AR-News: (U.S.) Beefing Up Bison Demand

Mary Finelli hello_itz_me at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 16 00:12:39 EDT 2003


BEEFING UP BISON DEMAND
Successful breeding and husbandry have created a surplus of bison meat.
Meat News, Oct. 14, 2003
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=6302


Media mogul Ted Turner's effort to restore the country's bison herds was 
such a success that it created a problem: a glut of bison meat, according to 
a New York Times article written by Geraldine Fabrikant and Stephanie Strom. 
Turner tried with limited success to cut the growing pile of bison through 
his restaurant chain, Ted's Montana Grill. Turner opened the first of the 
restaurants in 2002 and now has 11 of them in the south and west. Five 
operate in Atlanta, Georgia. Turner predicts 500 Ted’s Montana Grills with a 
combined income of at least one billion dollars.

Whether restaurants that serve bison burgers will ever be as successful as 
CNN is not clear, Fabrikant and Strom wrote. For Turner, a new fortune would 
come in handy, as he has lost billions by stubbornly holding his AOL Time 
Warner stock.

Turner, a noted philanthropist, believes the world is in imminent crisis and 
wants to save it; the Turner Foundation hands out "Save the Humans'' bumper 
stickers. So he is working to build another fortune with his restaurant 
chain. The grills are decorated with reproductions of Western paintings and 
photographs that hang in his ranch house, and the cuisine is derived from 
recipes handed over by his ranch cook. As he does with CNN, he likes to 
think that the quality of his product is superior. "These fries are hand cut 
every morning," he said, urging visitors to try a few. In keeping with his 
desire to protect the environment, napkins are fabric dish towels, not 
paper. But the straws are paper. "Do you know how hard it is to recycle a 
plastic straw?'' he asked.

He has poured about $30 million into the chain, and he makes a personal 
appearance at each restaurant opening, greeting customers at the door with a 
hearty handshake and a "Hi, I'm Ted," much as he used to glad hand at cable 
conventions. Clark Wolf, a restaurant consultant, said, "The restaurants 
have a better-than-average chance because showmanship is critical to the 
restaurant business, and Ted's got it." Still, Wolf added, "bison is a bit 
too exotic and not ingrained enough in the culture to make it evident it 
could be a mainstream chain." But, an optimistic Turner is certain the 
restaurants will work. And they fill a void that was left as his role in the 
cable business diminished.

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