Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 19, 2013

Tim Preston: Diet shock in a can; big-burger challenge; business for breakfast: 05/19/13

Tim Preston
For The Independent

ASHLAND — I’m no fan of diet drinks or drinks in cans, although I suspect I am a convert when it comes to Diet Ale 8 after sipping down a couple of cans a new friend left at the office for me.

You may remember a recent request from a reader to have others help in the effort to get the Kentucky-born beverage onto local store shelves in the form of 12-pack cans, and I promised to find out why the cans were preferred over the readily available bottles. I received the following response to that question. “The reason I like them? I find no difference in the flavor from the bottled diet, but I prefer the cans because they fit better in the refrigerator, you can take them on trips that may not allow bottles, such as at sporting events or beaches, and they are easier to grab when you are heading out the door and you want something that will fit in your vehicle’s cup holder. And, you also can fit more in a small cooler and they are less expensive.”

I thought it was an excellent set of answers to such a simple question.

Beyond a big burger

We all know I love a good cheeseburger, especially if it is loaded with bacon, although I don’t think I am in any way up to a challenge I was told about last week.

The folks at The Lamp Post Café in Ashland will be celebrating their six-month anniversary on the final Friday of the month. As part of the festivities they will devote 10 percent of the day’s sales to the locally based I Believe Foundation while also working to promote the city’s downtown business district with a drawing for “one big basket full of stuff” crammed with things like $25 gift cards from nearby shops, tickets to a show at the Paramount Arts Center and an evening at a hotel. I tried not to notice when the café’s spokesman repeated the fact the basket included a free haircut.

The part I got excited about, however, was The Lamp Post Challenge. Just hearing about it made me hold my big belly. Anyone who can beat the challenge between 3 and 7 p.m. during a live remote by WLGC-FM will get their picture on the café’s “pillar of fame” as well as a $25 gift certificate. What is the challenge, you might ask?

“It is a double Full Moon Burger with everything — all the toppings, plus cheese and bacon, plus two pounds of fries and a strawberry croissant. You have to eat all of it in less than 30 minutes to win the challenge,” I was told.

“No one has done it yet,” the spokesman continued, adding a family of three recently tried to eat the same amount (the challenge must be completed by a lone diner) and couldn’t quite do it. “But,I think it can be done.”

If you think you are up to the challenge, just show up at the restaurant on the corner of 15th Street and Greenup Avenue and go for it while the local radio station is on the air. For more information, call (606) 325-5283.

Business breakfast

Aside from the start time, one of my favorite events to cover every year is the Morehead State University Northeast Kentucky Small Business Awards breakfast at Advance Memorial United Methodist Church in Flatwoods, which honors small-business owners who have distinguished themselves in Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties.

I always pay particular attention to whoever gets their name inscribed on the New Business of the Year award. I write about many new business ventures that never make it to the one-year mark, and am well aware of the difficulties involved with a start-up venture. This year’s honor went to Carl and Amanda Johnson of Olive Hill, who own Bubba’s Towing & Recovery.

I caught Mr. Johnson on the phone that afternoon and he was hauling a car away from the interstate as we discussed the award, which came as a surprise to he and his wife.

“I told her we would go and see how it works, but I said there ain’t no chance of us winning,” he said, adding he was so sure they wouldn’t be called into the spotlight he suggested they both wear work clothes so they could get straight to the job afterwords. “That just blew me away. It really makes me want to try harder.”

Before we got off the phone, Johnson said he is a 1997 graduate of West Carter High School and his wife, Amanda, is a member of East Carter’s class of 2000 (I joked I thought such a union was illegal in Carter County). He explained he had always been interested in the towing and recovery business and “used to loaf around with” a friend in the business before another friend with tow trucks and equipment hit hard times and offered them an opportunity to go to work for themselves.

Johnson said the company name is easy to explain.

“That’s my nickname — Bubba. I’ve had that nickname all through school. Nobody knows me by Carl,” he said.

Johnson also acknowledged they were up against some serious competition in that category, facing fellow nominees Dr. Phiilp R. Dowdy of Bellefonte Foot Care in Ashland; Matt Rucker of Matt’s Pressure Washing in Ashland; Angel Pope of Angel Pope Photography in Grayson; April Conley and Patricia Conley of Mutt Cuts in Ashland; Bill Hornbuckle of Screentronix in Ashland; Kelly Madden of It’s a Dog’s Life in Ashland; Debra Harman of the Olive Hill Council for Planning & Restoration; and William E. Carter II of Specialized Therapy Group in Ashland.

Each deserves an award for just surviving in the current business climate. I encourage everyone to give their companies a try if they offer goods or services you can use.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.