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Just Bring Mints

How about a happy group get-together to start Our Monday Blog?

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Have you ever received a bill at the end of your restaurant meal that has a smiley face drawn on it? Probably many times. It could be just a friendly server, but I have also been told that servers believe that they will get a larger tip because of it. Friendliness that pays!

That might be true, but there is real research to prove that there is really something that servers can do, to increase their tips by over 23%. Just one simple thing. Published in the Journal for Applied Psychology (study abstract here).

What to do? Bring mints with the bill. And how the server followed up with the mint even influenced the tip. Here’s a breakdown of the study:

  1. The first group included servers giving a single mint with the bill, with no mention of the mint. This increased tips by 3%.
  2. The second group of researchers had the servers bring two mints separate from the bill. The servers were also instructed to mention before bringing the mints, “Would anyone like some mints?”. This caused a 14% increase in the tip.
  3.  The final research study had servers bring out the bill with a pair of mints. Shortly thereafter, the waiter came back with another set of mints in case anyone wanted more. That last group saw an increase of 23% in the tip.

Why did the mints impact the tip? A love of mints? Not so much! Although, you can’t be angry at mints! Right?

The answer is that researchers concluded that being personal left a positive impression. Especially at the most important time. Right when they were paying their bill.

The advice from those researchers is to have personal follow-ups. Good advice for anyone wanting happy clients or customers. It’s probably also good advice for someone in the restaurant business. Invest in personality and mints! And always follow up!

And for our pic o’ day… Yep!

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Ice Cream Under Contract

Anytime that I can write about ice cream in the blog, it gets me excited. So, when I saw this story from the StarTribune.com, I said, “three scoops please!”.

This is a story about a Minnesota Dairy Queen that refuses to give in to corporate Dairy Queen. Since Warren Buffet’s group owns Dairy Queen, it gives me some personal satisfaction to know that someone says “No” to his rules because a contract allows them to do it.

66-years-ago, the owners of a Moorhead, Minnesota Dairy Queen opened their doors as a restaurant. It shuts down in the winter, has no indoor seating , no drive-thru,  and  their customers stand in line on the sidewalk for their frosty treats, no matter what the weather is outside.

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Despite what the corporate management for Dairy Queen may want, this store still operates under a 66-year-old contract that allows them to dish up old-time treats, as well as corporate-approved items.

While newer Dairy Queens operate under strict corporate guidelines, messaging and menus; the Moorhead shop still operates mostly under the terms of a contract signed in 1949. So, they can serve such items as Mr. Maltie, a chocolate malt on the stick; The Monkey Tail,  which is a chocolate-covered frozen banana; and the famous Chipper Sandwich: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and then dipped in chocolate.

According to the owner who purchased this store in 1995, “If we changed to the new corporate way, virtually all our food items would be gone,”. He was able to continue operating under the 1949 agreement. However, he acknowledges that corporate would like to see them just fade away.

He says that the corporate lawyers have tried to financially encourage him to sign a new agreement but “there just aren’t enough zeros” to dump the extra flavors and the special feeling that the personalized Dairy Queen gives to its customers. How can you argue with a menu item titled “The Curly Shake” which is a shake with a sundae on top.

To me, different is an experience. A contract that must be honored. Plus, I just like to see the term Rogue and Dairy Queen together!

 

And for pic o’ day, procrastination is sometimes my blog writing enemy:

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The IHOP Big Tip Receipt

During my first couple years of law practice, I would do different cases including contract disputes. I remember receiving a call from a restaurant owner who wanted to meet about an American Express issue. A patron had paid for a bill and left a tip for the waitress in an amount of $500. That night, the waitress closed out all of her receipts and collected her credit card tips that included the $500 in cash, from the restaurant.

In a couple of days, the restaurant received notice from American Express that they were being charged back for the $500. The “Big Tipper” had claimed that he did not mean to leave a $500 tip; that he had been “over served” too much  drink that night, and that the waitress should have known that he did not intend to leave a monster tip on a $75 bill.

I was reminded of that story when I heard a very similar “tip story” from the Glen Allen IHOP, in Virginia. (NBC.12.com) In this story, an Henrico waitress claimed that she lost her job over a $200 tip. When she looked at the receipt that showed a $200 tip, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “This is amazing. This is crazy”, she told her friends.

 

IHOP receipt

A week later, she lost her job. The waitress said that the manager called her in for a closed-door meeting about the customer’s tip. The manager told her, “that’s his handwriting. That’s his signature. But he only meant to write down $2.00”. Then, the manager told her that she needed to pay the $200 back, and gave her a deadline.

On  the receipt, you can see that the patron had not  oddly totaled the bill. Almost makes you think that he was playing games.

After the employer confrontation, the waitress refused to return the money. Then, she was fired. As noted in the story, legally she didn’t have to return the money… but the restaurant could terminate her in Virginia; a right to work state.

As a footnote to this story; after the news of the termination, IHOP has invited her back to work without having to return the money. To date, she hasn’t decided if she wants to return.

As a second footnote; in my restaurant case, American Express and the restaurant decided to split the difference as a settlement. American Express didn’t want to lose the restaurant as a customer and the restaurant wanted to continue to accept American Express. The original diner/customer… no longer welcomed for service!

DID YOU KNOW that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a fear of the number “13”? (known as triskaidekaphobia) He would even invite his secretary to a meal, if he heard there would otherwise only be 13 people eating at the table.

If he was scheduled to travel on the 13th of the month, he would change his departure for 11:50 p.m. on the 12th or at 12 a.m. on the 14th. In death, the superstition continued. He passed away in April, 1945 … on Thursday afternoon the 12th. (certainly not on Friday the 13th!)

And for pic 0′ day, a bit of rest:

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Just Care and Incorgnito!

Thursday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch had an article written by their food critic that also had a good life lesson reminder. Dana Craig wrote Richmond Servers, Please Get Your Act Together.

Her article was a challenge to restaurant servers to just care. As she put it, ” we don’t want our entrées served while one of our party of two is in the restroom. We don’t want to see you sitting at a nearby barstool, gabbing it up while we pile used plates on the edge of the table, praying you’ll notice. And we really don’t want to summon the check by breaking out flares to draw you to our table.” Then, she goes on to list some basics that servers should take to heart.

Craig concludes her article with the advice, “most people don’t return after a meal marred by bad service. First impressions matter, and servers are the front lines of a restaurant’s reputation. Your position is important, so treat it that way. Your diners — and tips — will thank you”.

The service industry includes the practice of law. These same principles apply to our firm. In fact, these same thoughts apply to most people. I nodded my head when she wrote about these basics in the restaurant business. In life, doesn’t  it feel good when you are dealing with a business that cares!

Here’s a Friday DID YOU KNOW? A child’s superman costume had a warning attached to the package that stated, “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”… Yes, we knew that!

From the world of Facebook a couple of others comes pic o’  of “Incorgnito” that cracks me up:

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Dangerous Lemons

It seems so routine. An order for a glass of ice tea arrives and attached to the glass is the lemon wedge. You are faced with a choice: squeeze it and throw it in your drink or just squeeze it and put the wedge on a side plate. What is the better choice?

According to the Journal of Envirormental Health, I just asked you a trick question.  It’s a question similar to one that I will always remember from my driver’s education class. The teacher asked, “Should you drive in the snow with headlights in regular or the high beam setting?” I chose regular setting. The teacher’s correct answer, “Never drive in the snow”.  Thankfully that was not on the DMV driving test.

With that as a backdrop, let me recite some statistics from the study published in the Journal. Studies done on those lemon wedges. Researchers swabbed the rinds of 76 lemons from 21 different restaurants in their study. The samples were collected as soon as the beverage was served. The findings from the research produced the following advice, “Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes”.

A Professor at NYU conducted a similar “lemon study” sponsored by ABC News which also found restaurant workers handling the wedges with their bare hands including handling them after using the restrooms where they had failed to wash their hands. In addition, the wedges were regularly not washed. Sometimes the lemon wedges were originally just lying on counter tops that had not been cleaned and on occasion, the wedges were even dropped to the floor.

In these studies, half of the wedges were shown to be contaminated with bacteria including fecal matter. Both showed a wide variety of contamination. While we can’t avoid all germs, it might be very worthwhile to order the next beverage “without the lemon” and enjoy lemons at home, where you have control! Both attached articles surely create some restaurant lemon wedge fear.

DID YOU KNOW that the sandwich was named after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92). He was known to stay at the gambling table and wanted to eat meals without interruption… hence sandwiches for dinner.

And for pic o’ day here is poolside:

Bear Pools

Man Who Stole Meals

It’s a story fit for a fiction crime novel and told by A Brussels newspaper. (Buffalo News) Titus Clarysse was a 35-year-old man from the northern Belgian town of Ghent. He was known  for walking into any restaurant of his choosing, ordering whatever he desired; and then, eating it and leaving without paying for it. (Clarysse 2009 photo)

Meal stealer

In those parts, he was called a “tafelschuimer”. It’s defined as someone who takes everything, even the crumbs off the table.  It is estimated that he failed to pay for over 100 meals over a period of 5 years. He was even able to do it multiple times at some of the same restaurants.

“In the end, we knew his face, but you know, on a busy terrace in summer, full of people, he knew how to blend right in.”, said one restaurant owner. “We’re not talking about an aggressive guy. He was just happy-go-lucky about it. He would sit and wait after the meal.” According to the report, he would even try to order another drink until he had to face the issue of not paying his bill.

Clarysse depended on government aid and often ate extravagant meals that even far exceeded his weekly paycheck. In fact, he was arrested and convicted multiple times and even spent several nights in jail. It didn’t seem to bother him because he had eaten a good meal before his arrests.

Now, here’s the mystery. This past week he was found stabbed to death in his apartment. There currently is no indication from the police of any motive. The owners of the restaurants admittedly did not know how to deal with the man who would not pay for his lavish meals. The question is whether that led someone to kill him.

DID YOU KNOW that Paulding, Ohio has a law that allows police officers to bite a dog to quiet him. Conversely, Maine’s law makes it illegal to bite a landlord under any circumstances.

And for pic o’ day, I laughed when my Mom sent this one:

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The John Alleman Reminder

     This is a sad blog of personal responsibility. WPTV.com reports that John Alleman has been taken off life support and pronounced dead at age 52.

     That sentence probably doesn’t mean much to you if you don’t know who he is. I didn’t, until I read the story. Then, I realized that it was a story that was predictable and probably preventable.

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     John Alleman loved the Las Vegas restaurant, Heart Attack Grill. In fact, the restaurant had designed T-shirts and logos that featured him. He was their unofficial mascot and even  featured in a cartoon for the restaurant as “Patient Joe”.

Heart Attack Joe

    The nighttime construction worker was never a paid employee, but he became famous because of his love of their food and that he was always there to encourage everyone else to eat the unusual items on the menu.

     The restaurant’s menu includes  the 9,952 calorie Triple Bypass Burger; the Flatliner Fries and the Coronary Dog. The Flatliner Fries are deep fried in pure lard.  For dessert, you can order the Butter-fat Shake made from butter fat cream, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors. In fact, the burger is listed in the Guinness record books as the “most calorific burger” and the menu even warns customers against eating it more than once a month.

     Despite all the warnings including being featured as a patient because of the menu, John visited the restaurant to eat there every day. A while back, the local newspaper interviewed the restaurant’s manager. He was quoted as saying that he had told Alleman that, “if you keep eating like this, it’s going to kill ya.”

     Alleman is the second Heart Attack Grill spokesman to die. In 2011, 29-year-old  Blair River also died from a heart attack. Still, the restaurant encourages anyone that weighs more than 350 pounds to eat unlimited free food; as long as they agree to publicly weigh themselves on an electronic platform in front of  all the other diners.

     It is this kind of mentality that has explained why people smoke cigarettes, despite the warning on the side of the packet. “It’s not going to happen to me”. This story is a sad reminder. Instead, it will probably cause the restaurant to do more business, sell more t-shirts and cause them to make a bigger burger.  Shouldn’t the restaurant have some responsibility or is it just a case of  “you don’t have to eat here”.

     For pic o’ day, Amy M. sent me another funny:

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All… No You Can’t Eat

 

George Dalmon and Andy Miles learned that an offer of “All you can eat” doesn’t apply to them. All you can eat London restaurant “Gogi” says that Dalmon and Miles are “a couple of pigs” and the promotion does not apply to them.

Let’s assess their eating. The men would admittedly each eat five bowls of stir-fry during their regular meals at the Mongolian barecue; which does encourage guests to create their own buffet dishes. Diners are told that they can request “as many meals as you wish”.

Now, the restaurant manager has said that the meal offer does not apply to them. “Basically, they come in and pig out. They are in such a hurry to beat everyone to the food that they spoil everything”.  The manager added, “We are not a charity, we’re a business. They eat everything out of all the bowls before other people can get there”.

The two men reported that they had been going to the restaurant for a couple of years and were stunned when the manager came to their table and told them to leave. They described that, “the owner came to our table in front of all the customers and basically went mental. We were banned for life”.

I guess this is a question of an eating contract. I have always wondered if buffets should be “all you can eat” or “all you care to eat”. As a famous man once said, “When I heard of the evils of eating too much, I gave up reading”. OK, maybe no one has ever really said that.

In the spirit of costumes, pic o’ day looks to the Halloween pups:

Random Randomness

I’m told that I’m supposed to use blog titles that might have some Internet optimization quality. I don’t think this title will pass muster.  But, it does allow me to just insert some legal news and attachments without any organization.

I usually try to give brief descriptions with a comment and give the attachment, in case you want to read more. Some just make it hard to even give a thought. Of course, Dick Cavett said, “It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear”.  Maybe that goes for reading a blog too.  See, the randomness begins.

First story comes from Connecticut. Police were called when a 911 call was placed to advise that someone was on the playground giving children beer. Two were charged with giving beer to a 4 year-old and beer and cocaine to a 10 month-old child. (Looking away uncomfortably.)

Next from MSNBC.  Five people were stabbed during a “Welcome Home From Jail Party”.  One woman was also detained for allegedly firing a gun.   (Not sure if I should insert something like they played “Pin the tail on the human” or just suggest that the title of the party was a bit prophetic)

PostCity.com announced Toronto’s worst named restaurants. Just a sample: “The Big Chubby Burger”. Of course, I’m probably not one to criticize since I once owned a restaurant named “Glutton’s”. The concept was that all sandwiches were so big that only a Glutton could finish one. I know; with that concept, you’re not surprised that the result was that I must have been a Glutton for punishment. (Just thought I’d throw this story in for some marketing discussion)

Finally, here’s a news story from an “Occupy Portland” event.  Police were walking through the event to make sure that the demonstration remained peaceful. One guy seemed to be drunk, so the police decided to speak with him and  put him through a test  to determine if he should be charged for being drunk in public. He assured them that he wasn’t and went on to show them that he had a mason jar that was filled with bags of marijuana. Yep, that’s quite a defense.

And now, it just seems like we need some organization to get away from such randomness. Here’s pic o’ day:

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