Tag Archives: doughnuts

WiGWag: Of beauty queens, billionaires and doughnut trails

Doh, Ohio

The Butler County Visitors Bureau in Ohio rolled out the Donut Trail earlier in January, announcing the county boasted a doughnut shop for every 20,000 residents — one of the highest numbers of shops per capita in the Midwest, according to someone who’s counting. BCVB director Mark Hecquet said the trail is a “great way to explore Butler County” — and undoubtedly add some bulge to the butt.

Very high heel

A town in southwest Taiwan is building a “church” in the form of a Brobdingnagian high-heel shoe made of metal and blue glass tiles. When completed, the structure will stand nearly 56 feet tall at the heel and 36 feet wide. Despite its name, the Cinderella-inspired building will not host religious services. Its goal is to attract tourists. 

Super-size shoes

Speaking of big shoes, new science from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology explains why Spider-Man can’t exist. The study, a look at how animals scale smooth, vertical surfaces, suggests the superhero would need size 114 sticky feet to walk up a wall like a gecko. 

Brits diss The Donald

British Parliament formally debated a proposal to ban Donald Trump for his hate speech against Muslims after more than 500,000 Brits signed a petition supporting such a ban. Although no final vote was taken, Trump was repeatedly denounced as “a buffoon,” “a demagogue” and “a joke.” One member referred to Trump as “an idiot” five times in three minutes, according to The Washington Post.

Resigning reign

Stormy Keffeler resigned her title of Miss Washington USA after pageant officials learned she failed to disclose a DUI conviction. She was stopped by police last April for driving on flat tires and was arrested for driving under the influence. She pleaded guilty and served two days in jail a month before she won the crown.

Big fish, little pool

“Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun BOM.” Florida wildlife officials were called on to find out how a five-foot blacktip shark ended up making a splash in a swimming pool in Hypoluxo. The woman who found the shark said she saw two young men running from the pool.

Papal Fiat

One of two Fiats used by Pope Francis during his September 2015 visit to Philadelphia was to be auctioned on Jan. 29 as part of the Philadelphia Auto Show black tie gala. Proceeds were earmarked for select archdiocesan  ministries and The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. Francis has made a point of using modest cars to emphasize simplicity.

Fresh junk

Nadkins is the very apt name for a new men’s grooming product designed to refresh gentlemen’s crotches. The moist wipes, also dubbed “Male Jewels Refresher Towelettes,” were created by Joe Caccamo, who said in a news release, “Let’s face it, when a man is uncomfortable down there, he is generally uncomfortable all over, making for a miserable day.”

Single white female seeks…

A new dating website debuted in time for Valentine’s Day: wherewhitepeoplemeet.com. The service made a splash when a billboard went up in Utah, where about 88 percent of the population is white, according to census data. The billboard, which has since been removed, showed a white couple in an embrace and encouraged passersby to “join for free today!” — provided they’re white.

Wisconsin’s Don Quixote

Manitowoc police say an intruder at Lincoln High School wanted to get to the top of the school’s tower because he thought he was a knight in a castle. Police Capt. Larry Zimney says the 58-year-old man admitted to using marijuana and alcohol before the incident, which prompted a brief lockdown. The man was hallucinating but, thankfully, unarmed.

Health concern

A passenger with uncontrollable flatulence prompted a fellow airline passenger to hand a note to a flight attendant: “I don’t know if you can make an announcement. But if you can, you should say that whoever is farting in the areas of rows 10 to 12 should definitely see a doctor because they might have ass cancer.”

Dude, don’t forget breath mints

White Castle’s 25th annual Valentine’s Dinner includes sliders, shrimp nibblers and strawberry and cream waffles. “For a lot of our Cravers, White Castle is where they first met, so enjoying sliders together on Valentine’s Day brings back a feeling of nostalgia,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle.

Franchise group sues to overturn Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance

Hundreds of franchisees are learning they’re not small businesses, at least in the eyes of city government.

A new law that will raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 from the current $9.32 gives small businesses more time to phase in the 61 percent increase — seven years versus three for large companies. But franchisees, which have ties to bigger corporations (like restaurant chain Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Merry Maids) won’t get the reprieve even if they have just a handful of workers.

It’s an issue that could affect thousands more businesses in cities where campaigns for a higher minimum wage are underway. In Chicago, lawmakers have proposed a similar measure that would exempt small businesses but not franchise restaurants. Franchise owners say the laws will sharply increase their payroll costs, and threaten to make them less competitive with independent businesses that won’t have to comply — and that they could be forced to raise prices and cut jobs.

“It’s unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory against franchise owners,” says Steve Caldeira, CEO of the trade group International Franchise Association.

The IFA has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the Seattle law, arguing it violates the U.S. Constitution by treating franchises and other small businesses unequally. The IFA also opposes the law proposed for Chicago and efforts to pass similar laws in other major cities including Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

In the eyes of the U.S. Small Business Administration, franchises are small businesses. Many franchises are owned by people who have at most a few locations. Some owners are corporations that own dozens or even hundreds of restaurants like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut.

It’s the ties to bigger companies – known as franchisors – that supporters of the laws cite as a reason why individual franchise owners shouldn’t get a break.

Franchise owners have advantages the independent owners don’t have – for example, menus and advertising supplied by the franchisor, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement responding to the lawsuit filed June 11, a week after he signed the minimum wage bill into law. His office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Franchisees counter that they have to pay for the privilege of owning a franchise, and for the services franchisors provide. Chuck Stempler, a plaintiff in the IFA lawsuit, says he pays $400,000 a year in fees to AlphaGraphics for the six printing and marketing businesses he operates in Washington and California. Seattle’s Mayor Murray says franchisees and franchisors should renegotiate those fees so business owners have more money to pay their workers.

Stempler, who has 69 employees at two Seattle franchises, says he’ll have to cut jobs to afford the higher wage. The law will increase his payroll costs between $68,000 and $100,000 a year. His competitors will find it easier to adapt because of how officials have structured the law, he says.

“They are discriminating against a class of independent businesses, legally recognized by the federal government and the state,” says Stempler.

In Chicago, restaurant franchisees are included under the proposed minimum wage law although other businesses with revenue under $50 million would be exempt. Franchisees would have to raise employees’ wages from the current minimum of $8.25 to $15 within two years.

At the restaurant chain Firehouse Subs, the Chicago proposal could lead to customers paying more and getting less service because staffs will be smaller, says Steve Szalinski, a franchisee who also helps new owners get started.

“You could see 10 to 20 percent increases in price,” Szalinski says. “Levels of service plausibly won’t be as good. It would be an enormous challenge.”

The laws could end up costing cities some franchises, says franchising consultant Charlie Magee. Several of his clients decided not to buy franchises in Seattle, and instead are looking in the suburbs or Bellingham, 90 miles north of Seattle, even Oregon, says Magee, who works for the consulting company FranNet.

Some franchisors are also wary about Seattle. The shorter phase-in period is just part of the problem, says Jerrod Sessler, CEO of HomeTask, which has six franchise brands including lawn, handyman and pet grooming services. He won’t encourage prospective buyers to seek Seattle locations.

“If you have a city that is willing to pass this sort of legislation, it erodes a trust that they’re going to make decisions to help businesses grow and prosper,” he says.

Breaking today: Milwaukee and Dane county boards were expected to vote on resolutions regarding asking voters in November about minimum wage in Wisconsin.

Chicago vs. NYC foodie smackdown: Who eats better?

The James Beard Foundation recently announced that its awards ceremony honoring the best chefs and restaurants is moving to Chicago after 24 years in New York City.

It’s more proof that Chicago is home to one of the country’s hottest restaurant scenes.

But who’s got the better eats?

Here’s a foodie smackdown between the Windy City and the Big Apple.

• MUST-GET (but you probably won’t) RESERVATION

Chicago: Grant Achatz’s Next

New York: David Chang’s Momofuku Ko


Chicago: Wonut (doughnut meets waffle) by Waffles Cafe

New York: Cronut (croissant meets doughnut) by Dominique Ansel Bakery


Chicago: Grant Achatz

New York: Wylie Dufresne


Chicago: Deep-dish

New York: Thin crust.


Chicago: Chicago French Market

New York: Eataly


Chicago: Stephanie Izard, Girl and the Goat

New York: April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig


Chicago: A walk through the garden — mustard, onions, pickle relish, dill pickle spear, tomatoes, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. And NEVER ketchup.

New York: Nathan’s in Coney Island, with mustard on a plain white bun.


Chicago: Paul Kahan’s The Publican

New York: Dan Barber’s Blue Hill


Chicago: Grant Achatz’ Aviary

New York: Wallflower


Chicago: Restaurant Row on Randolph Street in West Loop

New York: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

• TOP CHEF AWARDS (from the Beards, of course)

Chicago: Rick Bayless (1995), Charlie Trotter (1999), Grant Achatz (2008) and Paul Kahan (shared with New York’s David Chang in 2013)

New York: Larry Forgione (1993), Daniel Boulud (1994),  Jean-George Vongerichten (1998), David Bouley (2000), Lidia Mattichio Bastianich (2002), Eric Ripert (2003), Mario Batali (2005), Alfred Portale (2006), Dan Barber (2009), Tom Colicchio (2010), Daniel Humm (2012), David Chang (shared with Chicago’s Paul Kahan in 2013)

• TOP RESTAURANT AWARDS (also from the Beards)

Chicago: Charlie Trotter’s (2000), Frontera Grill (2007)

New York: Bouley (1991), Le Cirque (1995), Union Square Cafe (1997), Le Bernardin (1998), The Four Seasons (1999), Gotham Bar & Grill (2002), Chanterelle (2004), Gramercy Tavern (2008), Jean-Georges (2009), Daniel (2010), Eleven Madison Park (2011), Blue Hill (2013)