Hucksterism gets richer: Amazon to buy Whole Foods in $13.4 billion deal

When you’re the second richest guy on the planet, what do you pick up when you go to the shops for a little retail therapy?

Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion (U.S.).

That’s what Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, with a personal wealth of $84.7 billion, did on Friday on his way home with some all-organic crap bread, cheese and ice cream.
I’d be more like Jimmy Buffett: “I went to Buckhead to get some ice cream and next thing I knew I was on I-75 headed for Florida.”

According to Michael J. de la Merced and Nick Wingfield of The New York Times the Amazon deal marks an ambitious push into the mammoth grocery business, an industry that in the United States accounts for around $700 to $800 billion in annual sales. Amazon is also amplifying the competition with Walmart, which has been struggling to play catch-up to the online juggernaut.

For Whole Foods, the deal represents a chance to fend off pressure from activist investors frustrated by a sluggish stock price. Whole Foods last month unveiled a sweeping overhaul of its board, replacing five directors, naming a new chairwoman and bringing in a new chief financial officer. It also laid out plans to improve operations and cut costs.

Forget all the organic, sustainable, dolphin-friendly products: Whole Foods is a cut-throat business that attracts gullible consumers to drop extra cash on food with a lot of adjectives.

A couple of centuries ago they would be called hucksters, or medicine-men.

With Amazon, Whole Foods gets a deep-pocketed owner with significant technological expertise and a willingness to invest aggressively in a quest for dominance.

Amazon has designs on expanding beyond online retail into physical stores. The company is slowly building a fleet of outlets, and much attention has been focused on its supermaket dreams. It has already made an initial push through AmazonFresh, its grocery delivery service.

The e-commerce giant has been testing a variety of other retail concepts. It has opened a convenience store that does not need cashiers, and has explored another grocery store concept that could serve walk-in customers and act as a hub for home deliveries.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, Amazon would pay $42 a share for Whole Foods, a 27 percent premium to Thursday’s closing price. After the deal was announced, shares of Amazon rose as much as 3.3 percent while other major retailers, including Target, Walmart and Costco Wholesale fell sharply.

Whole Foods, which was founded in 1978 in Austin, Tex., is best known for its organic foods. The company built its brand on healthy eating and staked its reputation on fresh, local produce, albeit with a high price tag.

But the company has increasingly faced fierce competition from rival supermarkets. National retailers like Costco, Safeway and Walmart have begun offering organic produce and kitchen staples, forcing Whole Foods to slash prices.


‘I was going to Buckhead to get the paper and next thing I knew I was on I-75 headed for Florida’ Buckhead steakhouse fails health inspection

Another intrepid contributor passed this on about a semi-famous Atlanta steakhouse up in the Buckhead area, famous for the politicos who dine there.

jimmy.god's.own.drunk“The Steakhouse” on Old Ivy Road failed its most recent health inspection.

The popular restaurant, that’s been in the area for more than 20 years, has a loyal clientele, and several customers were surprised by the score.

“I think a lot of people go there. They take clients. It’s kind of well-known for business dinners and things like that. So, I’m kind of shocked,” said Angie Miller, who ate at the restaurant for Valentine’s Day.

The report says an inspector found food being stored in the same ice used for drinks, a hand sink being used as an ice bin, steaks stored at improper temperatures, slime on the inside of the ice machine, live flies in the kitchen, food items uncovered (in a walk-in cooler) and no soap or paper towels at sinks inside of the building.

When Channel 2 Action News went into the restaurant, we saw a score of 100A still posted despite the recent inspection.

The restaurant says it disagrees with the inspector’s findings.

A manager sent Channel 2 Action News a statement, saying, “Our facilities have been inspected at least annually for 25 years and we have never received an unsatisfactory score. We respectfully disagree with the results of the inspection that occurred on February 29th, 2016 and are taking the appropriate steps to administratively appeal the report.”

And I don’t have a video, but if this Jimmy Buffett version of God’s Own Drunk is worth the 12 minutes.

Georgia Waffle House fails restaurant inspection

Food at the Waffle House is gross. But that’s where Sorenne wanted to go for her birthday as we drove to Florida a couple of years ago so we obliged.

cigar.waffle.austin.powersA Peachtree Corners-area Waffle House in Georgia was cited for several violations in a failed health inspection this week.

The Waffle House located at 7044 Jimmy Carter Boulevard drew a failing score of 57 (failing is 69 and below) during a Gwinnett County health inspection on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

The inspector found problems with employee food handling, food storage, black mold in the ice machine and food debris and splatter on ”cleaned” plates, bowls and cups, and near the food prep area.

A follow-up inspection will be held within 10 days.

I was just headed to Buckhead to get some ice cream and ended up on I-75 for Florida.