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Rednecks, Bushwackers and beautiful, busty blondes


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Had I known before we booked our winter vacation that the Gulf Shores region of Alabama is called “The Redneck Riviera,” I may not have agreed to go to Kiva Dunes Golf Resort. And I would have missed both a cover story opportunity and a fun time. The label doesn’t do the area justice. Yes, it lacks the sophistication of the French Riviera, but its beaches are lovely and the people colorful and friendly. “Rednecks” tend to twang their words, but when talking to the natives, I found myself reverting to my version of a Southern accent picked up from a three-year visit to Arkansas as an Air Force brat.

Because of a snafu with last month’s deadline, my husband, Ed, went down a couple of days before me for our annual golf vacation. The first night there, he called, laughing. He had gone to the local watering hole, and was just about to pony up for his round of drinks at the bar, when he was informed the bar was closing for the evening. It was 7:30 (p.m., not a.m.). Good thing our golf reservations for the rest of the week were early in the day so we could still make dinner at 4 p.m.

Ed and I spent quite a bit of time at Tacky Jacks, the subject of this month’s cover story. Writers are always hungry for a good story, and I am no exception. I ate my fair share of research and even had a couple of the chain’s signature drink, Bushwackers, a grown-up milkshake decorated with plastic baby Jesuses in honor of Mardi Gras. (That’s where the “tacky” in the name must have come from.)

One evening at the bar, we ran into two cops from Indianapolis, and they regaled us with stories about stupid crooks from their days on the force. There was the mugger who became confused and identified his victim as she sat with two plain-clothed cops in what must have appeared to be a line-up to him, and a juror who checked out of the proceedings and thought his co-juror was passing him a love note instead of exhibit  “A.”

So there you go. In one short story I’ve managed to roughly tie together both of our focuses this month: up-and-coming restaurant chains and legal experts. Although we’re sure none of our Legal Eagle litigators would ever lose a jury’s attention—they’re talking about franchising!

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Speaking of which, our Franchise Finance Conference in Las Vegas was especially good this year. Attendees received an abundance of advice, contacts and best practices, and I was able to reconnect with old friends and talk to people I’ve known forever professionally, but never really knew much of their back story.

Paul Pickett of Wild Birds Unlimited and I agreed to walk over to a dinner party at Bouchon one of the evenings. The only trouble was when we met in the lobby, neither of us had the invitation, nor remembered the name of the restaurant. I left Paul to be entertained by restaurant reporter Jonathan Maze, as I ran upstairs to look for the invitation. I couldn’t find the version I had printed out, nor the email from the hosts inviting me. Thankfully the name came to me, or I would have had another dinner to add to my expense report.

When Paul spotted one of the sponsors of the dinner, it reminded him of the first time he had met her. As a kid he went to a hockey game with his father, a special treat made even more so because Derek Sanderson of the Boston Bruins was playing and they had the sports equivalent of backstage passes. After the game, Paul waited at the locker room door to meet his hero. When Sanderson and a “beautiful, busty blonde” appeared, Paul ran up to him and asked for an autograph, gushing about how his brother had been named after the hockey great. Sanderson kept walking until his stately companion slapped him on the arm and said, “Give the kid an autograph, Derek.”

Rhonda Sanderson rolled her eyes when Paul told the PR maven about the encounter. Apparently it was an all too frequent occurrence in her former life as Mrs. Derek Sanderson. “He was such a ...(jerk),” she said.
 

Executive Editor
Nancy can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com

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Interviewing attorney Matt Kreutzer on his love of movies reminded me of the days when I was a movie reviewer for The Daily Californian. All the staff shared the responsibility.  And although I was an unlikely candidate, I ended up with most of the passes because I didn’t mind working nights. The irony was the only movies I ever saw were on the passes. My husband is not a huge movie attendee, although he denies it. His children say he likes to go to movies unless it’s sunny out, raining, after 6 p.m. or during the day. (And if you’re starting to feel sorry for Ed, please note he has his own sense of retaliating humor. He just doesn’t have a column.)

I took my movie-reviewing responsibilities seriously. I alternated the second pass among the three kids, trying to match age-appropriate films with each of them. I took the oldest, Sarah, to see a French film, “The Bear,” only to find out it was really about a bear.

My daughter Becca was around 9 when it was her turn to accompany me. The movie was “Blind Fury,” in which a war vet, blinded in the service of his country, returned home to use the sword concealed in his white cane to cause serious injuries to bad guys. It was a rather graphic movie, and Becca spent most of the time with her face in my armpit as I tried to shield her from the violence on the screen. It never occurred to me to walk out on the movie. I was working, after all. And, sadly, it never occurred to me to read up on the movie first. I  must have thought “Blind Fury” was a remake of the film I’d seen as a child about a big black horse, only now he was blind.  

It’s that kind of naiveté that made me do so much research in Gulf Shores—plus playing golf gives you an appetite.

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