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News

Joe Coulombe, Founder of Trader Joe’s, Passes Away at 89

Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s, the revolutionary grocery store that focused on high quality items at low prices, has passed away at the age of 89, according to the Associated Press.

Joe’s curiosity, philanthropic generosity, and irreverent sense of humor were woven into the fabric of the culture that defines Trader Joe’s stores.the company said in a statement over the weekend. 

Known for its Hawaiian shirt-wearing employees, fair wages, and a focus on serving “overeducated and underpaid people,” the store amassed a cult following soon after its original Pasadena, CA location opened in 1967.

Five years after its opening, Joe introduced a granola to the store that he considered to be a “game-changer,” in that it was the first time the company had acquired a product at the wholesale level and sold under the Trader Joe’s brand name. 

The snack was a preview of the business model that would propel the store to its current popularity. This, along with a policy of discontinuity that insisted on only buying prime items at a good deal, no matter if that meant switching suppliers, allowed the store to maintain its low prices and continue attracting the struggling conscious consumer whom Coulombe originally envisioned the store to serve.

While Coulombe sold his interest in the company to Aldi Nord in 1979 — when there were only 19 stores — his vision and mission still lives on in each and every one of the 500+ locations across the nation.

For that, pour a two buck Chuck out for Mr. Coulombe today.

Categories
Fast Food Restaurants

Panda Express Is Testing Out Pastrami Bao Buns At Their Innovation Kitchen

It seems Panda Express has been tinkering more and more with fusing flavors of Eastern dishes with Western comfort foods as of late. A few months back, the chain introduced a new protein that combined the traditional flavors of Sichuan peppercorns with the Southern heat of Nashville Hot Chicken.

In what appears to be a delicious trend, Panda Express has announced another new flavor combination that’s hitting their Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. Feast your eyes on the Pastrami Bao Buns.

The new item combines the popular Taiwanese street food of Pork Belly Bao Buns with the classic American deli staple the Pastrami Sandwich. Pork Belly is slow cooked, Hickory liquid smoked, blended with pastrami spices, and topped with pickled cucumbers before going inside an airy bao bun. Finally, the dish is slathered with a sweet and savory sauce to bring it all together.

Be still my pastrami-loving belly.

You can find this item only at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. If popular enough, we can expect to see the Pastrami Bao Buns arrive at restaurants on a national scale. Until then, I’ll need to find some time on my calendar to drive out and try the new dish.

Categories
Fast Food News

Dunkin’ Donuts’ New ‘Dunkin” Location Will Focus On Beverages

 

UPDATE: An official statement from Dunkin’ Donuts says that the new restaurant will be located at 275 South Lake Ave. in Pasadena, CA. While it will feature Dunkin’ Donuts’ full menu, this particular spot will highlight the brand’s beverages and coffees rather than just donuts. Patrons can rest easy, however, as they can still get their beloved donuts at the new spot.

Dunkin’ Donuts spent years carving a name for themselves in the donut space. A major change the company is considering to that name, however, might make things a little more confusing for long-time patrons.

A few days ago, Dunkin’ Donuts announced that they were dropping the “Donuts” from their name at a test location in Pasadena, CA. Forbes reports that the restaurant will simply go by Dunkin‘.

Whether or not customers will recognize the location as a donut shop remains to be seen.

So what’s the Internet think of this drastic new change?

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We’ll soon see how this shift in titles will do at the test location in California. Until then, Dunkin’ Donuts is keeping their original two-word name at all of their other locations for the time being.

Categories
Features

Union Restaurant’s Third Anniversary Brings Out All-Star Lineup Of Chefs

Three years ago Union Restaurant opened its doors in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.

Acclaimed Chef Bruce Kalman and Co-Owner Marie Petulla conceptualized and created the popular Southern California establishment that specialized in Italian-influenced farm-to-table cuisine.

“I wanted to create a small neighborhood restaurant that was sustainable, that embraced the community, worked with local farmers, and everyone in Pasadena,” Petulla told Foodbeast.

With Chef Kalman creating the menu, a restaurant was born on March 8, 2014.

Chef Kalman and Petulla come from very different viewpoints. Herself, from the front of the house and Bruce from the back of the house.

In the early days of Union they would approach different problems in different ways, and it took them a bit of an adjustment period to understand each one’s perspective and allow themselves to be challenged by one another.

In the end, our vision was the same, said Petulla.

To celebrate the three-year anniversary of Union Restaurant, Chef Kalman invited a few close friends and chefs he met throughout his professional career to help create a special menu for the anniversary dinner.

Joining Chef Kalman for this one-night event was acclaimed chef Brooke Williamson of Playa Provisions…

…Executive Chef Nick Shipp of Upper West Restaurant…

…Duff Goldman, owner of Charmed City Cakes and host of the Food Network series Ace of Cakes

…and Michael Voltaggio of ink. and the winner of Top Chef season six.

This all-star lineup of chefs kicked off the night with a quick rundown of the dishes they were making. The short, but essential meeting touched upon minute menu changes and what they expected from each other as well as the sous chefs and wait staff.

Then, the dinner kicked off.

Like an endless waltz of knife work, mixing, seasoning, and plating, the chefs were united in uncanny harmony.

The smells emerging from the bustling kitchen were so heavenly, I could have sworn even my camera began salivating.

Each chef was in charge of their own dishes, created in their own respective styles and techniques, but were more than happy to shift gears and assist their colleagues at a moment’s notice.

Chef Kalman told us, “I wanted to organize a celebratory dinner and thought it would be great to bring in some of my good friends who are amazing chefs.”

Cause everything’s better with friends, he said.

As the chefs worked tirelessly, the restaurant began to swell with hungry and excited patrons. Soon enough, the crowd was wall to wall, testing the integrity of containment like a child’s water balloon on the hottest day of summer.

Finally, the moment that was three years in the making had finally arrived: the first dish of the night was ready.

The entire restaurant raised their glasses to Chef Kalman and Marie Petulla. Celebratory words were exchanged and cheers rung through the four brick walls of Union Restaurant.

Now, there were many courses throughout this dinner, all of which were the pinnacle of Italian and American fare.

This, however, isn’t about the food.

Union Restaurant’s anniversary dinner was about the community.

The restaurant known best for incorporating produce and ingredients from local areas, celebrated a milestone by bringing together a community of chefs, friends, and colleagues. Yes, on this night, every essential element came together and formed a perfect union.

Categories
News Nightlife

Scumbag On Bumble Keeps Dining And Dashing On His Dates

Dining and dashing is a pretty scummy act, and one particular dirtbag had mastered it, going on multiple dates with women and leaving them with the bill as he disappeared into the dark night like Batman.

This dude, who sometimes goes by the name Dave Gonzales, has the scam on lock, attracting women on Bumble with his charming good looks, taking them out to dinner, then going outside to “take a call,” and never coming back.

That’s how it went down for one of his latest victims, as she went on a date with him at a BJ’s Restaurant in Pasadena, Calif., according to CBSLA.

She told CBS that after Gonzales went outside for his call, “The waiter came back and said he’s not out there… ‘He’s gone.’”

This isn’t the first time this guy has dined and dashed, as in August 2016 — this time going by the name Paul Gonzales — he did the deed at a restaurant in Long Beach, Calif. Gonzales ordered over $100-worth of food, went to the restroom, and never came back.

The LA County District Attorney’s office said that Gonzales actually has two warrants for his arrest after not showing up to court for petty theft and driving without a valid license, so he’s at least on the police’s radar.

Still, he keeps duping these women, getting free meals, and looking like the biggest douchebag in California — and that’s no easy title to obtain.

Categories
Fast Food Hit-Or-Miss News Restaurants

In-N-Out Copycat CaliBurger Rolls Out First Burger Flipping Robot

It’s like a scene straight out of The Jetsons:  a robotic arm, gently flipping burger patties and turning buns with exact precision. Except only this time, it’s not a cartoon, it’s real life and it’s happening right now at a Pasadena-based burger chain called CaliBurger.

Enter FLIPPY, an artificially intelligent grill master that was developed by another Pasadena-based company, Miso Robotics and the CaliBurger’s parent company Cali Group. FLIPPY is a “robotic kitchen assistant” that works along side humans, and is now the newest CaliBurger team member, according to TechCrunch.

FLIPPY uses cameras to detect the different types of meat, along with cooking temperature and time, buns, and even the hands of a fellow coworker. Engadget reported that by using sensors it can use and “deep learning software to locate ingredients in a kitchen without needing to reconfigure existing equipment,” FLIPPY can alert humans when cooking tasks are completed so the toppings can be added to orders.

In a world dominated by mobile food delivery, the fast-food industry has already seen a big shift into automation — which restaurant owners can use as a profitable advantage — considering potential minimum wage rate increases and the aspect of more quick-serve restaurants transitioning to a more personal dining room service.

CaliBurger is already looking into the future of fast-food automation, but according to John Miller, Chairman of CaliGroup, FLIPPY won’t be replacing employees anytime soon.

“The application of artificial intelligence to robotic systems that work next to our employees in CaliBurger restaurants will allow us to make food faster, safer, and with fewer errors,” Miller told Nation’s Restaurant News.

For now, FLIPPY is under a probationary period at CaliBurger but the chain plans to roll out additional versions of Flippy to 50 CaliBurger locations in the next few years.

While it may not seem obvious at first, CaliBurger made headlines before. In 2012, the CaliBurger was sued by In-N-Out for, “trademark infringement and counterfeiting,” when it used similar imagery and the phrase, “Animal Style” on menus in a Shanghai location according to the Los Angeles Times.

Categories
Restaurants

The Foie Gras And Sea Urchin Espressos That Kept Me Up All Night

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While sitting at my desk yesterday contemplating changing my last name to “Burger,” I began to doze off. In my sleepy state, I heard a rumor that a restaurant in Pasadena, CA, served an espresso made with foie gras.

Holy shit, I couldn’t tell if that sounded disgusting or delicious, but I was more than ready to seek it out. I grabbed fellow writer Reach and hopped into my car ready for a foie gras adventure.

We arrived at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Downtown Pasadena where were were seated at the bar. It was right at the peak of Happy Hour and folks were ready to get their booze on after a long day of work.

I asked the bartender if she served an espresso made with foie gras. She confirmed it and, shortly after, brought us a cup they called Kuki to sip on.

Two hours in traffic we sat through, waiting for this beverage.

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You can definitely taste the foie gras right off the bat. While subtle at first, the flavor gets more and more intense as you get to the bottom of the cup. The top is filled with a smooth foam, while the middle is a tad oily. Finally, when you get to the bottom, you can easily find chunks of foie gras settling at the base.

The bartender was eager to hear our thoughts, as she had never tried the drink before. Not many customers had. As we happily gave her our review, she mentioned there were two other espressos on the menu we needed to try.

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One was made with Wagyu fat and the other with Uni (sea urchin).

I quickly looked at Reach who gave me a nod of approval. We ordered the drinks.

The Wagyu fat, called Tochi, didn’t taste too crazy. The sweetness from the chocolate and honey overpowered the fat, but it made for a pretty delicious dose of caffeine. Probably the most normal of the trio.

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While I was sipping on the Wagyu espresso, Reach had just done the same to the Uni. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. The dude isn’t normally a coffee drinker, so when he says to try it, I don’t hesitate.

The foie gras was good, but the there was something about the uni beverage they named Umi that blended so well with the espresso. Hands down the best of the three. At the bottom, like the foie gras, you can clearly spot bits of sea urchin swimming about.

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The three drinks were definitely a cool take on espressos.

After a jittery car ride home, I spent the rest of the night watching New Girl episodes on Netflix. Can’t handle three espressos after 5pm any more. Not if I want to sleep at a decent hour.

You can get the espresso trio for $30, or $10 a piece.

Categories
Fast Food

Panda Express Innovation Kitchen Now Shilling Boba, Orange Chicken Burritos

panda-burrito

In Pasadena, Calif., Chinese American fast food chain Panda Express is currently testing a trendy new concept that’s somehow Chipotle, Teavana, a mom and pop boba shop, and good ol’ fashioned Panda all at once.

Just opened last week, the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen looks like the love child of Panda Express and one of the newer, sleeker Starbucks-es. According to Los Angeles Magazine, there’s a tea bar serving up a bevy of hot or iced teas, fruit teas, milk teas, all the requisite add-ons like boba and egg pudding, as well as a Chipotle-esque assembly line that lets guests compose their own rice, chow mein, or salad bowls, or scallion pancake “burritos.”

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In case the name didn’t give it away, the key here is innovation, meaning nearly all Panda toppings are on the table, even, as LAMag illustrates, fried rice and Orange Chicken. Yes, in a “burrito.” Yes, like mothereffing Kogi Truck. Sure, you could just snooze it up with an Eggplant Tofu salad, but we doubt you’d be on this site if you would.

As of now, there’s no news of Panda Express 5.0 making its way outside of Pasadena, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if it did.

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As for us, we’d like to order a Double Wide with Honey Walnut Shrimp and Orange Chicken and chow mein and fried rice and cream cheese rangoons. Washed down with an Orange Chicken milkshake, of course.

H/T + Picthx LAMag, Yelp