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Written by Michael Lorenzo   
Monday, 25 July 2016 00:00

Appell HPJuly 2016
Twenty years and counting

In the year 1996, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales get divorced as Mad Cow Disease hits Britain, causing the mass slaughter of Herds of Cows bringing new laws to stop beef from being sold. In technology, DVD's are launched in Japan and the number of users on the Internet exceeds 10 million. 1996 is also the year Ebay and Ask Jeeves is started and the first ever cloning of a mammal Dolly, the sheep occurs.

In the U.S. the yearly inflation rate was 2.93%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 6448. Interest Rates were 8.25%. The average Cost of a new house was $118,200. The average Income per year was $36,300. Average Monthly Rent was $554.00. The price of a gallon of gas was $1.22. US Postage Stamps cost 32 cents. Average cost of new car hit $16,300.00. A loaf of bread soared to $1.15. The Minimum Hourly Wage was raised to $5.15 and the President was Bill Clinton.

In January of 1996 I made a decision to change the direction of my business and career. I contacted my friend Joe Ciardullo the former Founder and Publisher of Restaurant Exchange News in New York and told him I wanted to start a trade newspaper for the restaurant industry in Florida and asked him if he wanted to be partners. He declined but volunteered to help me get it going. Over the next few months we spoke on the phone and I began researching what needed to be done to get a newspaper designed and printed. Remember that in 1996 personal computers were just becoming mainstream. My first screen was orange and used the DOS operating system.

On a weekend in the spring of that year Joe came to my house and he spent the next two days explaining what I needed to do. On Monday, we searched for and found a printer, on Tuesday we hired a graphic artist and on Wednesday I drove Joe to Daytona. On Thursday I sold my first ad to Marty at Hollywood Restaurant Supply and we were off and running.

In July of 1996 we published our first issue and I have to say I have enjoyed the twenty years and look forward to twenty more. Today’s Restaurant has filled the information void that existed in Florida regarding our industry. We have become the go to source of news of the industry and we have made necessary changes along the way to stay relevant.

In 2008 when the economy went sour it seemed like the perfect storm for newspapers as it was followed by the explosion of Internet news and Social Media which changed our world forever. TR changed along with it though. We developed a website which allows you to read each issue online. TR has become well known on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact we now have over 10,000 contacts on LinkedIn. We developed a Georgia edition and we developed Information Services like The New Openings Report and the Eblast Marketing program. We have additional products in development and I look forward to their coming online soon.

I thank you for your support and readership for the past twenty years. I hope you have enjoyed Today’s Restaurant as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you. Now we begin our next chapter.