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Guard Optimism
Former Houston Rockets guard Clyde Drexler hit the national airwaves June 8, but not broadcasting from the basketball court: He's starring in a new commercial for Denny's restaurants.

Plugging Denny's plans to sell really big burgers this summer, the six-foot seven-inch, ten-time NBA All-Star complains he feels small by comparison, and talk-show shrink Dr. Joyce Brothers helps him overcome his "small" complex in 30 seconds flat.

The chain thinks it's scoring big. "The pairing of Denny's and Drexler is a slam dunk," says Jon Jameson, Denny's senior vice president of marketing.

Redneck Restaurants
You know you're a redneck if ... you've got a fast-food outlet in your backyard. Former sitcom star and standup comedian Jeff Foxworthy will take a flier in the franchise biz with his new Jeff Foxworthy's Backyard Bar-B-Que outlets, licensed through Redneck Foods, Inc. (and trading, of course, under the symbol RDNK).

Although national franchise sales began June 10, a Houston Redneck outlet is at least six months away, says Redneck Foods president David Womick. "Barbecue is very regionalized, and it's a completely different animal in Texas than it is in North Carolina or Memphis," he notes. Foxworthy's agent proclaims that "Jeff is God in Texas"; Texan purchases account for 30 percent of the sales of his books and tapes. But even a deity may have trouble selling Carolina barbecue here. "We've been warned not to even try to put pork on the table," says Womick.

He plans to avoid food fights by customizing up to 30 percent of each store's menu to accommodate local tastes. The Kissimmee outlet, for example, offers three different cole slaws: a mustard-based version, a bourbon-sauced Carolina style and a mayonnaised local edition.

But Womick figures at least one aspect of the chain's national blueprint will go over fine in Houston. The wait staff's name tags, he says, are made of duct tape.

MTV Nation
Tired of watching TV while you eat? How about appearing on TV while you eat?
Planet Hollywood has inked a deal with MTV: Music Television to combine live music and a "cutting-edge, global menu" with a working TV studio, and then air the results. ("Hi, Mom! That's me with the cutting-edge global cheeseburger.") Under the brand name Sound Republic, each location will feature performance space for live music, as well as the familiar music-based restaurant and retail outlet.

The first locations will open in London and New York. Other stores are slated for Seattle, Las Vegas, and Paris, France; Gen X Texans will have to travel to Dallas (bummer!).

-- Margaret L. Briggs

 
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