This Week on The Street
(A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations.)
By Harold V. Shumacher
June 27, 2011
More Reason for Optimism
July 1st may prove an interesting day for Atlanta area restaurateurs. According to an e-mail circulating among the city’s leading operators and owners that day has been pegged for a protest in opposition to House Bill 87 (the recently passed legislation governing immigration status in Georgia.) The options listed include closing for the day, closing for an hour (most likely 11 a.m. to Noon) or going about normal business but allowing employees time off to protest. It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere as many restaurant folks have been traditionally apolitical unless an issue directly impacts their pocketbook-as this one may do. Based on the chatter we hear from operators, this may be the one that brings about a unified front.
As we reported a few weeks back the mood at Recon 2011, the International Council of Shopping Center’s annual gabfest and networking extravaganza , was distinctly upbeat from the previous few years. The momentum has seemingly changed to the positive and landlords, developers, tenants and brokers are all optimistic.
Another bit of optimistic news came earlier this week from Carlos Herrera, Coca Cola North America’s senior manager of industry forecasting and analysis. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Georgia Restaurant Association, Herrera made his case for a positive turn in the economy citing such factors as rising employment, based on number of jobs created, an uptick in consumer spending and a stabilization in the housing market. He went on to note that the recession officially ended in February of 2010 (in case you were wondering)
Still there are problems looming, proposed health care legislation, the forthcoming political dance to raise the debt ceiling, tax reforms, the Greek debt crisis-tied to a number of banks throughout the world- and a continuing likelihood of bank failures (as many as 800 this year alone.) Herrera remains optimistic, however, telling the crowd, if you’ve survived the past two years you’re doing something right so keep doing what you’re doing. “We’re all after share of stomach and people will continue to need what we provide.”
Bloggers beware….a court in Taiwan sentenced a blogger to two years probation and a $7,000 fine for writing a negative on-line review. His review, which cited a restaurant’s poorly seasoned food and bug infestation problems, was declared libelous because it was based on only one visit to the restaurant according to a local judge. While it’s doubtful that a similar decision would be rendered in this country it is interesting to note that the internet is a virtually uncensored wild west of opinions, mis-stated facts and observations many from anonymous sources. As we all know, once it gets on the internet it stays there forever.