Recommended Reading 11/22

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Recommended Reading

I recently had my first real Christmas experience of the season.  I was driving to work and got stuck behind someone who obviously had no idea how to drive outside of the suburbs.  Parking was incredibly tough to find.  Once I was parked, a group of shoppers asked for directions to a jewelry store.  Then as I approached work I heard the familiar sounds of one of our local panhandlers poorly playing the only Christmas song she knows.  In the words of the song we will all be sick of soon, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Not so fast though.  We still have Thanksgiving to look forward to.  This week I wanted to bring you some stories that will make your turkey day more enjoyable or at least provide interesting conversation starters.  We all know you are tired of having the same conversations over football every year.  Here are a few topics that might delay the turkey nap a little longer.

We all know the drill of getting overly full on Thanksgiving.  CBS News published a great article on how to keep from blowing your diet on Thanksgiving.  They also have a great article on avoiding allergic reactions amongst your guests.  This is always good information to have because a memorable Thanksgiving is not worth sending someone to the emergency room.  For all other things Thanksgiving, Yahoo has you covered.

Pretty soon calories are going to be much more at the forefront of table conversation.  Starting next year restaurants with over 20 units will have to start disclosing calorie counts on their menus.  This should make for some very interesting conversations at tables.  MSNBC has already started talking to operators about how they will handle the transition.  It is time for us all to be planning ahead on this one.

One of the ways people will react is to start cooking at home.  My favorite source for delicious healthy recipes is Sit. Stay. Cook. I think she sums up the philosophy of the website well on the opening page. “It’s easy to make food taste great when you fry in oil, wrap it in bacon, or slather it in heavy cream. Try making healthy food taste delicious. That’s a real skill.”  Her recipes are ambitious, but her posts walk you through them in an easy to follow manner that will allow you to pull it off.

All this talk of turkey day may be a little outdated.  Some people avoid turkey on Thanksgiving.  My girlfriend informed me that I would not be one of them this year.  For those of you looking for something a little different, seafood is always an option. To find out what fish to seek out and what to avoid, there is no better source than Seafood Watch.  This is my first stop for all questions seafood.

Finally, lets get back to the real meaning of the holiday.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have and giving back to others.  Last week I read a great story about a chain called Raising Cane’s that really integrates this into their business model.  The son of Beppo from Buca di Beppo fame has a new concept in Las Vegas.  They have made giving back an integral part of their marketing strategy and should be seen as an example for other companies to follow.

One thing that most of us can be grateful this year is having a job.  I will count Native Napkin over at Sorry, Not My Table as one of those.  For those of you who cannot be grateful for employment, he has some very humorous tips on finding a new job.  This post is potentially not safe for work.  It is still well worth a read.

Thanksgiving only comes once a year.  I hope you all are able to take the day off to enjoy with family and friends.  I will be wrapping up an early dinner to enjoy my favorite part of living in Kansas City.  Just a few blocks from where I live the Plaza Lighting Ceremony will occur.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the coolest Thanksgiving Day tradition in the country, here is a video of last year’s ceremony.  My restaurant is right in the middle on those lights and I will be enjoying the official start to the most lucrative time of the year.

Plaza Art Fair

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For those of you from Kansas City, I wanted to provide a recap of the most popular part of the Plaza Art Fair.  Sure they call it an art fair, but by far the most common activity is eating the food offered by Plaza restaurants while walking the streets sipping a cocktail.  When I made passing mention of it in a previous post, I searched unsuccessfully for a site detailing the food offerings. So on Sunday afternoon I went back to the art fair to photograph the booths.  Hopefully this provides you with fond memories during the 51 weeks worth of waiting for next year’s event.

For those of you not from KC, this is interesting on a different level.  The Country Club Plaza is Kansas City’s premier dining and shopping district.  During the art fair over 100,000 visitors will come to The Plaza to see art and sample some of the local restaurant’s fare.  This not only represents a great marketing opportunity, but also a huge opportunity to generate revenue.  A successful art fair booth can generate $20,000-$50,000 in revenue on top of a large spike in business inside the restaurant.  In order to seize this opportunity you must build, staff, and stock a freestanding restaurant complete with kitchen.  The visual appeal of your booth, the quality of your offerings, and the value you provide will determine your success.  It is a high risk venture with the potential to do more volume in the free standing booth than most restaurants in America will do in a week.

Some restaurant chose not to participate this year.  Notable no shows included The Cheesecake Factory and Buca Di Beppo.  I tried diligently to document all those who did participate.  I also did some research and as best I can tell will be the first to reveal to the internet the winner of the Plaza Art Fair best booth award.  Here are the booths in alphabetical order.  Click any picture to see a larger version.  A breakdown of their food offerings can be found here.

810 Zone

Blanc Burgers and Bottles

Bo Lings

Brio

Classic Cup

Figlios

Fred P Ott's

Houston's

In gre di ent

Jack Stack

Kona Grill

M&S Grill

O Dowd's

PF Changs

Plaza III

reVerse

Ruth's Chris

Starker's

The Capital Grill

The Granfalloon

The Melting Pot

Tomfooleries

Topsy's

And The winner of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair best booth award goes to……

McCormick and Schmick

I hope everyone who attended had a great time.  I hope everyone who didn’t get to make it found this post a nice way to enjoy it vicariously.  I hope everyone who worked it for three days straight recovers soon.  This is a great event for the area and one that definitely draws customers down to the Plaza.  Only 51 more weeks until the 2011 Plaza Art Fair.  I hope my body has recovered by then.

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