Thursday, August 15, 2002
TAX CREDITS FOR LOYAL DINERS...I was talking to my man Chuck Hunsaker, the former chef turned Better Brands Food Company rep, and he mentioned that there are 90 restaurants in Carmel (I think that''s counting By-The-Sea through Valley Village). That got me to thinking (no wisecracks), so I looked in the Pac Bell Yellow Pages covering Monterey and San Benito counties under restaurants. I started counting and hit 100 before I was halfway through the C''s. That''s a helluva lot of restaurants-in this case every joint from fast food to fine dining.
I may not be the world''s greatest mathematician, but if you divide the number of humans that live in this area by the number of restaurants, it points to a lot of choice for consumers and a lot of worry for operators. Take into account that many, if not most, of the humans that inhabit this area don''t spend much of their income in restaurants and a disproportionate burden falls upon those who do (like myself). Those of us who support the industry with such dedication should somehow be compensated, or at least commended.
I think that for every dollar spent in restaurants throughout the area, some remuneration-perhaps in the form of a tax credit or something-should be paid to that person (work with me here, I''m formulating this as we speak). That would encourage all those slackers not spending enough in restaurants to get out there and start dining. When other municipalities hear about this revolutionary practice, there will be widespread media coverage that will stimulate tourism and generate more excitement for our area as a dining destination. There could even be lobbying in Washington, DC by the powerful restaurant lobby that could lead to it becoming national policy.
Naturally, extra incentives would apply for tipping, with greater credit extended to big tippers. Since we are now a service industry-driven country, restaurateurs would begin to take their rightful place at the top of the industrial pecking order, pushing aside the unscrupulous, greedy and arrogant business leaders currently teetering at the tip of a quickly thawing iceberg of deception and deviousness (I''m on a roll now). Then, the people who have spent their lives in service to others will be the role models for young people in our ever-increasing hospitality schools. Students will sit down with their guidance counselors to discuss curricula in the various service-driven disciplines from kitchen sciences to theoretical service to hospitality; design and practice, etc. I think it''s a sound idea. Everyone who loves eating out and has done so faithfully for years should write their congressmember.
LOOK FOR LOWER WINE PRICES...The issue of wine pricing in restaurants is gaining momentum. Even Marvin Shanken, esteemed publisher of Wine Spectator, the most powerful periodical in the wine world, has written an editorial addressing it in his Wine Spectator Online column. He writes: "Let me be straightforward in saying what wine drinkers have been thinking and feeling: Wine prices are out of hand."
He went on to explain the insane rise in prices by California wine producers and the pinball effect it has on the other major wine producing countries. He continues: "Well guess what? The bubble has burst! The rising tide of wine prices is officially over. Consumers have had enough! The big-spending dot-commers are selling their palaces and their yachts. Wine prices are coming down. Sales of wines that cost $30 or more retail ($50 or more at restaurants) are steadily slowing down...Now it is time for restaurateurs to join the trend, and reprice the wines on their lists to more realistic levels. It''s a tough economy out there and it''s time to give wine lovers a break. Wine lovers eat out all the time...lower wine prices and increase wine sales." See, there''s another reason for tax breaks for frequent restaurant goers. The wine industry should be lobbying too. We''re onto something here.
WINE WITH DINNER...Got to hit a couple of nice wine and food functions the past two weeks. Stealth Bomber (aka Keith Lindstrom) hosted a nice lunch at Casanova, featuring high-end Italian beauties (wines, fellas, wines). Tom McGowan, chief wino for Casanova, gracefully oversaw the service (he had to work that day). Everything was great.
Also went to a wonderful little wine dinner at Charlie Moss''s in Moss Landing featuring the wines of Steve Clifton''s Palmina label, which are Italian varietals grown and vinified in impeccable fashion. It was great to sample California Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Barbera, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo made to perfection by a top winemaker. Life is good. Now if I can only get those tax credits...
-Help Ray out at email@example.com