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Friday, July 30, 2021

Will "ghost kitchens" do to restaurants what Amazon did to retail stores?

      We have adapted to our virtual world in ways that a few years ago would have seemed unimaginable.  Amazon has been a major disrupter for retail stores.  Think about how smartphones have changed how we organize our lives.  If you are not familiar with what a ghost kitchen is let me share some information.

     I had vaguely heard the term ghost kitchen but had no in-depth knowledge of the concept until one of my grandchildren had a "Mr. Beast" burger delivered when he was over at our house.  You may not have heard of Mr. Beast who is a YouTuber followed by boys in the 9-13 age range.  Don't even get into the whole YouTuber explanation.

     The pandemic has been a boom to home-delivered restaurant meals such as Door Dash.  Even ride services like Uber and Lyft are delivering meals from restaurants.  But even with the delivery of meals restaurants found that they underutilized their kitchens.  With the same overhead for rent, they looked at how they could develop new revenue sources.  Here is where ghost kitchens came in.  A ghost kitchen only exists in a virtual sense.  They have a website like a retail restaurant but you can only order a meal from them online and have it delivered to your home.  The meal is prepared at a real restaurant utilizing their underutilized resources.   Think of a Chinese restaurant making your burger or pizza that was delivered to you.  This is how my grandson got his Mr. Beast burger.  With millions of YouTube followers, he developed his Mr. Beast burger formula and found restaurants that would make his burger for delivery.  One of the restaurants in Columbia signed on with him to make his burger.  We didn't know which restaurant made my grandson's burger because it was ordered through Mr. Beast's website.  The reason why restaurants would sign on with Mr. Beast is that he has millions of followers.  Think of the potential of other celebrities who have millions of followers on Instagram or Facebook realizing this as a new potential source of making money and you can see where this could head.  But you can also see this as a way for someone who wants to start a restaurant but doesn't have the resources to open a retail restaurant. In the past, you might think of starting with a food truck or having a booth at a local event.  Now you can offer new business to restaurants if you can show how making your food brings them new revenue.

      The direction this may move-in is to centralized kitchens like the warehouses developed by Amazon that have the capacity to make many types of food for delivery.  Restaurant meals made this way might cost substantially less than what we now pay in retail restaurants.  This could even be the case with the cost of delivery.  You might think that you would miss going out with friends to your local restaurant? Why not invite them to your house or local park and have your food delivered quicker and cheaper than going to a restaurant that you have difficulty making a reservation for at a convenient time.

      If you think this is far-fetched just remember we would have thought the same thing about Amazon 15 years ago.  Virtual is replacing retail businesses quickly.  Keep your eye out to buy stock in the next Amazon.  It might be with the restaurant business.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Is Lamar Jackson still worth $40 million?

       Hearing that Baltimore Ravens quarterback has now tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time makes me wonder whether the team should invest that much money in someone whose lack of judgment on protecting himself and his teammates is deficient. Lamar is the most exciting athlete we have locally and I will still watch him to see his athletic talent.  I just will have to recognize he is still young and may not have the maturity he will hopefully gain as he grows a little older.


     I have never been one to hold up athletes or celebrities as role models (OK, maybe with Cal Ripken) and Lamar is another example to reinforce that reality.  Being famous doesn't require maturity in many cases.  Haven't we just lived through 4 years of that fact?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Support ending homelessness in Howard County


      Enjoy noteworthy cuisine & cocktails while supporting an end to homelessness. Cured/18th and 21st are supporting Bridges to Housing Stability on Thursday, July 29th! Cured and 18th & 21st will donate 10% of your order if you mention Bridges when dining in or ordering curbside pickup. Visit Cured/18th & 21st between 11 am – 9 pm on 7/29 and assist families & individuals experiencing homelessness & housing instability. Visit for more information on this fundraising event. 

Thank you for supporting Bridges’ mission, 


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Help low income Howard County students with school supplies


 The 2020-2021 school year was a challenge for everyone, including students and parents.  While we are approaching a new normal in Howard County, the impact of the pandemic will not quickly disappear for many families.  That is why the students are counting on you again this year. 


Do you remember the excitement and tension of the first day of the school year?  If you were fortunate, you had a new school outfit and brand-new school supplies.  Now overlay a Covid-19 pandemic that has changed so much for the educational lives of HCPSS students while exacerbating the pre-existing disparities and digital divides.


Prepare for Success, in formal partnership with the Howard County Public School System and the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC), is now in its 21st year.  PFS is literally facing its biggest challenge ever in terms of the number of students to be served.  Last year, your donation helped serve a record 3,700+ students.  This contrasts to 13,400 students - 22.5% of all HCPSS - who received federal funded school meals and rely on support services like ours.


The pandemic is receding in Howard County, but it is still making an impact for many.  Its emotional and economic scars on families and students may linger for years.  This year, more than ever, we all want students to return to the classroom Prepared for Success.


We are appealing to you again this year as a past, dependable supporter.  If you are in the position, please consider helping a few more students. As always, 100% of your contribution will go to the bulk purchase of school supplies. The options for donating are: 


Donate Online through CAC.  CLICK HERE to be taken to the Community Action Council donor form.  Please select us under "Donor Restriction"


Send a check payable to Community Action Council / PFS to:

     Community Action Council, 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive,                             Columbia, MD  21046 


The students need and welcome your continued support.


Roy and Susan Appletree, Co-Coordinators                                   


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

The new form that mass media is heading

   I have lived through a number of forms of mass media.  As a child, I saw the move from radio to television as the most popular form of mass media.  Many of the old radio programs had already made the move of their content from radio to television.  Television of the 1950s and early 1960s was limited to the three major networks--NBC, CBS, and ABC.  Starting in the mid-1960's cable television started to provide a new way to get clearer pictures to areas that had poor reception of the three major network programming.  As cable television grew new cable-only shows developed and the number of shows offered grew beyond the three major network shows.  Specialty cable networks developed for more narrow content viewers.  The Discovery Channel, the Food Channel, ESPN, and CNN were just a few of the cable channels that offered this specialty content.

     If you haven't noticed the days of cable viewing are numbered.  The new means of obtaining mass media is streaming services.  As internet-ready TVs become the norm more of our content will come through streaming apps rather than cable channels.  Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu started the trend away from cable for movies and other forms of mass media content.  The pandemic was a boom to this movement. Google TV, Apple TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV are drawing more people away from cable with their downloadable apps.  Not to be outdone many of the cable channels are seeing this trend and are wanting to stay in the new revenue stream by developing their own streaming services apps with a monthly charge--typically $4.95 a month.  NBC's Peacock, Disney+ and Discovery+ are the way that content that used to be obtained on cable is now being offered on an app with a monthly subscription fee.  You will be able to watch old programs through these streaming services by signing up for their $4.95 premium service.   We will soon exchange a flat monthly cable charge for multiple $4.95 charges for the premium streaming apps we choose. In the future, we may end up paying more for our premium streaming apps than we do for cable.  In a few years, we will look back at cable services the way we now look back at the old TVs with the rabbit ear antennas and three major networks of the 1950s.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Howard County's 2021 Restaurant Week

 With restaurants in Howard County opening for indoor dining, this year's Restaurant Week from July12-25th should give vaccinated residents another way to celebrate the reopening of our County.

Here is the list of restaurants participating this year:

Click here for restaurants and menus of Howard County venues taking part.


Friday, July 2, 2021

Just another day of visitors at the US Capitol?

   Yesterday we learned of the indictment against the criminal Trump organization.  The question of where that will all lead is an open issue but if you need evidence that Trump should be prosecuted for insurrection just watch this video story from the New York Times.