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Our Eating Habits May Never Be The Same After The Pandemic

As self-quarantining has led many of us to do awful things to keep busy, I found myself watching TMZ the other night.

It wasn’t all bad though, as chef Giada DeLaurentiis was interviewed and gave some interesting food-based insight on the current global pandemic.

“I think our whole life is going to change. Instead of complicating food, we’re going to stick to the basics,” Giada told TMZ. “I think you’re going to start to realize that certain ingredients can be used in many many different ways.”

Which is interesting, because with the way aggressive shoppers have made certain foods scarce, those who are trying to cook at home, probably have to get creative and work with what they have available.

With groceries going like crazy, it’s a little hard to dig into a cookbook right now and try to use all of Gordon Ramsay’s 17 ingredients to cook a beef wellington.

With that in mind, DeLaurentiis has even simplified her own recipes for the public. Fully knowing that ingredients are a luxury at the moment, she said on Instagram Tuesday:

“Adapted a lot of my recipes on @thegiadzy to use pantry ingredients & omit ingredients that are hard to find in grocery stores right now. I hope it’s helpful for everyone staying in & cooking at home.”

We’ve already seen this unfold, as people have been using what they have or what they can snag at the store, leading to things such as makeshift French onion soup ramen, low effort banana bread, and microwave risotto.


While off-the-cuff recipes are being done out of necessity of the moment, it’s fair to predict that home cooking could be the new norm, as the way we eat out will be changed.

The combination of both restaurant closures and budgeted spending from consumers after extended work stoppages could very well mean that eating out will become a luxury.

Jonathan Maze, Editor-in-Chief at Restaurant Business Magazine pointed out some of the post-quarantine struggles saying:

“Once this things clears up, we’re probably going to be in an economic recession, and it’s going to be a while before the economy recovers from that. Then you get into a situation where people are really cutting back.”

Record-setting claims for unemployment have been filing in, as business closures have forced a lot of layoffs.

In the restaurant industry alone, the current business shutdown regulations could affect an estimated 5 to 7 million employees over a three month span, according to the National Restaurant Association.

And even as restaurants try to rebuild in the aftermath, Maze added that they will now have to worry about rehiring its employees, assuming they haven’t found a job somewhere else. On top of that, bringing customers back and letting them know they are open again will be a process that could add another couple months as they try to get back in the flow of things.

We can only hope our favorite restaurants can get through this, and as much as we might want to keep patronizing them, our own personal financial situations will ultimately dictate that. So there’s a chance you’ll want to get used to cooking at home, and getting creative, as that could be the new norm.

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Restaurants The Katchup

Restaurant Industry Hit Harder Now Than After 9/11 and Credit Crisis Combined

“If 9/11 and the credit crisis were wrapped up into one, this would still be worse,” Jonathan Maze, Editor-in-Chief of Restaurant Business Magazine said when asked about how this coronavirus pandemic is affecting the U.S. restaurant industry.

While September 11 and the Great Recession of 2008 were both devastating to the industry in their own ways, restaurants nationwide did not have to face complete shut downs the way they are now.

Even with restaurants being deemed as “essential” and allowed to stay open with several restrictions, having to move to a strictly delivery/take-out/drive-thru model is not ideal for their long term business model.

While on the Foodbeast Katchup podcast, Maze added that at best, restaurants are only getting about 20 percent of their usual revenue, while having to stockpile cash.

As far as restaurants that have closed, while they don’t have to worry about food costs or labor, they still have to think bout insurance costs, rent, loans, and any other fixed costs.

“Nobody is going to get out of this unscathed, unless you’re just doing pizza delivery, or maybe you’re Sonic,” Maze said. “A lot of restaurants are going to lose a lot of sales. Your nice restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles and in Chicago, they’re getting hammered right now.”

Getting hit the hardest are small restaurants, as many have already shuttered, and would only be able to get through this with some sort of bailout.

Maze, who has been extensively covering the effect of coronavirus on restaurants thus far, went on to say that there is a chance that restaurants can survive in the short-term, “but if this thing lasts long, if this lasts like three or four months, then you’re getting into some serious questions.”

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#113: How Coronavirus is Worse Than 9/11 For Restaurants,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and most major platforms where podcasts are heard.

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Fast Food News

Starbucks To Pay Employees, Regardless If They Work Or Not


In an unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Starbucks has announced that they will be paying its U.S. and Canadian employees for the next month, whether they work or not.

“No Starbucks partner needs to choose between their health and coming to work,” the company said in a letter to employees.

Even under lockdowns occurring across the country, Frappuccinos and Lattes were deemed essential during this pandemic crisis, and kept the chain’s doors open.

That didn’t sit well with Starbucks employees, as they kept their doors open and still had fairly unchanged interactions with customers.

Many voiced their displeasure with the company’s initial move to let customers in the store, and additionally, letting employees work up until they felt they had the virus symptoms.


In response, Starbucks is now drive-thru-only for two weeks, where applicable, and even letting those employees stay home if need be, until April 19.

As far as employees of closing stores that don’t have the benefit of being drive-thru, Starbucks is extending its “catastrophe pay.”

Starbucks’ catastrophe pay is in place for emergencies, and is meant to protect employees during natural disasters, and in this case, pandemics.

Things had reached a boiling point, with many Starbucks employees drowning Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and anywhere they could voice their concerns with cries to close the store completely.

If you’re wondering why the heck anyone would come into work under these new guidelines, well, Starbucks also announced that working employees will be earning an additional $3 per hour than normal.

There’s still a debate about how “essential” Starbucks is at this time, but they’ve certainly done more to protect their customers and employees than any other major chain during this pandemic.

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News Now Trending

Restaurants Are Now Gifting Toilet Paper With Meals

Normally, if a restaurant handed you a roll of toilet paper with your purchase, it’d probably make you think twice about what you’re eating.

These are not normal times, though, and the toilet paper struggle is real.

You wouldn’t think new food trends would pop up during a pandemic, but there are actually a handful of restaurants that have started giving toilet paper to its customers.

 

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We first saw it done by Guerrilla Tacos, who were selling “Emergency Taco Kits.”

Like many restaurants during the pandemic, the Los Angeles staple had to pivot their model and find a solution for the surplus of food they currently had in stock. As a solution, Guerrilla Tacos came up with the kits which included 5 lbs of roasted chicken, 5 lbs of carne asada, and all the side fixings.

The real gold however, was the addition of a roll of toilet paper and 30 eggs, which also have been scarce in grocery stores of late.

As of this writing, the kits are being sold for $149 on their site, and are available via pick-up.

 

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We then saw the county fair staple-turned-restaurant, Chicken Charlie get in the mix.

Chicken Charlie’s Table in San Diego, California, is offering a roll of toilet paper with a minimum $20 purchase. The king of fried food has his famous Deep Fried Oreos on his takeout menu, along with his classic fried chicken and plenty of other goodies to stack up that $20 order.

The Beacon Tap in Chicago, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a minimum requirement. If you just buy something, they’ll give you a roll.

Schmizza Pizza in Oregon is another notable toilet paper Santa, as they’re giving a roll when you buy a $15 pizza.

Last but not least — and the first chain we’ve seen do this — is Ike’s Love and Sandwiches. Ike’s is now offering a free roll with the order of any of their sandwiches.

While Ike’s restaurants are delivering, the toilet paper offer is only applicable for in-store pickup orders. Those who order delivery will not be left in the dust, though, as you can get free delivery through their app, up until March 30.

Hell, there’s probably a lot of restaurants with leftover toilet paper, and no customers dining in to use it. If you’re not lucky enough to be get that TP at the store, check your local restaurants. They might be the new hookups.

Categories
Grocery

Costco Will Not Accept Returns For Hoarded Water and Toilet Paper

Photo by Zidane Hartono

If the world doesn’t end and you just bought 90 cases of water, along with 7,000 rolls of toilet paper from Costco, you’re going to be well stocked for a while, because Coscto will no longer let you return those items.

Signs are starting to circulate around the stores and social media, showing that returns will not be honored for toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, water, rice and Lysol.

According to Coscto Deals, it has been confirmed nationwide, so you’re stuck with your toilet paper forts.

 

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Grocery stores have been madhouses, despite social distancing regulations, but they’ve been able to settle down and take better control of the crowds.

Several stores, including Costco, implemented exclusive shopping times for the elderly and those with special needs. A lot of stores are also implementing shopper limits, where only handfuls of people are let in at a time, to respect the large gathering restrictions.

All these adjustments should help with both employees and shoppers safety, and as a reminder, stores will not be shutting down, so no need to panic buy at the moment.

Categories
Restaurants

How Much Are Restaurants Expected To Lose Due To The Pandemic?

As the U.S. tries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, social distancing measures have been implemented, store closures have ensued, much of which unfortunately extends to a lot of our favorite restaurants.

Even with delivery and take-out being the go-to options for many, the impact these restaurants will feel could still cause them to lay off employees, or ultimately shutter.

That is why the National Restaurant Association has crunched the numbers, and formally sent a proposal to the White House, asking for $355 billion in restaurant relief.

 

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The NRA has estimated that in the next three months alone, restaurants will lose $225 billion in sales, and forcing anywhere from 5 to 7 million employees to lose their jobs.

Even then, the three month estimate doesn’t take into account that the White House anticipates this crisis to dig into July, or possibly August, meaning the industry could have five more months of these losses.

The NRA is asking for $145 billion from the Treasury as a recovery fund to help pay employees and everyday operations. Another $35 million would go towards disaster relief, helping businesses defer mortgages, leases and loans. Another $100 billion would go towards “loan and insurance protections” over the anticipated long-term recovery time.

Then another $130 billion would go to disaster unemployment assistance, while a $45 billion expansion is being asked for conventional and federal loans.

 

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Leaving work after a heartfelt meeting w my team… many of you have reached out and checked in. I’m so thankful for every one of you. It’s tough to put my feelings down in writing right now but here i go… I’m pretty distraught, mostly for my team. We have so many families who depend on our restaurant and it’s the reason why we remained opened. These are the people who will be hit the hardest- our cooks, our servers, bussers, hostesses and dishwashers. The ones who need income the most. I completely understand and agree that the health of the world is and should be the priority, but who will help the dozens of families who depend on our small business? We are a family-owned restaurant and unlike big corporations we don’t have the financial means to take a hit like this. At this point, I am going to stay as informed as I can be so I can be there for my restaurant family by providing them with the correct information and resources. There’s been talk about relief packages and help from the government, but talk from politicians on TV is sometimes far different from the day- to-day reality for hourly employees and small business owners. We just hope that there is a bail out for us like there has been in the past for the banks, the airline industry, and seemingly now the cruise line industry. Everyone seems to be getting bailed out during distraught times but small businesses. If you’re still reading, thank you. If you want to support us… consider purchasing some of our mole jars or a gift card on our online shop ➡️ store.ilovemole.com Good healthy vibes to you all ✌🏽

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Time will tell how long the country will be shutdown in this manner, but in the short term, a lot of restaurants are in dire straits and need help just as much as any other industries receiving federal help.

Categories
Fast Food

What Fast Food Restaurants Are Doing In Response To COVID-19

With Coronavirus news changing daily, little by little, our favorite bars, cafes, and mom-and-pop restaurants are all closing down, leaving us with the option of fist-fighting grocery shoppers for a pack of chicken, or taking our chances on a fast food restaurant.

A good amount of the larger quick-service restaurants have the luxury of staying open in this time of crisis, and a lot are taking more precautions than usual.

With the widespread uneasiness, it’s understandable to feel that going anywhere is a risk. Our favorite restaurants know this, and are doing their best to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

We can confirm that restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Subway, and Starbucks have all vowed to increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitation.

Each restaurant’s statement is a little different, but they all communicate some form of:

“We are closely monitoring and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure we are doing our part to keep you, our staff, and our communities safe.”

If you have gone to any fast food spot, there’s a good chance the employees are sporting latex gloves for your protection and theirs. Honestly, even that little wrinkle helps put your mind at ease.


Depending on your area, all of these restaurants also deliver to some capacity, with some offering pick-up options while dining rooms closures have become standard protocol. And of course, the drive-thrus are still open, allowing them align with the CDC’s advisement of keeping groups of people to 10 or less.

Chick-Fil-A has a practice of handing out physical menus to customers at the Drive-Thru, but that has been eliminated to keep interactions at a minimum.

KFC, Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, and Del Taco are not only delivering, but as of now, those deliveries are free. Blaze Pizza’s delivery is free through Postmates and Door Dash through March 22.

Del Taco’s delivery is free through Postmates with the code: DelTacoNow.

Chipotle’s free delivery will run until March 31 using their fancy new Delivery Kitchen that includes a tamper-proof seal on your food and the ability to watch your driver’s route.


Now, KFC’s delivery is going above and beyond, being available until April 26. The order minimum is $12 and can be ordered through their site or Grubhub.

While most restaurant statements have mentioned employee safety being a priority, Starbucks really made sure to reiterate that they’re putting their “partners” AKA employees, first. Starbucks said their employees, “…Never have to choose between work and taking care of themselves.” Which aside from limiting social interactions, also means that if partners feel ill, they can take time off, and if that means that they have to relocate healthy employees or even temporary close down a store, that is what they’ll do.

Starbucks has also extended their “Catastrophe Pay” program, which is usually offered to partners during hurricanes and/or flooding. Partners will be given up to 14 days pay if affected by COVID-19. That time is in addition to possible sick pay, vacation pay or PTO that is normally offered.


So there are extreme measures that fast food restaurants are taking, and rightfully so. Any time you step out of your door, there’s risk, but it’s good to see that measures are taken to try and keep consumers and employees safe.

But above all, remember to have compassion toward any and all employees. While some Americans can work from home or have the luxury of taking time off to stay home in these times, restaurant employees are helping keep essential food businesses running.

Categories
Grocery News Now Trending

Grocery Stores Must Help Seniors Shop, Here’s How

Update 3/17: Several stores have taken initiative in helping the elderly shop before stores open, and in some cases even pregnant women and those with special needs. You can always call in to see if your local supermarket is offering these services, but several stores have been spotted doing so, such as:
Northgate Market, Ralphs, Target, Vallarta Supermarket, Smart & Final, Superior Grocers, Dollar General, and Stop & Shop.

I don’t need to tell you how swamped grocery stores are in the midst of this national emergency. You’ve watched the news, you’ve seen the videos circulating online, and you’ve certainly gone out to see the madness for yourself.

Fear of the unknown had caused people’s survival instincts to kick in, and now there’s no toilet paper.

As everyone shops and prepares themselves for the worst, the elderly are most vulnerable in this time, and their usual shopping time has been invaded by hoards of shoppers wiping out store shelves.

Measures should be taken to ensure that those of advanced age have a shot at getting their grocery shopping done, as well.

Over the weekend, Northgate Market in La Habra took a shot at letting 65-year-olds and up go into the store first, giving them a 30-minute head start.

It was a noble effort, and a good starting point, but as someone who has worked in a grocery store with a heavy flow of elderly people, and frequently helped them with their shopping lists, I know that’s not enough.

At best, 30-minutes gives them a chance to walk to the household products aisle and grab a roll of toilet paper, and maybe scurry over to the meat department, but definitely not enough time to do any sort of decent shopping.

Monday, Northgate adjusted this effort, not only expanding it to a full hour before official opening, but also expanding past their La Habra location, and doing it at all 41 of its stores, which should be the standard for all stores in these trying times.

In Britain, “Iceland Supermarket” has given the elderly a full hour head start, citing that it gives them a more “comfortable shopping environment,” according to Today. So between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., it’s prime time for those of advanced age.

At minimum, grocery stores should be letting in the elderly an hour early, if not two.

Also, stores are experiencing record sales, and even hiring like crazy at the moment. Use that abundance of hires, and have them go through the senior shoppers’ grocery list. There’s a good chance a clerk can run across the store and grab a gallon of milk a lot faster than a 70-year-old shopper with an arthritic knee.

By now you’ve probably seen the tweet by Rebecca Mehra, where she said:

“I went to the grocery store this afternoon. As I was walking in I heard a woman yell to me from her car. I walked over and found an elderly woman and her husband. She cracked her window open a bit more, and explained to me nearly in tears that they are afraid to go in the store. Afraid to get sick as they are in their 80’s and hear that the novel coronavirus is affecting older people disproportionately. And that they don’t have family around to help them out. Through the crack in the window she handed me a $100 bill and a grocery list, and asked if I would be willing to buy her groceries.

I bought the groceries and placed them in her trunk, and gave her back the change. She told me she had been sitting in the car for nearly 45 min before I had arrived, waiting to ask the right person for help.”

Yes, the story sounds a bit theatrical, and you never really know what’s true or not on Twitter, but whether you believe her or not, the viral tweet brought awareness to an issue that was not being talked about at the time, and that’s giving the elderly a fighting chance to get their groceries.

In Southern California, multiple grocery stores have adjusted their hours to give them more time to adapt to the influx of shoppers. Northgate is one of them, and even Ralphs shortened their hours, opening later and closing earlier in an attempt to give its employees more time to stock shelves, clean, and do their usual work before and after the madness.

If all these store hours can be adjusted, surely they can follow Northgate and Iceland’s lead, and also have a little bit of empathy for those who can’t wrestle away a case of water from you during the regular hours.

We now know that grocery stores will continue to be open in this quarantine period, and supply chains are reportedly in no danger, so hopefully the waves of shoppers will be a little less hectic, and everyone can get their food in less of a panic.

Either way, in a time where it feels like it’s every man for himself, maybe we should take a step back and think about those around us who might need some help.