When it comes to when or when not to tip at restaurants, there’s plenty up for discussion. One area where the assumed custom is unclear is whether we tip fast food workers.
This debate has continued to grow during the pandemic, when options like curbside pickup have become more common at chains across the country. Some spots are known for having no-tipping policies, while others don’t make it exactly clear.
Sonic Drive-In just added some clarity when it comes to their restaurants, however, announcing that the option to tip will be available across all of their restaurants.
According to Sonic’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lori Abou Habib, 1,000 Sonic locations already have the ability to tip, which consumers can do at the end of an order on the app or mobile system. Plans are in motion to expand this to the rest of Sonic’s stores (over 3,400) later this year.
Habib mentioned that the decision to add tipping was based purely on consumer feedback. It was “one of the most requested things from Sonic consumers this year,” she mentioned during a virtual event.
Considering how much eaters wanted to tip the Sonic staff, you have to wonder if the rest of fast food might start enable tipping more regularly as well, especially as curbside pickup, a rough equivalent to the drive-in model, continues to grow in popularity.
Prolific YouTuber MrBeast is now also the owner of a burger chain that rivals In-N-Out and Shake Shack when it comes to size.
His new delivery-only concept, MrBeast Burger, marks one of the most ambitious moves a media personality has taken in the food space to date. MrBeast isn’t just committing money or a bit of ownership stake into a brand, he’s the full owner and is working with 300 different ghost kitchen locations to bring his burgers nationwide.
In comparison, Shake Shack has just under 300 locations while In-N-Out is nearing 400, putting the YouTuber’s concept on par when it comes to spread.
MrBeast, who is known for giving away absurd amounts of money in viral video challenges, has gained a ton of consumer appeal and brand recognition. As a result, on opening night for the chain, many locations had hour-long waits (and the initial drive-thru concept itself had a line miles of cars long), and even causing an app made to handle orders to crash.
To open the way he did is also a monumental challenge. Most restaurant concepts start out as a single location that specialize in a few items, become celebrated for that, then make enough money to branch out and eventually franchise. Viral success stories like Slapfish, The Halal Guys, and Afters Ice Cream are all examples of that.
Instead, MrBeast launched 300 locations from the jump, all at once, betting on his brand name and virality to carry all of the spots to financial success.
I just launched 300 restaurants nationwide! Just go on your favorite delivery app and order a MrBeast Burger! WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR FOREVER AND IM SO EXCITED! pic.twitter.com/hn7tXeWrOu
While it’s still too early to tell if all of the locations are doing well financially, we were able to sample the burgers to see what they’re like.
I managed to procure a burger the day the chain opened, and was honestly impressed at how good the quality was. MrBeast’s chain is a smashburger concept, and the patties have a great sear and solid flavor to them. The toppings and condiments are all pretty standard, but overall is a solid burger.
To be honest, I would rank these just below Shake Shack when it comes to the realm of chain restaurant burgers, although as a SoCal local, it’s not going to be beating places like Tommy’s anytime soon.
The one spot that may have some concern is that when it comes to delivery, burgers aren’t something I think of that necessarily travel well. Smashburgers, especially, are something you want to eat on the spot, scalding your tongue with beefy and cheesy goodness moments after it gets off the griddle.
Still, in the times of a pandemic, it is a consistent and reliable option that I would co-sign, and for a franchise as big as MrBeast Burger is already, that’s what they should be striving for.
While the pandemic has kept us out of movie theaters, folks have been trying to find fun alternatives to just chilling to Netflix on the couch.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a drive-in theater or a projector screen on handy to get outdoors with films. However, a new concept could be promising, as it brings both the flicks and the food to your driveway.
As part of an ongoing sweepstakes/giveaway, Blue Bunny has constructed a custom truck that serves up ice cream AND comes with a 11-foot by 6-foot movie screen. It can roll up to your driveway, get you some treats, and serve as your out-of-home theater all in one.
We can get outdoors but still be comfortably safe, social distance on the lawn, get some awesome treats, and cozy up for a big screen film all at the same time. Sounds like a fantastic experience to get on your own front lawn.
It would be dope if we could book this for ourselves, but for this iteration, Blue Bunny is limiting the truck to a few select cities and a chance to get the truck in your driveway. You can enter at Funlightenment.com to try and secure one of those private screenings, which can happen in either Denver, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, or Le Mars, Iowa, depending on the date.
Even if this is just a one-time giveaway for now, though, this is something food truck owners everywhere should take note of. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I would be down to book one of my favorite food trucks for a private screening if they could bring me some awesome eats alongside a giant screen to play my film of choice on.
Could be an interesting and cool new way for food trucks to make money, but for people to also get outside in a safe and fun way to watch movies.
Sure we’re all familiar with Plato’s quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It’s true, for the most part. But invention isn’t exclusive to the phrase as well. Survival is a logical byproduct of necessity, facilitating dreams to be manifested and goals to be achieved. Such is the case with sisters Faviola and Gabriella Trujillo, whose own chain of successful taco restaurants, Taco Y Taco, was born from a need to simply survive, especially with odds stacked against them.
Their father is an entrepreneurial success story as well, starting from a small butcher shop in Mexico, to opening up multiple full-service markets in Las Vegas, NV. But when economic downturn forced him to close up locations save for one, the Trujillo sisters knew that their circumstance as undocumented individuals made it likely that no one would hire them or offer them a work permit. The necessity to survive immediately grew from that seed of uncertainty and led them to formulate a sound business plan that would serve as the blueprint for their now successful business.
But defying the odds isn’t new to Faviola and Gabriella, who beyond their immigration status in the country, also broke through the typical perception of what a Mexican restaurant is, and presented a unique and different approach to a customer’s dining experience. Fresh ingredients, tried and true recipes, and attention to detail highlight Taco Y Taco’s model, creating a meal that’s memorable through a couple euphoric bites of their nationally-recognized al pastor tacos or simply knowing that it was built through taking a chance and living out one’s own dreams, no matter what circumstances or how daunting they initially seem to be.
Faviola and Gabriella have definitely made their mark in the world — have they or other similar experiences inspired you to do the same?
Recognizing that everyone has the ability and potential to do so, Cerveza Montejo wants to empower people to share their ideas with the world and turn them into pathways for extraordinary success. With the launch of their Stories That Defy Contest, Montejo is providing an opportunity for someone to win $10,000 to start their own business, artistry, or pursue creative endeavors. Find out more and enter now at StoriesThatDefy.com.
MONTEJO “STORIES THAT DEFY” CONTEST
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to AZ, CA and NV residents 21+. Entries must be received by 8/31/20. See Official Rules at www.storiesthatdefy.com for prizes and details. Message and data rates may apply. Void where prohibited.
Growing up, pork rinds were a popular snack. My mother, vehemently anti-pork, would never buy them, but on a rare occasion, I’d steal a munch from a relative or friend. Even now, I recall the salty crunch, and how quick they mysteriously evaporate in your mouth. Those are good memories, yet with age, I became more conscious of my diet and as a result, haven’t had a chicharron in years. With that said, pork skins are still wildly popular.
In today’s “alternative world,” social media has spurred entrepreneurship which in turn has fueled innovation across industries. As health consciousness grows and alternative “everything’s” are popping up weekly, a pork rind alternative was inevitable.
New upstart snack brand Goodfish is that answer. It’s the aquatic alternative to pork rinds and is made with wild caught Alaskan Salmon from Bristol Bay. These fish skins are packed with clean protein, good omega fats and marine collagen. Goodfish aims to give you all the nutrients, with none of the sluggishness carbs cause. They come in four flavors; Sea Salt, Spicy BBQ, Chili Lime and the oddly curious Tart Cranberry.
I don’t know about ya’ll, but these sound pretty fire to me. They have a lighter crisp but still deliver on the salty savoriness. I can’t call the tart cranberry though. Would you try these as a healthier alternative to pork rinds? Possibly a replacement?
If you’re interested in doing a deep dive, you can find Goodfish at your local retailer here.
Life has a tendency to queue the positive up to follow the negative. Reduced to take out and delivery, the coronavirus has dealt the restaurant industry a massive blow. The future is uncertain for small businesses and there’s industry-wide job loss. Thankfully, uncertainty breeds inventiveness and the way the world has responded to COVID-19 has been nothing short of inventive.
In such an example, UK-based oven maker Gozney, known for the Gozney Roccbox outdoor portable pizza oven, has just announced that they will be offering free ovens to out-of-work chefs.
Launched in 2016, the Gozney Rocbox is widely recognized as the #1 outdoor portable pizza oven. Using the same professional design and materials, it’s the world’s first restaurant-grade outdoor oven, reaching temperatures of a fiery 950°F/500°C. With just the Gozney Roccbox, a smartphone, and social media, you’ll essentially be able to transform your home into the neighborhood’s new go-to pizza spot.
Gozney wanted to give out-of-work chefs the opportunity to still earn money doing what they love, while feeding a world full of hungry quarantiners. How it works is, if you’re a chef that’s interested, you can apply here. Successful submissions will receive a Gozney Roccbox free of charge, along with an affiliate link which tracks your sales. For every sale received within 60 days from visitors through your social media, you earn 10% commission.
Ironically, yearning for some semblance of our previous normalcy has given way to what may be new norms. Delivery apps are helping restaurants from going under and us from homemade-induced cabin fever.
Maybe a few free Gozney Roccbox’s will help save a number of talented chefs. The new initiative is only available to chefs within the US & UK in limited locations.
The new normal has pushed me to understand more about the inner-workings of the things we love. Getting together for a meal with friends and family is, without a doubt, what I miss the most. Anecdotally this seems to be similar with everyone I talk to – regardless of what industry they work in or the passions they pursue.
In my search of figuring out how both FOODBEAST and I could assist our friends, family, colleagues and networks within the restaurant industry, I’ve learned A LOT. That was especially so with my recent interview with Jot Condie: the CEO of the California Restaurant Association (CRA), the oldest advocacy group of its kind, originally founded in 1906.
For those unfamiliar with Restaurant Associations they’re a combination of marketing and lobbying, and in this case the CRA has been communicative with city, county and state governments and their officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti & California Governor Gavin Newsom.
As much as we’re all fiending to set a reservation, eat one of our favorite meals and support the establishment that has in turn supported us, Condie reminded me of the enormous impact restaurants have beyond serving food and drink. They are one of the largest segments of private employment, fund local communities (through sales taxes) and provide third places for us to gather, connect.
Restaurants Provide Employment – First Jobs, Second Chances, The Underserved
“The California Restaurant Industry was the second largest private sector employer in the state, 1.4 million work in the food service industry at about 100,000 restaurants,” – Jot Condie
More than 1 in every 30 people were employed by the food service industry at the start of 2020. In addition, restaurants have served as opening opportunities to first-time workers, a place to start anew for the formerly incarcerated and a ‘fallback’ for different industries in hard times. (Side note, read this great article on why those jobs shouldn’t be considered a backup solution).
Condie estimates that up to nearly ⅓ of all restaurants will close. If that ratio translates directly to restaurant employment – we’re talking about 400,000+ in job losses.
Restaurants Provide $7 Billion in Sales Taxes to The State & Counties of California
“You’re likely to see, [over] the next year to two years, state budgets and local budgets be affected by this [. . .] the tax generation stopped immediately.” – Jot Condie
State and County programs have large parts of the their budgets directly tied to sales tax initiatives, of which restaurants are historically the #1 contributor. According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office – money from sales taxes are earmarked across K-12 education, higher education, health programs, criminal justice, public safety, mental health, transportation and more.
Restaurants Provide ‘Third Places’ – Locations to Connect, Converse & Celebrate
“We’re the opposite of social distancing which is why the restaurant industry was called out first. This is the purpose we serve: a place to gather.” – Jot Condie
I’m ready for the opposite of social distancing (when it’s safe): longer hugs before a wonderful table of friends, family and food.
But to get there, there’s something we can do right now: organize. Many of us have a bit (or a lot) of time on our hands. Many of us have access to all types of technology to communicate safely (heck buy some stamps to save the post office??). We have our own networks connecting us to others.
Write a letter to your local mayor, county supervisor. Coordinate with your neighborhood to support a local small business. Write a thank you note to your delivery driver, your grocery clerk, the frontline worker you personally know. If there’s anything Foodbeast can do to continue to help, firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Beard, famous for having the first nationally televised cooking show on NBC titled: “I Love to Eat,” passed away in 1985. Since then, Julia Childs and other notable TV chefs created a non-profit foundation in his name to “celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone,” or as they put it more succinctly, to celebrate people who make, ‘good food for good.’
This is the 30th year it has been handing out awards, with each winner awarded a medallion bearing James Beard’s welcoming avuncular face and a one year membership to the organization. The James Beard foundation also gives out scholarships to promising would-be-chefs.
They just released the ‘long list’ of semi-finalists and have added a few more categories this year to represent different demographics and geography. Now you can find best chef categories just for California and Texas.
The America’s Classics award was posted as well as the ‘long list’ and will be culled down to the top five finalists by March 25th and the winners will be announced May 4th at the Gala in Chicago.
Here is the full long list, find a chef or restaurant in your area and go celebrate their nomination!
Best New Restaurant
Automatic Seafood & Oysters, Birmingham, AL
Beit Rima, San Francisco
The Blind Goat, Houston
Cocina al Fondo, San Juan, PR
Cultura, Asheville, NC
Eem, Portland, OR
Fox & the Knife, Boston
Gado Gado, Portland, OR
Gianna, New Orleans
Golden Diner, NYC
Il Nido, Seattle
iNDO, St. Louis
Lazy Betty, Atlanta
Nightshade, Los Angeles
Oak Hill Café & Farm, Greenville, SC
Pasjoli, Santa Monica, CA
Rooster & Owl, Washington, D.C.
Saffron De Twah, Detroit
Sunday Vinyl, Denver
Tanám, Somerville, MA
Thamee, Washington, D.C.
Verjus, San Francisco
Kim Boyce, Bakeshop, Portland, OR
Spencer Budros, Pistacia Vera, Columbus, OH
Evrim Dogu and Evin Dogu, Sub Rosa Bakery, Richmond, VA
Tova du Plessis, Essen Bakery, Philadelphia
Graison Gill, Bellegarde Bakery, New Orleans
Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit, NYC
Clyde Greenhouse, Kessler Baking Studio, Dallas
Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ
Briana Holt, Tandem Coffee + Bakery, Portland, ME
Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery, Cambridge, MA
Ayako Kurokawa, Burrow, NYC
Lisa Ludwinski, Sister Pie, Detroit
Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas, Janjou Pâtisserie, Boise, ID
David Norman, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, Austin
Taylor Petrehn, 1900 Barker, Lawrence, KS
Nathaniel Reid, Nathaniel Reid Bakery, Kirkwood, MO
Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos, CA
Matt Tinder, Saboteur Bakery, Bremerton, WA
Chris Wilkins, Root Baking Co., Atlanta
Na Young Ma, Proof Bakery, Los Angeles
Outstanding Bar Program
Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston
The Atomic Lounge, Birmingham, AL
The Baldwin Bar, Woburn, MA
Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu
Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore
Existing Conditions, NYC
Expatriate, Portland, OR
Horse Inn, Lancaster, PA
Kimball House, Decatur, GA
La Factoría, San Juan, PR
Las Almas Rotas, Dallas
Leyenda, Brooklyn, NY
Little Rituals, Phoenix
Lost Lake, Chicago
OTOTO, Los Angeles
Novare Res Bier Café, Portland, ME
Sugar House, Detroit
Trick Dog, San Francisco
Williams & Graham, Denver
Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)
Andrew Carmellini, The Dutch, NYC
Ann Cashion, Johnny’s Half Shell, Washington, D.C.
John Fleer, Rhubarb, Asheville, NC
Nobuo Fukuda, Nobuo at Teeter House, Phoenix
Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago
Gavin Kaysen, Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis
Melissa Kelly, Primo, Rockland, ME
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJ
Missy Robbins, Lilia, NYC
Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR
Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge, MA
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia
Justin Yu, Theodore Rex, Houston
Outstanding Hospitality (Presented by American Airlines)
15 Fox Place, Jersey City, NJ
1919, San Juan, PR
Angus Barn Steakhouse, Raleigh, NC
Black Trumpet Bistro, Portsmouth, NH
Brigtsen’s, New Orleans
Chez Fonfon, Birmingham, AL
Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC
HOBNOB, Racine, WI
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop, Charleston, SC
Love Handle, Indianapolis
Marcel’s, Washington, D.C.
Mi Nidito Restaurant, Tucson, AZ
Pekin Noodle Parlor, Butte, MT
Saison, San Francisco
Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco
Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Ann Arbor, MI
Outstanding Pastry Chef (Presented by Lavazza)
Antonio Bachour, Bachour, Coral Gables, FL
Neil Blazin, Driftwood Oven, Pittsburgh
Lincoln Carson, Bon Temps, Los Angeles
Ali and Kevin Cohane, Persephone, Jackson, WY
Renae Connolly, Benedetto, Cambridge, MA
Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Megan Garrelts, Rye, Leawood, KS
Sylvia Gould, Kool Beanz Cafe, Tallahassee, FL
Maggie Huff, Homewood, Dallas
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Claudia Martinez, Tiny Lou’s, Atlanta
Mimi Mendoza, Senia, Honolulu
Diane Moua, Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis
Natasha Pickowicz, Flora Bar, NYC
Ricardo “Ricchi” Sanchez, Bullion, Dallas
Emily Spurlin, Lula Cafe, Chicago
Krystle Swenson, Crawford and Son, Raleigh, NC
Katherine Thompson, Thompson Italian, Falls Church, VA
Miro Uskokovic, Gramercy Tavern, NYC
Country Velador, Super Chunk Sweets & Treats, Scottsdale, AZ
Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)
Bolete, Bethlehem, PA
FIG, Charleston, SC
Fore Street, Portland, ME
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, CO
Hà VL, Portland, OR
House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Kogi BBQ, Los Angeles
Komi, Washington, D.C.
La Morada, NYC
Mai Lee, Brentwood, MO
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
Neptune Oyster, Boston
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, Houston
Quince, San Francisco
Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis
Sushi Den, Denver
Outstanding Restaurateur (Presented by Magellan Corporation)
Paul Bartolotta, The Bartolotta Restaurants, Milwaukee (Ristorante Bartolotta, Harbor House, Lake Park Bistro, and others)
Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer, JK Food Group, Boston (Little Donkey, Toro, Coppa)
JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline Restaurant, New Orleans
Sameer Eid and Samy Eid, Birmingham, MI, and Detroit (Phoenicia, Forest, Leila)
Benjamin Goldberg and Max Goldberg, Strategic Hospitality, Nashville (The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Henrietta Red, and others)