About Todd Blackledge

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Do You Do These Restaurant Don’ts?

If you’ve never worked in the service industry, you may not be aware of certain restaurant taboos. These inconsiderate behaviors are easy to fix once people realize that thoughtful conduct goes a lot further than rudeness. Hopefully, you don’t do any of these college town restaurant don’ts!

Avoid These College Town Restaurant Don’ts

Dos and Don'ts at College Town Restaurants

• Walk into a restaurant and expect a full dinner 15 minutes before closing time. You may not realize that the entire restaurant staff has been working diligently to prepare to shut down for the night. Especially if you’re with a large group, try finding an all-night diner instead of forcing your way into a closing restaurant.

• No-Show on a reservation. If you’ve made a reservation, the hosting staff is keeping a table open and ready for your party. Please be thoughtful enough to call and cancel if something comes up last minute.

• Split a small check. If you’re in any sort of a hurry, don’t ask your server to split the check. This takes more time than you expect and may require management’s approval. If time is a issue or the restaurant is busy, go ahead and pay for your friend’s lunch. Especially if the bill is under $30, why not be the hero and pay the whole thing?

• Sit down at dirty tables. This is a no-brainer. Please be patient for a clean table. Not only does it help the staff clean on and under the table better, but it also shows them a little respect.

• Lie about your party’s size. If you tell the host that you’re expecting a certain number of people in your group just to get a bigger table, that interferes with the way the college town restaurant runs. Neither the restaurant or the server will make as much money with your party occupying more space than you need. If your server was expecting a group of eight, they may have turned down other tables in order to take better care of your large party. When only three people show up, this hinders the server’s ability to make optimum tips and he or she may not give you good service because of this.

Every once in awhile, things come up where you might have to inconvenience the restaurant’s staff. If you make it worth their while by being considerate and leaving a big tip, your server will end up having a much better evening and your conscience should be clear!

Have you had a great time in a college town restaurant? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

How You Can Spot a Fake Online Restaurant Review

Have you ever searched online for a new college town restaurant? Especially if you’re thinking of trying out a new place, it’s good to check out online reviews before you go. However, not all college town restaurants reviews are from actual happy customers. So, how can you spot a fake restaurant review from authentic input? Try using these tips to decipher online restaurant reviews!

Clues That You Might Be Reading A Fake Restaurant Review

How to spot a fake restaurant review for a college town restaurant

1. Compare Reviews – If one website is only posting fabulous reviews or extremely negative ones, check other review sites for comparison. While fake reviews can be difficult to spot, usually different websites will give you a better overall sense of what people are saying about that college town restaurant.

2. Verify the Source – Be wary of anonymous reviews that are negative. Sometimes competitors will post bad experiences just to keep you from a college town restaurant. Online reviews that are verified by the site are most likely legitimate comments.

3. Don’t Get Starry-Eyed – Sometimes the star ratings that are at either end of the spectrum could be a potential fake review. Rather than just one-star or five-star ratings, look more for the moderate ratings and comments on your college town restaurant.

4. Search for Insight – As you read through the reviews, search for information that the restaurant may not think to post. This could include the best area to sit in the restaurant for a view or privacy.

5. Look at the Overall Picture – Once you’ve done your research, try to get an overall feel of all the comments and reviews for the specific college town restaurant. Typically, a long list of all-positive or all-negative reviews should wave a red flag. Real restaurant reviews usually cover different levels of experience from the users.

In the end, you should be able to make your own call about going to a cool college town restaurant or not. Hopefully, you’ll have a great experience and add your own authentic voice to the next online review!

Have you had a great time in a college town restaurant? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

Is the Bar the Best Seat at a College Town Restaurant?

College town restaurant dining tipsHaving a great time in a college town is all about finding the right spot to eat and drink. College town restaurants are a great place to meet friends, watch pre-game analysis, and wind down after you leave the stadium. What most people don’t realize is that getting a table in a college town restaurant is over-rated. Ask anyone who’s worked in the restaurant industry, and they’ll tell you that the best seat in the house is at the bar.

Get the Best Seat in a College Town Restaurant

When you sit at the bar in a college town restaurant, you get quicker service. The bartender has you in front of him or her through out your entire dining experience, so there’s no chance that they will forget about you, no matter how busy they become. When you sit at the bar, you often get drinks much faster then you would at a table because most bar tenders will pour drinks for the customers that they actually see before them rather than the drinks that the servers order from them for their tables. And don’t be afraid to order from the full dinner menu. Most college town restaurants are happy to serve any dish from their menu to patrons sitting at the bar. However, if the bar is crowded, you might be better off choosing to order an appetizer or a small plate dish, just to give yourself some more elbow room in a college town restaurant.

 Make Friends With The Bartender

The bartender can be your secret weapon in having a great experience both in the college town restaurant and after you leave it. Most bartenders are surprisingly honest about which dishes they like and think you should try and which ones you might be better off avoiding. The bartender is also a great resource if you’d like to pair your meal with a beverage-most of them love making recommendations. If the bartender isn’t busy, he might even create a special cocktail for you.

Additionally, the bartender can be a great guide for guests in an unfamiliar town. They almost always live in the same town where they work, so they can give you the scoop on what other college town restaurants you should try, which night life hot spots you should hit, and other not-to-be-missed attractions in the city.

Have you had some great service in a college town restaurant? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

How to Get Great Service at College Town Restaurants

Getting great service at college town restaurantsWhile getting good service anywhere is becoming more and more rare these days, it is still possible, even at college town restaurants. You simply have to know the tricks for getting good service.

Tips for Great Service at College Town Restaurants

1. Choose the Right Time

If you visit college town restaurants as a game or graduation is letting out, you can expect to wait a long time for your food and have hurried service. Aim for the less busy times of day.

2. Be Friendly

Being rude and insulting the waitress will not help your food cook any faster. Whether you are dining at college town restaurants or five star restaurants, it always pays to be polite to your server.

3. Don’t Be Cheap

If your order a water, no appetizer and the cheapest thing on the menu, the waitress is going to assume you are cheap. She knows she’s only getting ten percent from you, so she isn’t going to bother with stellar service. Don’t be cheap.

4. Ask the Waitress Which Dishes are the Most Popular

Don’t risk ordering something that the locals know to stay away from. The waitress will know which dishes are customer favorites.

5. Don’t Make too Many Substitutions

While making a few modifications is okay, if you make countless modifications, you are just begging the restaurants to mess up your order. Order something you will like that doesn’t require a major overhaul.

6. Be a Frequent Customer

When you always visit the same restaurants, you give the staff a chance to get to know you and what you like. This will get you better service, as servers tend to take better care of people they like and know.

7. Order Quickly When You See a Large Party Come In

When large parties come in college town restaurants, servers and cooks start scrambling. If you see one on their way in, make sure you order quickly so you can get your food before the rush.

Have you had some great service in the local hot spots in your college town? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

How to Pick Great College Town Restaurants

Tips on Choosing a Great College Town Restaurant

Going to college or visiting a college town means exploring restaurants and lifestyle opportunities. If you want to enjoy your time in a specific college town, then you can find entertainment through local restaurants. There are a variety of ways to find the different possibilities while enjoying even more of the towns that you are in.

great college town restaurantsExamine the Area Around the Main College

The first way to find college town restaurants is to look at the areas around the main college or university. You will find that there are hangouts and places where many of the students go to.

Talk to Students & Faculty Members

Students who live in the area or are from the area are also great outlets to finding a great college town restaurant. They will know the popular bars & grills, Taco Tuesday parlors, and which restaurants have the best specials.

Don’t just stop at students — faculty members will provide another perspective on great restaurants in their college town. Faculty members will be able to guide you to the most unique restaurants in the college town, along with providing you information on why their college town is better than all the others.

Go to Central Locations

Going to central locations for the college town restaurants is only the beginning to finding the best. Whether it’s a park, town hall or strip mall, there are sure to be great college restaurants in the central locations of the college town.

Look Through Reviews Online

Not only do you want references with the students and faculty members, you will also want to look the reviews that popular restaurants have received. Looking through Yelp, Urban Table and Facebook will allow you to see some of the experiences other people have had at the popular or unpopular restaurants, along with providing pictures, menu items and more!

On top of that, you will find that there are a variety of college town restaurants that have different options for budgets, types of food and environment so you can have the experience that you want at each college town restaurant.

Have you found some favorite local hot spots in your college town? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

Five of the Best Restaurants in Columbia SC

Are you looking for the best restaurants in Columbia SC? Whether you live in the area or are just traveling through, make sure you visit these best restaurants in Columbia SC. You will be glad you did!

Best Restaurants in Columbia SC
#1 Solstice Kitchen

For a wonderful dining experience, try Columbia’s Solstice Kitchen. Solstice Kitchen offers great food in a fun and friendly atmosphere. Their innovative and fresh menu is full of delicious offerings that come from local farms and suppliers. It is easy to see why Solstice Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in Columbia SC.

Best Restaurants in Columbia SC
#2 Inakaya Watanabe Japanese Restaurant

For the best sushi in Columbia, visit Inakaya. Their wide variety of seafood options are always fresh and delicious, their prices are best restaurants in columbia screasonable and their service is great. For the best Japanese food in the area, this is the place.

Best Restaurants in Columbia SC
#3 Alodia’s

The next time you are looking for a fantastic Italian meal in Columbia, be sure to try Alodia’s. Alodia’s offers mouthwateringly delicious food with attentive service in a great atmosphere. The portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable. For great food in a cozy atmosphere, Alodia’s is easily one of the best restaurants in Columbia SC.

Best Restaurants in Columbia SC
#4 W G’s Wings

For the best wings in Columbia, don’t miss W G’s Wings. The food is great, the service is great, and thanks to the recent updates, the atmosphere inside is great as well. Enjoy perfectly seasoned crispy wings while watching sports on TV and enjoying time with family and friends.

Best Restaurants in Columbia SC
#5 Blue Marlin

If you are looking for the perfect place for a night out with your spouse or friends, be sure to visit Blue Marlin. One of the best restaurants in Columbia SC, Blue Marlin has great sea food, especially the She Crab Soup, and atmosphere is truly enjoyable as well.

Have you found some favorite local hot spots in your town? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

Find the Best Local Spots in Your College Town

Find the Best Local Spots in Your College Town

The local pizza places and Chinese delivery spots are the go-to restaurants in college towns across the country. College towns actually are home to a number of interesting locally-owned restaurants. Beyond fast food and delivery joints, you can find some of the best places to eat in the country.

Whether you’re a college student looking for something for dinner other than a burrito, or a parent who is visiting your student’s college town for the weekend, we have all the tips you need to find the best place to eat in your college town.

How to find the hidden gems in your college town

The next time you’re hungry and ready to hit the town for a bite to eat, leave the old choices behind. Your college town is full of restaurants that have interesting stories, rich culture, and delicious food.

Here are our tips for finding the best spot for a meal.

Big Bad Breakfast - Todd Blackledge 2

Listen to the townies in your dorm

There are sure to be a few people in your dorm building who were born and raised in the same town where you’re now going to school. Take a cue from them — they know the city like the back of their hand, so they’ll know where to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. Offer to take them out for a bite to eat, on the condition that they choose the restaurant.

Ask school staff and professors

Your professors probably have good taste, and they live in your college town, too. Ask them about the hole-in-the-wall spot for breakfast or the best place to get fresh local food. They’ll be happy to share the restaurants they love.

Search, search, search

Do a little old school searching — You never know what you’ll find driving around town. When you’re running errands, keep your eyes peeled for restaurants and advertisements for the best fried chicken, freshest seafood, and other local favorites in your town. Don’t forget to search online, where you can find lists of the best places to eat in your town.

Our Favorite Local Spots

We want to help you out finding the special restaurants in your college town that may go unnoticed. Since we travel the country checking out college towns’ best spots, we have gathered some of our favorites. Check out our list to see if you’ve tried any of these!

University of Mississippi – Restaurants in Oxford, MS

Big Bad Breakfast

University of Florida – Restaurants in Gainesville, FL

Ballyhoo Grill

Satchel’s Pizza

University of Georgia – Restaurants in Athens, GA

Weaver D’s

Mama’s Boy

University of South Carolina – Restaurants in Columbia, SC

Blue Marlin

Vegetable Medley

Pawleys Front Porch

University of Arkansas – Restaurants in Fayetteville, AR

Catfish Hole

Doe’s Eat Place

Herman’s Rib Place

Momma Dean’s Soul Food

Have you found some favorite local hot spots in your college town? Let us know! We’ll keep giving tips for enjoying the culture of your college town through football and food.

Oklahoma Sooners vs Alabama Crimson Tide Preview

Oklahoma Sooners vs Alabama Crimson Tide PreviewThe Oklahoma Sooners and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be meeting on the field Thursday Night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

The tension was building for several weeks in Alabama before it was announced that Nick Saban would not be leaving for Texas. A lot of people though coach Saban would head for Texas with the news of Mack Brown’s resignation. However, coach Saban has said that he plans on finishing his coaching career in Tuscaloosa after accepting a contract extension this month for a reported $7 million a year salary.

“I don’t have any more reactions to it. I think it’s kind of over so why do we want to talk about that?” Saban said. “We look forward. I’m looking forward. I made a commitment to our players that are here and I’m happy to be committed to them and I want them to make the same kind of commitment to the program and to their future success.”

With that dark cloud gone the Crimson Tide can get back to focusing everything it has on this post-New Year’s event in college football. Hopefully, they can stay on track after their hopes of a BCS championship slipped away in last months shocking loss in its regular season finale.

The Crimson Tide were on the verge of a SEC championship until they gave up 13 points in the last 32 seconds, losing 32-28 at Auburn but that’s not holding them back. “We’re fired up playing Oklahoma,” said defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan. “It’s not for a national championship or anything, but we’re going to go into it like it is. – We’re going to try to finish this season as strong as possible.”

The last time Oklahoma made a trip to the Sugar Bowl in 2004, it was dealt a loss by Saban’s LSU team.

Thursday night will be the college finale for Sooners quarterback AJ McCarron. McCarron, Heisman Trophy runner-up, threw for 20 touchdowns after Sept in winning the Maxwell Award. “I think AJ McCarron is the best player in the country, I really do,” said coach Bob Stoops.

Which team do think is going to claim victory on the field on Jan 2? Leave your comments below and tell me what you think.

Oregon vs Texas Preview

Alamo Bowl – December 30, 2013

Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Longhorns

Monday Evening at 6:45PM, it’s the Oregon Ducks vs. the Texas Longhorns at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. This match marks the final game that Mack Brown will be coaching at Texas who was set to resign after his 16th season in Austin, TX.

In recent weeks, this has become somewhat of a distraction for the Texas program bringing Bill Powers (school president) along with Steve Patterson, the new athletic director at Texas, to inform coach Brown that he could choose to remain coach of the Longhorns. However, Brown has decided to do otherwise. “I felt like I could stay,” Brown said. “I really felt like it wasn’t best for the university to stay.”

Mack Brown, who was at a salary over $5 million a year under a contract until 2020, will be staying as a special consultant to school president Powers. “I sincerely want to get back to the top and that’s why I’m stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again.”

Between 2001 to 2009, coach led his Texas Longhorns who averaged 11.2 wins, won the national championship after being undefeated in 2005 and claimed two Big 12 titles. The Texas Longhorns (8-4) started out the season ranked 15th but then lost two of its first three, putting the pressure on Brown.

“The standard is really high here,” said coach Mack Brown, whose 158 wins with the Texas Longhorns ranks just behind the late Darrell Royal, who claimed 167 victories. “We set a standard at this place. You’d better win all of them. I understand that.”

Texas will need to pull it all together Monday night when they meet the Oregon Ducks (10-2) on the field. The Ducks rank second in the FBS with an average of 573.0 total yards. Quarterback Mariota, a Heisman Trophy candidate for most of the season, has completed 63.1 percent of passes for 3,412 yards, four interceptions and 30 touchdowns.

Devil Made Me Do It Chocolate Cake

Devil Made Me Do It Chocolate CakeSatchel (his real name is Steve Raye) is an amazing person, and his restaurant reflects his unique personality and intense creativity. He’s one of the most interesting guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my five years of doing “Taste of the Town.” I went back to visit Satchel at his home the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we had a great time talking about his two main passions: food and art. His restaurant has an interesting collection of his artistic creations – many of them are made from things people have thrown away. He turns other people’s junk into eclectic, beautiful art.

He serves a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting that’s homemade and unique.

Devil Made Me Do It Chocolate Cake

Makes three 9-inch round layers

2 2/3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir, starting out slowly, until well blended
3. Divide the batter among 3 greased 9-inch round pans
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out almost clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk (just enough to smooth out the frosting)

1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese
2. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla.
3. Add milk until the mixture is creamy.
4. Frost the top and sides and between the layers of the cooled cake thickly!

Christmas Cake Recipe

Want to spice this cake recipe up for the Christmas holiday? Create two batches of delicious cream cheese frosting. Add some red food coloring to one batch and green to the other. Use the green cream cheese frosting between your layers and then cover the Christmas cake with the red frosting. Your family will love it.

This recipe for Devil Made Me Do It Chocolate Cake is taken from the recipe book “Taste of the Town” by Todd Blackledge and JR Rosenthal. You can order your copy today from Barnes & Noble, Amazon or a variety of online book stores.