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Drinks Restaurants Sweets The Katchup

As Boba Goes Mainstream, Dessert Innovators Get Creative With The Drink

As bubble tea, or boba, has continued to grow in popularity across the United States, many dessert shops have popped up that don’t just specialize in boba, but turn it into mind-boggling, delicious desserts.

Even while the rest of the industry, including fast food giants like Dunkin’, is just starting to catch on, many places are already taking boba to the next level.

Ty Tran, founder of Rice Feed and Asians Never Die, feels that the US is in a “boutique” phase of boba right now, even as mainstream chains start to catch on to the hype.

“They’re using natural products, good, high quality ingredients, and they’re also using boba made in the US,” he said on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast.

As boba sees both a growth in quality and distribution, it’s also finding its way out of the drink menu and into several tasty sweets. Below are just a few examples of the different tasty ways you can enjoy boba that restaurants are doing to get creative with the popular tapioca pearls.

Creme Brûlée Boba

Feng Cha, a fast-growing global teahouse with several US locations, adds the standard components of creme brûlée to the top of their boba drinks for a fun, interactive experience that adds a unique twist to their beverages.

Boba Stuffed Cream Puffs

While a few bakeries are starting to catch onto this trend, this particular version comes from Alimama in New York City. They stuff tapioca pearls into the cream filling for their choux buns, giving you multiple levels of textures in each bite of these tantalizing treats.

Boba-Stuffed Cake

The next iteration of lava cakes, this variation from Orange County’s Hok Tea unveils a motherlode of pearls when you split the cake open.

Gallon-Sized Boba Pouch

While this really is just a super-sized drink, with it comes 1) the ability to drink as much boba as you want and save some for later, and 2) get some nostalgia in with the juice pouch-shaped container this gallon of boba and milk tea comes in. Stock up on this one at Pulp Juice Bar in Orange, California.

Boba Toast

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Would you try this boba toast? . Today I’d like you to do some googling. Find out what the police budget is for the city you live in. Then find out what the budgets are for mental health, childcare, housing, and social programs. . You will likely find that there is a huge disparity in the budgets. Police brutality aside, how can we keep accepting budgets for all our social services being cut when police budgets keep going up? . . . 📸 @tainan_hsien #️⃣ Show your boba love with #bobalove . . . . . . . . . . . #bubbletea #subtleasiantraits #bubbles #matcha #bbt #bobatea #chatime #boba #bobalife #tapioca #bubbletealover #teatime #brownsugarboba #bobaislife #bobapearls #milktea #bobameup #bobawasted #milkteaaddict #kpop #greentea #bobalover #bobalovers

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Both French Toast and regular toast forms of this exist, but in each case, the build is the same. Start with toasty bread, add on some custard/cream, and a layer of tapioca pearls for some extra texture. This particular version comes from Lang Lang Bie Ku (which means, Don’t Cry, Lang Lang) in Tainan.

Boba Egg Tarts

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吃不到肯德基!那麼就來吃吃台南超人氣蛋撻!任選三個只要100元!不用凌晨去排隊,好吃又好買~ – 主打每日現烤的葡式蛋塔、另外還有手工鮮奶布丁! 也提供宅配到府!外縣市的朋友要吃也可以~ 使高成本的初鹿牧場牛奶和藍絲可動物性鮮奶油、龍眼蜂蜜、土雞蛋!嚴選食材吃起來更安心!口味也超多選擇! 🔺推薦必吃原味蛋撻!經典永流傳,外酥香裡頭濃濃蛋奶餡,帶點焦糖香氣超迷人! 🔺人氣必買QQ波霸蛋塔!除了上頭的波霸,裡頭內餡也有Q彈的波霸口感!買回家加熱後一樣好吃! 🔺夏日清爽首推蜂蜜檸檬蛋塔,選用天然蜂蜜和新鮮檸檬搭配!口感酸香帶甜,吃起來更不膩口! 🔺喜歡甜香氣的推推香蕉巧克力和焦糖那提! – 🔺深藏原味布丁/ 巧克力布丁 純手工鮮奶製作!不加水奶香風味十足!口感綿密帶扎實的!原味濃濃的奶香和焦糖風味,喜歡巧克力的推推濃厚帶苦甜的巧克力! ——————————————————— 香蕉巧克力 $40 濃情巧克力 $40 QQ波霸蛋塔 $40 深藏原味蛋撻 $40 焦糖那提蛋塔 $40 蜂蜜檸檬蛋塔 $40 任選三入 $100 / 巧克力布丁 $40 深藏原味布丁 $40 ——————————————————— 🏠Mr.Z烘焙小棧海安店/波霸蛋塔/台南蛋塔/葡式蛋塔/手工鮮奶布丁/伴手禮 ☎️ 06-2919200 ⏰平日14:00-21:00 ⏰假日12:00-21:00 (週二公休) 🚗台南市中西區海安路二段118號 ——————————————————— #iseetaiwan#instameettaiwan#foodie #popyummy#yummyday#台南下午茶 #台南美食#台南甜點#高雄美食#烘焙小棧 #海安路#國華街美食#海安路美食#波霸蛋塔 #ミスタードーナツポケモン#ポンデリング #珍珠#珍珠蛋塔#台南伴手禮

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With Taiwan being the epicenter of boba, it’s no surprise that more than a few creative concoctions come from there. A personal favorite of mine would be this Boba Egg Tart from Mr. Z’s Egg Tarts in Tainan. The combo of crisp pastry, sweet eggy custard, and chewy tapioca pearls sounds like a match made in dessert heaven.

Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars

Ever since these were spotted in 99 Ranch markets late last year, Asian-American communities in the United States (including the popular group Subtle Asian Traits) have been going nuts for these ice cream bars. There are now a few variations you can find in several Asian grocers, as well as flavors like melon or ube that go beyond the brown sugar milk tea these pops are inspired by.

Boba Souffle Pancakes

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Social distance may not be your cup of (boba) tea, but dumpling a grump! Spread your fluff and positivi-tea to those around you, especially during these crazy times! ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Bookmark this for later when it’s all over! After all, who can say no to fluffy boba #soufflepancake, brown sugar boba and matcha, and freshly wrappped #dumplings? 🥟 Most people want the pancakes at @cloud9cafe_hi, but I say, you can’t leave without ordering a plate (or two) of the dumplings! 😋⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ 🍽Brown Sugar Boba Soufflé Pancake, Pork Dumplings⁣⁣ 🥛Brown Sugar Boba Milk, Matcha Milk with Brown Sugar Boba⁣⁣ 📍Cloud 9 Cafe⁣⁣ Honolulu, Hawaii⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣_____________________________________⁣ #catsdietplan #soufflepancakes #dumplingsfordays #dumplinglove #brownsugarbobamilk #yelphawaii #bobapancake #hawaiieats #catsdietoahu

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Fluffy Japanese souffle pancakes are another wildly popular dish right now. Combining the Japanese dish with the flavors of Taiwanese pearl milk tea adds levels of sugary taste and texture that will leave any sweet tooth satisfied. For this exact version, head to Cloud Nine Cafe in Hawaii.

Boba Basque Burnt Cheesecake

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So happy to be able to try this amazing basque burnt cheesecake @dabobamelbourne It was a limited item on Queen’s Birthday, so I rushed there to get my hands on one!🏃🏻‍♀️ . DABOBA BASQUE BURNT CHEESECAKE Basque burnt cheesecake with the choice of cheese, Daboba pearls and Oreo toppings. . Strong smoky, caramelised and sweet cream cheese flavour. The cheesecake was soft and spongy in the centre. The cheese foam was salty and cheesy, with a runny consistency. The boba pearls were soft and chewy, and the chocolaty Oreo crumbs added a crunchy texture. All the toppings goes well with the cheesecake. 😋👍🏻 . Price: $7.00 (+$1.00 for cheese and boba; +$1.00 for Oreo) . Rating: . Appearance: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 (The cheesecake looked great, but maybe not with the Oreo pieces.🤔) . Taste: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 (Sooo good! Small but perfect size!) . . My first time trying a basque burnt cheesecake, and I think it’s one of my new favourite desserts.🥰 Thank you #dabobamelbourne for such a delicious treat.💕 Will review their drinks soon! So 👀 out! . . . #daboba #daboba熊黑堂 #melbournebubbletea #bubbleteamelbourne #melbourneboba #boba #bubbletea #bobatea #basquecheesecake #basqueburntcheesecake #brownsugarboba #foodie #melbournefoodie #melbournefoodies #foodiemelbourne #melbournedessert #melbournefoodblogger #desserts #bobadessert #bobacake #cheesecake #foodiegram #foodporn #instafood #bobaaddict #melbfood #melbournefood #dessert #dessertpics

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Basque Burnt Cheesecake is a variety on the classic dessert invented in Spain roughly 30 years ago. In 2020, it’s become a quarantine cooking favorite, but has also made it’s way to dessert menus. As that has coincided with boba-themed treats, it was only a matter of time until someone made a boba-topped Basque Burnt Cheesecake. Find this variety at Daboba in Melbourne, Australia.

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#foodbeast Culture FOODBEAST Opinion Restaurants The Katchup

5 New Things You’ll See At Buffets As They Re-Open

The bounty of a buffet has always been the crux of its appeal: all-you-can-eat, get your money’s worth, it’s the American way. Whether it be the high end flourish of a Las Vegas buffet or the comforts of a local Hometown Buffet or Golden Corral, folks have always used the linchpin of a seemingly unending feast to maximize their dining experience. Yet 2020’s pandemic has crippled the restaurant industry, and with the restrictive nature of the new norms, the buffet concept has fallen victim to it.

With social distancing and forcibly limited dining capacities being implemented as the U.S. slowly reopens different segments of business, the future that buffets face has been bleak. Dwindling interest among millennials pre-pandemic already had buffets trying to steer themselves into relevancy by experimenting with different models. But a covid-19 reality these days has universally constrained restaurants, forcing them to take-out and delivery options only, a pivot that doesn’t fit the model of a buffet at all, though places like Golden Corral and Old Country buffet have turned to them for their survival.

However, the challenges the pandemic has brought on buffets have been insurmountable to some, namely the company Garden Fresh Restaurants, owner of AYCE salad bar concepts Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, who recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In the latest episode of Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast, hosts Elie Ayrouth and Geoff Kutnick, along with myself, wax poetic and eulogize just how much Souplantation meant to them, while also exploring the immediately unfortunate prospects buffets have post-pandemic.

Though Souplantaion and Sweet Tomatoes did not decide to give it a go at pivoting to new business models to keep afloat, other buffets have turned to such alternatives, all with varying results. The following are a number of adjustments they’ve done just to survive. Which begs the question: Would Garden Fresh Restaurants have been able to stick around if they tried to maneuver with the times as well?

Cafeteria-Style

Big buffet chain, Golden Corral, has been slowly reopening locations across the country with a new cafeteria-style service model. So think restaurant employees directly serving diners menu items at what otherwise would have been various buffet stations. Also, stanchions are set up as a perimeter around buffet areas, with floor markers indicating where customers can stand safely away from one another. This model also eliminates the prospect of multiple diners touching utensils at once.

Take-Out

Take-out has been the new standard these past couple of months for restaurants to survive. A reliance on third-party delivery apps and their exorbitant fees have proved to be difficult for restaurants to deal with, yet has been enough to keep them afloat, a conundrum in itself that’s brought on separate ethical discussions on the business practices of these apps. Curbside pick-up has also been a helpful option for diners to enjoy their offerings through modified menus designed to coincide with the efficiency of the pick-up.

Family-Style

In this service model, servers treat customers to an “endless buffet” from a selection of menu items. What immediately comes to mind to compare to this would be Brazilian steakhouses, also known as churrascarrias, such as Fogo De Chao, who serve a constant of meats until the diner indicates to stop via a red coaster flipped up. Turning it over to the green side tells servers that they’re welcome to offer more meats to the customer.

Different Payment Options

Before the pandemic, Golden Corral tried to address the waning interest millenials had in buffets by dabbling with different pay systems, namely dropping the pay-one-price model. Further, it was being tested where customers pay at their table, while also being offered three buffet options: soup and salad only, a single trip to the food bar, or unlimited trips. Could experimenting with different pay systems work even better in post-pandemic dining?

Stay As-Is

Fifteen locations of Golden Corral have opted to stick with the old service model. They plan on adhering to the traditional buffet format with an implementation of rigorous cleaning standards and other precautions such as adding hand sanitizing stations and checking diners’ temperatures before being seated. It’s worth noting that 12 of the 15 locations sticking to the original buffet model are in Florida.

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#foodbeast Culture Features FOODBEAST The Katchup

Chef Jose Andres’ Charity Is Re-Activating Closed Restaurants To Feed Seniors

“So World Central Kitchen had to pivot its mission once again in the face of COVID-19. Can’t do a pop-up kitchen, can’t bring thousands of people together, so [the question was] how are we still [able to] get meals to those in vulnerable populations. José Andrés, being a restaurateur, really thought of entrepreneurs, people who were chefs, people who really took risks to cook for people and set up restaurants… And thought this is a perfect way to kickstart the economic engine of the restaurant industry,” outlined Tank Rodriguez, the project lead for a pilot program in Long Beach, California that re-activates closed restaurants and feeds at-risk seniors.

With rejuvenated energy and newfound focus, World Central Kitchen, the non-profit, non-governmental organization founded by world renowned chef, Jose Andres, set out to continue their mission to feed disaster areas globally. As recent guest on the Foodbeast podcast, The Katchup, Rodriguez outlined the encouraging and intimate details into an operation that was able to reactivate closed local restaurants and serve thousands of meals to at-risk seniors.

“In Long Beach, I heard a lot of people getting food to kids that weren’t getting them from school. — incredible work. People who were getting meals to women in shelters — incredible work. I didn’t hear about seniors, which is why I chose the senior population in Long Beach.”

It’s the city he holds two businesses in — a renowned tattoo parlor and a law firm — so the want to help resonated and propelled Rodriguez to go the lengths to make things work logistically and efficiently, all while properly feeding at-risk senior citizens, and restaurants that had to shut down during the pandemic. From him initially cold-calling hundreds of businesses to try and employ their participation to these participating businesses given the opportunity to hire back their staff and re-open to even UPS lending a helping hand by allowing Rodriguez and World Central Kitchen access to their trucks as a means of delivering the meals, details of what they’re doing in Long Beach shed light on uplifting acts of kindness that go above and beyond for their fellow person.

“I believe that things will come back. I believe in the American economy. I believe in the business models that we’ve set up… I don’t know what a month from now is going to look like, but I do know that today, we’re going to get people fed.”

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#115: Jose Andres Is Re-Activating Restaurants To Feed Seniors,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and most major platforms where podcasts are heard.

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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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The Katchup

This Pizza Has Peanut Shells To Prevent Allergic Reactions

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#112: Building Theme Parks inside Pizza Parlors w/John’s Incredible Pizza,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and most major platforms where podcasts are heard.

John’s Incredible Pizza is a birthday party staple in California, as they quite literally have built theme parks within their pizza parlors. From actual rides like bumper cars and tilt-a-whirls, this place is like Chuck-e-Cheese’s on steroids.

Even with the glitz that comes from its entertainment, its bread and butter its pizza, and one of its most popular pizzas for decades has been their Spicy Peanut Butter pizza.

Fans of the pizza place have surely tried the spicy PB pizza, and have probably wondered why there’s a smattering of whole peanuts sitting atop the pie.

Founder John Parlet actually let us into his thought process for putting shelled peanuts on his hit pizza while on the the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast.

Parlet said his thinking behind it, was to make sure there is never any confusion of what kind of pizza it is, and specifically keeping people with nut allergies away from it.

“I want a peanut plugged on every slice,” Parlet said on the Katchup podcast. “There’s no parent that’s going to make that mistake that way.”

Parlet created the pizza 27 years ago, and thanks to his nifty little whole-shell peanut presentation, there has never been an issue from anyone with allergies.

 

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If you ever do find yourself at John’s Incredible Pizza and see the peanut parked on your pizza slice, you now know that it has a purpose and isn’t just a novelty.

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The Katchup

Nipsey Hussle Elevated Mr. Fries Man From ‘French Fry Dealer’ to LA Legend

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#111: Hip Hop’s French Fry Dealer w/Mr. Fries Man,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and all major platforms where podcasts are heard.

While French fries can often be an afterthought, or just a complementary side, this man has made them the main course, with the help of the hip-hop community.

Craig Batiste, founder of Mr. Fries Man in Gardena, California has a unique come-up story, going from low key selling his fully-loaded fries in random parking lots, to getting a brick-and-mortar open.

How exactly do you sell surf and turf garlic fries in a parking lot? Well, Batiste steadily posted on his Instagram account, not knowing if anyone would actually see his photos. To his surprise, people were intrigued enough to try his fries, called into the Google number he had listed, and put in orders.

Turns out, when Batiste gave his customers an address, a lot thought they were being directed to a restaurant.

Nope.

Instead, Batiste would pull up to a donut shop parking lot with homemade fries, ready for the exchange. As you can imagine, this looked sketchy as hell, and the donut shop asked him to put an end to his fry dealing.

That forced Batiste to look for other parking lots to continue serving his fans, and making his deliveries.

As word of mouth spread and his clientele grew, Batiste’s life changed once the west coast hip-hop community started hearing of his underground fry sales.

 

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It started with longtime west coast hip-hop legend, The Game.

“My boy Lil E called me… he hit me up and said, ‘Look, bro. The game wants some fries,'” Batiste recalled on the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast. “I’m like, ‘You playin’ bro.'”

While Batiste thought it was a joke, the rapper himself gave him a call, and personally requested that he deliver some fries to The Game’s recording studio.

That was Mr. Fries Man’s first big customer, as word continued to spread about his famous lemon garlic-topped fries.

The next big rap name really helped Batiste take off, as the late, great Nipsey Hussle wanted in on these parking lot fries.

As Hussle himself put in the call, Batiste again thought he was being pranked.

“I was like, why’s somebody on the phone? Somebody named Nipsey?” Batiste said.

It really was the Crenshaw rapper, as fellow west coast emcee Jay Rock made the pick up of the fries for him.

That’s when Batiste’s life really changed. Hussle showed support in one of the most meaningful ways possible by posting a photo of his French fry dinner to his Instagram account, and giving credit to the man who made them.

When a celebrity genuinely posts about your business, things change.

Batiste got a 3 a.m. call after Hussle posted his late-night foodie adventure, and Mr. Fries Man’s following grew tenfold.

That is when he had to start creating appointment spots for his fry deliveries, and eventually sharing a building space to sell out of.

 

In 2017, Batiste fully took over that shop, and Mr. Fries Man has had a legitimate restaurant location for almost three years now.

Gone are the days of sneaking around from parking lot to parking lot, spending endless hours in his home kitchen, and struggling to pay those monthly bills. For Batiste, becoming official tastes just as good as fries.

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The Katchup

I Walked Into An Alcohol-Free Bar, Here’s What It Was Like

Photo by Brian Feinzimer/Temperance Bar

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#110: WTF is a Zero-Proof Bar?” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and all major platforms where podcasts are heard.

There are challenges to living a sober lifestyle in a world where the social norm is to go out for drinks, have a glass of wine with your food, have a beer while watching the game, or just having a drink because it’s Wednesday.

As you read that previous paragraph, cast your initial judgement on me, and decide if you want to further hear what a guy who doesn’t drink has to say in this article, just know that is probably a similar process for folks around me in social settings.

It all usually goes in this order:

Person offers drink, or asks what I’m drinking. I say that I don’t drink. Person tries to counter with, “You’ll be fine with one drink or one shot.” I repeat myself, this time emphasizing that I’ve never drank. Person gives befuddled look and decides whether they want to continue trying to convince me to drink or move along with others whom they feel more comfortable with at that moment.

That brings me to the peculiar new trend of zero-proof bars, where not a soul is drinking alcohol, and the entire process that I described above is kind of turned on its head.

“Zero-proof” bars were the topic at hand in an intense Foodbeast Katchup podcast conversation, as the hosts explored the budding trend, if they even make sense as a construct, and if they can actually catch fire at a large scale.

I actually had the chance to experience one of these alcohol-free bars, as Temperance Bar made its debut in Fullerton, California this January.

Full disclosure, the bar experience was put together by a friend of mine, Charisma Madarang, and her fellow co-founder Corky Nepomuceno.

Photo by Brian Feinzimer/Temperance Bar

So I went to their grand opening, and as the media made its rounds, getting their photos and videos, my first mind-bending experience occurred right as I was offered a drink.

My initial reaction to the bartender handing me a finely crafted tropical cocktail was, ‘No thank you,’ as refusing drinks at media tastings has become a reflex of mine.

Then after a few seconds of doing the mental gymnastics of what I was actually attending, it hit me that there was no alcohol in the drink, and I could actually partake for once.

That’s a pretty huge feeling for anyone who doesn’t drink, for whatever specific reason, and is usually the odd-man-out during these get-togethers.

Photo by Dominique Zamora/Temperance Bar

This whole no-booze experience was put together so that people like myself can feel comfortable in that type of setting, and it honestly worked.

The carefully curated cocktails were being mixed together by an actual bartender, which led to the next jarring experience. It felt like they were putting together an alcoholic drink.

Watching bartender Paul Joseph Piane chop up mint leaves, pour in the zero-proof distilled spirits, shake the ingredients around, and gently pour them into glasses really made me question myself, and the bar, to the point where I had to make sure to ask, ‘There’s zero alcohol in this right?’

The feeling of being in a bar was still there, and it kind of freaked me out at first. I’m sure vegans have experienced this confusing feeling to some degree, where you’ve had some type of vegan shrimp or vegan burger that gives off such similar vibes to its meaty predecessor that you can’t help but double check and ask, “This burger is vegan right?”

Photo by Dominique Zamora/Temperance Bar

The last unorthodox experience was walking out of a bar without feeling pressured, awkward, or judged by others.

As Katchup co-host Geoff Kutnick brought up in the Katchup podcast conversation:

“You shouldn’t be pressured at a bar to drink a cocktail if you don’t want to. Is it directly aimed at your character? No. But is it a comment that you have to take for that moment? Yes. And is it uncomfortable, yeah. Can it ruin a night? Absolutely.”

While the pressure to drink is something you get used to as a non-drinker like myself, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel nice to go out and not have it be an issue. And while I’ve gotten used to it, I’m sure those who struggle with sobriety would definitely appreciate the lack of tension.

Probably one of the most common questions asked at a non-alcoholic bar would be, ‘How do you justify the $7-$12 for a drink that doesn’t even have alcohol?’

To that I would answer, probably the same reason you pay a premium for an alcoholic drink that’s realistically only worth a few dollars. You pay for the ambiance. You pay for sharing your time with good people, and enjoying different flavors on your palate. You pay for the craftsmanship and care that went into that drink.

Like most, you pay for an experience you can’t get at home, and at least at zero-proof bars, you pay to feel included in a positive setting.

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The Katchup

How Cheesecake Factory Feeds 100M People A Year

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#106: How Cheesecake Factory Feeds 100M People A Year,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and all major platforms where podcasts are heard.

The Cheesecake Factory has become an iconic sit-down restaurant that feeds not only some of your favorite celebrities like Drake and Kim Kardashian, but over 100 million mouths across the country.

While Cheesecake Factory gets lumped in with other run-of-the-mill chains such as Applebee’s or Friday’s, we learned that there’s a lot of behind the scenes details that go above and beyond what you would assume the standard to be.

In other words, we’ve been kind of sleeping on The Cheesecake Factory, and there’s a reason they’re a finely-tuned machine that serves over 250 items within a menu of over 21 pages.

We got a chance to take a peek in the back of house, and even spoke to Chief Culinary Officer Donald Moore on the Foodbeast Katchup podcast, where he detailed everything that goes into making the restaurant run, and run efficiently.

Here’s what we learned:

Every Single Thing Is Handmade

“We have over 250 menu items, we make everything from scratch. We buy over 700 ingredients to pull that off.”

This one was a bit shocking, as it’s easy to freeze mozzarella sticks or buy pre-made sauces, and you wouldn’t be terribly mad about it, but Cheesecake Factory doesn’t bother to cut those small corners with over 600 recipes that go into everything from their sauces to their mashed potatoes and even hand-cut cheeses — the team in the kitchen is in hours before opening, prepping everything.

They Constantly Tweak The Recipes

“I would bet, without exaggeration, we’ve changed that dish [Louisiana Chicken Pasta] 40 times since it’s been on the menu.”

We learned that Cheesecake Factory does not settle for the same iteration of recipes, and are constantly trying to improve without drastically changing the core tastes that fans love. The Louisiana Chicken Pasta was one example that Moore gave, as it was one of the dishes we tried while visiting the restaurant before the interview. They also just recently changed their hamburger bun technique, steaming it so that you get that sponginess up top.

The Staff Retention Rate Is Crazy

“We keep our people. Our retention is industry leading, and our training is very good.”

We’ve had a lot of restaurateurs come through the Foodbeast walls, many of which have admitted how hard it is to find good help. This is almost a non-issue for the Cheesecake Factory. On average, an executive manager will have been working at Cheesecake is 13 years. Their operational managers average 15 years. There are longtime veterans running these kitchens, and Moore credits the restaurant’s culture.

 

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They Mind F*ck You

“We put chicken Samosas, probably seven or eight years ago. Nobody knew what they were. We chanced one word in the description… and they went to our third selling appetizer.”

It’s crazy how the human brain works, and how little changes affect how we react. Moore gave the example of the Samosas, highlighting how they removed the word “ground” when describing their chicken, and it just clicked better with the customers. Unless you constantly analyze the menu, you probably don’t even realize the minimal changes, but they’ve probably changed your mind while ordering.

Pricing & Portion Sizes

“The pricing strategy and portion size… that started from the beginning. He [Founder David Overton] wanted to say, ‘What’s the most I can possibly give you at the least price, so that we can still take care of our business, take care of our investors.'”

It starts at the top, and there’s a delicate balance between being able to pour on a plethora of food without losing money. Somehow, Cheesecake Factory has mastered that balance. If you’ve ever been to CF, you know you’re taking home leftovers, and you know you didn’t have to break the bank for it. God bless y’all for this.

Millennials Aren’t Killing Them

“You have to understand your guests. You have to evolve… innovate, and offer those things to the changing demographics, or changing consumer wants.”

If you haven’t heard, we’re killing everything. Cheesecake Factory isn’t worried about our murderous rampage, though. They’ve done a good job of evolving, offering vegan dishes, low calorie dishes, trendy dishes, and always have their ear to the streets. That 250 item menu has something for everyone, and guests, even us dreaded millennials, have responded with opening our wallets.

The Kitchen Tech Is Innovative

“We use data, technology… to make sure that the cooks don’t have to scream like in the old days where you’re like, ‘Hey I’m going up in 4 minutes with this dish, you go up in 6 minutes.’  If they had to do that, it would sound like the stock market. We’ve used technology to quiet the kitchen, balance the food better, and make it more delicious.”

The age of the ticket system is long gone. Cheesecake Factory has a proprietary, catalog-like system, that everyone on staff can access at any time. You might see the screens while passing by the kitchen area, and each one contains detailed looks at every dish on the menu. You can look up any recipe, and down to the teaspoon, it’ll show you how it is supposed to be properly made. That system updates regularly, and the changes get sent out to every Cheesecake Factory around the world, so that everyone is on the same page. Everyone in the kitchen knows their role, and no one has to tell them how to do it any differently. This system also controls the timing of each dish, so everyone in the back knows just how long it’s going to take for each meal to go out, and there are no surprises. That’s what it takes to make sure 250 dishes aren’t causing confusion back there.

They Go Big On Hiring

“I was just in Orlando last week… and Miami a couple weeks ago. We’ll hire anywhere from 200-300 staff members for those restaurants.”

The Cheesecake Factory we visited for, um, research purposes, was in Cerritos, California. That one also had about 200 staff members with 50-60 line cooks making sure you get your orders promptly and are delicious.

How do you keep so many staff members at a time where the restaurant industry is as competitive as ever? Strong management. Moore believes that their executive managers, at all their restaurants, thrive to create an environment where people actually want to work. Moore said a key is respecting the staff at every level and acknowledging their goals. Whether they want to move up to management positions, or simply work their 40 hours a week to take care of their families, Moore said they want everyone to thrive while working at Cheesecake Factory.