California Utility Companies Launch ‘Restaurant Care Resilience Fund’ To Support Small Businesses

As California’s hospitality industry is working on getting back to business, restaurants will be getting a spark from a familiar source.

The California Restaurant Foundation (CRF), a non-profit that invests in and empowers California’s restaurants and its workforce, has received more than $1.25 million from SoCalGas, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and others to launch the Restaurant Care Resilience Fund. The fund will provide grants of up to $3,500 to single-unit restaurants across California, with priority given to woman- and BIPOC-owned restaurants.

“The Resilience Fund will provide critical financial support to our hardest hit small businesses, many of which are owned and operated by women and people of color,” shared Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the economic impact across the County, leading to greater job loss and reduced hours resulting in less pay for workers. The Resilience Fund will help our small businesses retain their workers and help ease the economic burden of the pandemic as we rebuild for a better tomorrow.”

Grants given by CRF’s Restaurants Care Resilience Fund are intended to be used on payroll and related expenses so the restaurants can free up funds for other expenses such as rent, tech upgrades and outdoor dining retrofitting. Additionally, restaurants that receive a Resilience Fund grant will also receive services and resources to improve their business for the long-term.

Over the past year, through the Restaurants Care program, CRF has helped more than 1,200 restaurant workers, their families and businesses and believes that by investing in the lasting success of these restaurants, we can also preserve jobs and communities throughout California.

“What’s really unique about our Resilience Fund is that it supports the business as well as individual restaurant workers,” said Alycia Harshfield, Executive Director of the California Restaurant Foundation. “A portion of the funds raised will provide grants for cooks, servers, dishwashers and more who face unforeseen hardship and have nowhere else to turn and the rest will go to the restaurant. So yes, we’re helping restaurants keep their crew on payroll, while also offering a safety net for when things get tough. While we’re delighted to see restaurants opening up and COVID cases drop, the recovery will take years and we’re doing what we can to help.”  

Resilience Fund applications will be open through Sunday (April 18, 2021) and can be found at Grants will be available to single-unit, California-based restaurants in Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles (excluding Long Beach), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Joaquin counties with a staff of 50 or fewer employees.

To qualify, the restaurant must currently be open and have experienced a revenue loss of at least 20% from 2019-2020. Priority will be given to restaurants owned by women and people of color.

Restaurants Video

Kra Z Kai’s: The Laotian BBQ Spot With The JUICIEST SAUSAGE I’ve Ever Tried

Laotian food is best described as punchy, aromatic, and full of delicious flavor. I got all of that when visiting Kra Z Kai’s, a spot in Stanton, California that celebrates all different kinds of Laotian BBQ meats.

What I didn’t expect to get, however, was one of the juiciest and tastiest sausages I’ve ever tried in my life.

This pork sausage is packed with lemongrass, leeks, and tons of other savory flavors that complement the meat perfectly. Served with a side of Kra Z Kai’s chili dipping sauce, it makes for a great standalone meat option, or solid served with house sticky rice and papaya salad.

What stood out to me about this sausage was how juicy and moist it was inside. On just the first bite, it gushed with flavor and left a trail of aromatic dipping juices that found a home in the rice and accentuated it.

The secret to this literal explosion of flavor? Owner Musky Bilavam — who makes, stuffs, and spins the sausages by hand regularly — opted to deep fry the Lao sausage instead of grill it, meaning the outside gets crispy while all of the juice stays inside the meat.

The Lao Sausage is available on its own, but you can also get it as part of the Lao BBQ Mix, which Bilavam recommends trying if you’ve never had Laotian food or Laotian BBQ before. It comes with grilled chicken and beef short rib, a Lao sausage, and a slow-cooked rib that gets finished on the grill.

While you can’t go wrong with any of the meats here at Kra Z Kai, I definitely recommend you come and try the sausage at least once. It’s easily one of the top five links I’ve consumed in my lifetime.

To learn more about Kra Z Kai, their Lao sausage, and Laotian barbecue, check out the full video on the restaurant at the top of this story.


Round Table Serves Up Street Taco Pizza

Photo courtesy of Round Table

It’s been a minute since I went to a Round Table Pizza. I remember the all-you-can-eat lunch special of my college days fondly. We’d fill up on breadsticks, salad, pizza and would wash all of it down with some thick, hearty ranch straight from the salad bar.

What’s Round Table cooking up now these days?

The pizza chain has announced that they’ll serve up a limited edition Street Taco Pizza for the summer. 

This unique spin on a pie features charred corn, chorizo, tomatoes, crema, crisp tortilla strips, green onions, salsa roja sauce and is served up with fresh lime wedges you can squeeze straight onto your slice.

Customers can order the new Street Taco Pizza in any size, including Extra Large, Large, Large Pan, Medium, Personal and Stuffed Crust. The pizza will only be available at participating Round Table locations starting April 26. 

Feel Good Restaurants

Restaurant Owners Drive Six Hours To Cook Meal For Customer Dying From Cancer

Photos courtesy of Ekiben Restaurant

Baltimore’s Ekiben Restaurant is known for creative and interesting takes on Asian food. Recently, they’re also becoming known for an amazing deed of kindness they performed: Serving a dying customer their favorite dish.

The customer lived in Vermont, and was the mother of a Baltimore local and would often come visit. According to the Baltimore Sun, the family would regularly eat at Ekiben, with the tempura broccoli becoming one of the mother’s favorite dishes.

Sadly, the mother had fallen ill with lung cancer, and although she had jokingly said she would want to eat the broccoli on her deathbed, the family wondered if they could make the dish for her one last time.

They initially planned to try to make it on their own and get tips from Ekiben’s owners, Steve Chu and Ephrem Abebe. However, after the family contacted them for some advice, Chu and Abebe decided to drive up to Vermont and make it themselves.

It took six hours to get there, plus a few more hours to heat up the fryer in the freezing snow, but the owners were able to make the tempura broccoli and some tofu bowls outside of the customer’s house and safely deliver the meals inside.

For the mother, who enjoyed the meal thoroughly, it was a surreal and happy experience, one she was happy to enjoy. As for the owners, they told the Sun that they were just glad to make her happy.

Culture Restaurants Video

Wolfgang Puck Talks To Us About Culinary Innovation And Career Longevity

Wolfgang Puck. I’ve been familiar with the name since the 90’s, where a kid like me would snack on his frozen pizzas and be wowed by the eclectic decor at his chain of cafes. But as the years added up, so did my understanding of Puck’s stature and importance to the culinary world. A vast restaurant empire with a transcendental brand. The father of Los Angeles fine dining. A food mogul in every sense. Puck’s accomplishments and contributions galvanize his reputation as one of the most iconic chefs ever. 

As I sat down with Puck for this episode of Taste the Details, I was most curious about the longevity of his career, how his constant innovation buoys his brand and vision, and his thoughts on the metamorphosis of the Los Angeles dining scene. But what impressed me the most throughout my afternoon with the legend was his palpable joy. Through recalling the various milestones in his career and showcasing his signature dishes in the kitchen, his megawatt smile illuminated each moment — his love for food still evident every time he unsheathed a pearly grin.

It’s likely that this infectious joy has been the catalyst to Puck’s success and longevity, and honestly, I wouldn’t doubt it. Because the apparent zeal begets an approach to and philosophy on food that champions adaptation, hospitality, and modernism; a holy trinity to staying power in a fickle modern food landscape.

#foodbeast Brand Fast Food Health Plant-Based Restaurants

The Halal Guys Just Launched PLANT-BASED GYROS

As plant-based options continue to increase at restaurants globally, many companies have defaulted to teaming up with big plant-based names to make faux meat products.

The Halal Guys just went the extra mile, however, and created their own plant-based gyro cones that are cooked on a rotating spit, just like regular gyro meat would be.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Their new Meatless Gyro, a limited-time offering, is a gluten-free and plant-based alternative to the standard gyro meat. The Halal Guys version is made with pea protein, brown rice, coconut oil, Halal Guys spice mix, beets, mushrooms, and paprika. A serving of the Meatless Gyro comes with 21 grams of protein.

Of course, when at The Halal Guys, there’s all of the toppings you can add to the rice, lettuce, and protein option. One of those is tzatziki, which normally contains dairy, but The Halal Guys has created a plant-based version of that as well. That iteration uses aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas, to get to a similar texture on the sauce.

Foodbeasts Elie and Oscar got a chance to try the Meatless Gyro early. To Elie, the plant-based gyro version held up texturally to the original, while Oscar loved that it could be shaved off the cone the same way as regular gyro meat would. It had the same level of flavor since it uses the same Halal Guys spice blend, with Elie noting it was a tad more “earthy.” 

As for the plant-based tzatziki, it was a little thinner than the original due to the aquafaba, but it paired really well with the vegan gyro meat. For the overall meal, both Elie and Oscar noted that they felt really good and not bloated after eating it. 

“I’m definitely gonna be getting this meatless gyro into my rotation,” Elie noted afterwards.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Also joining The Halal Guys menus is a refreshing eggplant hummus, which combines eggplants and chickpeas for a refreshing snack, dip, or addition to your meal. Oscar even dipped his sandwich into it, combining the two for what he described as a “nice addition.”

The new Meatless Gyro and Eggplant Hummus will be available at participating Halal Guys locations nationwide starting for a limited time. You can get it in sandwich or platter form with all of the usual fixings, including that plant-based tzatziki for those looking to keep everything animal free.

Created in partnership with The Halal Guys.

#foodbeast Fast Food FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss Restaurants SPONSORED What's New

Chipotle Adds Quesadillas Nationwide Complete With Dipping Sauce Tray

Every so often, I find myself torn between ordering a burrito or tacos when stopping at Chipotle. While the bowls have their own magic, there’s something special about biting into a layer of warm tortilla paired with fresh meat. It’s euphoric.

Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Imagine how much tougher that decision has become, knowing that Chipotle has now added mouthwatering build-your-own Quesadillas to their plethora of menu options. 

Oh, man.

Customers can choose from any of their favorite proteins. This includes Adobo Chicken, Steak, Barbacoa, Carnitas, and plant-based Sofritas, before filling it with their favorite accoutrements.

You can personalize it with any of their salsas and dips, so your meaty quesadillas will never be without sauce options.

The Quesadillas are available at Chipotle locations nationwide and can only be ordered online or through the Chipotle mobile app.

Created in partnership with Chipotle.

Restaurants Video

HUMMUS LABS: Where Nutella Hummus And Shawarma Nachos Are The Delectable Stars

The first thing that might come to mind when one hears “Nutella Hummus” is a wacky dessert spinoff of the classic dip, likely perched atop a Trader Joe’s or health store fridge shelf.

At Hummus Labs in Pasadena, however, chef and owner Joseph Badaro is giving the sweet treat a serious flavor punch while holding true to the traditions of the original dish.

It’s definitely the most eye-catching on name, and even Lebanese Foodbeast Marc, who walked in to Hummus Labs wary, found himself surprised and delighted by what this Nutella hummus had to offer.

The Nutella Hummus also comes with cinnamon sugar pita chips, cut and fried daily by the Hummus Labs team for a snackable experience that elevates both hummus and dessert.

For Badaro, hummus is the canvas on which he can brush creative flavors into, and Nutella is just one of the many varieties he has in his arsenal.

He’s got a whole cavalcade of savory spins on the chickpea paste as well, with Cilantro Jalapeño, Tomato Habanero, and Beet Dill just some of the unique takes on offer. You can grab one, or a pack of four, alongside a bag of savory pita chips spiced with sumac and more.

What doesn’t change between flavors is how the base paste is made, and for that, Badaro sticks to tradition. He soaks the chickpeas overnight, boils them, and grinds them down himself every single day.

The hummus menu rotates daily, but the ultimate goal for Badaro is to be the “quintessential hummus sales” in Los Angeles and beyond.

Badaro isn’t settling for just being known for hummus, however. He’s also making spins on other Middle Eastern classics. His shawarma nachos, for example, are a treat that has social media clamoring.

Made from pita chips, filet mignon (or chicken) spiced and cooked down with tomatoes, tahini, and a hummus or dip of your choice, it’s unlike any nachos or shawarma meal you’ve tried before. We went with filet and spicy labne above, but going for other options like chicken and a healthy scoop of toum (fresh garlic paste) is just as flavorsome.

Badaro has hinted at even more fun creations coming down the line, and is always taking input from his customers on what to cook up next. His wizardry in the hummus and Mediterranean food game makes the “Labs” part of his restaurant’s name quite fitting.

To check out the full story on Badaro and Hummus Labs, peep the full Foodbeast video on the restaurant at the top of this story.