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2 stores leaving EastChase, new shopping center coming

Topix - Mon, 2017-01-16 18:08

According to Suzanna Wasserman, Williams-Sonoma is officials closing its doors on Monday. The store is hosting a last day sale.

Categories: Today's Food News

The Founder Finds America (and Its Food) Turning Nasty

Topix - Mon, 2017-01-16 13:15

Like its subject, the man who took McDonald's from a single burger shop to a globe-straddling child-fattener, John Lee Hancock's The Founder can't stop selling. The first fast-food kitchen, set up in 1953 by the solemn McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, gets celebrated here as rousingly as John Glenn's first orbit in Hidden Figures .

Categories: Today's Food News

Food truck growth goes full throttle: Part 2 - costs and challenges - Mon, 2017-01-16 12:58
Businesses and individuals driven by a passion for serving all types of food are recognizing the opportunity to launch a food truck. While these entrepreneurs hail from a variety of backgrounds, they all face the challenges of having sufficient capital, defining their niche, establishing a solid business strategy and executing it.

What's The Vegan Fried Chicken Restaurant Actually Like?

Topix - Mon, 2017-01-16 10:48

As some people have had to learn the hard way, chicken isn't vegan . Lucky then, that Temple of Hackney is on hand for London's vegans, opening a permanent vegan chicken shop.

Categories: Today's Food News

Gus Fring Was Behind That Clever Los Pollos Hermanos Ad for Better Call Saul

Topix - Mon, 2017-01-16 06:00

When AMC's Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul returns for Season 3 on April 10, the show will feature another familiar face from Breaking Bad: ruthless drug lord Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito. AMC teased Esposito's appearance last week by releasing a clever ad for Los Pollos Hermanos - the fictional fast-food fried chicken chain that Fring operates as a drug front - featuring Fring himself, which caused Breaking Bad fans to lose their minds.

Categories: Today's Food News

A Chipotle-style pizza chain wants to take over the world - and...

Topix - Mon, 2017-01-16 01:28

Blaze Pizza is already the fastest-growing restaurant chain in America. Now, it's setting its sights on the rest of the world.

Categories: Today's Food News

An unlikely group of stores is becoming a major threat to McDonald's

Topix - Sun, 2017-01-15 20:56

Chains like 7-11, Wawa, and Circle K are ramping up prepared food offerings, according to Anna Kang at Nation's Restaurant News. The convenience stores are getting ahead thanks to a few distinct advantages over traditional fast food chains.

Categories: Today's Food News

Niall Horan confused as 'wasted' fan sings at One Direction ...

Topix - Sun, 2017-01-15 16:26

Niall Horan looked incredibly confused as a fan sang (if you can call it that - at him, outside McDonald's last night. The One Direction star was minding his own business with a friend outside the fast food chain, clutching some bottles of water - sorry, who goes to McDonalds and orders water? - when the fan spotted him.

Categories: Today's Food News

Now, you can enjoy 'Dosa burger' at McDonalds

Topix - Sun, 2017-01-15 11:43

New Delhi , Jan. 15 : Fast food chain McDonald has introduced new breakfast menu of 'Masala Dosa Burger' and scrambled eggs, an amalgamation of fast food and South Indian food. [NK Business] The new menu has been released only for Mumbai as off now.

Categories: Today's Food News

6 questions emerge as minimum wage rises

Topix - Sun, 2017-01-15 04:45

California Governor Jerry Brown signs landmark legislation SB 3 into law on April 4, 2016 in Los Angeles. The law makes California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide by 2022.

Categories: Today's Food News

OOPS!: Abysmal Liberals Gather to Protest Trump Nomineea Yet Don't ...

Topix - Sun, 2017-01-15 00:14

Liberals: If anything, they do one thing in particular very well. They get angry, and that anger is currently pointed at President-elect Donald Trumpwell, that and with Trump's proposed cabinet well, that and with conservatives.

Categories: Today's Food News

Fast food employee accused of putting menstrual blood on a customera s burger

Topix - Sat, 2017-01-14 19:38

The Mississippi State Department of Health, the Columbus, Mississippi police department and Jack's Family Restaurant, Inc. have all been investigating an alleged food contamination incident with particularly disturbing details. According to a Facebook post that quickly went viral, the mother of a former Jack's employee in Columbus alleged that another fast food worker put menstrual blood on a hamburger and licked the cheese that went on it before serving the meal to a customer last Saturday.

Categories: Today's Food News

The One Thing You Should Never Order At McDonald's, According To An Employee

Topix - Sat, 2017-01-14 12:53

There are certain foods you just don't order at fast food restaurants, whether it be for the horrible nutritional value or questionable ingredients. At McDonald's, there is one entire section of the menu that you should never order.

Categories: Today's Food News

Is Davis Square getting a high-end Taco Bell?

Topix - Sat, 2017-01-14 08:10

The closing of iYO's Cafe in Davis Square late last year left a space once filled with froyo and waffles up for grabs. Now, whispers of a higher-end Taco Bell - yes, you read that right - opening at 234 Elm St. have been floating around since an informal meeting Wednesday with a member of the Somerville Board of Aldermen.

Categories: Today's Food News

Another IP Lesson from Bikini Bottom: What "The Krusty Krab"...

Topix - Sat, 2017-01-14 03:43

In a previous post we discussed what SpongeBob SquarePants can teach us about trademark licensing. Now, more IP lessons are bubbling up from the fathoms below thanks to our absorbent, yellow and porous friend.

Categories: Today's Food News

Kruse/Thorn: Reflecting on the food and drink trends of 2016

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-13 23:31

NRN senior food editor Bret Thorn takes stock of which of his food predictions hit the mark — and which were way off — in 2016.

Is it me, Nancy, or did food and beverage trend predictions go into overdrive at the end of 2016? 

Everyone from flavor companies, to supermarkets, to people who, for reasons of their own, wanted to be cited as mavens, set forth their prognostications for how and what Americans were going to eat and drink in 2017.

I did it too, of course, because it’s my job, but it’s also my job to try to get those predictions right. So in the spirit of accountability, full disclosure and other aspects of integrity that seem to be in short supply these days, I’d like to take a look back, as I do every year, at my predictions for the previous year and see how I did.

I predicted that India Pale Ale would continue to thrive, and indeed it remained the top beer style among craft beers in terms of amount poured, according to BeerBoard, which monitors more than 50,000 draft lines across the country. So I got that one right.

I said chefs would increasingly highlight and celebrate vegetables, especially local and seasonal ones, and we did, indeed, see that, not only with the opening of upscale vegetarian restaurants like Nix in New York City, but by the upgrading of vegetable dishes across the country, such as the “spiralized” zucchini in Houlihan’s Thai “Noodle” Salad, and True Food Kitchen’s seasonal Spring Vegetable Salad with grilled asparagus and broccoli, chickpeas, wax beans and roasted cauliflower with mint, raisins, pistachios and manchego cheese. 

I predicted a proliferation of spicy condiments beyond Sriracha sauce, including gochujang and Calabrian peppers, and indeed this was the year of gochujang at independent and chain restaurants, and Calabrian peppers debuted on the menus at chains as diverse as Zoës Kitchen (in a baked feta dish), Snap Kitchen (in a robust salad with sprouted lentils and spicy marinated broccoli), Patxi’s Pizza (on flatbread with Spanish chorizo) and Olive Garden (on a spicy chicken sandwich with tomato sauce and gorgonzola).

I predicted more hybrid burgers — burgers mixed with mushrooms or vegetables, ideally to make them more healthful and sustainable. Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are doing that at LocoL, and the idea, with support from both the James Beard Foundation and The Culinary Institute of America, is spreading to more colleges and universities.

The Cheesecake Factory’s turkey burger has been cut with mushrooms for several years now, and Jennie-O has a line of turkey burgers with mushrooms in them that allows them to export them to Canada (from what I understand, you can’t export 100-percent turkey to Canada for reasons having to do with complex trade negotiations), but I wouldn’t say the hybrid burger has exactly taken the country by storm.

I also predicted “shake shooters,” and, to be honest, that was more a hope than a prediction. It just seems logical to offer 3-ounce to 4-ounce milkshakes as an afternoon pick-me-up. I don’t think most adults want to indulge very often in a 16-ounce, high-calorie snack, but a smaller one seems like a logical, brief indulgence. It didn’t happen, though.

I predicted that more obscure wines would be a trend, and indeed, Millennials in search of new and exciting things have expanded their horizons in terms of obscure varietals and growing regions, but this was really kind of a gimme. I didn’t expect the expansion of things like canned wine and chilled red wines that have been going on.

Finally, I said chefs would be bringing more things in-house — doing everything from milling their own flour to churning their own butter.

Indeed, that has continued, but really it has been more of the same — more in-house fermenting and pickling, more housemade hot sauce, more charcuterie. I was hoping to see more creativity, such as house-cultivated mushrooms, or house-distilled cocktails.

Maybe I missed them, or maybe health codes and liquor laws have stymied such attempts, but I honestly wouldn’t say that prediction was a home run.

I also totally missed the crazy onslaught of poke in 2016. Some people trend watchers were predicting it in 2015, but I was skeptical. I was also wrong.

I’ve expressed similar skepticism about Filipino food being the “it” cuisine of 2017. We’ll see how that pans out.

How about you, Nancy? What trends struck you most in 2016?

Comfort classics balance exotic creations

Kruse Company president Nancy Kruse responds to NRN senior food editor Bret Thorn’s evaluation of food trend predictions.

Bret, I know it’s cliché to talk about how quickly the year has flown by. However, I’d like to forego the clichéd clucking and focus instead on a remarkable year in menu R&D.

Amid continuing concerns about an industry beset by falling traffic and rising competition, chefs stepped up to the plate with a remarkable display of culinary creativity.

For some, it was a walk on the wild side. Arby’s garnered tons of publicity with its venison sandwich, made with premium-cut, deer-meat steaks and topped with a Cabernet sauce infused with juniper berries. It was available in limited markets for a limited time. This came not long after the chain’s surprising, systemwide rollout of pork belly as a protein option.

Famous Dave’s upped its barbecue game with game, specifically the Boar Sausage Manhandler Sliders served with spicy hellfire pickles, and Ledo Pizza also went whole hog with the Luau Pizza topped with sliced wild boar sausage.

Independents, of course, are free to push the envelope further, which is exactly what happened at Animale in Chicago, a limited-service, chef-driven operation that dishes up bacon-wrapped sweetbreads and sliced beef-heart pastrami on its small plates menu and puts spicy tripe on a burger. Also on offer is an unconventional Shepherd’s Pie with oxtail and lamb’s tongue.

Other developments proved that you actually can teach an old chain new tricks.

McDonald’s, which received a sales shot-in-the-arm from its introduction of all-day breakfast in 2015, followed up with its foray into breakfast entrées like the Egg White and Turkey Sausage Bowl, which also boasted kale and spinach. Yes, we’re talking McDonald’s here, Bret.

And the corporation stepped up its commitment to menu transparency.

It blanketed the Summer Olympics with advertising support for its antibiotic-free Chicken McNuggets, the result of which, according to CEO Steve Easterbrook, was a 10-percent boost in orders. Closer to year’s end, McDonald’s pledged to buy all its coffee from sustainable sources by 2020.

Chains continue to look to the East for inspiration. As you predicted, gochujang, the sweetly spicy Korean condiment, is breaking out all over.

At Noodles & Company, the gochujang that topped a meatball special was touted as “this year’s must-try flavor.” Red Lobster’s popular Endless Shrimp promotion debuted in September with Korean BBQ Grilled Shrimp with gochujang paste, while gochujang sauce is in the aptly named Seoul Bowl at Veggie Grill.

Other Asian influences figured prominently in Red Robin’s spiffy Red Ramen Burger, which sandwiched the burger between two crispy ramen patties, thereby nodding to the sizzling hot ramen trend in a memorable fashion. McAlister’s Deli introduced the latest iteration of the bánh mì trend with its tasty West Coast Bánh Mì, in which the classic Vietnamese sandwich included pulled pork as a means to remove the patron fear factor and promote trial.

As is typically the case, all this ethnic innovation sparked a comforting counterbalance of familiar foods creatively reimagined.

Everywhere you looked, you saw bologna, often housemade and sometimes fried, on appetizer plates and in sandwiches, like Penn Station’s Fried Bologna Sub. Biscuits were full of baloney, too, as well as other proteins, like the Pork Chop ‘N’ Gravy Biscuit at Hardee’s.

Schnitzel, a Germanic comfort classic, had a moment last spring, and porridge came back into vogue, if it had ever actually been there in the first place. It turned up on trendy independent menus as a side dish, as with the Sunflower-Seed Porridge at Staplehouse in Atlanta, and it appeared more conventionally at breakfast, albeit in unconventional treatments like Ancient Grain Porridge made with coconut milk, pistachios and hemp seed at Indianapolis’s trendy Milktooth.

So that was the culinary year from my perspective, Bret. It was chockablock with surprises and with innovations.

I’m happy to have shared it with you, and I’m looking forward to an equally exciting and unpredictable 2017.

Contact Bret Thorn at
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Nancy Kruse, president of the Kruse Company, is a menu trends analyst based in Atlanta and a regular contributor to Nation’s Restaurant News. E-mail her at

All Soundcloud photos are sourced from Thinkstock.

Handheld Grub: A Second Helping of Westword Food & Drink, January 9-13

Topix - Fri, 2017-01-13 23:18

There were plenty of noshables in this week's restaurant news, as New York City fast-food phenom Shake Shack announced plans to come to RiNo later this year - just as locavore burger bar American Grind was getting ready to sizzle as the newest addition to Avanti Food & Beverage . In Boulder, Roxie's Tacos embarked on a new brick-and-mortar adventure after serving up Indian tacos from a food truck since early last summer.

Categories: Today's Food News

Restaurants turn up the heat with chile varietals

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-13 22:34

Wilbur Scoville was a pharmacist who devised a means of measuring the heat of various chile peppers.

While the Scoville scale that he created in 1912 is not without its critics, it continues to provide a convenient means to benchmark pepper pungency.

His scale has gotten quite a workout recently, as emerging chile varietals like the super-spicy ghost pepper push its upper limits. Registering roughly 1 million Scoville Heat Units, the ghost pepper, which has appeared on numerous restaurant chain menus over the last couple of years, provides a fiery step up from the ubiquitous jalapeño, which scores a much more modest 5,000 SHUs.

While some restaurateurs continue to turn up the heat by experimenting with more incendiary varieties, many others have turned their attention to the lower end of the spice spectrum.

Shishito peppers, one of the hottest ingredients on the menu, are actually among the mildest chiles. Native to Japan, they typically rate around 100 SHUs, although an occasional outlier can be substantially hotter. Popular as snacks and bar food, shishitos were among the 10 fastest-growing produce items on appetizer menus, jumping a whopping 199 percent over the past four years, according to menu analysts at Datassential. At three-unit Citizen Burger Bar, based in Charlottesville, Va., they are cooked in sweet soy sauce and offered with housemade ranch dressing for dipping.

The signature SkinnyLicious menu at The Cheesecake Factory featured charred shishito peppers served simply with salt for a lower-calorie nosh, and at the Ra Sushi chain, a subsidiary of Benihana Corporation International, they’re sautéed in Asian garlic butter sauce.

Shishitos are appearing in a range of other treatments, too. They’ve turned up in Atlanta at trendy independents like Leon’s Full Service, where they accompany the housemade summer sausage; at Noble Fin, where they accent the popular pan-roasted branzino; and at Spring, where the chilled summer squash soup includes grilled shishitos and whipped goat cheese.

At Michelin-starred Green River in Chicago, saffron spaghetti is topped with uni, clams and shishito peppers, while at Charlie Palmer Steak in New York City, shishito peppers and sugar snap peas in miso ponzu sauce were a seasonal special side dish. They also brighten up brunch at Alden & Harlow in Cambridge, Mass., where corn pancakes are finished with maple and shishitos.

Hatch chiles, native to New Mexico, are poised to cross over from cult status to the mainstream. Clocking in at about 2,000 SHUs, they are prized by aficionados for their sweet smokiness and by operators for their versatility. The Habit Burger Grill, based in Irvine, Calif., hosted a Hatch Chile Festival last fall that included a burger, chicken sandwich and chicken salad, all topped with the fruit. In the fast-casual pizza segment, Rave Restaurant Group’s Pie Five has run successful seasonal Hatch chile pie promotions.

The small-plates menu at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., includes Hatch chile and bacon mac-and-cheese topped with green onion crumble. The promotional Hatch green chile sauce at Focus Brands subsidiary Moe’s Southwestern Grill was prepped fresh daily in house. And in November, Taco Bell hooked into the growing interest in Southwestern peppers with the new green chile queso made with roasted chiles from the Hatch Valley of New Mexico,

Calabrian chiles are also having a menu moment, and it’s surprising that it took so long, given the popularity of Italian food. Grown in the toe of the Italian boot, they average about 6,000 SHUs, although they can be substantially hotter when aged on the vine. They add color, spice and acidity to dishes, which has allowed them to make headway with chefs. The Olive Garden’s Spicy Calabrian Chicken appetizer is served with Gorgonzola sauce, and Mediterranean Baked Feta at Zoës Kitchen, based in Plano, Texas, is topped with cherry tomatoes and Calabrian peppers. Zoës also menus a rosemary ham and mozzarella piadina with Calabrian pepper aïoli.

Independents pick these peppers, too. The sausage pizza at Garage Bar in Louisville, Ky., puts them alongside milled tomatoes and confit shallots, while Ferocious Puppies, or thick-cut fries served at Animale in Chicago, are served with pancetta, onions, Calabrian chiles and a sunny-side-up egg. Easily adaptable, they are in the vinaigrette that finishes the Charred Romano Beans at Sardella in St. Louis, and in the sauce that covers the rigatoni with clams at Atlanta’s Noble Fin.

Nancy Kruse, president of the Kruse Company, is a menu trends analyst based in Atlanta. As one of LinkedIn’s Top 100 Influencers in the US, she blogs regularly on food-related subjects on the LinkedIn website.

Capriotti’s co-founder Lois Margolet dies

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-13 22:32

Lois Margolet, co-founder of Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, died Thursday of lung cancer at her home in Las Vegas, the company said Friday. She was 68.

“Lois was a bright, giving, extraordinary woman and a pioneer in the sandwich and franchise industry,” said Ashley Morris, CEO of Las Vegas-based Capriotti’s, in a statement to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Margolet and her brother, Alan Margolet, launched Capriotti's in 1976, in Wilmington, Del., naming the restaurant after their grandfather, Philip Capriotti.

Photo: Capriotti's

“The brand she created is not just a sandwich shop; it is an institution in Delaware,” said Morris, adding that the company’s subs “have touched countless people across the country.”

Lois Margolet is credited with creating the chain’s popular Bobbie menu item, which is known as “Thanksgiving on a sandwich,” with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayonnaise

Capriotti’s moved its headquarters from Wilmington to Las Vegas in 2008, when Morris and business partner Jason Smylie acquired the company. Capriotti’s now has 105 units, largely in Nevada and the Mid-Atlantic states. 

"Capriotti's is an institution in Delaware and the cornerstone of so many communities here," Carrie Leishman, president of the Delaware Restaurant Association, told The News Journal. "It's incredible what she was able to achieve, and I'm so sorry to hear of her passing."

In 2016, Capriotti’s drew a trio of new investors, including David Barr, a Yum! Brands Inc. franchisee and board member at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc., along with JD and Shelly Sun, founders of the home health agency BrightStar Care.

Barr and JD Sun took positions on Capriotti’s board, and Morris said the three franchising experts would help further the chain’s nationwide expansion.

“We set out to become a national sandwich franchise company,” Morris said in an interview last September. “Not only did we need growth capital, we needed strategic advice. We now have two great, new board members and substantial capital. We can focus our energy into growing the brand across the country.” 

In Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 census, Capriotti’s reported 2015 U.S. systemwide sales of $63.7 million across 90 units, including 13 company locations and 77 franchised restaurants. System average unit volumes in fiscal 2015 were $707,410.

Alan Liddle, NRN’s data and event content director, contributed to this report.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless