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Hubris Leads to Black Restaurateur’s Spectacular Failure

Washington, DC., New York, Chicago, San Fran, LA, and Dallas All host great restaurants – of which a half dozen or so compete on the World Stage of greats.You want to open a restaurant and claim it belongs you better be on the very, very, very top of your game. Legendary locations for exquisite cuisine include The French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea, or  Le Bernadin are world famous. The top 5, 10, or 50 list is hotly contested and changes from year to year. Per person seatings generally run from $80 to $300 before the wine tab.

In the Washington, DC area that list include perennial favorite, The Inn at Little Washington, as well as relative newcomers Minibar, Rasika, Komi, Fiola, and French traditional stalwart L’Auberge Chez Francois.

So when an upstart opens a new place with a price tag of $1,000 a seating, at 4 times the price of 2 of the highest Michelin rated restaurants in the US, you better be able to  produce something so spectacular, people faint at first tasting.

Alas… This foolish brother couldn’t “walk the walk”.

Just from a single guy standpoint, if I’m picking up a $2,000 tab – everything from the decor, ambiance, food, service, wine better be so good – my date hands me the room key to the Presidential Suite she paid for at the hotel…With the bottle of champagne!

I’m not paying 4 times the going rate for some of the very best restaurants in the world…For a place whose decor looks like “Early Howard Johnson’s”

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Shaw Bijou Dining Room @ $2,000 for 2

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The competition — The Inn at Little Washington Veranda Dining Room @ $300-$500 for 2

Shaw Bijou, one of D.C.’s most expensive restaurants, has closed after less than three months

Fail! Chef Kwame Onwuachi lost his debut restaurant after less than three months of business.

The Shaw Bijou closed today, and the owner says the blame for the restaurant’s two-and-a-half-month existence is shared among all the principals.

Kelly Gorsuch, the principal owner of Shaw Bijou, says he saw himself as a silent investor, providing the capital for first-timers chef Kwame Onwuachi and general manager Greg Vakiner to build and run the high-concept restaurant they had been planning for years. But in retrospect, Gorsuch says he should have pushed the duo more from the start.

He says that the restaurant’s pricey tasting-menu dinner wasn’t filling seats or covering costs. So on Sunday, Gorsuch called Onwuachi and Vakiner into a meeting and told them he was closing Shaw Bijou, effective immediately. Gorsuch and the other principal investor Glenn Paik could no longer afford to keep the place running.

Neither Onwuachi nor Vakiner could be reached for comment.

“[The restaurant] bled too much, at too much of a clip, to be able to salvage it,” says Gorsuch, the president of Gorsuch Holdings, a company that operates upscale salons and other luxury brands. “It just cost a lot of money. It was a very expensive business. I’ve never quite seen that in business at all. That was new for me. The numbers were staggering.”

The closing of Shaw Bijou, first reported by Washingtonian, brings an abrupt end to a restaurant that endured wild mood swings before it served a single meal. Even before appearing on “Top Chef,” where he finished sixth out of 17 contestants last year, Onwuachi was a hot commodity. He not only had a compelling back story, but he also had an impressive run with Dinner Lab, a series of pop-up dinners in which the chef consistently impressed diners. Onwuachi’s appearances on “Top Chef” only contributed to the buzz around the young cook, even though he had never run his own restaurant or managed a kitchen.

The hype took a turn in August when Onwuachi and his team announced the price tag of their 13-course tasting menu, which would take diners on a journey through a converted townhouse. It wasn’t long before Washingtonians realized that dinner for two at Shaw Bijou could top out at $1,000, immediately making it one of the most expensive restaurants in the city. Diners couldn’t understand how someone with such a thin resume could compete with the likes of José Andrés, Eric Ziebold and Aaron Silverman.

When Shaw Bijou opened on Nov. 1, the early reviews were mixed. In his First Bite review, The Post’s Tom Sietsema enjoyed several of his savory courses but found the desserts fell flat. More dispiriting, the critic realized that after dropping $500 per person on the meal, he was still hungry. Washingtonian gave the place two stars in a review that couldn’t make sense of the story that Onwuachi was trying to weave.

Two months into its existence, Shaw Bijou slashed its prices and its offerings: Onwuachi rolled out a seven-course, $95 tasting menu on Jan. 3. The chef also offered up a little humble pie. “Humility creeps up on you when least expected,” Onwuachi noted in a letter. “The opening of this restaurant has taught us just that.”

But Gorsuch says it was too little, too late.

“I think all business is difficult. You have to be able to move and change and adapt quickly, especially when you’re starting out,” Gorsuch says. “It wasn’t happening. It wasn’t where it needed to be.”

The owner says he had been trying for weeks to convince Onwuachi and Vakiner to change the concept, but he says he couldn’t convince them.

“I think the biggest problem here, from the get, was that we were not listening to the guests,” Gorsuch says. “We spent two years working on this thing . . . I don’t care what the industry is, you put your people first and you care about the guests and you care about the details. . . I mean, numbers can be tweaked. You can cut things, but you have to have those elements.”

Gorsuch says he had spent most of Sunday trying to find jobs for the servers, cooks and bartenders at Shaw Bijou. The owner wasn’t as concerned about the chef and general manager. The longtime friends, who first met while attending the Culinary Institute of America, will probably find a new home soon, Gorsuch says.

“They’ll be fine,” the owner says. Onwuachi “had tons of offers before us.”

Gorsuch says this experience has shaken him. He’s never closed a business before. “This is probably the roughest week I’ve ever had,” he says.

But more than that, Gorsuch is upset by the lost opportunity. He says he believed in the team behind Shaw Bijou. He thought they could have pulled off the concept with proper oversight.

“The game plan was always to be super innovative,” Gorsuch says. “For all the things we did wrong, the talent that was in that building was special.”

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in American Greed, Great American Rip-Off, Men

 

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From Rags to Riches…To Rags

Met Rodney the first time at a high-end luxury car dealership, where I was having the venerable sports car I owned at the time serviced. There are a group of guys living in the Va suburbs who love exotic sports cars, antique cars, and cars they have fixed up themselves from not so glorious names as Ferrari or McLaren, who uhhhh…kinda illegally race along some of the rural roads about 30 miles out from the City. On any Sunday morning you can find guys with anything from a new or aged Mustang up to a $3 million Bugatti raring to go down the curvy foothill roads.

I was looking at an Aston Martin DB9 (and looking is the operative word here,, as I couldn’t afford it, and two if I could I couldn’t see throwing that type of money on the floor for a car.) He was looking at a Mercedes McLaren – which got up in the million dollar range with markup. I knew of him from a cousin who raced a race prepped Lotus in that group. Rodney had made a lot of money on the Iraq War, supplying security personnel to guard Americans in the country. The most successful and infamous of the groups who did that was Blackhawk. Rodney’s company wasn’t too far behind.

He was there to buy a Mercedes McLaren SLS, which at that time was one of the 3 or 4 fastest cars  in the world at that time. In talking, it was fairly obvious he had no experience in that sort of car. He wanted to buy it basically to impress people. I suggested that driving that beast at anywhere near its capabilities took a driver with Formula One racing skills. At his request I went out on a test drive (the Dealership guy drove it, as I knew it was beyond my skills on any public street). The gearing in the car is set up for the track – not daily commuting. Coming out of second at 80 Mph with a top end over 200 Mph or better, with a 0-60 time in 3 seconds ain’t your mamma’s Honda. Suggested he buy the Mercedes SLS AMG, which is set up to operate on the streets and you could dial down the power. A  third to half of the price. About this time they brought out my aged toy from the early 70’s from service, and I left. No idea which he bought.

The neighborhood he built his house is in has several extremely wealthy luminaries. On is Steve Case, AOL founder. I grew up in the town the property is located in (a much, much poorer part). The property some years ago was part of the Bouvier estate (As in Jackie Kennedy).

Hunt is not in position anymore to pay either the mortgage (around $100,000 a month), or even the electric bill to keep this place lit.

Man who built a $24 million mansion along Potomac River loses battle to keep it

Rodney P. Hunt, a once-rich-but-now-bankrupt government contracting titan, is losing his beloved $24 million mansion turned party house on the banks of the Potomac River.

On Tuesday, an Arlington County judge granted possession of the home to a firm managed by Jeong Kim, a former president of Bell Labs and a co-owner of Verizon Center, the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals.

Kim’s company, 201 Chain Bridge LLC, bought the 20,000-square-foot property earlier this summer after it had been sold at a foreclosure auction. But Hunt, still in bankruptcy proceedings, resisted relinquishing his trophy home, claiming the foreclosure auction was illegitimate.

In a bizarre hearing at Arlington County General District Court, the former multimillionaire served as his own attorney. Hunt, 56, told Judge R. Frances O’Brien that another entity, Crown Properties LLC, was the real owner and agreed to lease the home back to him in May, a month before the house was auctioned. He said he was providing technology consulting to another firm, Legal Investment Group, which was paying his rent to Crown Properties.

Hunt’s sudden claims — he never discussed these companies in his pretrial defense filings or pretrial hearings — prompted Kim’s attorney, Leon Koutsouftikis, to question the authenticity of those firms.

“I think he’s committing a fraud in this court. It’s ridiculous,” Koutsouftikis told O’Brien.

“I have not committed a fraud in this court,” Hunt countered.

The judge was skeptical. “I think there are issues of credibility,” she said, before ruling in favor of Kim.

For years, Hunt has been beset by legal and financial problems. He founded RS Information Systems in 2003 and built it into one of the country’s most prominent black-owned government contracting firms. By 2006, he finished building his Mediterranean-style home, which boasts a basketball court, a 15-space underground parking garage and five bedrooms. It was once featured on “MTV Cribs” and was known on social media as #RHPmansion.

The home’s size and location — around the corner from tech entrepreneur Steve Case and down the street from the CIA — symbolized Hunt’s perch atop Washington’s hierarchy.

In 2007, the year he sold his IT contracting company to a California aerospace firm, Northern Virginia Magazine estimated his net worth at $265 million.

But soon, Hunt began piling up astronomical debts. By 2012, Bank of America said Hunt had defaulted on a $9.4 million loan on the mansion. Court records also showed that he racked up more than $10 million on unpaid loans and shoddy business deals.

Last year Hunt filed for bankruptcy, citing debts between $10 million and $50 million. One creditor, a Texas woman, alleges in his bankruptcy court documents that Hunt raped her in July 2009 at a Houston hotel and owes her more than $600,000 in court-ordered judgments stemming from a settlement in a civil suit she had filed against him. Hunt has denied the assault accusations in court, saying the woman was trying to extort money from him so that eventually he would settle to avoid tainting his reputation.

On June 16, Hunt’s mansion was sold in one of the largest foreclosure sales in the region’s history, for $7.3 million to an entity called GREI LLC, whose managing member is Alasgar Farhadov, a Realtor in Northern Virginia. Then, in July, Farhadov transferred his company’s interest in the house to 201 Chain Bridge LLC, the firm managed by Kim.

Hunt has been living on the property “on and off” since July, according to his close friend and business associate Danny Jones.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in American Greed

 

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Thanks, Dad! Trump Name Becomes Toxic Even for His Kids

The Chumph has not only killed his Hotel business…He’s killing his daughter’s business too!

Ivanka Trump (Photo: Instagram)

Fewer than 1 in 4 women would buy clothes from Ivanka Trump after her father’s toxic campaign

Donald Trump’s name is so toxic that it has harmed his own businesses or hotelsfor whom he has leased his name. But now that Trump name is beginning to have a huge impact on the rest of the family.

Just last month, the social media app FourSquare revealed data showing the decrease in foot traffic at Trump-named properties. The numbers were even lower for women, who are avoiding Trump brands in larger numbers.

This weekend, Raw Story explained how one woman’s boycott of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and accessories has promoted other woman to respond in kind.

But that boycott has been turned into actual numbers. According to a Fortune report, fewer than one in four women would buy anything from Ivanka Trump’s brand. It’s unclear whether the boycott was the culprit or the bad press over the last year, but women don’t want Trump, whether for president or to wear on their bodies.

The national survey asked 1,983 voters if they would consider purchasing clothing from a Trump line and 57 percent said they would not. Only 23 percent said that they would with the remainder saying they weren’t sure. Those numbers are even worse when looking at a partisan breakdown. An overwhelming 75 percent of Democratic women refuse to buy the GOP candidate’s daughter’s products. Only 11 percent said they would.

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Chumph Butt Kicking

 

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Gasp! “A Taco Truck on Every Corner!”

Last I checked, one of the things folks brag about in this country is entrepreneurship. The country was built on people’s desire and pure moxie to start businesses in good times and bad, and while the majority of those businesses failed – some didn’t. Whether that business was a Mom and Pop store on the corner – or became a multi-billion dollar enterprise the point is that folks worked and scraped and saved and sometimes overcame tremendous challenges. They employ 6 out of every 10 people in this country as small businesses.

Now we have a Trumpazoid who wants to claim that starting a business is bad…Simply because the person starting it s brown.

Last time I checked, it takes quite an investment to start a Food Truck business. The low end on starting that business is about $50,000. Fancy, high end trucks with refrigeration and generators can reach over $200,000. To claim that someone is willing to come over our border illegally, invest $50 or $100,000 in an American Made Truck (likely used), American made stoves, refrigeration, and generator…Pay the business taxes and license fees to an American city or town, submit to health inspections (all generating American jobs)…And then risk it all on business in a roadside location doesn’t sound to me like a losing proposition for America.

Indeed we would be better off encouraging these folks to come here…

And deport the welfare sucking, meth/heroin addicted, white trash trump scum who do nothing for this country….and their jinete de césped.

 

 
 

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Businesses Voting With Their Feet to Leave Republican States

The only thing worse than Republican Stone Age fundamentalist social hate…Is the failed Republican economic beliefs trashing their states and forever leaving them on the tail end of economic development.

Unable to locally hire educated and qualified staff, unable to get qualified people who want to move there, and burdened by hateful conservative social laws and tax cuts for the rich destroying everything from the quality of life through the ability for children to get an education companies are increasingly fleeing the red states.

‘Resign in shame’: Fed-up Kansas CEO flees GOP governor’s disastrous reign

A Tech CEO blamed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his ultra-conservative policies for his decision to move his company — and its jobs — to another state.

“It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas,” said Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations.

Blackwood, whose privately held company provides software to autism therapy centers, wrote a blistering attack of Brownback and the Republican-dominated legislature — which he said had destroyed the state’s economy with failed conservative policies.

“Kansas has become a test center of ‘trickle down’ economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years,” Blackwood wrote in a personal post on the company’s blog. “Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations — and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.”

The CEO blasted an unprecedented tax cut enacted in 2012, which Brownback promised would be a “shot of adrenaline” to the state’s economy, but instead has cost Kansas jobs, revenue and its bond rating.

Kansas has faced budget shortfalls in 11 of the past 12 months, and its economy shrank in three of four quarters last year.

Blackwood ripped the governor for placing the burden for his mistakes on children and the developmentally disabled with cuts to education and social services.

“You’ll hear claims from Kansas officials that funding to education is at an all time high, but it’s just an accounting trick – they chose to shuffle money for special education and retirement funds through the schools so it could appear as an increase on the books,” Blackwood said.

The Republican legislature had instead focused on freezing teacher salaries, pursuing funding cuts later ruled unconstitutional and laws calling for teachers to be imprisoned for introducing “offensive” content, Blackwood said.

He accused Brownback and his GOP “cronies” of intentionally undermining public education and diverting taxpayer funds — and students — to private and religious schools.

“In the end, I believe the goals of the Brownback administration are going exactly to plan — starve the state of resources to the point where it just makes sense to turn over critical government functions to for-profit entities,” Blackwood said.

The CEO accused Brownback of turning the state’s Medicaid program, KanCare, into a cash cow for three insurance companies — which he said forced pregnant women to wait months for care and kept health care providers from being paid for their service.

Blackwood blamed the governor’s policies for the murder of a 61-year-old man by a patient improperly released from an underfunded mental health care facility and the rape of a worker at another hospital.

“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored,” Blackwood said.

Blackwood said his decision to move Pathfinder Health Innovations, which is adding new jobs, to Kansas City, Missouri, was a matter of conscience — and a decision he hoped other business leaders would emulate.

“I believe that it is the responsibility of business owners and people with some voice in society should speak up against these destructive policies,” Blackwood said. “And I believe it is far past the time that Sam Brownback and his cronies admit the damage they’ve caused to the people of Kansas and resign in the shame they deserve.”

 

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How Republicans Have Derailed the New South’s Emergence

North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the Charlotte/Cary area are hotspots for tech an other development. The US Government supplies over $1.5 billion a year in research grants to the state’s public universities, money that has helped drive the growth of the Universities in the state from decidedly mediocre to competitive powerhouses. This has spurred massive growth, as the combination of a realistic cost of living, easy access to recreational activities in the mountains and shore, as well a good school systems have individualized both corporations and employees to flock to the state.

Unfortunately, like Virginia, the back woods redneck religious bigots haven’t quite dissipated yet, and with the election of a Republican majority in the state house – pushing extremist social conservatism which is an anathema to the high-tech and banking industries.That growth roll may be in for a screeching halt.

You want to keep that growing Gov McCrory, you need to cut the “Culture War” bullshit fast.

The fact is, major corporations don’t give a shit about Republican tax breaks, they do about being able to attract the best and brightest as employees, and having a stable government  which isn’t going to do something stupid to hurt their business. They need good schools, which are producing students in the fields that relate to their businesses, who are willing to stay in-state after they graduate. (As an example, the collapse of what was once referred to as “Silicon Valley East” here in northern Virginia, was in good part due to the major University in the area being taken over by conservative donors. The school produces Economists and right wing Federalist Lawyers – but not STEM Graduates needed by the local industries to grow, or to establish the sort of incubators which create the next Google. Instead we have the Antonin Scalia Law School, which is fornicating useless, both as the symbol of higher education in the fields in demand, as well as in attracting students that want to be in a top program in the Sciences, Engineering, or technology.)

They want to be able to attract experienced workers and executives. To get those people, the potential employees need to feel comfortable moving their families into the State. The sort of “Culture Wars” and racism being promulgated by the right, destroys that.

This isn’t just an issue about Transgender people, it is an issue about the future viability of the State as a business center.

Back during the South Carolina confederate flag imbroglio, one of my clients was a foreign auto company looking to put a plant there. Took one of the Senior Staff folks down there behind the proverbial woodshed, and explained to him that foreign companies, unlike their US counterparts are not willing to go into an environment where discrimination and harassment lawsuits chew up 10-15% of their profits. And as such, were looking for a place which supported a harmonious workforce, over cheap rent. The differential between labor costs between Detroit and Charleston disappears really fast paying lawyers at $500/hr over racial bullshit. They got that message apparently from more than one prospective company. American companies have finally started to get a clue about this as well.

Too bad the white winger Tea Baggers haven’t.

This isn’t just an issue about Transgender people, it is an issue about the future viability of the State as a business center.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AND THE END OF THE NEW SOUTH

Monday, two North Carolinians squared off over the state’s controversial House Bill 2, which requires transgender people to use the bathroom matching their “biological sex” in public schools and government buildings and invalidates local laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. Both Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina, and Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, grew up partly in Greensboro, a site of anti-segregation sit-ins in 1960, and Lynch recalled that history by comparing H.B. 2 to Jim Crow laws. “Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight,” she said, as she announced that the Department of Justice is suing North Carolina, claiming that H.B. 2 violates federal laws forbidding sex discrimination.

Earlier that day, McCrory’s office had filed its own federal lawsuit, which attempted to protect the state from federal anti-discrimination action against H.B. 2. “North Carolina does not treat transgender employees differently,” according to the lawsuit. “All state employees are required to use the bathroom and changing facilities assigned to persons of their same biological sex, regardless of gender identity, or transgendered status.” Such bland assertions of neutrality have an infamous place in the law. Before the Supreme Court established a right to same-sex marriage, in 2015, North Carolina forbade gay and straight alike to wed members of the same sex. Before the Court invalidated laws against racial intermarriage, in 1967’s Loving v. Virginia, the state forbade both black and white people to marry someone of the other race. All these laws were defended on the grounds that they treated everyone alike. So, for that matter, were the original Jim Crow segregation laws. In 1896, upholding separate-but-equal accommodations, the Supreme Court held that, if “the enforced separation of the races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority,” this was “solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction on it.”

McCrory’s suit looks more like political theatre than a serious attempt to preserve H.B. 2. On April 19th, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina, adopted the Obama Administration’s interpretation of federal sex-discrimination law to invalidate a local school-board policy that assigned students to bathrooms by “biological genders.” The court accepted the federal government’s argument that the prohibition on sex discrimination in Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and that “biological” bathroom assignments are just this sort of discrimination. (The Fourth Circuit reported that, in public hearings on school-bathroom assignments, the plaintiff in the case, a transgender boy, had been called a “freak” and “compared to a person who thinks he is a ‘dog’ and wants to urinate on fire hydrants.”)

That McCrory would seek out this wrong-side-of-history position reveals a lot about the fractured and desperate state of the Republican Party. The governor took office in 2013 as the consummate country-club Republican. He had spent fourteen years as the mayor of Charlotte, a banking capital, where he presided over robust growth and—unusual in the South—the construction of a light-rail system. He was a candidate in the “New South” tradition, a political manner that is also a development strategy. In the sixties, as other parts of the white South dug in against desegregation, North Carolina’s politicians found a different formula: accept the national consensus on civil rights and attract employers with low wages, weak unions, and business-friendly laws. The state’s population more than doubled between 1960 and 2010, as a formerly rural, agricultural state developed national centers of technology and finance. The previous New South governors were Democrats, but many saw McCrory as their natural successor in a state that narrowly supported Barack Obama in 2008 but in 2010 handed control of the legislature to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

Since taking office, McCrory has mostly been back on his heels as a Tea Party legislature, installed with decisive support from the activist donor Art Pope (whom Jane Mayer wrote about in 2011), has set the state’s agenda. McCrory has signed laws restricting abortion access, cutting back on early voting and requiring voter identification, slashing unemployment benefits, and repealing the state’s Racial Justice Act, which commuted the death penalty for people sentenced in racially inequitable jurisdictions. North Carolina is one of nineteen states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (and the fourth-largest, after Texas, Florida, and Georgia). The advocacy group Families USA estimates that 593,000 North Carolina residents lack health insurance because of the state’s refusal.

The Tea Party has shared McCrory’s deregulatory, tax-cutting economic agenda, but it has led with culture-war issues. The year McCrory won the governorship, the legislature put forward a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which passed with sixty per cent of the vote. This blend of tactics defined most state-level Republican parties in the Obama years, when the Republicans took power in statehouses across the country, and McCrory seems to have made his peace with it. Polls showed him lagging in a tight reëlection race when he called North Carolina’s part-time legislature into emergency session in late March. Both houses passed H.B. 2 on March 23rd, and McCrory signed it that night. The only local anti-discrimination statute that it overrode was one passed a month before in Charlotte, where McCrory had served seven terms as mayor.

Now the New South elements of McCrory’s governing style are falling to pieces. H.B. 2 may have seemed an ordinary measure of culture-war politics when the governor signed it, but the consensus position on L.G.B.T.Q. rights has changed so fast that it may secure his place as the Orval Faubus of public bathrooms. McCrory’s Democratic opponent, Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general, who has announced that his office will not defend H.B. 2 against legal challenge, has led McCrory in every poll since the law was passed. Since H.B. 2 became law, PayPal and Deutsche Bank have scrapped expansion plans for North Carolina, the N.B.A. and N.C.A.A. have suggested that they may not hold future events in the state, and a caravan of entertainers have cancelled shows, including Bruce Springsteen and Cirque du Soleil. New South governors measure themselves by the investments they attract. When the cultural divisiveness of Tea Party politics drives out business and entertainment, it becomes New South kryptonite….More Here
 

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With Trump…Even the Wine is Fake

At the Infomercial which passed for a victory speech Tuesday Night after winning in Michigan, Trump hawked his supposed “successes” in business.

A group of products which largely already failed, including “Trump Steaks” which went out of business, “Trump Magazine” which published only 8 issues before folding, Trump Vodka – which failed in 2007, and “Trump Water” which has never been sold commercially.

Lastly was Trump Wine – an overpriced mediocre vintage, which in terms of acreage is one of the larger Vineyards in Virginia…But in sales, doesn’t scratch the Top 5, although it does in volume produced. That means a lot of overpriced, bad wine siting on shelves. The wine has never scored above the low 80’s in any of the industry ratings like Wine Spectator, which puts it at $20-40 a bottle in the category of expensive cooking wine. To those unaware, Virginia has a long and storied history in wine production, and now, after some fits and false starts early on in re-establishing the industry in the state – now produces high quality wines competitive with those from California and Washington. Trump Vineyards best vintage, their bubbly Rose wines don’t carry Trumps name at all, but that of the founder, Patricia Kluge.

I mean…Can you imagine the President of the United States giving a speech to the United Nations…And hawking Trump Blenders in the middle of the speech to the collected world leaders?

Trump Swill…Turns out the Winery claims no relationship whatsoever to Donald Trump other than name.

Trump Wine Is Built on Acres of Lies

While Donald Trump may be famous for his litany of ridiculous boasts and exaggerations, his latest claim to be a top winery owner—made during his speech after the Detroit and Mississippi primaries—may be one of his most laughable.

It’s certainly a perfect example of how The Donald seamlessly mixes truth with fiction to form a narrative that manages to sound plausible when delivered in 30-second sound bites.

Despite begging the assembled media to fact check his statement about the financials of Trump Winery (what else would he call it?), Trump still made a few major mistakes in his description of the establishment.

For one, he claimed the vineyard was “close to 2,000 acres,” while in fact Trump Winery’s own website states that it’s a 1,300- acre estate. And, no, the establishment is not located next to the “Thomas Jefferson Memorial.”

We will assume Trump was talking about Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home (not the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.), which is actually several miles from his winery.

His most grandiose claim was that Trump Winery was the “largest winery on the East Coast.”

His 200 planted acres certainly make the winery sizable and the largest one in Virginia by property size. But when discussing the size of a wine or spirits brand, the yardstick is typically case sales, not acreage. (Would you measure an automaker’s size by the square footage of its plant or how many cars it sells?)

One reason for this is the size of the vineyard may not matter given that many wineries buy grapes instead of growing them. “The largest vineyard in Virginia? Maybe. The largest producer? No,” says Jerald O’Kennard the director of the Beverage Testing Institute, which reviews wines and runs wine competitions. “It’s just semantics.”

According to the Virginia Wine Board, Trump Winery is in fact not even the state’s top producer by volume—it falls in the top five. The state’s largest producers are Williamsburg Winery and Chateau Morrisette, which readily admits to buying grapes from a network of Virginia growers.

Trump also failed to give an accurate history of the vineyard. During the press conference he said that media mogul John Kluge, “built one of the great vineyards of all time.”

As it turns out, it was really Kluge’s ex-wife, Patricia, who started the vineyard. You might excuse the mistake except that Patricia stayed on to make the wine after Trump bought the property.

It’s also hard to imagine why Trump would bring up his winery as an example of his business acumen given how well his eponymous vodka worked out.

In 2006, to great fanfare, he introduced Trump Vodka (what else would he call it?) in a statuesque bottle with a garish gold label designed by famed graphic designed Milton Glaser.

The launch party, according to New York Magazine, was emceed by rapper Busta Rhymes and, as you can imagine, featured a mix of hired models and “a bunch of middle-aged, slightly overweight white guys.”

Trump was characteristically optimistic about the brand, forecasting that his version of the classic vodka tonic, the Trump & tonic would be a huge hit. The closure of the brand in 2011 was quite a bit less glamorous, with the vodka quietly disappearing from store and bar shelves.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in The Clown Bus

 

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