Your 2014 Fortune Cookie

After eating dinner with a lady friend at an Asian restaurant back in my college days, I cracked open a fortune cookie and was dismayed to read the message on the little strip of paper: “The road to hell,” it said, “is paved with good intentions.” This was not a particularly encouraging fortune. Whatever happened to “A pleasant surprise awaits you!” or “Your smile brings happiness to everyone you meet”? Those are good fortunes, a nice way to cap off a meal. Luckily, the waitress had brought extra cookies, so I cracked open another one. It said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” At this point, my date, a shy, sweet girl from a good Southern Baptist family, began to glance nervously around the dining area, no doubt wondering if she should find another ride home. God or the Buddha or somebody in the know up there was clearly trying to tell her something.

There was one last cookie on the plate, so, with a grim sense of foreboding, I cracked it open. This time the message appeared in all capital letters, as if to underscore the urgency of the situation: “THE ROAD TO HELL,” it screamed, “IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.”

My date began to fake a cough. “Gee, you know what? (cough cough) I don’t feel so good.” She touched a hand to her forehead. “Ooh, fever! Maybe I should turn in early.”

Heck, I thought it was pretty obvious that my intentions were, in fact, anything but good that night. I mean, what did she think all of those sake bombs were for, anyway? But it was too late—clearly, the fortune cookie gods had pegged me for an ill-omened spirit, and my date wanted nothing to do with a guy who was obviously doomed and fated for the fiery pits of Hades.

If you’re wondering what this story has to do with the pizzeria business, well, that is a very good question. I actually set out to write about New Year’s resolutions—which are, of course, good intentions aimed at self-improvement—and how you, as a pizzeria operator, should resolve to develop powerful new marketing strategies for 2014 while aiming to better familiarize yourself with the latest tools, from POS applications to social media and mobile marketing. But that somehow reminded me of the fortune cookie story, and then I got carried away, and now I’m almost out of space.

In other words, my intentions were good, but we all know where that leads. So I’ll just tell you this: I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions (because, frankly, I’m lazy), but I’ve come up with one for 2014—I hereby resolve that PMQ will enhance its focus on marketing-related content in the coming year, providing more expert articles crafted to help you attract new customers, ensure guest loyalty and improve your sales. We’ll also continue to keep you up-to-date on the latest menu trends and state-of-the-art technologies to help you boost your profits and offer the best product in your market. And you can expect more and better Pizza TV content, too, including how-to videos, pizzeria and operator profiles, plus our newest video feature, “Pizza 360,” the pizza industry’s only online talk show.

So, if PMQ had a fortune cookie for you, it would read, “2014 will be a year of growth and prosperity!” For my part, meanwhile, I’ve started sneaking my own tiny strips of paper into Asian restaurants and slipping them in my fortune cookies. They all say the same thing: “Your smile brings happiness to everyone you meet!”