The new Food Depot to be 'semikosher'Carl Verstandig has...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

June 08, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

The new Food Depot to be 'semikosher'

Carl Verstandig has come up with a Solomonic solution to a very Orthodox business dilemma.

The Baltimore retail entrepreneur is opening a grocery business on the site of the old Kash & Karry grocery in the Falstaff Shopping Center on Reisterstown Road, in a neighborhood heavily populated by observant Jews. But he hopes to draw from a much more diverse customer base.

So Mr. Verstandig plans a "semikosher" grocery called Food Depot, which will open June 15 on the site. The store, which will be expanded from Kash & Karry's 18,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet, will be open daily. It will stock some kosher foods but mostly conventional food items.

Meanwhile, he's building a 2,500-square-foot all-kosher Food Stop minimart in a corner of the same shopping center. The minimart will close Friday nights and Saturdays in observance of the Sabbath.

The kosher Food Stop will join a chain of 17 conventional Food Stop minimarts owned by Mr. Verstandig.

'Choiceasaurus' plugs hotel chain

Just when you were afraid that the world was about to run out of hyper-cute dinosaurs, Choice Hotels International has excavated yet another lovable lizard.

The Silver Spring-based hotel chain has trotted out Choiceasaurus, a cuddly cross between a stegosaurus and a suitcase.

Choiceasaurus, an animated, remote-controlled puppet about the size of a Great Dane, is appearing in several commercials for Choice's Comfort, Quality, Clarion and Sleep inns.

A Choice spokeswoman, Betsy Bromberg O'Rourke, says the Choiceasaurus is an attempt to hitch a ride on the popularity of such dinosaurs as Barney and the gang at Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park."

"Everywhere you look, there are dinosaurs," she said. "And kids love dinosaurs."

Choice also has manufactured 1 million Choiceasaurus masks as gifts for children who stay at its hotels. "We believe we can influence family decisions if children are appealed to," Ms. O'Rourke said. There also will be Choiceasaurus beach towels and a $1 million Choiceasaurus sweepstakes.

The Choiceasaurus was created by Gray Kirk VanSant, the Baltimore ad agency. The television ads were directed by Dean Cundey, who worked with Mr. Spielberg on "Jurassic Park."

Although it will play a central role in Choice's marketing efforts, the Choiceasaurus will not become the corporate spokes-reptile.

"The dinosaur does not speak a language, except perhaps dinosaur noise. It's kind of a fun grunt," Ms. O'Rourke said.

And for parents everywhere, Ms. O'Rourke had some words of reassurance: "It will not sing," she said. "I promise."

Apples from Giant rolling into schools

Giant Food Inc. says its 1992-1993 "Apples For the Students PLUS" campaign has borne fruit: 10,000 computers and related equipment for schools in the neighborhoods it serves.

The program provided 5,000 more pieces of educational equipment to the schools. Under the program, students and parents collect register tapes that can be turned in to the schools for credit toward buying such equipment.

Giant says that since the first Apples For the Students program was launched in 1989, it has given away more than 60,000 computers and other items to public, private and parochial schools.

Your ugliest tie may become work of art

Eclectic Men's Furnishings, a store at the Gallery at Harborplace, would like to "borrow" one of your ties -- maybe that neon-green one with a sequin-studded picture of a Las Vegas showgirl.

The store will be collecting "ugly" ties between now and Father's Day (June 20) in an effort to create a thing of beauty. Kelly Cobb, a student of the Maryland Institute of Art, has been commissioned to create a "tie sculpture" that will be displayed at the institute and at Eclectic this summer.

Eclectic will give a 25 percent discount on a new, presumably more presentable, tie to any customer who brings in a tie that the owner -- or perhaps the owner's spouse -- considers ugly.

More than 200 examples of reprehensible neckwear have already been collected.

Survey shows diners are more demanding

Any restaurateur can tell you that diners are more demanding these days. MasterCard International can tell you just how demanding.

The credit card company has released a Yankelovic Partners Inc. survey showing that restaurant patrons' expectations have jumped since last year.

When patrons were asked whether they had a right to be seated elsewhere if they didn't like their table, 91 percent said yes, up from 75 percent last year. Diners were more hesitant to ask for a different waiter or waitress -- only 48 percent claimed that right, up from 31 percent in 1992.

The survey also asked for restaurant patrons' pet peeves. Improperly handled reservations led the list, with 32 percent of diners mentioning lost reservations and 31 percent citing tables that weren't ready on time.

Offensive waiters and waitresses accounted for several pet peeves, including unfamiliarity with the menu (named by 29 percent), refusing to provide separate checks (26 percent) and reciting specials aloud (26 percent).

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