You have to hope Jack Schuessler is blaring the “Rocky” theme and leaving a voice-mail message for every Wendy’s director: “Who’s looking wrong now?”
Dissident shareholders blasted him. Franchisees all but threatened a lynching. The media served up indictments like the failure of Wendy’s fruit salad, the wholesale closing of Baja Fresh units and a Joe DiMaggio streak of bad quarters. It’s kind of surprising he wasn’t denounced by neighbors and forced to resettle somewhere under a false identity.
Schuessler’s stewardship of Wendy’s was faulted by everyone, except the party that mattered most. And that entity, the mighty McDonald’s, has just paid its now-retired competitor the ultimate compliment. According to Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reporter Dick Gibson, who said he saw the words himself on a document from McDonald’s headquarters, Schuessler left Wendy’s in a condition that makes it the rival that McD’s dreads—“the face of the enemy over the next 18 months,” according to the Gibson-captured communiqué to McDonald’s franchisees. (More of the memo's contents is reported in the Daily Specials of our website.)
Of course, the document came to light after Schuessler had resigned (at age 55). But the programs he left in place were the ones that McDonald’s cited as the most worrisome: A move by Wendy’s into breakfast service. Its emphasis on chicken sandwiches. Broadening its market focus to include young people. Each of those has triggered considerable tsk-tsk’ing by other parties. But McDonald’s has acknowledged that Schuessler’s aim was true.
I have to confess I’ve been one of Schuessler’s critics, though I’m proud to say my comments bore an asterisk. What bothered me wasn’t what he decided to do, but his lack of fortitude in the follow-through. He allowed the company to bend too readily to dissident shareholders and internal critics, instead of staying the course.
Now his strategy has been validated, by no less than the Beatles of the field. Shareholders can only hope the new regime carefully considers Schuessler’s programs, instead of changing them for the sake of departure. And at least the 30-year veteran of Wendy’s can enjoy his early retirement, knowing he played a game that definitely had the attention and respect of his opponent.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
You have to hope Jack Schuessler is blaring the “Rocky” theme and leaving a voice-mail message for every Wendy’s director: “Who’s looking wrong now?”
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The phone rings, and you answer it to find some guy named Jim Pickett on the line. He explains he’s just been appointed chairman of Wendy’s International, with the express mandate of reconditioning it into an industry Barry Bonds, sans steroids. He’s heard that you, like seemingly everyone else in the industry, has some thoughts about how to do it. So spill it: What would you do to fix the brand?
That’s what we asked tens of thousands of industry members last week, in Nation’s Restaurant News’ weekly electronic newsletter. Every issue, we ask a question that allows you to play foodservice Simon Cowell and air your opinion, assessment or advice on some restaurant-related matters, from the use of iPods to the hottest cocktail of the moment. This time, we plunked down the soapbox and asked for volunteers to jump up and expound on how to fix Wendy’s.
Within minutes of transmitting the e-letter on Monday, the advice started flowing in—along with the wiseass comments. “First let Wendy’s invite me to headquarters, and then I will go over my list,” one keyboard-stymied responder came close to typing, though with considerably more errors and omissions than that cleaned-up version.
Surprisingly—or perhaps not—almost every response offered the same assessment of what wrong, or very uniform advice about what strategic direction the chain should take. Most either asserted that Wendy’s had lost its distinction, or backed into the same assessment by suggesting it redefine and assertively claim its niche.
The difference was in the tactical suggestions. One anonymous poster recommended that the chain add a breakfast burrito, erroneously suggesting that no other chain of note has one (Carl’s Jr. has one that makes me contemplate moving west).”To appeal to the Hispanic market I would add a couple of chorizo-based burritos,” he/she added.
Valerie Knorr of Bear in Paradise similarly suggested that Wendy’s add breakfast items, specifically sandwiches, Tim Hortons cinnamon rolls, and alternatives made with meat substitutes at no up-charge in price. She also advised that the No. 3 burger chain try vegetarian meal combos, or meat substitutes.
A number of others asserted that Wendy’s take the high-health ground by stressing freshness. “Make a bold product-differentiation statement by moving strongly into fresh items, including reinstituting the salad bar. This time, do more than just fill up the bins at 10:45 and clean up the mess at midnight,” wrote Marc Onigman of Nutrinformation.
Reposition the brand “as a 'real' meal solution promoting freshness, wholesomeness and convenience for time starved families,” wrote Arlene Spiegel, president of the New York consultancy that bears her name. “Get out of the burger wars and more into meal-solutions.”
Two averred that Wendy’s should dump its ad agency, while one said it should also give the heave-ho to newly named interim CEO Kerrii Anderson, along with such execs as Ian Rowen and Jeff Cava. And, the would-be 86er advised, bring back Emile Brolick, currently the head of taco Bell.
But the one Ann Landers-like tidbit that I really liked—an assertion that might have kept the prematurely retired Jack Schuessler in his posts as chairman, CEO and president—was Onigman’s closing recommendation: “Commit [to a plan] companywide. Know that you're going to take upfront losses. And stick with it.”
If you'd like to add your recommendations, or see the ones already posted, visit www.nrn.com/weeklyquestion.
Monday, April 24, 2006
A Near is overseeing Wendy’s operations and a burger giant is planning to increase the size of its most famous sandwich. Have we slipped into some sort of time warp?
It might seem that way, given this morning’s news. First, Wendy’s International names Dave Near the new COO of its Wendy’s chain. No, this isn’t one of those quirky coincidences, where the 37-year-old franchisee, called into headquarters to right the concept’s operations, just happens to share the last name of an earlier savior for the chain. Dave is the son of the late Jim Near, the one-time franchisee who took command of the concept when its operations were similarly in need of refocusing. He’s a legend in the chain’s history, the no-nonsense guy who did so much for the brand that Dave Thomas carried business cards reading, “Jim’s right-hand man.”
Jim was a ketchup-in-his-veins kind of guy, though he first rose to prominence as head of the burger giant’s secondary operation, a chicken-and-biscuits quickservice chain called Sisters that he had sold to Wendy’s. He later insisted the company focus on its core business, a call his son will likely hear time and again in headquarters.
Hopefully, the younger Near has inherited his father’s focus in another respect. Facing an occasionally hostile investment community, Jim would often begin a presentation by acknowledging his job could be gone tomorrow. But before long, he assured them, they’d start hearing about a nice little neighborhood place that offered good food for a decent price in a clean, comfortable setting. The implication was clear: He could be successful because he knew operations; they could either be part of it, by letting him do his thing, or let him go off and do it on his own.
It’s a message that might serve the younger Near well, not only as an operations specialist, but also as a senior member (at age 37) of Wendy’s management. Activist shareholders have succeeded in pushing out former CEO Jack Schuessler, as well as operations specialist John Deanne. Now they have to back off and let Near: The Next Generation do his thing.
Of course, this isn’t new management’s first invocation of the Near name. When Kerrii Anderson was elevated from CFO to interim CEO, succeeding Schuessler, the company trumpeted the simultaneous appointment of Jim Pickett as chairman. The announcement stressed that Pickett had served as a director since 1982, when Wendy’s was still largely an extension of Dave Thomas, and that he had served as a counselor to Near and his successor, Gordon Teeter. The company had fared far better under those chiefs than it did under Schuessler.
If the appointment of a Near to a key turnaround post wasn’t enough of a flashback, there was the added time transport of McDonald’s disclosure in Great Britain. Surprisingly, the chain plans to fiddle with its signature of signatures, the Big Mac, for a limited-time promotion. As a spokesperson explained, every ingredient in the sandwich—the two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, etc.—will be increased by 40%, yielding the Bigger Big Mac.
As well as we can remember here at Nation’s Restaurant News, this will be the first time Big Mac has altered its Big Mac. But it brought to mind the lone instance when NRN reformatted its front page to highlight a story. Once, and only once, did the 40-year-old publication run a story above its logo, a practice known in newspapering as dropping the flag, and something only reserved for the hugest of stories. That time, it was a scoop about another mondo burger pumping up its patties: Burger King was adding two ounces of beef to its Whopper, so the meat stuck out from the bun.
Hopefully our news sense is a little sharper this time, and McDonald’s judgment will be more astute than Burger King’s. In short order, BK reverted back to the original specs, and began its long, painful slide.
And what was Wendy’s doing during that time? Struggling to find the comeback that would finally be delivered by a man named Near.
After almost a year of brainstorming how to pull restaurant workers and other hourlies into a formidable new labor movement, organizers intend to jump-start the process this week with a primetime push for higher wages. Unionization vets who dropped out of the AFL-CIO in frustration last fall are commencing a high-profile crusade called Make Work Pay!, with the goal of enlisting 50 million service workers in a collective demand for better wages and benefits.
The organizers, a new age federation called Change to Win, plan to trumpet the cause by advertising in the sort of media where you might see a Ford, McDonald’s or Intel ad, and by holding organization drives on worksites in 40 cities. No foodservice operation was identified as one of those sites, though the industry’s hourlies are clearly a target.
The improbably named Anna Burger, chairwoman of the six-million-member Change to Win federation, specifically cited those “who harvest and serve our food” as likely recruits and beneficiaries.
The group’s stated objective is securing the remuneration and benefits that will catapult on-the-clock service people—those whose jobs can’t be outsourced because they’re essentially to our economy, in the view of the CtW—squarely into the middle class.
The effort reverses the traditional strategy of the old-guard unions: Organize first, then use the strength of numbers to wrest concessions.
It’s also a departure because it uses mainstream tactics. This isn’t a crusade that will be waged with buttons, flyers or union jackets. CtW is looking to buy space on major media like the hot cable stations (though it’s already been turned down by MSNBC and Comedy Central, which said the spots were too political) and print media.
Even its message was crafted with mass-market appeal. The ads call attention to CEO pay, a point of reference that strikes many rank-and-file employees as outlandish and unjust because the sums are almost unfathomable. The campaign points out that CEO compensation increased 27.5% last year, to an average W-2 of $11.3 million for the suits in the corner offices. From there, it’s just a short leap to outrage they’re making that kind of money, when lots of families are looking at today’s gas prices and almost audibly whimpering. Why shouldn’t workers have more of that largesse?
If you want to read more about the push to organize your workers, check out CtW’s new website, www.makeworkpay.org. It’s good you have the link right there, because you might get confused if you google. You’re likely to call up stories or websites related to another union-recruitment drive targeting restaurants, this time by the International Workers of the World, known in a different era as the Wobblies. Like the CtW, it professes to serve workers without regard to their industry, for the betterment of all wage-earners. “One big union!” is its motto, as you can see from its website, www.iww.org.
Whether the challenge comes from the Wobblies or CtW, it looks as if this is going to be a period of increased union activity for restaurants. The organizers have aired their offensive strategies. Quick: Summarize the industry’s defense.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Rally ‘round, folks, because the world is trying to steal our women. And by “our,” I mean everyone in the restaurant industry, male and female. This is meant to elevate women, not to maintain old stereotypes by treating the gender as delectable chattel.
The industry is far along in its effort to smash whatever subtle mindset maintains the discrepancy between how many women work in foodservice and how few you can find in top-level jobs. A review of that math: Females account for more than half the trade’s workforce. Yet they occupy the corner office in just a handful of the industry’s biggest companies. Indeed, a bit of industry history was made yesterday when Kerrii Anderson was named Jack Schuessler’s successor as CEO of Wendy’s, making her the first woman to lead a Top Five chain. And she’s only serving on an interim basis.
The new math: Roughly one in four hospitality businesses is now owned by a woman, according to the National Restaurant Association, which helped to fuel a 20% increase in female ownership of all businesses since 1997.
Yet an emerging dynamic could slow that trend. The restaurant industry isn’t the only business looking to diversify its executive suites. To make matters worse, the complexity of foodservice makes it a choice training program. Is it any surprise that the trade is being raided for its female executive prospects?
The industry was give a sharp reminder at the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual conference in Dallas a few weeks back. The closing night was hosted by Debra Gmelin, a.k.a. Dr. Deb, a onetime Coca-Cola and Papa John’s executive who secured a doctorate in leadership. She’s clearly a talent, but no longer ours. Now she works for Humana, the huge healthcare insurer.
That brain drain was underscored by the absence from the conference of a strong hopeful for the CEO’s job at the biggest of restaurant companies. Claire Babrowski, a former strong supporter of the WFF, was seen by many as a CEO-in-training for McDonald’s. After Jim Skinner got the job, Babrowski left the business. Now she’s working in a high-level position at RadioShack Corp., where she was just named acting CEO of the electronics-store chain.
The same thing has happened with some of the industry’s most promising minority members. Allwyn Lewis had the WFF attendees on their feet a few annual conferences ago, when the young African-American recounted some of his eye-opening experiences as an up-and-coming star at Yum! Brands. Now he’s leading the Kmart retail chain in one of the more head-turning turnaround of recent years.
You can’t deny success to talents like that. It’s just a shame that foodservice, the very trade that fostered their potential, can’t provide a more enticing opportunity.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Burger King plans to make another unconventional lunge for young male knuckleheads by introducing a series of Xbox video games starring the chain’s wooden-faced regal mascot, according to the website Kotaku
Stores can each expect to move about 900 of the game cartridges, and the chain expects to sell 6.8 million in total, according to what Kotaku said were excerpts from a BK Q&A that a regular visitor found somewhere. The information appears to be a tutorial for franchisees, presented in a FAQ form.
Kotaku takes apparent delight in noting that it’s caught heat from BK for posting images from the game on the site. But it pledged defiance. “We’re not taking down the post, but we will take some of those scrumptious breakfast sandwiches the King has been peddling,” it assured visitors, or at least it did in a post that was still up as of tonight. “We’ll gladly trade in our claim of Fair Use for a bag full of delicious sausage Croissan’wiches.”
Much has been written and said about BK’s over-the-edge marketing campaign. But if its objective was buzz among the skateboard-and-baggy-pants set, the chain is scoring, quite royally.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Because so few of us can trace our ancestry to a walk east across the Bering Strait or a jaunt on the Mayflower, I always assume that most Americans favor open-door immigration. Certainly that preconception hasn’t been disproved by the restaurant industry and its support for the immigration bill that abracadabra’d the U.S. Senate into a Jerry Springer audience last week. Indeed, the trade strongly favors the measure’s two most controversial provisions: Allowing foreigners to work here on visitors’ visas, in significantly higher numbers, and allowing illegal aliens to stay in the country until they can turn legal. Clearly the business as a whole is ardently pro-welcome.
But individual members are a different matter, as we learned on Monday when we polled subscribers to our weekly electronic newsletter. Sentiment was running 5-to-4 against allowing the undocumented to stay here until they attain the necessary sanctions.
“What part of ILLEGAL do people not get?” wrote one anonymous respondent. “I have no problem with any person, regardless of nationality, that is here legally working and enjoying the benefits of citizenship. [But] if we allow illegal folks to stay for any reason, that will simply encourage anyone to break the laws under the assumption we will eventually grant them amnesty also.”
Nor did the writer have much sympathy for restaurateurs who see immigrants as a choice labor pool. “As for those who hire the illegal folks, that are screaming it will impact their business,” the posting continued. “I hope it does! They should be forced to hire citizens of the US and pay them accordingly.”
“Only those legally entering the country should be allowed to stay,” concluded a poster identified as L. G. Griewisch.
“I don't think Mexico would have a problem deporting me if I were there illegally,” added Stephen Karns.
Proponents of allowing the undocumented to stay here while they earn legal status—an option extended only to those here at least five years under the last version of the Senate’s bill—seemed more reasonable than impassioned.
“Our existing immigration system is out of step with the realities of American life,” posted another commentator who wished to remain anonymous. “Our economy continues to produce opportunities for low-skilled workers in important sectors of our economy such as restaurants, retail, services, construction, and tourism. Meanwhile, the pool of Americans willing and happy to fill those jobs continues to shrink as the average American worker grows older and becomes better educated.”
“If they took the chance to get here and worked at low-end jobs until they learned and worked themselves up the ladder…I say let them stay,” wrote Kenny Arone.
You can read all of the responses by clicking the NRN this Week link on the navigation bar of www.nrn.com, then scrolling to the invitation at the bottom to view this week’s weekly e-letter. Click on the Question of the Week within the e-letter, and you’ll be able to see the comments posted to date.
Admittedly, they’re limited in number, which is the real offense to the matter. The issue is an important one, to society in general. Haven’t far more people learned about the controversy and formed an opinion?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
If major league baseball wasn’t cracking down on steroids, you’d have to wonder about the Big Dawgs that Levy Restaurants is selling this season in the luxury boxes of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park. The wieners are whoppers, weighing in at a pound. Of course, they fetch a hefty price, too, at $8. But that’s a bargain by baseball-stadium standards.
The other product of note at PNC this season is a carved-to-order pigs-in-a-blanket. Stations have been set up where chefs will slice off a piece of dog wrapped in pastry.
I’m not going to be fool enough to predict the winner of this fall’s World Series, since everyone knows it’ll be the Yankees. But I will prognosticate that one of the products of note this year, in the ball park or a Dunkin’ Donuts, will be pigs-in-a-blanket. Dunkin’ is testing the items at its next-generation outlets, and several members of the Nation’s Restaurant News staff have found a nearby watering hole that specializes in the party food. It’s the new hot comfort food.
But I digress. There’s an unwritten law that every restaurant-focused medium is required at this time of year to cite some of the ooh-and-ahh-worthy items that baseball stadiums have added to sate an increasingly sophisticated clientele. The fact that the more-ambitious items fetch a higher price is merely a coincidence.
So it is hereby dutifully noted that you can now get Mahi Mahi Terrine at the Angels’ home field in Anaheim; roasted quail in the Astro’s park; and Ancho Chile Glazed Shrimp at the Orioles’ celebrated Camden Yards.
Ironically, Yankee Stadium may traditionally lead the sport in Series wins, but its food still tends toward the Babe Ruth era—heavy on the hotdogs and beer. Of course, the prices are a different matter. You’d think the franks were lovingly prepared by Alan Ducasse.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The sky is darkening up the road apiece, and it has that look of a Weather Channel Storm of Distinction. If you make a living from fast food, you might as well head into it with a 10-foot metal rod upright in your hand and steel taps on your shoes. Pop culture won’t have seen that kind of lightning bait since Ben Franklin famously flew a kite.
That’s because the public will likely be preoccupied with a new entry on the best-sellers list. On May 10, the new book by Eric Schlosser goes on sale, and it promises to make his last work, the infamous Fast Food Nation, seem merely shrug-worthy in comparison.
In case you missed it, Fast Food Nation suggested that American health and culture was being undermined by the imperative of McDonald’s and other food corporations to profit even at considerable social cost. It was cogent, well-written, carefully researched and presented without vitriol, making it powerful criticism indeed. If you think I’m sympathetic, you’re right—to some of what he had to say. Schlosser once called me, at my prior place of employment, because he was looking for more info about a speech I had recorded and mentioned in a column. As I told him then, and feel even more strongly now, his argument was undercut by a base assertion that the nation’s food giants manipulate public tastes and preferences, instead of merely responding to them. He differed and we parted civilly (come to think of it, he still owes me the tape I lent him of the speech).
Now, after writing a relatively weak-selling book about marijuana and other staples of the underground market, Schlosser has come back with Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food.” Co-written with Charles Wilson, it’s a look at the unsavory aspects of quick-service, aimed at the traditional super-users of fast-food, kids.
“For McDonald’s, it’s ‘Attack on the Golden Arches II,’” Donna Goodison wrote in The Boston Herald last week. “But this round has the potential for a stronger dose of negative publicity.”
Consider some of the language. The food a pre-teen eats “helps determine whether you will enjoy a long, healthy life or die young,” reads the book’s introduction, as quoted in today’s Toronto Star. “The companies that sell fast food don't want you to think about it. They don't want you to know where it comes from and how it's made. They just want you to buy it.”
The danger that readers may rethink that buying behavior has hardly gone unnoticed by the big fast-food chains. Advertising Age reported that McDonald’s has already formed what the publication dubbed a “war council” to counter the backlash.
And it could be significant. Here we are, a full month ahead of publication, and the wave of publicity is already building.
I’m calling Schlosser’s publisher tomorrow to see about getting an advance copy. I’ll be sure to recount what I find as I read it.
I might have to bug them to get that tape back, too.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
The buying spree by private-equity firms has grabbed the headlines, but another sort of conglomeration is similarly shuffling restaurant-brand portfolios, without the hoopla. You could spot it in a recent edition of our Daily NewsFax, when three of the seven stories dealt with the acquisition of regional chains by companies formed expressly for that purpose.
Not coincidentally, every one of the buying concerns was hatched by industry veterans who can recall the days when “coffee shop” meant a place like Denny’s. Chain-headquarters executives with that depth of experience used to kick back during the final quarter of their careers by securing a few franchised restaurants and narrowing their focus to a territory. Now they build mini franchising empires.
Case in point: Sid Feltenstein, the man who midwifed Dunkin’ Donuts classic gotta-make-the-donuts campaign. Feltenstein made a bundle when he bought a nearly defunct A&W concept, spiffed it up, and sold it to Yum! Brands for a return that would’ve made Warren Buffet offer a high five. Instead of retiring, Feltenstein has teamed up with former Long John Silver’s and Marriott Corp. exec Ron Powell to amass established regional QSRs for a holding company called Sagittarius Brands. As we announced that day in the Fax, the company bought the West Coast-concentrated Del Taco system to complement the East Coast-centric Captain D’s fast-fish chain.
On the same day, an upstart called Restaurant Holdings Inc. disclosed that it had acquired 36-unit New York NY Fresh Deli—ironically, a franchise chain based in Phoenix. RHI was already the owner of the regional Steve’s Pizza and Playa Grille & Margarita Bar fast-casual chains. It, in turn, is the holding of Chris Thomas, the operations savant who saved the Sizzler family-steakhouse brand during one of its grimmest times, and John Creed, the man who founded the Chart House dinnerhouse group and built it into one of casual dining’s highest-volume concepts.
Completing that afternoon’s trifecta was another acquisition by a company that should be no stranger to regular visitors here, Creative Eateries, parent of the Kokopelli Sonoran Grill franchise chain. Led by former Ponderosa/Bonanza chief Frank Holdraker, the company added a fifth concept by buying Tuscan Italian Kitchen, a four-unit group of full-service restaurants in Los Angeles, for $2.8 million. Creative noted that it paid four times EBITDA for the brand, a steal compared with the multiples of many recent private-equity deals.
Those were merely the mini-conglomerates making news that day. There are plenty more out there, similarly led by seasoned chain builders. How will they fare as a pack?
They won’t. The success or failure of each player will depend on a host of variables—from the unit economics of the acquired brands, to how carefully the expansion is shepherded, to what kind of operators they sign as franchisees, to how many compromises in quality they’ll strike for the benefit of expansion and those all-important royalties.
But it’s interesting that these mini-Brinker Internationals are forming as many of the multi-concept giants are being forced to pare back their portfolios by activist shareholders. It’s as if the concept-stable approach is being damned on one echelon, but embraced as the new steroid on another.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
First, just the facts: Hooters of America, the casual chain that features waitresses in tank tops and short shorts, is a sponsor of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, a group devoted to elevating women into leadership positions at foodservice companies. Its logo—that big orange “Hooters,” which even the chain acknowledges is slang for part of the female anatomy—was much in view at the WFF’s annual leadership development conference in Dallas, where I am as I write this. The other nearly 3,000 people here are largely executive women in business attire, hoping to rise into C-level posts, if not board rooms.
Now, the politically correct analysis: How could this happen? A poor man’s Playboy Club, which openly hires waitresses on the basis of how well they meet an adolescent male fantasy, allowed to associate its name with a cause that celebrates the abilities and potential of women? It just doesn’t fit.
The reality: Good for Hooters, not only for furthering a noble cause, but also for being straightforward about what it is and what it does. “Sex appeal is legal and it sells,” declares the chain’s website. “Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploits men who are big and fast.”
It acknowledges hiring women “who best fit the image of the Hooters Girls.” But “Hooters' business motto sums it up, ‘You can sell the sizzle, but you have to deliver the steak.’” In other words, you need ability, too, and that’s solely what it’s about at the management level.
I didn’t feel that way when I was handed a registration packet and first spied the Hooters logo. But I’ve spoken with other members of the WFF, who speak highly of the chain’s active member in the association, vice president of training and development Kat Cole, a former Hooters Girl herself. As they suggested, is that work any different than being an actress, model or newscaster? Through Cole and the support of the WFF, the chain is acting to enhanced opportunity for women. It has its shtick, for sure, and some, like me, may not appreciate it as much as others. But the organization deserves credit for working in other respects to bolster the prospects of women. And for that, it deserves praise, not politically correct censure.