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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Banning Fast Food Restaurants

My wife and I went to a new restaurant over the weekend. Bobby’s Burger Palace was just opened on Long Island by Food Network chef superstar Bobby Flay.

Flay told Newsday recently: “Chefs have funny dreams. They may have a couple of four-star restaurants, but they fantasize about opening up a hotdog stand. A lot of them think that it's too late, that they're beyond that, but for me, it's the opposite: Now that I've gotten to this point, I can do the thing I crave the most - which is a cheeseburger, fries and a shake.”

Good for him. By the way, the food was great, including unusual topping combinations on burgers that melded perfectly, a spicy/smoky dipping sauce for fries, and delicious shakes.

I’m sure many other entrepreneurial chefs have similar dreams.

Well, one place they might not be able to fulfill those dreams is a 32-square-mile chunk of Los Angeles, California, if L.A. city council member Jan Perry gets her way. As reported in the July 22 Wall Street Journal (“Exiling the Happy Meal” by Sarah McBride), Perry would ban any more fast food restaurants in this area in a crusade to bring down obesity rates.

The Journal noted: “While most local legislation applies to chain restaurants, typically defined as restaurants with more than 10 or 15 branches in the area or state, the ordinance in Los Angeles specifically targets fast food. It defines fast food as having characteristics including ‘a limited menu’ and ‘food served in disposable wrapping or containers.’”

The city council has yet to vote on the ban, but, according to the story, other cities have called “asking for copies of the ordinance.”

This is another outrageous example of the “Nanny State” at work at the local level of government. Is it really government’s job to deny various small business owners or franchisees the right to do business, while also trying to force menu selections on consumers. Is this America or the old Soviet Union?

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