Smugglers' Inn started as a theme restaurant in Blaine, Minnesota and has become, if not a legitimate advertising agency, then a viable agency alternative with two dedicated ad employees, Carol Henderson, art director and Jarl Olsen, copywriter. Read the whole saga in these posts or click the pirate to follow the entertaining tweets of our dishwasher, Pongo. Who may or may not be an orangutan.!/PongoTryHard

Friday, September 24, 2010

September is "Talk Like A Fancy Pirate© Month."

After 112 days, the nightly blame-fest that was the Deepwater oil disaster finally seems to be over, revealing what a slow season for news it really has been. Like all Americans, we were transfixed by the eerie online spectacle of thousand of barrels of crude oil escaping from a broken pipe a mile below the ocean’s surface.

For about two minutes. If you’re like us, you logged on long enough to get the general idea (worst ecological disaster of our time), then watched for another ninety seconds just to make sure that a great white wasn’t going to appear from that petroleum smokestack and attack the camera in typical “Shark Week” fashion.

As a theme restaurant of the nautical kind, Smugglers’ Inn is understandably concerned about the impact the spill will have on the industry that supplies us with half the ingredients in our Surf ‘n Turf.

As an ad agency AND theme restaurant, part of us feels compelled to crack jokes in the face of doom.

It must be the biggest part, because Smugglers’ Inn has declared September, “Talk-Like-A-Fancy-Pirate© Month”.

It’s kicky! It’s kewl! It beats “BP Apology Month” or “More Moaning about the Economy Month.”

Try these phrases in Fancy Pirate©, then make up your own.

”RRR you sure you can’t hear Freddy Mercury under this spot for Michelle Bachmann?”

“Keep the parrot? Lose the parrot?”

”Bugger the cost! And the horse he rode in on!”

“Well, blow me down if ‘taint so! Or, if it’s Thursday.”

“Avast! Hole opens in my heart me when I realize that another agency registered a unicorn app.”

Well, your pals at Smug’s just got word that we have a couple of campaigns in the upcoming CA annual. Who-hoo! Come November, these tables will be filled and we may even have another client who doesn’t pay in Confederate money. Until then, “Aye! Think we’re available…and that eye patch is you!”

The Beginning of The End.

June 11 is a day we will always remember. I don’t need to remind anyone what happened on that date in Belgrade in 1903. It’s the story of what went down 106 years and one week later that I’ve come to relate. June 12, 2009: The day when it all turned to lobster poop at Smugglers’ Inn.
To be fair, the whole buccaneer theme seafood restaurant concept may have been on the wane for some time. Possibly 21 or 22 years. We got a big bump in 2001 with Pirates of the
Carribean, and when Pirates 2 came out in 2008. Pirates 3 (did anyone see pirates 3?) didn’t do anything for us, though. But you should have seen the place in the day. When Smug’s opened in ’72, business was gangbusters and we were printing money for most of the 70’s and early 80’s. In '76 we stumbled a bit when we redesigned our menu to take advantage of the bicentennial.Renaming the surf ‘n turf to the “One if by land, two by sea” just confused everybody; I was forever having to answer some wise-ass who wanted to know where his second lobster tail was. Customers! Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t hock lugies on their oysters. All right, so our gross was nothing like it had been. Our food costs were a respectable 32%. We were viable. Then, we got a visit from “The ‘Stache.”

If you think that you can operate a kitchen in this day and age hiring only graduates from your junior college food sciences program, you’re sadly, pathetically mistaken. Our old health inspector understood that.Our old health inspector would never have asked our prep cook what table he used to determine safe cooking times for pork. At least, he would have known enough not to ask in English.
That the new health inspector sported some of the most unsettling facial hair since Frida Kahlo is not the only reason he was hateful, but it did look like one of those fuzzy caterpillars had started crawling across his lip and died there. Not content to merely site us for 24 separate code violations ranging from an unplugged refrigerator to dirty fingernails, Captain Mold Spore thought it would be merry fun to invite his friends from ICE over. So, on Saturday night, our busiest time, we were visited by two SUV-loads of people whose civil service test score wasn’t high enough to let them be cops or firemen.
Can I say that I consider myself a people person? I believe in people. When someone tells me that their name is Dick Cheney, I assume that they just happen to have the same name as the then vice president. I do not say, “Gee, how come it says “Paco” on your neck?” Who could have known that my head cook was a member of the MS 13 street gang? Or that the broiler chef had wounded a U.S. Customs agent in Calexico, California? It just goes to show how little you really know people.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Reviews

P. Lundquist

Archive Magazine

First, let’s just say that the Anoka County Shopper is not the New York Times and their “Mystery Diner” is no mystery at all. His name is Peter Lundquist and he’s the editor of said paper and writes all the content of that paper, such that it is. He is Lindsay Cheltenham-Pierce, the social editor. He is “The Movie Hound” (FYI, Pete, it’s “Sundance” not “Sun Dance”). For a fat person, Peter is spread pretty thin.
Which still doesn’t completely excuse said editor re-publishing a years-old review of our restaurant days before Valentine’s Day.
Pete loved our justifiably famous clam chowder, but thought our blackened redfish a bit “over-blackened”. He found our wine list “small, but with all the must-haves” meaning we had Blue Nun, his personal go-with-everything favorite. This review matched almost word-for-word one that appeared in the Shopper in 1999. The main difference was that, in review, we were given three water towers, but this time around Mr. Lundquist—sorry,“The Mystery Diner”--thought we merited only two water towers.

We’re not bitter. We would, however, like to point out a few things to our distinguished reviewer. First, Blue Nun barely qualifies as wine. The only reason it was ever carried was because our supplier used to throw in a free case with our liquor order. That, and people from Blaine order it.

Secondly, we haven’t had blackened redfish on our menu since 1999. It’s a protected fish. We kept it on the menu for a year or so afterwards, but it was blackened cod. True confession. Other than the fact that we have sold our restaurant to make an ad agency, you’re review was spot-on, and one which your readers can glean much valuable information from, should they find themselves sucked into a wormhole and come out at the end of the last century. Pete, where have you been? We’re a new concept now. When people show up, we’ll still feed them, but we’re primarily serving up ad campaigns these days.

The other review? Archive magazine chose our “Crosses” campaign for Children, Youth and Family Services of New Mexico to be published in their review of the best creative in the world. It’s the third time they’ve featured a Smugglers' Inn campaign this year. It’s not four water towers in the Anoka County Shopper, but we’ll take it.