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