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Edward E. Hodgson Jr.
1110 North Broad Street | Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215-362-2260 | Office Phone: 215-362-2260 | Fax: 267-354-6844
Cell: 215-850-6973 | email: ed@edhodgsonrealtor.com

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How Well You Enjoy Your Last Bite of a Food Determines How Long Before You Choose the Same Food Again

February 3, 2014 1:15 pm

Portion sizes have steadily increased over the last few decades, with consumers demanding more food and larger beverages from companies that are happy to accommodate and capture the market share. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that not only do larger portions lead consumers to enjoy the foods they eat less, they also reduce how often people consume those foods.

Each bite of a food or sip of a drink is enjoyed less than the previous one, a familiar phenomenon called "sensory-specific satiety." A well-known fact is that the more we eat or drink, the more satiety reduces how much we enjoy that food or beverage. So consuming a larger portion means that we reduce our average enjoyment of the food or drink we consume.

The degree of satisfaction at the end of a meal also influences how long we want to wait to eat a food again in the future, as revealed by research conducted by Carey Morewedge, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, and his colleagues. Research participants who ate chocolate truffles were given a coupon for a free bag of truffles, which they could pick up anytime in the subsequent two weeks. Although all participants redeemed their coupon in the following two weeks, the more participants reported feeling fully satisfied after they finished their last truffle was the key predictor of how long they took to pick up their free bag. Critically, participants who ate a larger portion of truffles, who were most satisfied after eating, took a full four days longer to redeem their bag of truffles than did participants who only ate one truffle.

"Our conclusions suggest that how much we enjoy our last bite of a food — the end of an eating experience — appears to determine how long we will choose to wait before eating the same food again," Morewedge said.

"Although people often say they prefer larger portion sizes, especially for foods that they really like, our research indicates that consumption of larger portions can ultimately decrease the frequency at which these foods are consumed. This suggests people and companies may actually be better off with smaller portions. People will enjoy the food they eat more, and eat the foods they enjoy more often. Companies will benefit from more frequent repeat purchases."

Another interesting finding of the study was that distraction while eating, like watching TV, can cloud the association that people develop as to their enjoyment with food, thus, altering their end-of-consumption liking for the food. In one of the experiments, participants who were distracted while eating were not influenced as much by their enjoyment of the food to consume that food again, as participants who were not distracted.

Source: Tepper School of Business

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Three Tips for Staying Healthy Over 50

February 3, 2014 1:15 pm

(Family Features) A healthy lifestyle is necessary at any age, but for those over 50, it’s especially important. As you age, your body changes, and your risk for health problems increases. Fortunately, there are three simple things you can do to lead a healthier and happier life.

Eat Heart Healthy
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medicine, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems and other serious health issues. A great way to establish a heart healthy diet is by reducing your sodium intake, which may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Starting the day with a low-sodium, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal is just one way to choose a healthier lifestyle.

Enjoy Nutrient-Dense Foods
As you age, your body needs fewer calories for energy – but still needs the same amount of nutrients. It’s important to make your calories count by eating foods packed with good nutrition
such as:

• Fruits and vegetables: Fresh, canned, frozen – it doesn’t matter. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals your body needs.
• Protein: Add some variety to your diet with delicious protein sources such as fish, beans and peas.
• Whole grains: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least three servings of whole-grain foods each day (16g per serving or 48g per day).

Get Moving
Physical activity and regular exercise can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend those 65 years of age or older, who are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, try to get:
• Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or yoga, and
• Muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before making changes to your diet or exercise plan to determine what is right for your needs.

In addition to taking up walking or yoga, joining group activities or sports are great ways to keep moving. Taking care of your blood pressure, enjoying healthy foods, and staying active are three steps you can start taking today to help you get and stay healthy for tomorrow.

Source: Post Shredded Wheat

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Travelers Really Think About Airline Fees

January 31, 2014 5:30 am

Ancillary fees are big business for airlines. A recent industry report suggests that North American carriers collected $17.2 billion in ancillary revenue during 2013. But what are these fees really costing airlines in terms of customer satisfaction? As airlines gear up to add yet more fees in 2014, new research from Fly.com reveals a discrepancy between the services that fliers are willing to pay for and the services and amenities currently being offered to them.

It comes as no surprise that baggage fees top the list as the biggest objection for today's airline passengers. Of the travelers surveyed by Fly.com, 89 percent said it was important that airlines stop charging for checked baggage. In contrast, 42 percent would pay to have dedicated overhead bin space for their hand luggage, and 35 percent would pay to have their checked luggage come out first at baggage claim.

Travelers are also willing to shell out for things that improve comfort and efficiency – both on board and at the airport. At a time when airlines are shrinking the size of seats and moving them closer together, 89 percent of survey respondents felt that comfortable seats were an important requirement of air travel. Moreover, 45 percent would pay for extra legroom, 26 percent would pay to have an empty middle seat next to them, and another 34 percent would pay to prevent the seat in front of them from reclining. At the airport, 36 percent of fliers said they would purchase a fast pass to speed through security.

"U.S. airlines collected more than $2.5 billion from baggage fees during the first 9 months of 2013 alone," said Warren Chang, vice president and general manager, Fly.com. "While lucrative, it is important that airlines balance profit against the needs and interests of their passengers. Our latest survey reveals the type of ancillary opportunities that can bolster passenger satisfaction, while also delivering new revenue streams to the airline industry."

Other Survey Findings:

• The most popular bundled fare packages include waived baggage fees (88 percent), confirmed seat selection (45 percent), and a security fast pass (35 percent).
• 46 percent of travelers have not chosen the cheapest flight because of flight times.
• 40 percent of travelers would like complimentary meals during their flight.
• Half of Fly.com respondents list price as the most important factor when purchasing airfare.
• 10 percent of travelers choose flights based on brand loyalty. However nearly all of these would switch to a different airline if the ticket was at least $51 cheaper.
• 26 percent of travelers have not chosen the cheapest flight because of too many stops.

Source: fly.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fixed Mortgage Rates Move Lower Again

January 31, 2014 5:30 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates lower again this week.

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.32 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 30, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.53 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.40 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.44 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.81 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.12 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.15 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.70 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.54 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.59 percent.

"Mortgage rates eased somewhat as new home sales fell 7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted pace of 414,000 units, below the consensus. The S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite house price index declined 0.1 percent for the month of November, the first decrease since November 2012,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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71 Percent of Current Homeowners are Contemplating Selling in 2014

January 30, 2014 5:27 am

According to a recent survey, current and potential homeowners have a generally optimistic outlook on the US economy and housing market. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents have a positive outlook on the housing market and 63 percent expect the U.S. economy to continue to improve in 2014. Because of the optimistic outlook and improving home values, 71 percent of current homeowners said they are considering selling their home in the next 12 months, making 2014 an active year in the housing market.

Rising Rates and Future Home Sales

The survey shows that 74 percent of current and potential homeowners expect mortgage rates to be higher 12 months from now. Most (60 percent) anticipate a moderate uptick in mortgage rates while 14 percent expect rates to be considerably higher 12 months from now. 

Despite the expected increase in mortgage rates, current and potential homeowners don't expect to shy away from the housing market. Of the 71 percent of homeowners who are thinking about selling in 2014, 24 percent plan to sell their home regardless of any home value increase or decrease, while 47 percent say they plan to sell if they experience an increase in their home value. Only 15 percent of homeowners say they are not contemplating a sale in 2014, and 15 percent are undecided.

Potential home sales are driven largely by younger homeowners, with 90 percent of homeowners under 30 considering selling their home in 2014 and 78 percent of homeowners aged 30-39 contemplating selling their home in the next 12 months.

Rising Home Prices – Perception vs. Reality

According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents stated home prices in their area increased during the past 12 months, while 20 percent believe home values declined and 8 percent thought home values remained flat.  To compare current and potential homeowner perceptions with reality, S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices data collected through October 2013 showed that the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted year-over-year gains of 13.6 percent.

In the areas where home values were believed to have improved, prices increased an average of 10.2 percent, according to the survey.  This figure closely matches the National Association of REALTOR®’s reported U.S. home price increase of 12 percent for 2013.  For those that believe home values declined in their areas, 9.2 percent is the average perceptive drop in home prices.

The perception that home prices increased is not equally distributed across the U.S., according to the survey data. Seventy-nine percent of current and potential homeowners in the West believe home prices are higher today than one year ago, compared to 67 percent of individuals in the Northeast with the same view.

Source: LendingTree

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Energy-Efficient Solutions for Your Home

January 29, 2014 5:24 am

(Family Features) For many people, a trip down the lighting aisle can be an overwhelming experience, especially when considering the many energy-efficient lighting options available. Whether looking at light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or compact fluorescent technology (CFL) bulbs, there are some factors you should think about before making a purchase.

Recent studies have found that most homeowners aren’t ready to make the leap to newer energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED and CFL. But those who are making the switch from incandescent bulbs to GE Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs are doing so at a rate of two-to-one, compared to CFL bulbs.

“We understand that consumers are overwhelmed by all of the changes in the lighting aisle, and whatever their lighting preference, we have reliable lighting options for them,” says John Strainic, general manager, Consumer Lighting for GE in North America. “For consumers who still want an incandescent-like bulb, our incandescent isn’t gone—it’s more energy efficient. Our Energy-Efficient Soft White bulb provides a warm, cozy light and dimming capabilities, but saves energy and meets federal brightness requirements.”

Small upgrades equal big savings

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting consumes up to 17 percent of a home’s overall energy usage. With an annual energy savings of $2.05 per bulb, a household that replaces forty 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 43-watt Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs could save more than $80 a year based on 3 hours use per day and an 11c/kWh electricity rate.

Other energy-saving options

One popular option in energy-efficient lighting is the LED bulb. Though the price for this option can be higher than others, experts believe that prices should decrease as LED technology evolves, allowing for a broader mass market appeal. Another more energy-efficient lighting option is CFL bulb technology, which has been in the market now for more than 30 years and has greatly improved to mirror the performance of a traditional incandescent light.

With new energy-efficiency standards taking place as of Jan. 1, 2014, consumers will now choose between these more energy-efficient lighting options, including Energy-Efficient Soft White, or halogen technology, CFL or LED bulbs. Consumers will still be able to find a limited supply of incandescent bulbs at some retailers until inventory is gone.

For those wishing to save money on energy bills, having an understanding of the different energy-efficient lighting options available can help to make an informed purchasing decision.

Source: GE

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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With Flu Season Peaking, Are Families Doing All They Can To Stay Healthy?

January 28, 2014 5:24 am

With outbreaks of cold and flu on the rise across the U.S., Americans are facing a seemingly impossible task of helping their families stay healthy this winter. As of last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 47 states have declared the incidence of flu to be regional or widespread in their communities and nearly 10,000 cases of H1N1 have been documented. With this seasonal illness coming to a head, are Americans truly aware of – and doing – all the things they can to combat cold and flu? As part of its Mission for Health, LYSOL® is committed to making sure the public is armed with the knowledge and tools to help keep themselves and their families healthy and safe.

"Keeping a family healthy can seem like a lofty goal during the peak of cold and flu season. What we have realized is that while people think they are doing what they can to prevent the spread of germs, they are missing some simple insider tips and tricks that can help keep them illness-free," said Gregory Chabidon, marketing director, LYSOL. "We are passionately dedicated to helping families understand all the ways they can prevent cold and flu and want to make staying healthy a reality for them by providing the necessary tools that will help them get through this cold and flu season."

One of the main education points focuses on surface disinfection. While Americans may understand that following the CDC's recommendation to routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surface areas at home and at work can help prevent the transmission of cold and flu viruses, they may not know that not all cleaning products disinfect – which is the key to stopping illness in its tracks. In addition to routinely cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surface areas, the CDC recommends the following effective tips to help families stay healthy during peak flu activity:

• Get vaccinated with a seasonal flu shot – the most important step in preventing cold and flu.
• Help prevent the spread of flu germs by practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette, staying away from sick people, and staying home if you get sick.
• Wash your hands with soap and water often, or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to a sink.

Nevertheless, the reality is that the chance of coming in contact with cold and flu germs is quite likely during this time of year, but there are some insider tips and know-how that can minimize this risk and help families set themselves up for success, including:

• Taxis are the cleanest form of public transportation as compared to airplanes or rental cars, which are the least clean.
• The first bathroom stall in public restrooms is usually the cleanest.
• Bathroom taps harbor more germs than the toilet seat.
• The kitchen sink contains 100,000x more germs than a bathroom.
• The TV remote is one of the top places to transmit infections in the home.
• Light switches are some of the most frequently touched surfaces in the home.
• Staying indoors – and thus, in close contact with other people's germs – encourages cold and flu transmission more than being out in the cold, as is commonly believed.
• Stress taxes the immune system and can cause people to neglect sleep, healthy diet, and exercise, which ultimately makes them more vulnerable to getting sick.

Source: LYSOL

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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All Hail Kale! The Top Five Fruits and Veggies of 2013

January 28, 2014 5:24 am

Each year a few rising stars in the produce department capture the public's attention and are touted by friends, foodies and food bloggers alike. But what are consumers actually buying at the grocery store? Two experts from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer Meijer – Produce Buyer Scott Calandra and Healthy Living Advisor and Registered Dietitian Melissa Hehmann – share what fresh produce shoppers bought in Meijer stores in 2013 and predict what to watch for this year.

Top-selling Produce in 2013

1. Power Greens
Kale is the leafy green veggie that took the nation by storm in 2012 and continued to enjoy strong growth in 2013. Kale's "Power Green" cousins Brussels sprouts, organic salads, and bagged greens topped the retailer's highest-selling produce list. Bagged baby kale saw the biggest growth in 2013 with a nearly 200 percent sales jump from 2012, according to Calandra.

Why the big jump? It's all about nutrition, explains Hehmann. "The leafy, nutrient-dense foods in the Power Green category pack a big nutritional punch without a lot of calories – a great combination," she said. "The popularity of bagged Power Greens is all about convenience – less time spent on washing, trimming and chopping."

2. Fresh Herbs
As consumers gravitate toward more nutritional options at mealtime, they don't necessarily want to compromise on taste. At the same time, consumer palates are becoming more sophisticated. Home cooks, who would have previously added salt, are more often using fresh herbs like basil and cilantro to enhance flavor.

"Salt used to be the go-to way to bring out the taste of foods," said Hehmann, "but we're trying to educate consumers to limit their sodium intake to reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure. Herbs are a great alternative and another excellent source for antioxidants."

3. Portabello Mushrooms
With trends like "Meatless Monday," Meijer is seeing more and more consumers swapping out meats for veggie alternatives. "The meaty texture and savory flavor of portabello mushrooms make them a good option for someone looking for a meat substitute," Calandra said. Families aren't just replacing meat, but finding ways to make it stretch further, such as mixing chopped mushrooms into ground beef. "Which, coincidentally, is also a great way to sneak more vegetables into your family's diet," Hehmann added.

4. Sweet Potatoes
Consumers have moved on from carbohydrate avoidance to acceptance and are now looking for healthier varieties of carbs, according to Hehmann. "Sweet potatoes offer more vitamins and fiber than traditional white potatoes, and add a vibrant color to dishes. And research has actually shown that the fiber gained from eating steamed or boiled sweet potatoes can help reduce the blood sugar of people with diabetes," Hehmann said.

5. Clementines
Sales of the mandarin and sweet orange hybrid at Meijer more than doubled in 2013. Clementines are an easy-to-peel fruit, which makes them a "healthy low calorie snack for kids and adults alike," Hehmann said.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tests Show Consumers Unnecessarily Exposed to Potential Cancer Risk in Many Soft Drinks

January 27, 2014 5:24 am

In Consumer Reports' recent tests of sodas and other soft drinks, varying levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a potentially-carcinogenic chemical byproduct of the production of certain types of caramel color, were found in all of the samples that listed caramel color as an ingredient. Twelve brands of sodas and soft drinks from five manufacturers – including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Goya – were tested.

"We are concerned about both the levels of 4-MeI we found in many of the soft drinks tested and the variations observed among brands, especially given the widespread consumption of these types of beverages. There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and Executive Director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

Caramel color is used in certain food and beverages as a coloring agent and should not be confused with real caramel. Some types of this artificial coloring contain 4-MeI which has been recognized as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

While there are no existing federal limits on the amount of caramel color allowed in food and beverages, products sold in California that would expose consumers to more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI in a day are supposed to carry a warning label under the state's Proposition 65 law.

Between April and September 2013, Consumer Reports tested 81 cans and bottles of various popular brands of soft drinks purchased in stores in California and the New York metropolitan region. Twenty-nine additional samples were purchased and tested in December 2013.

In its tests, Consumer Reports found that 12-ounce, single servings of two products purchased multiple times during an eight-month period in the state of California – Pepsi One and Malta Goya – exceeded 29 micrograms per can or bottle.

After Consumer Reports informed PepsiCo of its test results, the company issued a statement that said that Proposition 65 is based on per-day exposure and not exposure per can. It also cited government consumption data that shows that the average amount of diet soda consumed by people who drink it is 100 milliliters per day, or less than a third of a 12-ounce can. For that reason, they believe that Pepsi One does not require cancer-risk warning labels – even if the amount of 4-MeI in a single can exceeds 29 micrograms.

Other findings from Consumer Reports' tests include:

• Coca-Cola products tested had the lowest levels of 4-MeI for products with caramel color listed on the label.
• While Whole Foods' Dr. Snap has a "natural" label, its products contained 4-MeI. All caramel colors are considered artificial.

What the Government Can Do
Consumers Union, the policy and action arm of Consumer Reports, has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, it is asking the FDA to:

• Set a standard for limiting the formation of 4-MeI in those caramel colors that contain it (caramel III and IV).
• Require labeling of specific caramel colors in the ingredient lists of food where it is added, so consumers can make informed choices. Not all caramel color contains 4-MeI, but consumers have no way of knowing. Europe already requires this type of labeling.
• Bar products from carrying the "natural" label if they contain caramel colors.

What Consumers Can Do

At this point, the best consumers can do to avoid exposure to 4-MeI is to choose soft drinks and other foods that do not list "caramel color" or "artificial color" on their ingredient list.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Insider Tips on Scoring Seats for the Best Eats

January 27, 2014 5:24 am

Restaurant discovery app Urbanspoon released its top tips for snagging the hottest table in town. And while we may not be able to help diners afford the latest $195 tasting menu, these insider tricks will at least help get your foot in the door.
Here are our Top 10 Tips to help increase your chances of scoring a coveted reservation:

1. Tweet for your seat. Social media isn't just for finding new dining spots and sharing favorites with friends. In fact, more top restaurants are looking to social media to share exclusive offers with fans and followers and engage with new diners. Restaurants sometimes release last minute tables on their social media accounts. Don't be afraid to send a public message as well. Often a heartfelt story of an anniversary or other event, played out in a public forum, can help secure a spot from a restaurant that wants to be seen accommodating their customers.

2. Membership has its rewards. Credit card companies frequently run special deals and exclusive seatings with top restaurants. Check your statements or call your credit card rewards hotline to inquire about exclusive dining offers.

3. Persistence pays. If every phone call is met with the dreaded busy signal, use multiple lines simultaneously to increase your chances of getting through. Leave messages and be clear that you're open to last minute cancellations. In addition, check online at all hours of the night. Sometimes restaurants will release reservations in the middle of the night so set your alarm and check around 1-2am for those desired reservations.

4. Walk in to book. If all that persistence still leaves you waiting to talk to a live person, stop by the restaurant to inquire about openings. Go early in the day, when the restaurant first opens, or near the end of the night, when it's off-peak hours and you're less likely to encounter a frazzled host.

5. …and walk in to eat: Usually restaurants will try to accommodate you if you're willing to wait. Missed reservations or tables held for VIP guests are released back to the public towards the end of the night. And if the restaurant commits to accommodating you, don't be afraid to check in with the host frequently – ultimately you are responsible for getting your table.

6. Watch the clock: If you are trying to snag a table as a walk-in, ask the host or hostess when they need the table back. Restaurants often pad reservation times because they don't want to have to kick a diner out. Assure the host you'll be out well in advance of the next booking for the table to increase your chances of being seated.

7. Open minds mean open tables. You're unlikely to snag the hottest ticket in town if you're only willing to dine at 8pm on a Friday or Saturday night. Ask for mid-week reservations or be open to dining at times you'd typically associate with the early bird special or late night munchies. Also, be flexible on where you're willing to sit. Being open to smaller tables, or being seated near the bathroom or kitchen make you more likely to actually get a seat at all.

8. Don't bite the hand that seats you. Being a good tipper is great but don't forget the maître d after you've dined as well. A small thank you tip on the way out, or inexpensive gift around the holidays will ensure a prime seat the next time you visit.

9. Cozy up to the Concierge. Restaurants often hold a few tables for guests of top local hotels and in return, the hotel will recommend the eatery to their guests. If you're traveling, don't hesitate to ask the front desk about that new trendy spot – they might be able to get you in even if your own efforts weren't successful.

10. Sup at the stools. While there might be only one or two spots available at a time, this is still an option for singles or couples that are dining. Not only do most places serve food at the bar, your bartender might be less rushed than the on-duty wait staff.

Source: Urbanspoon

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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