There may be many surprises in store for the Democratic National Convention -- but one in particular may literally take the cake. The New York Statler Hilton Hotel, across the street from Madison Square Garden, scene of the convention, is putting a short-order kitchen in one of its elevators so that delegates can have their meals within five minutes of the time they call for room service.
"We will have the elevator manned by several waiters and a cook so they can prepare items in the elevator as it is going to the floor," says Phillip Gross, managing director of the Statler. "A waiter will then run to a room very quickly and get back in the elevator and go to the next floor for another order." The Statler is calling it "flying tray" service.
This is only one of dozens of ways the New York business community is hoping to make things easier for the 3,500 delegates and estimated 13,000 news media representatives who will attend the convention. In part, the business community has learned from experience.
At the last convention here, four years ago, complaints were rife that there weren't enough food outlets in the vicinity of the garden or, for that matter, at the Statler. This time around, the Statler is adding a "fast food" delicatessen as well as the kitchen-in-the-elevator service.
Some of the other special convention preparations:
* The Statler alone has spent $5 million on preparations for the convention.
"Obviously, the work we've done will assist a lot of other customers down the road," says Mr. Gross.
* The Sheraton Center Hotel, which was called the Americana when candidate Jimmy Carter stayed there four years ago, is spending $3.2 million for a new entrance, lobby, and cafe. Although the renovations would have taken place in any case, the hotel moved its program up by one month when it discovered President Carter and his top aides are scheduled to stay there.
* A "cleanup contest," in which shopkeepers can win more than $25,000 in prize money, has been kicked off here this month. Dubbed "New York Sweeps," it is sponsored jointly by radio station WOR and Citibank in cooperation with the city sanitation department.