Friday, December 14, 2012

Papa Ricketts wants me to pay $20 for a hot dog.

I'm writing this post mainly because it is about something that is happening right across the street from where I work.

About 2 years ago, a restaurant opened in the commercial property across the street from my office building in Middleton, Wisconsin (near Madison).

This commercial area, named Greenway Station, is home to some rather upscale retailers and restaurants.  The restaurant's name was "Bison Jack's".  They sold bison dogs...basically hot dogs made out of leaner, healthier bison meat.

I never have eaten there, but I did walk into the place to see what they had to offer on time.  Since I wasn't in the mood for hot dogs, I took note of the place, and then ate somewhere else down the street.  They did offer other items (a burger, side dishes), but their menus at the front of the store really only showed hot dogs.

The hot dogs ranged in price from about $6 to $8.  The pictures on the menus looked really good...fully loaded dogs...Chicago style, New York style, Wisconsin style...for the most part, it seemed like a decent price.

Anyway, I discovered that "Bison Jack's" is owned by Joe Ricketts.  Yes...that Joe Ricketts.  The father of the 4 kids who own and run the Cubs.  As you probably know, the Cubs also sell bison dogs at Cubs games.

Today, on a local Madison new site, I came across this story:

Steep Price Hike at Bison Jacks

The price of the hot dogs at Bison Jack's has jumped to $20 according to this story.

Maybe the drought took its toll on the bison supplies this year.

Maybe inflation is to blame.

Given Papa Ricketts's $10 million campaign to try to oust Barack Obama from the White House, you have to wonder if this is some sort of overreaction to Obamacare or the such.  The timing for all this is just strange.  Not long after the election...shortly before major Obamacare provisions go into effect.  Likely tax increases on the wealthy starting in less than a month...and so on.

I'm not going to make this a political debate...

No one really knows what is going on.  Here are some quotes from the story:

“It’s a long drawn out story,” the manager said.
Asked whether the $20 menu items were a strange publicity stunt, he said, “I have no idea what is going on at all.”
An employee said he wasn’t sure why the prices were hiked. “It’s just a home office decision,” he said.
Asked why a hot dog would cost $20, he said, “Yep, they’re expensive.” Asked why they are so expensive, he replied, “They’re bison.”

Bison dogs cost only $5 or $6 at Wrigley.  Maybe they will jack the price up to $20 there too.

The main consensus is that the store will go out of business soon.  Many restaurants have struggled in this commercial property...likely because the rents are so high, but that's just speculation.  Not good for a business that planned to open 2 more locations in the Madison area, and they start to open restaurants all over the country.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, technically  Joe Ricketts owns the Cubs.  The kids are the trustees in charge of the team.  Nothing here probably affects the Cubs, but it seems to me that this family may not be the business savvy group that their fortune would lead us to believe.  The failed attempts at getting financing for a Wrigley Field rehab have pretty much been the Ricketts's fault.  They botched up the initial attempt by poor marketing and bad strategy.  The botched up their second attempt because daddy was acting all political.  I feel as if most other owners would have had a deal in place by now.

In the mean time, I think I might have to go across the street for lunch today and see what a $20 hot dog tastes like.