No-show wedding guests billed for missed meal

— Not showing up to a wedding you’ve said you’ll attend is bad form, but billing wedding guests for missed meals is probably not the best way to handle no-shows.

That’s the sticky situation that recently unfolded for Jessica Baker of Andover, Minnesota.

The stay-at-home mother and her husband had planned to attend a cousin’s wedding but had to skip when their child care fell through at the last minute, according to CNN affiliate WCCO.

The invitation specifically said “no children,” so the couple stayed home.

A few weeks later, an invoice from the newlyweds arrived for the wedding meal they missed.

“I was pretty shocked to see that I was being charged $75 for herb-crusted walleye and a service and tax charge,” Baker told WCCO.

The invoice suggests that Baker did not let the bride and groom know that she and her husband couldn’t make it at the last minute.

A typed note on the bill reads, “Reimbursement and explanation for no show, card, call or text would be appreciated.”

Baker posted her frustration with the bill on Facebook, and an avalanche of comments and media requests soon followed.

“It’s just crazy. I certainly didn’t think it would get this amount of attention,” she said.

Baker doesn’t plan to pay the bride and groom, but she’s considering alternatives to resolve the matter.

“One of the best Facebook answers that I got was from a gentleman who suggested that we write a check in that amount to a charity and then send the bride and groom the receipt.”

Free coffee marks National Coffee Day

Go ahead, have another cup of coffee. This week’s mug runneth over with days devoted to the beverage that wakes up nations and keeps industries humming.

According to Internet sages and the arbiters of faux holidays, September 29 is Coffee Day (also known as National Coffee Day or International Coffee Day).

The origins of this day of caffeinated celebration are largely unknown, but who needs an origin story to justify that second, third or fourth cup?

Coffee purveyors are offering freebies to mark the occasion.

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving away free medium hot or iced dark roast coffees on Tuesday.

Krispy Kreme is upping the ante with a free glazed doughnut and a free 12-ounce cup of coffee at participating locations in the U.S. on Tuesday.

A small cup of Major Dickason’s Blend is available for free at Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations with a food purchase.

True java devotees have a double shot at coffee festivities this week. According to the intergovernmental International Coffee Organization, October 1 is the “first official” International Coffee Day.

Statistics suggest that coffee-loving Finns will outdo the rest of the world.

Finland is No. 1 in the world for coffee consumption per capita, according to data collected by market research provider Euromonitor International. On average, each person in Finland consumed 9.9 kilograms (21.8 pounds) of coffee in 2014.

Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia round out the top five coffee-consuming nations.

The United States didn’t even break the top 10, ranking 25th for coffee consumption in 2014. Americans consumed 3.1 kilograms (6.8 pounds) of coffee per capita last year, the same amount as the citizens of France.

Italians consumed slightly more: 3.4 kilograms (7.5 pounds), coming in at No. 21 on the global list.


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TripAdvisor’s picks: America’s best BBQ

— There’s more than one bone of contention in the great finger-lickin’ barbecue debate. Pork or beef? Vinegar- or tomato-based sauce? No sauce — or maybe something mustard-based?

Travel site TripAdvisor has waded into hotly contested territory with a list of the best BBQ restaurants in the United States.

Not a one of the top 10 restaurants is in Tennessee, North Carolina or South Carolina. Blasphemy? Maybe. But hold on to your judgments; TripAdvisor also ranked the top 10 states for BBQ and all three of those smoking barbecue states make that list.

The review site created its top 10 list for restaurants by looking at barbecue joints with a minimum of 100 reviews and ranked them based on the volume and quality of reviews. More weight was given to reviews written within the past year, and chains with more than 10 locations were excluded.

Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge, Georgia, topped the list. “The pork and ribs are the standouts. Both were tender and packed with flavor, and smoked perfectly,” said one TripAdvisor reviewer.

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, Kansas, and Bogart’s Smokehouse in St. Louis ranked second and third. Also in the top 10 were three BBQ joints in Florida.

“The Sunshine State is certainly a hotspot for mouthwatering southern ‘cue. Reuben’s, Captain’s and Buck’s have all earned 4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor and have received hundreds of reviews from the community,” said TripAdvisor spokeswoman Julie Cassetina.

Here are the top 10 BBQ restaurants for 2015, according to TripAdvisor:

  1. Joe’s BBQ — Blue Ridge, Georgia
  2. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que — Kansas City, Kansas
  3. Bogart’s Smokehouse — St. Louis
  4. Reuben’s Smokehouse — Fort Myers, Florida
  5. Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit BBQ — Cockeysville, Maryland
  6. Captain’s BBQ — Palm Coast, Florida
  7. HogsHead Café — Richmond, Virginia
  8. Buck’s Smokehouse — Destin, Florida
  9. Franklin Barbecue — Austin, Texas
  10. Pappy’s Smokehouse — St. Louis

TripAdvisor evaluated the best states for barbecue separately, by looking at the volume of reviews and the quality of ratings for barbecue restaurants. The site also looked at the total number and percentage of restaurants in each state that were classified as BBQ establishments and put more weigh on reviews written in the past year.

Using those criteria, Tennessee is the No. 1 state for BBQ.

Here’s the full list of the best states for expertly smoked meats:

  1. Tennessee
  2. Texas
  3. Missouri
  4. North Carolina
  5. Georgia
  6. Florida
  7. South Carolina
  8. California
  9. Virginia
  10. New York

15 best U.S. spots for kids

— The best kids’ attractions are fun for adults, too.

“When you spend the whole day at some place like a theme park or zoo, you want everyone in your family to enjoy it — young and old,” said Travis Katz, CEO and co-founder of travel planning site Gogobot.

That’s what the site’s favorite spots for kids have in common, Katz said. The 15 best attractions in the U.S. for kids, announced Tuesday as part of Gogobot’s Travelers’ Favorites awards, were selected based on Gogobot user recommendations and the number of visits from the site’s 3.7 million users.

And the best in the U.S. for kids? That would be the Exploratorium on Pier 15 in San Francisco.

The interactive learning lab features 600 exhibits.

“The slogan at the entrance says ‘Touch Everything,’ making it more like a giant playground than a museum,” Katz said.

Plus, there’s an evening event for adults only on the first Thursday of each month, with a cash bar and film screenings in addition to the exhibits. See? Fun for everyone.