Wednesday, April 30, 2003

What's the Buzz?

P&G in dispute with chef


Culinary Sol, the cooking-school experiment in Norwood's Rookwood Commons, closed last week.But owner Amy Tobin said she's working hard to reopen.

She hopes to resolve a dispute with Procter & Gamble Co., which opened Culinary Sol in 2001 and sold it to Tobin last year.

"It's a great business, and we made really great strides with it," she said.

Rent and gift certificates issued by P&G appear to be the issue.

P&G sued earlier this year, charging that Tobin wasn't paying rent. In a February counterclaim, Tobin responded that the business was untenable because customers redeemed gift certificates issued by P&G worth $211,000, more than the $160,000 she paid for the business.

The complaint said P&G's acts "were undertaken with the despicable, calculated purpose of defrauding Tobin."

Out for bid

The city of Cincinnati will put its small-business incubator services out for bid this summer, putting more pressure on the Cincinnati Business Incubator in Over-the-Rhine.

The city contributed $150,000, plus the building near Findlay Market, to the incubator this year. But it's looking for more tenants, more graduates and more ability to raise private money for specific projects.

"There's an emphasis on bidding things out for cost reasons and for service reasons," said Peg Moertl, director of community development and planning. "And we'd like to see the city's money leveraged to a greater degree."

Incubator president Annette Smith-Tarver said the center has helped nurture 52 businesses, most of them minority owned. But its operating budget has gone down 10 percent since 2000, she said.

"We feel like we do what we do very well, and we want to stick with that," she said.

Rent the CEO

A few tidbits from last weekend's gathering of Procter & Gamble alumni:

• How much would you pay for a half-day of consulting time with P&G chairman A.G. Lafley? In a charity auction Saturday, a North Carolina consultant who left P&G more than 30 years ago paid $21,000 for the privilege.

• P&G has run plenty of legendary ad campaigns, but two apparently stand out as promoting the largest sustained period of market-share growth as any other. They are "Choosy Mothers Choose Jif" and "The Best Part of Waking Up" for Folgers coffee.

• Old-timers wondered whether the current generation of Proctoids still writes the famed one-page memo. The answer is ... not really.

While P&Gers still take a writing course, the memo has morphed into the "Talk Sheet," more of a talking-points outline.


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