Fire hits Oakland eatery, market

Merritt Bakery Fire, originally uploaded by in2jazz.

By George Kelly

A two-alarm blaze in Oakland has damaged a grocery store and restaurant, a city fire official said today.

Firefighters responded at 6:54 a.m. to an alarm call at a strip mall in the 200 block of East 18th Street, said Oakland fire department Lt. Melinda Drayton. A second alarm was called in at 7:01 a.m.

The fire was placed under control at 7:19 a.m. No firefighters or civilians were hurt.

The site contains an Albertson’s supermarket, which Drayton said suffered some damage, and the Merritt Restaurant and Bakery. No damage estimate was immediately available, but Drayton said she believed the restaurant was not likely to open anytime soon.

The city health department is also investigating, as is standard procedure for restaurant fires.
UPDATE: Merritt Restaurant and Bakery reopened the next day for business.

Goodbye Diet Vanilla Coke

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I knew something was wrong when I was no longer able to find this in the stores!

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft drink maker, said on Friday it would phase out its Vanilla Coke, Vanilla Diet Coke and Diet Coke With Lemon beverages in the United States by end of this year.

Coca-Cola shares were down 1.1 percent in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The announcement came a day after Coca-Cola said it would phase out Vanilla Coke and Vanilla Diet Coke in the United Kingdom early next year. The company said sales have declined.
Coca-Cola added that it plans to introduce Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke and Black Cherry Vanilla Coke in the United States in January 2006.

The company said Vanilla Coke, which was introduced in the United States in 2002 and Diet Vanilla Coke in 2003, could return sometime in the future. Details about whether Diet Coke With Lemon, which made its U.S. entry in 2001, would be brought back were not available.

“I don’t know if we have ever taken out a flavor and brought it back to the market, but the landscape continues to change and we want to be as flexible as possible to adapt to the changing landscape,” said Scott Williamson, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola.

The phase out follows declining sales for the brands in the United States. Vanilla Coke sales slipped to 35 million unit cases in 2004 from 90 million unit cases in 2002, while Vanilla Diet Coke sales dropped to 13 million unit cases last year from 23 million unit cases in 2003, according to Beverage Marketing, a beverage research and consulting firm.

Sales of Diet Coke with Lemon have fallen to 9.9 million unit cases in 2004 from 24 million unit cases in 2001, data showed.

Analysts have said that one of the keys to the company’s future is to innovate new products that will help Coca-Cola capture more consumers who have moved away from sugary soft drinks to diet versions, or to healthier low-or no-calorie beverages such as water and orange juices with reduced sugar.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc., the No. 2 soft drink company, are battling for the allegiance of increasingly picky U.S. consumers. The United States is the largest market for the soft-drink companies.
“It is a rapidly changing beverage landscape and it is important for Coke to move quickly to deliver on what the consumer wants,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of Beverage Marketing. “The competition for shelf space is intense.”

Shares of Dow Component Coca-Cola were down 44 cents at $42.15 on the NYSE.

Turkey Pumpkin

Turkey Pumpkin, originally uploaded by in2jazz.

Note: No turkeys were harmed in the making of this carving.
I guess I am a bit square when it comes to Halloween. I usually don’t got out to parties nor do I dress up in costume. It amazes me how commercial Halloween has become over the last few years. However, I will take photos of cool costumes and eat up your candy, if you offer it to me. :) People dress up their homes like they would for Christmas with lights and other decorations. I went to San Francisco the first year I moved here and it was like “night of the living dead” for there were people everywhere. I got called a party pooper yesterday when I mentioned to a friend that I would be spending a quiet evening at home.
Tomorrow is November 1. Time to starting thinking about the holidays. I will be home for the holidays this year. I usually go home for Thanksgiving but I decided that I wanted to stay home this year. I have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for myself so this may be my first year. Of course, I will be gearing up for all the holiday baking. Right before Thanksgiving is a great time to stock up on all your holiday baking supplies. There are usually some great sales.
Speaking of baking, I was sent this recipe for Bill Nicholson’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce. Are you feeling your arteries clogging yet? You know I am tempted to make this just once. My dad loved breading pudding but I am sure this would have been a bit much for him.
Whatever you decide to do tonight, have a happy and safe Halloween and save me some candy!