Industry News | September 9, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Hits Close to Home for the QSR Industry

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Gentlemen,

This email is going to the people who have shown the most interest in offering resources to help the victims of Katrina. I feel the same, I'd like to pledge resources for this effort as well, but where do we place them. I'd like to find an existing infrastructure which we could plug ourselves into and provide some industry direction towards an obvious target. At this time, it is not evident that there is a specific place to direct our efforts.

1) If someone knows of such a program or infrastructure please let me know so I can spread the word.

2) If we need to create an infrastructure in the long run I can help when I get back to coordinate something with a longer time frame, perhaps a program which serves a network of pizzerias near the disaster points which could be part of a network of pizzerias where product could be funneled with the condition of feeding those in need. Perhaps this group would be the care givers as a morale booster more so than actual sustenance. This may be a 6 month program something that will help after volunteer fatigue sets in.

3) If we want to create an infrastructure in the short run than we need someone who can quarterback this effort now. Anybody out there? Do you have a good person who could work on this part time? Or a good person which could dedicate a few days on coming up with some answers? My personal assistant Sherlyn Clark is available to work with any others who may feel inclined to get involved. I'll be in Australia at the National Pizza Competition and Trade Show in Sydney for the next week 662-801-0801. Don't worry, I'll turn off my phone when I'm sleeping and I can get messages.

We have a list of resources www.hurricanepizzarelief.com and many other web sites. If you have any ideas or suggestions please respond.

- Steve Green, Publisher, PMQ Magazine

I am working with a Chef/food distributor, well-known in the foodservice community, who is located just north-west of New Orleans to secure food donations to begin to help feed some of the tens of thousands of people who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina.

With the devastation of Katrina most if not all of New Orleans historic and well-known restaurants have been destroyed. Needless to say, most important at this time are all viable efforts being made to feed people who have literally been left with nothing.

Chef John Folse and Company are working on the scene to prepare and serve meals to as many displaced people as possible with the daunting prospect that conditions will not improve in the immediate future. Yesterday alone, they prepared and served 6,000 meals.

What are urgently needed are food products from just the type of clients we work with! This includes fully cooked products (like meats, chicken, eggs, muffins, energy bars), raw materials (as they also have a USDA processing facility), beverages, and containers.

If you would forward any contacts to me or be willing to make an initial inquiry for donations I would be most appreciative.

Thank you,

Allen,212-725-5766 x259

***

As someone who moved to New Orleans eight years ago next week, I was always aware of the possibility of "the big one" hitting New Orleans and watching it sink underwater. I knew that after dodging bullet after bullet (especially Ivan last year) our time had to come for at the very least a Category One.

But nothing like this.

I evacuated my home/office in Metairie Saturday night/Sunday morning around 2 a.m. Major tip: If you live in another part of the coast and have to evacuate, this is the time of day to do it! Not a lot of traffic, was never in bumper-to-bumper situations, and got to Houston in about seven hours, which is where I still am at this time.

Another major tip: Get a Satellite Radio! Instead of fiddling around the dial trying to find any type of music I want, I just flicked on my Sirius unit and only had to change channels a couple of times during the trip. Get one.

I have tried for the most part not to watch the coverage of the post-Kat debacle. It's too surreal to watch. It is our area's 9/11 or tsunami. I now know how all those firefighters and policemen felt after the hits on the World Trade Center, only they had no preparation time. We had a couple of days.

As for my restaurant clients, I know that the Acme Oyster House site is offline; so is the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. Their sites were hosted in Louisiana, so when Katrina hit, their web presence hit as well, along with their e-mails. I have no idea how any of them are, which is really sad because Acme is currently doubling their locations from four to eight, and the Culinary Institute just added a new catering/event facility just a couple of months ago. I imagine with all their glass windows, the place is destroyed.

I think Acme will survive, since they have a location in Sandestin, Florida, which is probably fine. But, they do have three locations in NOLA, the Quarter, the Northshore, and a new location in Metairie in what used to be a Cuco's. The Northshore location may have survived, but I can't imagine what happened to the other two locales. I also have a hot sauce, coffee, and smoothie bar clients, all offline. In the case of the hot sauce company, they've already decided to pack up and move their location to Dallas in about two weeks.

Running an independent web/interactive design studio like I do, I can be at least flexible in where I can stay and run my business. And it doesn't look like there will be any new business coming out of southern Louisiana for a very long time, which is why I've decided to leave the Pelican State altogether and just keep driving to Los Angeles. I already have some business there, and hopefully I can get more. So, if there's any SoCal (or non-SoCal) establishments looking for some new ideas for their web presence, e-mail me at databell@cox.net for the time being.

-Adam Bell

***

Thanks for your concern. Our company has roughly 300 Krispy Krunchy Stores in five states; however, roughly 50 percent of them are in hurricane-ravaged southeast Louisiana (including New Orleans) and along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

We are still assessing the damage today and will be sending out personnel to the accessible areas in the upcoming days. One of our major suppliers, Sysco-New Orleans, is still offline and may be for the foreseeable future, since they are located in the heart of a flooded area in New Orleans.

I don't think there is anything you can do directly, other than post a message to your site regarding our efforts to assist our Krispy Krunchy Stores in need.

We appreciate your thoughts during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

-Neal Onebane, President, Krispy Krunchy Foods, LLC

***

Perspective is a funny thing. You see it in the feel-good movies. You read about it sometimes, and every once in a while, you might be in the company of your family, hundreds of miles away from home with tears and a sinking feeling that life as once known has completely changed.

We're business owners.

The business owners who receive QSR know what it takes to own and operate a business. These readers know that a business isn't just bricks and mortar and a living; there's a special love for our businesses, a pride.

For 25 years, my family has built a thriving business in New Orleans, Louisiana, which includes a chain of convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. Today, through scattered news reports and phone calls from the area, we know that every one of our 11 locations are destroyed, completely destroyed. The one location not destroyed by the hurricane and flood waters has been looted and set ablaze.

Luckily, the family are safe. Of course, that's good fortune.

But today we're looking for jobs and a home. We're unsure how much insurance will cover, and we're unsure how to make ends meet until we're even allowed to go back home to bulldoze our homes and offices.

The restaurant and business owners in the New Orleans area are in high need.

It's more than homes and businesses that have been destroyed at this point. New Orleans will be in unlivable conditions for months. Insurance will likely not cover all of the damage. Business owners of yesterday, such as ourselves, are unemployed today and for the coming months. It's a hard situation, and I'm not sure how QSR can help, much less anyone.

My family's plan is to start anew. We were ready to retire.

One tiny auxiliary business we owned was a web site design firm. If there are any subscribers who needs a web site, we'd love you to consider this business. We have our computers in our hotel rooms, and we need new clients.

The company address is www.theweblab.com.

Our former restaurant and convenience store companies, Wagners Meat and Chicken Box, can be found at www.wolfmaninc.com (www.chickenbox.com, www.wagnersmeat.com, www.wolfmanconstruction.com).

>Thanks for the message, QSR.

-Scott Wolfe, Wolfman Inc.

***

Susan Chrisman, owner of six McDonald's in and around Bossier City, Louisiana, is the president of WON Women Operators in McDonald's. They started e-mailing to get information out to one another on the needs that she was aware of in Louisiana.

We donated drinks, cups, ice, cookies, and toys to get the first shelter that was set up last night in Bossier City started. They had 70 people who showed up last night and are expecting to have 200 tonight.

We are adopting this shelter, and we are also going to see if people want to work so they can have their own money. This shelter is not recognized by the Red Cross, so they will not offer any assistance.

We are proud to be able to assist in any way we can. McDonald's is always there to help in every situation. I work for Susan, and I know she would never tell anyone what she does to create a warm, pleasant atmosphere for all of us to work in.

-Deb King

***

Thank you, our offices are OK. We have 30 restaurants affected, with 10 in very bad shape.

Our goal in Jackson, as restaurants gain power, is to first get food--primarily box lunches--to support agencies as they request it, then to serve the public.

One challenge is to get food to the restaurants. We first moved food from closed to open restaurants, then over ordered supplies. Our distributor, PFG, is doing a fantastic job, and all of our team--including office staff--is making sandwiches.

Another challenge has been to get payroll out, since the information is transmitted electronically. We do accounting for many franchisees, and we were concerned about getting money into the hands of the people most affected. The IT and accounting staff came up with some creative solutions, using internet dial-up. In one case, we are driving payroll checks, along with a food order for telephone linemen, to Hattiesburg, as our Guflport, Mississippi, franchisee drives up from the coast to pick up the checks.

We are managing through with a perspective of help any way we can. It is going to take a long time to recover, but I am very proud of our people as they respond to this challenge.

-Phil Friedman, McAlister's Deli

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.