Thursday, December 09, 2010

9 DEC 10: Breakfast Bar None

Columbus had its coldest day of the year Wednesday, with a high temperature of only 38 degrees F. It was SO COLD that even the Shoney's bear mascot went into hibernation....

If you have plans to eat breakfast or lunch at Shoney's today -- sorry, you can't. The restaurant on Airport Thruway suddenly closed Wednesday. And the Phenix City location had a "closed for remodeling" sign on the door - except it appears the building may be redesigned to sell cell phones.

Staff members on Airport Thruway told WRBL both metro Columbus Shoney's are closing, along with two restaurants in the Valdosta area and one in Tallahassee. I expect that new Cinnabon at Peachtree Mall will be popular, but I think Columbus is big enough for both these places.

Columbus and Phenix City still were on Shoney's online list of locations Wednesday night. It apparently is only a matter of time before they're Sho-offs.

Employees at the Columbus Shoney's say they never saw the shutdown coming. Managers gave them no notice, simply telling them to pick up one last check and head for the unemployment office. It's almost like the bosses waited for the coldest day of 2010, then left the staff out in it.

But if Shoney's employees looked in the booths carefully, they might have noticed signs of trouble. Staff members admit some shifts were not even meeting the computer minimum for payouts. In other words, business was slower than the cooking time for Shoney's pot roast.

I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Columbus Shoney's two weeks ago, and the restaurant was busy at mid-afternoon. A large church group filled one corner, and older couples ate at several booths. Maybe that was part of the problem - as today's young active diners consider delivered pizza reheated in a microwave "home cooking."

Long-time Columbus residents will recall when Shoney's had several Columbus locations. The restaurant on Macon Road near Interstate 185 is now a Captain D's. And what appears to be a former Shoney's on Victory Drive is now a Chinese buffet. So the buffet counter remains, but the items are more likely to be misspelled.

The Airport Thruway Shoney's was once so busy that couples were encouraged to make reservations for Valentine's Day dinner [18 Feb]. If anyone snapped a picture of lovebirds kissing on opposite sides of the buffet table, please send them to me....

The Phenix City Shoney's survived the infamous 1999 sinkhole, which swallowed almost the entire parking lot. Reports of a second sinkhole there this fall turned out to be off by about 100 yards [27 Oct] -- and that hole was only large enough for golfers to use it for practice sand-wedge shots.

I mentioned the Shoney's shutdown to an online group Wednesday night, and some people noted the chain's dessert lineup. But I won't miss the hot fudge cake or strawberry pie -- I'll miss the Shoney's breakfast bar. It was a great place to fill my stomach on special holidays. Even if I couldn't figure out if those breaded strips of meat were chicken or something else....

The breakfast crowd may be the biggest shift in customers, resulting from the closing of Shoney's. Since Golden Corral and Ryan's only have breakfast buffets on weekends, IHOP and Denny's are likely to have more business. In fact, the Denny's on Macon Road could be grand-slammed this weekend.

-> We played in a strange poker tournament this week, which lasted nearly six hours. Read about it at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Take that, Ron Sparks! Your dream of an Alabama "education lottery" may not be dead yet. Look at how many educated Auburn University students joined in a lottery for football tickets....

Wednesday evening was the deadline for Auburn University students to enter a lottery, for tickets to the Bowl Cam-pion Championship Series title game. The winners will NOT get free tickets -- simply the right to buy a ticket for 200 dollars. So it's a case of "Collect 200 dollars if you want to go."

Not every Auburn student was eligible for this lottery. They had to be season ticket holders throughout the football season. No "bandwagon fans" are allowed - since the marching band probably will take a plane to Arizona.

About 1,700 Auburn student tickets are available for the B.C.S. title game. The students will have to pick up their ticket at the stadium near Phoenix - and show a photo ID when they do. Scalpers in Arizona will hurry to office supply stores over the next few days, to get the latest version of Photoshop.

But there's one small dilemma for the Auburn students who buy tickets. The B.C.S. title game happens to occur on the first day of spring semester. The students had better do what I did during college at some basketball games - take textbooks to study during timeouts.

As for all other Auburn fans: WTVM reports some tickets for the B.C.S. title game are on sale for $70,000. That price would get you a seat in a luxury box. But keep something in mind -- that amount also would put three low-income students through the university for four years.

Meanwhile, Auburn's Nick Fairley won the Lombardi Award Wednesday night. That means he's the top defensive lineman in the country. I didn't see the ceremony - so did Fairley stomp around the stage when he won, like he did after sacking the Alabama quarterback?

Let's call a timeout on the hype now, and check other Wednesday news....

+ Columbus Police discovered graffiti symbols of the "Folk Nation" gang spray-painted on a wall at Eddy Middle School. The vandals showed a little intelligence. Spraying "Raider Nation" would have been too obvious -- especially for detectives who graduated from Shaw High School.

(A police officer also found a bale of hay on fire outside the school. Gang members pretend they're cool, but even they get too cold for comfort.)

+ Columbus Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter told WXTX he's being promoted next week to Deputy Chief of Operations. Why do I have the feeling Streeter shouldn't get too comfortable in that office - because he'll have the top job before long? Chief Jeff Meyer needs to prove how well he works, before that "efficiency audit" shows up at his door.

+ Phenix City Rep. Lesley Vance admitted he sent a letter in early November expressing interest in becoming Alabama House Minority Leader. It was sent two weeks before Vance switched to the majority Republican Party - so he switched sides almost as fast as some people switch their car insurance to Geico.

(Vance explained he really didn't want the job of House Minority Leader, but he wrote the letter at the urging of several supporters. It's a bit like Vance's other job. People really don't want to buy items at a funeral home, but pressures sometimes get in the way.)

+ A Kennesaw State University instructor was arrested on charges of stripping in front of a class. Raymond Taylor wasn't teaching art or health sciences, but accounting. Hmmmm - I thought calculators stopped at ten keys.

+ Instant Message to Urban Meyer: Are you sure this time? I mean, you've resigned as Florida football coach twice in a year. Are you taking advice from
Brett Favre or something?

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