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Flick: 383,656 cheeseburgers later ...
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Flick: 383,656 cheeseburgers later ...

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Editor's note: This column has been updated to correct that the McDonald's sales numbers are for just one year.

After recently selling their 10 McDonald’s restaurants in the Bloomington-Normal area, to cap 29 years of mcmanaging two arches and hundreds of thousands of customers, the Dobskis — Bob and Julie — had a retirement gala last weekend at the DoubleTree.

Nearly 500 guests were there.

That seems like a lot.

Then you consider: their stores sold 383,656 cheeseburgers, 159,848 Egg McMuffins, 219,076 double cheeseburgers, 71,240 Big Macs, 169,988 sausage biscuits, 329,784 small fries, 240,188 large fries and 260,106 Happy Meals. In one year. 

Biggest seller? Might surprise you — hash browns. They fried up 498,004 orders of them.

The Dobskis? OK, they probably deserve a break today.

Ah, this 21st Century technology …

Reported in this space last week was a weird news story out of San Diego. It’s the one where a TV news anchor was reporting the story of a little girl who ordered a $160 dollhouse via “Alexa,” the popular Echo Dot device, and by simply reading the story and saying "Alexa", the anchor’s voice triggered “Alexa“ devices all over San Diego to begin ordering all of them $160 dollhouses, too.

Now an update.

In Normal on the morning that story appeared in this newpaper, amused because they also have an “Alexa” device, Helen Flood read aloud the story to her husband, Mike.

And, alas — when Helen got to the quote about “Alexa” ordering a dollhouse for the little girl, the Echo Dot on a table in the Floods’ living room was activated and immediately responded with an offer to sell them … a $160 doll house.

Says Mike: “When she finished the pitch and said, `Would you like to buy it?’, quickly I said ‘no! no!’ That’s when `Alexa’ then offered us something else, which we also declined.”

Alexa, quit working so well!

Even Conan gets face-painted

If you're a frequenter at any of the B-N area festivals, children events or street fairs, you’ve encountered Mickey Lower.

She's the “Zoo Lady,” a face painter for which she is so well-known, she recently garnered a Women of Distinction award, one of B-N’s highest honors.

As you might also know, Mickey has a daughter, 30-year-old Britt Lower, a budding actress in Hollywood whose star grows by the day. That’s when the other night, while guesting on “Conan,” the 10 p.m. talkie on TBS, Britt suddenly whipped out face paint and, in a funny bit, proceeded to paint up Conan O'Brien’s face. (The video of it all can be accessed on the Flick blog at www.pantagraph.com.)

“What a great moment,” says Mickey, “when she mentioned that her mom taught her.”

If a picture indeed paints a thousand words, the one on national TV of Conan getting painted by Britt, the ex-little-girl from Heyworth who used to (and still does) shadow her mother to B-N area street fairs, is easily worth 10,000 — especially for one smiling mom.

A B-N restaurant defying the odds …

When it comes to business success, especially in B-N, it is as the axiom goes, "location ... location ... location."

Except for maybe BraiZe.

A "pop-up” restaurant with some of the best sandwiches in town, it is located inside, of all places, a VFW hall wedged in a building along Lincoln Street on Bloomington’s southeast side.

Armed with college educations in finance and entrepreneurial business and opened a couple years ago by two sandwich-creative Lexington natives — Zach Poleto and Brandon Leach — BraiZe has brought a lot of new feet to the VFW's out-of-the-way locale.

And now they are trying it again. They've applied for a liquor license for a spot inside the Parke Regency Hotel in east Bloomington. 

"We're excited," says Leach, eyeing an April 1 opening.

Stay tuned, taste buds.

An amusing, but not-so, Valentines story:

Debra Small lives with her husband in a home along Fairway Drive in Bloomington and happened to glance outside on Valentine's Day morn to see a van of a popular Twin City flower shop whip into their driveway.

"I was so surprised, so excited … I haven't received flowers in years!" she says. 

Debra waited for the doorbell to ring. And waited. 

That's when she looked out to see the van slowly back out of the drive and take off down the street.

Do you think florist shop drivers ever think about the fact they can stir a lot of emotions … by simply doing nothing other than turning around in someone's driveway?

"If someone was trying to play a cruel joke on me, they succeeded!" says Debra, chuckling. Sort of. 

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