Tuesday, December 07, 2010

7 DEC 10: 'Bon Appetit

Monday's high temperature in Columbus was a mere 45 degrees F. When the thermometer doesn't come up to how many points Auburn scored in the Southeastern Conference championship game, that's really cold....

It's too cold for me to run outside right now, so I did something daring for Monday exercise. I drove to Peachtree Mall to walk. In December, that's obviously a high-risk proposition - since malls can be SO full of shoppers. You never know when a three-hour sale will erupt at a store, inspiring bargain-hunters to run me over.

As I speed-walked two laps around Peachtree Mall, I saw the best economic news to hit Columbus in a long time. A sign on a wall declared Cinnabon is coming to town, between Macy*s and the newsstand. People aren't standing at the newsstand now, but I think they'll line up in front of it soon -- facing something else.

I hesitate to call this announcement about Cinnabon a "Blog Exclusive," because the news media in Albany first reported it four months ago. But apparently no reporters have mentioned it in Columbus - as if cinnamon rolls at Peachtree Mall will cause sticky economic problems.

The owners of the Cinnabon at Albany Mall will operate the Columbus franchise. Reports in September indicated the Peachtree Mall shop would open by year's end - but it didn't appear ready to open Monday. And if a Cinnabon is about to open, my lungs definitely would notice the aroma during a speed-walk.

Long-time blog readers know I've been pleading for a Cinnabon location in Columbus for years. My first recorded plea came during a road trip to Kansas five years ago [23 May 05] - which I believe came after I made an intentional stop for a cinnamon roll at Atlanta's Cumberland Mall. I will NOT disclose exactly how I devoured it while driving on Interstate 75 toward Chattanooga....

(Lest you get the wrong idea -- I am NOT addicted to cinnamon rolls by and large. For instance, I don't make special trips to Golden Corral for them. Not when you have to pay full-price for the buffet.)

I made the plea more personal in January, when I stopped at Albany Mall to walk during a road trip. Cinnabon hadn't been open very long there, and I asked the staff how Albany could have one while Columbus did not. Apparently owner Frank Ross made a personal appeal of his own - and made sure his shop is a good distance from the cookie stand.

A short-term work assignment required me to drive to Albany on a regular basis during the spring - and I made sure Cinnabon was a regular stop. Big cinnamon rolls became a microwave-reheated treat on weekend mornings. But I avoided the newest sensation - cupcakes costing more than two dollars each. I can buy actual cups at discount stores for less than that.

Friends have told me the Cinnabon in Albany has lengthy lines on weekends - and in fact, Albany led the U.S. in Cinnabon sales between January and March. When Southwest Georgia lacks pro hockey, people will take "icing" any way they can get it....

If Frank Ross follows the Albany formula at Peachtree Mall, watch for Cinnabon to have a "grand opening" weekend early next year with free samples for customers. A few of us already have the game plan ready: take one roll, a one-lap stroll - then repeat until they stop you.

With the coming of Cinnabon, one of my shopping dreams for Columbus officially will be accomplished. Now only a couple of others remain - and a couple of large empty storefronts along U.S. 280 in Phenix City still seem perfect for Kroger stores.

Now before you drool too much on your keyboard, let's check other Monday discoveries....

+ A federal jury ruled the city of Columbus discriminated against police Corporal Byron Hickey on racial grounds. Hickey contended he was treated unfairly after speaking up for another African-American officer who was transferred. A $306,000 judgment could allow Hickey to make a transfer of his own - to do private security at a bank.

+ WRBL reported Columbus police were called to the Liberty Theatre at around 4:00 a.m. - not because of a crime, but to calm down an unruly crowd seeking assistance with electric bills. Isn't this unusual in 2010? People slept outside in the cold all night because they needed money -- not because they were anxious to spend some on a video game.

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington named investment banker John Shinkle chair of the Columbus Charter Review Commission. The Ledger-Enquirer reports Wetherington will divide the other 14 commission appointments with Mayor-Elect Teresa Tomlinson - and since I suggested that here last Friday, readers have my permission to nominate me for the Nobel Peace Prize.

(Shinkle admitted to the evening news he's always been a political observer, but never had an interest in working in local government. Many Columbus residents are glad to hear that - because that's one more paid city position which doesn't have to be funded.)

+ WTVM reported a visitor stopped at the Rodeway Inn in Phenix City, then found bedbugs in his room. Well, at least they probably found crumbs under the bed that housekeepers couldn't reach.

+ Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was named a finalist for college football's Heisman Trophy. The Ledger-Enquirer seems so confident about the outcome that it's set up a "Cam Newton Heisman" website - and even given Newton his own "tab" on the newspaper home page, separate from the sports section. And you thought Teresa Tomlinson was the hottest personality in Columbus....

(WTVM reported Auburn city crews needed ten hours to clean up Toomer's Corner, after last weekend's celebration. Why not stage the Bowl Championship Series party at Beard-Eaves Coliseum - so joyful students can begin tearing it down by hand?)

+ Instant Message to Jeremy Hobbs of the Better Way Foundation: Pardon my tardiness, but congratulations for receiving that "key to the city" award last week. Shall we assume you'll wear it around your neck for the next two years, as you run for Columbus Council?

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