victim itself. Another vehicle being pursued by the police hit the car and sent it careening into the building, like some kind of fancy pool shot. 

 The news coverage doesn’t provide any clues as to why speeding cars are finding restaurants as unavoidable as the bumpers in a pinball machine.   Perhaps enforcement agencies are overtaxed during these tight-budgeted times. Police in New Jerseyneeded four months to find the driver who had crashed into Vito’s restaurant in Bridgeton in January.  The car was inoperable, but the driver’s legs clearly still worked. When you wreck a New Jersey restaurant owned by someone named Vito, you get moving even if you have to run on your hands.   

Then again, police have clearly not been bystanders to the epidemic. The speeding vehicle that collided with a Chinese restaurant last week in Brookline, Mass., was a police cruiser. In fairness, it should be noted that the car was in pursuit of a perp.  

The carnage of the crash rash has yet to be tallied. Fortunately, though, no casualties have been reported. But the pain is evident. After being walloped by an out-of-control Impala, the Old Well Grill in Drytown, Calif., needed about eight weeks of recuperation before it could recover. 

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