Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mayor of Saint Paul

                                                  When I become Mayor

Not last night, but the night before....

I ate pot pie with a heavy heart. Just moments prior, I had received news that the initiative to create a state of the art facility for the homeless in my business district had been shot down.  Every topic has two sides, I totally get that, but as I stirred the various liquids in my Arnold Palmer, I couldn’t help but wonder how this would affect thousands of indigent people in the Twin Cities.

When you’re poor, you’re screwed. Often times those who advocate on your behalf don’t need to fight with passion. They don’t have to; their needs are already met. They’re not going to have to sleep on the floor of a gymnasium tonight.

I should mention that while I ranted about this, I was sitting across a table at the Grill inside the Saint Paul Hotel with a beautiful companion (whose identity shall remain anonyms for a myriad of reasons) and just when most of my venom had dissipated, I simply couldn’t help launching the following threat in her direction…

“I think it’s time to shut up and put up. I think in four years…..Klecko is going to run for Mayor of Capital City.”

I should mention that my mystery escort ordered pot pie as well. I always feel off balanced when a date orders the same entrée, I mean let’s face it, this kind of gives an indication that the next step in the friendship might be shopping for matching windbreakers at Kohl’s, right?

So while we poke holes through our crust to release the steam, my dining companion thoughtfully plays into my tirade by asking…

“When you become mayor, what else will you do to improve the Capital City?”

Immediately I broached a topic that many previous civic leaders have done their best to avoid…

“You know, what’s the number one thing it takes to make a city economically viable?”

Then I paused for dramatic effect before answering my own question.

“It takes money, lots of it, but if a business is going to build bundles of cash, that city needs to have foot traffic 24/7 and for as long as I can remember, downtown Saint Paul’s retail opportunities seem to dwindle every day around 2 p.m. When I become Mayor, I’ll vulture every hipster money making concept from Mpls and bring it across the river to its rightful home.

 So now my date rolls her eyes and does the unthinkable, she challenges me…

“If Saint Paul has a strong business climate in the morning, wouldn’t it just be simpler to build a business plan where you took money off people in the morning? That way you’d get your evening to yourself. Why not just open a breakfast café?”

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if her question was rhetorical or not, but just before I could answer, our server engaged us in a conversation that focused on her being a Lutheran bell ringer in some church choir and I became riveted.

Ironically, the following day somebody placed some paperwork on my desk and one of the first things I read really peaked my interest. It was a print out of a Bloomberg News article that stated how breakfast seemed to be the meal that restaurants believed was imperative to capturing consumers dining dollars.

It reported that the world’s largest restaurant chain was trying to attract more customers by marketing to their morning audience.

For $1.99 they were offering you two raspberry or cinnamon crème cheese Petite Pastries, but if you ordered this same breakfast with a coffee as well, you received the bundle for $1.29.

So even if you don’t you like caffeine, you pretty much are forced to take the coffee if you want to save 70 cents.

When I read this I chuckled and thought “OMG – that is so Don Draper, this is brilliant.”

I’m guessing that many restaurant / hospitality concepts are partnering their meals to coffee in an attempt to curb the momentum that concepts like Starbucks and Dunkin are gaining on Americans. Let’s face it, people don’t eat out every day, but I’ll bet the number of folks that stop at a coffee shop most mornings is staggering.

As the report concluded, it mentioned that Taco Bell was subscribing to this early bird theory as well. By the time you good people end up reading this column, they will have begun selling breakfast items nationwide, including egg burritos and waffle tacos.

These numbers enlightened me. If I’ve learned one thing in this lifetime, it’s take the path with the least amount of resistance, doing this will get you to your destination quicker.

If these major players in our industry are spotting pertinent trends and sharing them, I’m not proud, I’ll gladly ride their coattails are across the finish line.

In closing, I’ll put it on the record that my phantom dining guest looked absolutely stunning and I am eternally in her debt. Her advice just might be the missing piece that could restore the 651’s economy, and that Saint Paul Hotel pot pie… was Christ like. If I were mayor, I’d declare it a national treasure.

Respectfully Mayor Klecko

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