Thursday, October 04, 2007

MUFSO outtakes

I’m starting a relief fund for my colleague Lisa Jennings, who could be institutionalized by the assignment of crafting an overview story on Nation’s Restaurant News’ Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference. The meeting, held earlier this week in Los Angeles, crammed an MBA course on industry issues and trends into three days, with any downtime devoted to networking and sampling the latest in adult beverages. Lisa has the task of capturing that kaleidoscopic experience in a snapshot. You can only hope the food is decent at wherever she’s committed.

Fortunately for the other residents of Harmony Home, the show provided several moments that will serve Lisa well during Story Night. Here are a few of the lines from MUFSO that probably won’t figure into her article (which, by the way, is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 15 issue of NRN).

“Within an hour, you’ll be depressed.” — Rick Berman, before beginning his one-hour presentation, presumably referring to the content of “Labor Costs: The Rising Cost of Employment.”

“How many of you thought Jack was really the CEO?” – Linda Lang, chairman and CEO of Jack in the Box, as she took the podium to accept her Golden Chain award. Earlier, Lang had revealed that Jack, the orb-headed mascot who’s cast as the chain’s chairman and chief executive in commercials, is always portrayed by the same person rather than a succession of actors. Lang wouldn’t say who that thespian was, explaining, “if I told you, then I’d have to kill you.”

“My new dream is to be Julia Stewart.” – Nick Vojnovic, president of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, after confessing that his mother’s dream for him and his brother will never be realized. Coming from a restaurant background, she had insisted that her children not go into the business. Nick’s two brothers are also high-level foodservice-company executives. He didn’t explain his infatuation with Stewart, the CEO of IHOP and architect of the company’s pending purchase of Applebee’s.

“I’m up here for being alive today.” – James Maynard, co-founder and chairman of Golden Corral, joking about his choice as the 2007 winner of the Pioneer Award, an honor previously bestowed on the likes of Col. Sanders and Norman Brinker. Later, while actually accepting the award, Maynard quipped through tears that winning the honor wasn’t a bad achievement for a 50-year-old. He founded Golden Corral almost 35 years ago.

“They’ll be out of there faster than Ted Kennedy at an O’Doul’s kegger.” – Jim Sullivan, forecasting how youngsters steeped in present-day multi media will react to a restaurant trainer wielding nothing more high-tech than a flip pad and pointer.

“My father told me, ‘You’ll do well there [in Washington]. You’ve been dodging nuts your whole life.’” – Ex-congressman Leon Panetta, after recounting how his job on the family’s walnut farm was scooping up the nuts after his dad shook the trees to make them drop.

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