Peanuts on the Floor
The comment function has taken a vacation. Blogger tells me that they’re working on bringing it back, but they don’t know when that will be. They've been updating the function, so this is what comes from not leaving well enough alone, I think.
There’s a growing chain of barbecue restaurants part of whose formula includes scattering peanut shells on its dining room floors. Patrons also have a small bucket of peanuts at their tables, ready for shelling. The shells can then be tossed on the floor. It’s nice to have something to do while waiting for your food.
I’ve been to the one near Kenosha. It was the first place we ate in Wisconsin back on our summer vacation there in 2003, but I didn’t bother writing about it then, though the ’cue was fairly good. I haven’t written about it professionally either—yet—because I’m not paid to report on the experience of visiting a retailer or restaurant, but rather on their struggle to make money. Anyway, on Tuesday I had lunch at the International Council of Shopping Centers Idea Exchange in Indianapolis, which I did report on, but I didn’t report on my lunchtime conversation with a retail developer.
We talked about a number of things, including the march of Wal-Mart, though The Boondocks didn’t come up, since he didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would appreciate comic strips or Pinky and the Brain (see March 7 below). His company, as it turned out, not only develops strip centers, but also is a franchisee of the above-mentioned barbecue restaurants with the peanut-shelled floors.
In a suburb of Chicago, he told me, one building inspector had told his company that peanuts on a restaurant floor were against the village health code. Perturbing news. Legal advice was sought on the matter, and a closer inspection of the law cited by the inspector revealed that restaurants couldn’t have dirt floors covered with peanut shells, to evade an earlier prohibition of dirt-floored restaurants. A legal relic of the late 1800s, it turned out. After further discussions with the village, and acknowledgement that the inspector was admirable in his zeal to protect the citizens, the chain was allowed to strew peanut shells on its floor.
Still, I wonder if the chain’s going to catch trouble someday for its free-range peanut policy. Someone profoundly allergic to peanuts might walk in one day, collapse immediately, and later his heirs will take the restaurant to court, arguing that their needs to be a neon PEANUT ZONE sign over the door, at the very least. I’m not fooled by news coverage into thinking this kind of lawsuit is very common, but stranger things have happened.