Archive for July, 2008

$1.50 Slices at Cheesecake Factory Today Only

Cheesecake Factory cheesecake sliceI know this posting comes a bit late in the day, but if you can make it out to a Cheesecake Factory before close of business today, you can get a slice of cheesecake for only $1.50.

The restaurant is celebrating its 30th anniversary today, which also happens to be “National Cheesecake Day” (who knew??) by rolling back the prices to what they were in 1978 when the first restaurant opened. There is a limit of one per customer and you have to dine-in, but who can turn down a yummy slice of cheesecake for under $2?

Orlando-area locations can be found at the Mall at Millenia and at Winter Park Village. For other central Florida locations or a list of cheesecake flavors available (including the new chocolate cake cheesecake unveiled for the anniversary celebration), visit thecheesecakefactory.com.

I think I’m headed out to grab a slice of the Tiramisu cheesecake. ;)

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Sentinel Redesign Interview

Confused by the Orlando Sentinel’s new redesign? Elated? So upset that each morning you suck down a shot of vodka then douse the paper in urine and set it aflame?

Orlando Arts Blog has an interview with Bonita Burton, the design editor who spearheaded the change.

One tip: If you are in fact doing that urine/fire bit every morning, TELL NO ONE. Ever.

Orlando Property Taxes Could Increase

Dyer is reported as proposing an increase in property taxes and a cutting of the city’s budget in several areas. We obviously know about county based cuts all over Florida and I have seen other reports of plans of increasing property taxes to cover the state property tax reductions. So if we have to cut services, and have property taxes raised on the city/county level… what good did increasing the homestead exemption do us? We are having to pay those taxes anyhow, except now we have reduced services. Is it too late to stop Crist’s horribly misguided plan in the courts? Are we destined to suffer his idiocy while he points his sites on DC and higher office?

Orlando Sentinel Cutting Staff

Speaking of the Orlando Sentinel, the past few weeks I’ve heard rumblings of an upcoming round of lay-offs at the newly redesigned paper. It appears this is the week the axe has fallen.

Orlando Sentinel Cutting StaffTwo area blogs were pointed out to me by a reader that I think anyone interested in this round of developments might want to check out. The first is Sentinel Watch, run by a previous employee; the other is The Amazing Shrinking Orlando Sentinel. Both are running lists and keeping tabs on who is being given the axe under the direction new Tribune owner Sam Zell is taking the company (the OS is part of the company). For those not familiar with the name, Zell is a real estate financier who took on an $8.2 billion debt when he bought the company last December. Since then, he’s been in the process of streamlining and selling off parts of the empire in an effort to make it profitable for him.

Strangely enough, even though people are leaving, pr for the OS seem to be denying its happening…even as recently as in an article in yesterday’s industry publication Editor and Publisher.

From that article:

As many as 20 of the paper’s approximately 250-person news staff were informed Wednesday that they would leave the paper, including several who chose to depart with a severance package. Other cuts are expected to be done before the end of July…

Editor Charlotte Hall declined to comment on the situation, referring inquiries to Lisa Jacobsen, a human resources and communications consultant, who told E&P no cutbacks are planned “at this time.” She also stated that the paper does not discuss employment status, adding that there is “a lot of misinformation out there. Nothing is happening, and nothing is planned.”

And unfortunately, it’s not just the OS — all of Zell’s papers are being trimmed of staff. The blog Tell Zell is even keeping a running tab in their blog column.

So what is actually going on over at the OS? Why are they going through the motions of denying everything if it is indeed happening? With the economy the way it is, I’m not entirely surprised at this employee streamlining, but I am surprised some really good writers have been given pink slips.

If any of you have any insider info, feel free to post it in comments. But it certainly doesn’t seem like a good week to write for local newspapers.

Starbucks to Close 13 Locations in Central Florida

Hold on to your stir sticks, folks…the first round of Starbucks closures has been announced for Orlando and Central Florida.

Starbucks logoThe Orlando Sentinel reports that thirteen area stores are soon to be shuttered as part of the coffee chain’s previously announced plan to close 600 stores across the country. Exact locations have also been confirmed by Starbucks on their own website, and they include stores inside Fashion Square Mall, Altamonte Mall, Sanford’s Seminole Towne Center, Oviedo Marketplace, West Oaks Mall and Winter Park Village. Several more stores may face the chopping block before the end of the year.

I personally am not a fan of Starbucks, but what does that say about our economy when people are no longer willing to shell out $4 for coffee drinks on a daily basis?

Of course, you can still patronize local coffee shops around town and keep the cash flowing in our own financial ecosystem.

So, questions of the day…does it matter to you that Starbucks is closing stores? And while we’re talking coffee, where do you like to get your daily fix of caffeine around Orlando?

Travel Channel Airs New Sam Brown in O-Town

Samantha Brown Passport to Great Weekends in Orlando [photo: The Travel Channel]Anyone who watches the Travel Channel on a regular basis knows who Samantha Brown is. Her “Passport to…” series generally gives a half-hour snapshot of a given locale with her visiting a cross-section of hotspots, tourist “must-sees” and the like.

Well, in February, Brown visited Orlando for a new show, called “Passport to Great Weekends.” The results of her visit aired last week on the Travel Channel when the Orlando episode premiered. Yeah, I missed it, too, but just watched it this weekend on TiVo.

Surprisingly, she visited some cool, more off-the-beaten path type of stuff – you know, the “non-theme-park” side of Orlando that everyone gripes the tourists never visit.

She based herself downtown at The Grand Bohemian Hotel, then visited Winter Park to take in the Saturday Farmer’s Market. She also got a little tipsy at The Wine Room and shoe shopped at Shou’ture Salon. She ate some soul food at Johnson’s Diner on Church St., spun her own hand-blown pint glass at Keila Glassworks at the CityArts Factory, then drank out of it later at NV on Pine. She rounded out the show by doing some indoor skydiving at SkyVenture, over by Universal Orlando.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode. Over at the Pulse of Central Florida, their biggest complaint was that it should have been an hour to include something other than the Winter Park area. I agree, that would have been nice (some suggestions: Lakeridge Winery on a festival weekend, Mt. Dora, more on the downtown area, etc.). But, considering she had 30 minutes (ok, probably closer to 20-25 after commercial breaks) to showcase the city beyond the theme parks, I think she picked some rather fun things for visitors to check out. And anything that encourages travelers to not only visit but explore Orlando is a good thing, imho.

According to a pre-show interview with Orlando Sentinel TV Critic Hal Boedeker, Brown said, “Being in Orlando and showing it in a light few outsiders see it in was so much fun, and after seven years of coming to Orlando to only do the theme parks, a real eye-opener. It’s a great city.”

Thanks Sam…I think so, too.

If you missed the episode and want to check it out for yourself, the Travel Channel has two more airings of it this week: Jul. 16 at 11pm (that’s tomorrow) and Jul. 17 at 11am (Thursday morning).

Those who want a little more in-depth on Brown’s visit can read her blog online about it at the Travel Channel. Her crew also blogged about the skydiving. There’s even a small “webisode” online about her kayaking in the area that didn’t make it into the show (unless I just missed it).

So I have two questions for you dear MB readers. Did you see the show and what did you think? Also, if Brown were to revisit for “Great Weekends” part 2, where would you suggest she go?

Good Time Charlie Goes to Europe

Partying Like ChristHe’s the man with the tan in Tally! He’s been seen thumbing it up with McCain in DC, hangin’ with Ahnold in Cali, even bar hopping at Big Daddy’s! He’s Good Time Charlie, and soon the Double C express will land on the shores of our friends in the EU. That’s right, Charlie Christ is off to spend a 10 day whirlwind tour of Europe to talk “bidness”.

Meanwhile, back home on the ranch, educators are getting the axe and citizens are getting billed for 911 calls. You screwed us Chuck, you really did.

31 Flavors…Okay, FOUR.

This is the full text of a note I just sent to Baskin-Robbins on their feedback form, regarding the location on Edgewater in College Park.

Dear Baskin and/or Robbin,

It appears as though the location on Edgewater Drive in Orlando has come under new, grinchesque management, as this is now the second time I have arrived at your store to find that the promised “31 flavors” are actually more like 4 or 5. They were out of EVERYTHING. And again, this is not the FIRST TIME this has happened.

I love your ice cream, but you make it hard to love you. Perhaps this makes me love you more, and I have a problem regarding loving things that hurt me. I have not discounted the possibility.

Best, Matt

We’re Still Ticked Off! Huzzah.

Oh, dear Orlando Sentinel–I’m so, so very glad you gave into the immense peer pressure and returned Ticked Off to its former glory, as it was before the redesign.

10533488.jpg

How could we have lived without it? Why, today ALONE, there is so much to recommend:

More people are riding the buses these days. Some of the bus riders need to take baths more often, especially during hot summer months. That person may be you.

People smell on the bus?! HOW DARE THEY?!

Thank you to the gentleman golfer at the WP Country Club for saving this lost soul with excellent directions to the WP Racquet Club. You really saved my day.

He can’t fool me…he means the golfer’s caddy gave directions to his limo driver.

The Orlando Sentinel: Giving a voice to rich douchebags and cranky snowbirds since 1876.

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