Archive | 11:09 pm

Goodbye, Mrs. Chips?

15 Aug
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cookie retailer Mrs. Fields Famous Brands LLC said on Friday it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to help restructure its business, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company, which licenses and franchises about 1,200 Mrs. Fields Cookies and TCBY frozen yogurt locations worldwide, has begun soliciting votes from creditors for a “prepackaged” bankruptcy reorganization plan. Under a prepackaged plan, creditors vote on certain aspects of the plan prior to the bankruptcy filing in court. More than two-thirds of its bondholders have agreed to vote in favor of the prepackaged plan, though their support is contingent upon the company submitting its bankruptcy filing to the court by August 25, according to the regulatory filing.

The company plans to continue doing business and has also hired Blackstone Advisory Services to explore a possible sale of TCBY, the largest U.S. retailer of soft-serve frozen yogurt with live active cultures, according to the filing.

Memphian Debbie Fields spreading the chocolate chip gospel

Restaurant and food companies have struggled this year as higher gasoline prices and rising ingredient costs have eroded sales and profits. S&A Restaurant Corp, owner of the Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale chains, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in July, while Buffets Holdings Inc, the operator of Old Country Buffet and Ryan’s steakhouses, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, saying customers had cut back on discretionary spending.

“There are several food retailers right now that are mall-based that are under pressure,” said Marti Kopacz, managing partner of the restructuring group at accounting firm Grant Thornton. “Food that is out of the home and food that is arguably discretionary is going to come under pressure when people don’t feel that they’ve got that discretionary income in their wallets.”

Mrs. Fields said in the regulatory filing it would have been unable to make an interest payment in September. The company, with about $196 million in publicly traded debt, said it struck a deal on Wednesday with its equity sponsor Capricorn Investors III LP to modify certain financial terms and revise timelines under the terms of their investment agreement.

Michael Ward, interim co-chief executive officer of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, was not available to comment. Mrs. Fields, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was started in 1977 by Debbi Fields, a young mother who made cookies from scratch at her first location in Palo Alto, California. The company began franchising stores in 1990 and in 2000 it gained control of TCBY, which stands for “The Country’s Best Yogurt,” through a $140 million cash buyout with Capricorn.

The company has struggled with declining sales throughout the past year. In two separate transactions since 2007, the company sold its Pretzel Time, Pretzelmaker and Great American Cookies brands to NexCen Brands Inc (NEXC.O) for more than $100 million in cash and stock.

I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

Jerry Wexler Dies on Siesta Key

15 Aug

R&B Legend & Our Neighbor Jerry Wexler died on Siesta Key

SIESTA KEY – Jerry Wexler, a major player in the recording industry from the 1950s to the 1980s and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died at his Siesta Key home Friday, according to He was 91.

At Atlantic Records, Wexler signed or produced some of the biggest names in the business: Ray Charles, The Coasters, The Drifters, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Willie Nelson, Dusty Springfield, Cher and Dr. John.

Here is Jerry Wexler with one of his greatest artists, Aretha Franklin

Wexler started out as a writer and editor for Billboard magazine in the 1940s and coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” to replace the magazine’s use of “race records” in its chart listings.

Watch & listen as Wexler talks about Bob Dylan’s gospel recordings

The link see below features Wexler talking about his greatest triumphs:

Nyla’s Burger Basket of Osyka, MS

15 Aug

Looks like a cool little, All-American place. Osyka is a tiny dot on the map along I-55 and just a short drive from the town of Kentwood, LA. As some of you celebrity stalkers might know, Kentwood is the hometown of Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears. I’m told they both love the place and you just might see one or both of them stuffing their face with a greasy NylaBurger. But don’t let that possibility keep you away. We’ve heard the food is pretty good and that Nyla is a sweet old Southern gal.

Captain John Smith for President

15 Aug

If you want to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Captain John Smith is your man.

For more info, go to

Great Photos of Southern Wineries

15 Aug

Amy Evans of the Southern Foodways Alliance has been touring many of the best Southern wineries. She has captured some gorgeous images on film, which you can view via the Flickr link below:

The lovely rolling hills of Virginia — my home state!

Grapes hanging heavy on the vine

SFA Syymposium Goes Liquid in 2008

15 Aug

The eleventh annual Southern Foodways Symposium will be held October 23-26, 2008, on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. This year, we explore Southern drinkways, starting with water, the resource on which all life relies.

Buttermilk will get its due. And soft drinks, by way of a bootlegging survey that traces cane sugar Mexican Cokes and original recipe Dr. Peppers to their sources.

One of our favorite Southern beverages is Blenheim’ s spicy Ginger Ale

We will explore the tensions that define Southern attitudes about harder drink, too, in an effort to make sense of the quip, attributed to Will Rogers, “Southerners will drink wet and vote dry–so long as any citizen can stagger to the polls.” That means a learned disquisition on drink imagery in Southern literature and film. And a look at the temperance movement as a religious impulse.

This event provides opportunities for cooks, chefs, writers, and intellectually curious eaters alike to come to a better understanding of Southern cuisine and Southern culture. Lectures, held in Johnson Commons, at the heart of the University of Mississippi campus, are complemented by informal lunches and dinners served in and around Oxford.

Registration is administered on a first received, first confirmed basis. Registration will be confirmed via e-mail after 5 p.m. on the date of receipt, Monday through Friday.

Here is the link to symposium registration —