In January 2009, the Birmingham News reported that the Jefferson County Commission was seriously considering a sewer system Non User Fee—to be paid by residents, you guessed it, NOT on the system.
In response, my good friend Tassos Touloupis authored the press release below. When it (shockingly) didn’t generate any coverage, I brought it to the attention of my buddy Jerry Underwood at the Birmingham News—who obviously knows a good story when he sees one!
For Immediate Release – March 23, 2009
BIRMINGHAM RESTAURANT TO CHARGE A NON-DINERS FEE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ted’s Restaurant, with two locations in Birmingham, Alabama, is implementing a Non-Diners Fee for Jefferson County residents who do not eat at Ted’s.
Because of the economic slow-down affecting the entire country, people are not dining out as frequently. Tasos Touloupis, who owns and operates Ted’s with his wife, Beba, had to get resourceful to generate necessary revenue. “I must give credit to the Jefferson County Commission for this idea,” said Mr. Touloupis. “Like everyone else, when I first heard the Commissioners wanted to charge a ‘Non-Users Fee’ to Jefferson County residents who do not use the sewer system, I thought they had eaten some bad fried green tomatoes. But when I found out they were serious, I saw the genius of the proposal.”
Ted’s Non-Diners Fee will work like this: Ted’s will maintain a record of customers. At the end of each month, Ted’s will send a $12 NDF Invoice to any Jefferson County resident who did not eat at Ted’s during the month. Diners may eat at either Ted’s location (328 12th St South or Ted’s To Go at 1801 4th Ave South) for an exemption. To encourage cooperation, Ted’s will give a free meal to those paying an NDF Invoice in person. Though lines at Ted’s can be long during peak hours, they move fast — not like at the courthouse.
In these extraordinary times, this is a necessary new policy. By eating at Ted’s, diners pay the salaries of waitresses, cooks and other staff. They keep utilities running. They pay the suppliers of fresh vegetables and savory meats. After paying the multiple taxes, licenses and other government fees required of restaurants, there sometimes is a little left over for the owners and their children. “But it hurts everyone when diners start brown-bagging it too much for lunch,” said Mr. Touloupis. “Besides, excessive use of brown bags means trees have to die, so the Non-Diners Fee is good for the environment.”
Ted’s Non-Diners Fee will begin effective April 1, 2009, in Jefferson County. If necessary, Ted’s will extend the Non-Diners Fee to Washington, D.C., later this year.
Ted’s is a family-owned and operated restaurant. They don’t serve fast food — just good food, fast.
For More Information:
Tasos Touloupis 205-266-0715 firstname.lastname@example.org