Restaurant Roulette

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TheStreet.com

publishes selected email received by the publication and its staff members. To send an email intended for publication in this section, email letters@thestreet.com and include your full name and city. Letters may be edited for length, clarity, accuracy and style.

Reader Won't Play Restaurant Roulette

Herb Greenberg: Good piece on

restaurants. We have made money on the short side as well. However we are long two,

Dave & Buster's

and

Sonic Corp

. Both are very focused on what they do, have no razzle-dazzle, and control growth. Dave & Buster's is still managed by the founders as well.

I have seen concepts go flat when guiding executives get bought out by a public company. The executives get rich and lose their incentive. In addition, there is the issue of a coherent culture, which is very important in ensuring a better chance of success.

Lastly, good operators reinvent themselves by investing in their existing units to keep them fresh. Many chains, in their efforts to grow fast, ignore the importance of this.

Emmett Murphy

(received 1/20)

Excited About DSL

In response to yesterday's article

Excite/@Home Deal Should Spur DSL Activity:

First off yes I am long

WSTL

. But, even if I was not I might be interested in which manufacturer is going to be furnishing these modems to

Bell Atlantic's

DSL customers. Yes it is WSTL. It certainly is important to the story.

I find it a major fumble on your part not to mention where these modems will be coming from. If I did not already know where they were coming from I would certainly like to know. I am slightly biased because I am one of the few people using a WSTL modem for Bell Atlantic, here in Pittsburgh.

Carl Lovejoy

(received 1/19)

Hey Herb! Readers Bubble Over About Waterhouse

(The following letters are in response to Herb Greenberg's article "Will Waterhouse's Latest Move Help Burst the Net Bubble?")

Cramer

and

Greenberg

need to explain why Internet stock enthusiasm isn't simply too many dollars chasing too few shares.

What

Greenspan

may threaten, what Waterhouse and others do regarding margins, what tut-tutting goes on, won't change that equation. It will simply replace shallow-pocket investors, who require risky margin buying, with mutual fund managers who must invest a ton of other people's cash every week.

The players may change, but there's no evidence the game will change.

Rey Barry

(received 1/19)

Herb Greenberg

: Of course all is not perfect on the Internet e-commerce scene today. We shouldn't expect it to be.

E-commerce is still in its infancy, nonetheless growing by leaps and bounds; it will eventually take on the stature of

Paul Bunyan

someday. A gigantic, influential and overwhelming force which will affect the way we all do business.

However, perfection takes time and practice. E-commerce is still crawling, yet such behemoths as

Amazon.com

and

eBay

are beginning to learn how to take steps towards teaching e-commerce to walk. There will be some skinned knees and bruised elbows along the way. Eventually e-commerce will learn to walk, run, skip, jump and realize its full potential.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

David Ashcraft

(received 1/19)

I am not an advocate of any particular online or offline service, but I thought I'd say that I recently bought a book from

shopping.com

. Delivery was satisfactory (couldn't say how long because I really didn't pay attention, but probably was within a week).

The reason I bought the book from shopping.com was because it was cheaper there than anywhere else -- it seems to be that every week, book prices, and delivery charges are coming down. There always seems to be someone selling it cheaper than the last guy you used. There is no loyalty whatsoever, at least from me.

Bob Wallace

(received 1/19)

Waterhouse

claims to be protecting their customers. The real problem is Waterhouse. Scenario -- two screens open; one to obtain Waterhouse "real time" quotes, one to place an order. Click for "real time" quote and you will wait anywhere from 45 seconds to over a minute for a "real time" quote. Place an order and click "real time" quote, both taking the 45 seconds or more, the real time quote and the real time quote on the order confirmation will be completely different even though requested at the same time.

Additionally, Waterhouse claims that the reason the time listed on their real time quotes is always 1 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes behind actual clock time is because they give you the time of the last sale. In a volatile stock like

Amazon.com

, they expect us to believe that there have been no sales for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. What they are trying to do is protect themselves from their own pitiful trading system.

I live in an area where there is a Waterhouse trading center -- call in and trade through a broker. This is more like sit on hold for 3 to five minutes. At any given time that I have been in their offices there may be 3 to 4 individuals in the office making the trades. There is no receptionist, etc., so the brokers handle any walk-in requests while the customers are waiting on the phone lines to make a trade.

I really don't need "Big Brother to protect me from myself."

Betty Cloughley

(received 1/19)

Ringing In On Tel-Save

(The following letter is in response to Herb Greenberg's article "Does the SEC Think Network Associates' Honey Pot Is a Cookie Jar?")

Dear Mr. Greenberg: For the record, in June 1997 I was contacted several times by

Tel-Save Holdings president,

Dan Borislow

, who offered to purchase my domain address for a nominal amount of cash. I rejected this offer through my attorney, and no counteroffer ensued. Indeed, no further contact was made by either party, until December 1998, whereupon I was again contacted several times by way of letters from their attorneys, in addition to telephone calls from Dan Borislow, who repeatedly offered $200,000.00 for our domain address. Their letters and proposals were clearly rejected by our attorneys and myself in several additional letters and conversations during December 1998.

By virtue of the forgoing facts and the documentary evidence, it is abundantly clear that a Tel-Save.com Inc.'s spokesman's representation of no knowledge of our site nor of attempts by Borislow to buy its name is either untrue or uninformed. I am constrained to clarify any confusion created by

Tel-Save.com

(formerly Tel-Save Holdings) regarding this matter.

Todd Klein

, president, Information Superhighway (received 1/17)

Can't Stay Away

Jim Cramer: Yesterday you

wrote, "How can you stay away?" The answer is I can't. I am a lawyer/partner at a general practice firm in a suburb of Boston. I follow the market and my portfolio all day by logging into Yahoo. As far as trading, I use

Schwab

. I often find myself, in the middle of a client interview, pretending to listen while Mr. Jones sits across from my desk and tells me why he wants to file for divorce.

Meanwhile, I am hitting the refresh button on my browser only to see that Broadcom is down another 10.

I too spent my time in law school digesting the entire

Journal

in the middle of class while some bore in a bow tie droned on about the

UCC

. I got a lot of stares, but managed to not get thrown out of class. My law school trading activity was limited. I managed to scrape up $700, so I opened an account with

Stockcross

near Boston City Hall. Bought 100

Nabisco

in 1990 at 7 and sold a couple weeks later at 11. Then I hopped the Blue Line for Wonderland, convinced that a "genius" had just been born.

Keep calling it like you see it.

Brian Barrett

(received 1/14)