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How Did Washington, D.C., Survive Without Beaver Tails or Baseball?

I have a plan to bring Beaver Tails to the long-deprived people of Washington, D.C. No city can honestly claim to be a truly world-class metropolis unless its citizens have access to the inexpressible delights of Beaver Tails. Well, the residents of the nation’s capital need suffer no longer for I have a plan.

Unless you’ve spent some time traveling in Canada you may not be familiar with Beaver Tails. I don’t refer to the fleshy appendage of Castor canadensis, the aquatic rodent commonly known as the beaver. The Beaver Tails to which I refer are an edible institution in the Great White North, a gustatory delight. These Beaver Tails are flat, oblong, deep-fried pastries similar to our American funnel cakes that look like, well, their namesake anatomical rearmost part of those cute little tree-chewing critters. Beaver Tails are cooked to order and typically served with powdered sugar and a sprinkling of lemon juice or with various fruit toppings.

Beaver Tails are hugely popular in Canada and they’re served all over the country in storefront walk-ups or sidewalk carts. I’ve munched them while strolling on the frozen Rideau Canal during Ottawa’s annual Winterlude festival and brought them from a stand at the imposing Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. No trip to Canada is complete without Beaver Tails.

I’m absolutely certain that Americans would love these scrumptious pastries as much as Canadians, but until now Beaver Tails have been unavailable south of the border. I mean to rectify this and make these delicious delicacies available in Washington, D.C. I have a capital plan, but no capital. But this shouldn’t be a problem. I figure the taxpayers can foot the bill.

Here’s the deal I plan to propose to the D.C. Council: I calculate that acquiring a Beaver Tail franchise from the parent company in Canada will cost about $1 million. I’m sure the company will be eager to expand into the untapped and potentially lucrative U.S. market and what better place to launch the maiden American franchise than the nation’s capital, eh?

Next, I’ll need a prime location, one with plenty of foot traffic and hungry people passing by susceptible to the mouth-watering, seductive aroma of frying tails. After considerable market research I’ve identified the perfect site near the MCI Center where the NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals play. With the crowds attending hockey and basketball games, along with the many other arena attractions (the circus, rodeo, Disney on ice, Rolling Stones concerts, tractor pulls and such), I figure I’ll sell tails by the thousands. Why, expatriate Canadian hockey fans alone should gobble up enough tails to make the enterprise a smashing success.

The fact that the site of the Future Home of America’s First Beaver Tail franchise is a privately owned building currently occupied by a thriving business shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll just have the D.C. Council invoke its powers of eminent domain (thank goodness for that Kelo decision!), condemn the property, pay off the current owner, and turn the site over to me. Voila! This should cost, oh, let’s say $3 million.

I’ll have to refurbish the building, of course, install the Beaver Tail equipment, batter mixers, fryers, etc., decorate the place, make it really upscale chic, an attractive see-and-be-seen place the District’s glitterati will want to drop by on the way their luxury skyboxes at the MCI. Just to be on the safe side let’s say this remodeling will run another $2 million.

Finally, I’ll need a guarantee against losses just in case Beaver Tails don’t sell as well as projected. I can hardly be expected to assume the financial risk since I’m doing such a wonderful thing for the people of the District by bringing Beaver Tails to them, fulfilling a critical unmet need, and vastly improving the quality of life for all. Anyway, most small business start-ups lose money over the first year of operation. So another $1 million in the bank will ease my mind and help me sleep well at night.

Total bill for Project Beaver Tail: About $7 million. The DC taxpayers can easily afford this investment to put me into the Beaver Tail business. After all, that’s only 1 percent of the cost of the $700 million the poor abused D.C. taxpayers are being asked to cough up to fund Washington’s new baseball stadium. If the taxpayers can be compelled to pony up $700 million to Major League Baseball — a multi-billion corporation exempt from the country’s anti-trust laws — why can’t a small businessman get a piece of the action?

Yet I suspect that if I were to approach the D.C. Council with such a proposal to bring Beaver Tails to the nation’s capital, the politicians would laugh me out of the room. Oh sure, the politicos can shakedown the taxpayers for $700 million to benefit a bunch of billionaire baseball owners to build a stadium for a bunch of millionaire baseball players to play in, but there’s precious little left over from the taxpayer largesse for small businessman and aspiring purveyor of pastry.

Guess I’d better factor in another $7 million for lobbying expenses. We’ll need to persuade Congress, court the District politicians, grease some palms, and organize fact-finding golfing junkets to Montreal and skiing trips to Banff so the politicos can see for themselves how much Canadians love their Beaver Tails. It shouldn’t take too much “convincing” to get the politicians to see what a boon these northern confections would be to the taxpayers of D.C. Pretty soon they’ll be asking themselves, “How did Washington ever survive without Beaver Tails?” Why, it’s almost as though I can already smell those tails frying, eh?

Written By

Mr. Lessner is a senior associate at Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm. He is the former executive director of the American Conservative Union and editorial pager editor of The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., and holds a doctorate in history from Baylor University.

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