IBM’s Foodborne Illness Outbreak Detection System

IBM has had a breakthrough in their research and managed to find a way to use technology to identify likely sources of contamination during a foodborne illness outbreak. Using past computed retail data combined with public health data, a search can be run on the system to look at billions of food items sold in supermarkets to automatically identify the probability of certain suspect products for outbreaks in a given area. Every time there is a report of an outbreak, using statistical techniques and visualization, the algorithm recalculates the probability of each food item that could be causing the illness.

This system is capable accelerating the time that is usually taken to identify contaminated food products which will in turn help reduce the economic losses experienced by food companies as well as healthcare expenses. Dr. Bernd Appel, head of the Department for Biological Safety for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assesment recently stated in a press statement, “The success of an outbreak investigation often depends on the willingness of private sector stakeholders to collaborate pro-actively with public health officials…this research illustrates an approach to create significant improvements without the need for any regulatory changes.”

This program will relieve some of the strain on the public health system in detecting contaminated food to minimize the spread of the foodborne illness. Jaes Kaufman, Manager of Public Health Research for IBM Research states, “Predictive analytics based on location, content, and context are driving our ability to quickly discover hidden patterns and relationships from diverse public health and retail data..we are working with our public health clients and with retailers in the U.S. to scale this research prototype and begin focusing on the 1.7B supermarket items sold each week in the United States.”

To read more about IBM’s research and how this new system works, click here

New Shake Shack Dumbo

The new Shake Shack location in Dumbo opens today on the corner of Fulton St. and Water St directly across from the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This location’s décor has a nautical vibe with sailboat images hung on the cedar plank walls that were stripped from old New York rooftop water towers. The burger chain’s new Dumbo location is the first to offer their Frog’s Leap “Shack Red” and “Shack White” wines on tap and not just in bottles. There are also a few other features that are only specific to this location. For instance:


  • The “Caramel Carousel,” made with a vanilla frozen custard base with bananas, caramel sauce, sugar cone pieces, and sea salt was inspired by Jane’s Carousel; a nearby tourist attraction.
  • The “Brooklyn Pie Oh My” consists of vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of Four & Twenty Blackirds pie. Currently the Brooklyn Pie Oh My features a slice of strawberry-balsamic pie; the pie flavors will rotate.
  • Although not convenient in the summer, the gas-burning fireplace in the front window will definitely be a bonus come winter!
  • 5% of proceeds from the location-specific beverages will benefit the nonprofit “Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue.”


To read more about the opening of Shake Shack’s new location, click here


Marlow & Sons: Retail Bakery, Bar & Restaurant

81 Broadway Brooklyn, between Berry and Wythe        Tel. 718.384.1441


Their Success…Marlow & Sons has been attracting guests for pre-dinner cocktails and oyster tastings ever since it opened in Williamsburg in 2004. Recently however, guests have shifted towards making Marlow & Sons more of a one-stop destination rather than a mere stopover in their evening plans. Although the eclectic bistro-like dining room is ideal for a pre-dinner pit stop, the small but solid menu options have made guests want to settle down for a full meal.

The entrance space hosts a small retail shop serving coffee, baked goods, artisanal jams, homemade granola, dairy products, sundries, and even apparel. The market has a farmhouse feel where guests are greeted by name. The staff are genuinely pleased to be serving the guest, and make sure to create an enjoyable experience for them. This is very inviting to the guest and seems to ensure repeat patronage.

Upon first glance this country-like farmer’s market would not appear to hold such a hidden gem in the back. The entrance space segues into the bar/dining hall through a narrow wooden portal that brings the customer into a very modest setting filled with reclaimed wood, communal tables, a long rustic-looking bar top and mixed antique marble and mirrored décor. The menu is seasonal and focused on high quality ingredients. Main dishes change daily as well as recurring specials that are prepared in different ways.

Originally, Marlow & Sons became popular not only for their wide selection of oysters, but for their smaller dishes such as the house-made charcuterie and pâté, chicken liver mousse spread, assorted crostini, marinated olives and cheeses. As Marlow & Sons began to grow a loyal fan-base the menu also started to adopt some mainstay items such as the brick chicken and the Spanish tortilla. The key to this successful following lies in the simplicity of the menu. As a guest, it is exciting to walk into an establishment for a meal and feel that you can’t wait to glance over at the special’s board, ready to be enticed by the daily chef creations.

Marlow & Sons caters to an area where people truly care about their food and want to know that there is some integrity in what they eat; so the use of local fresh products to create simple dishes at an affordable price is what is attracting locals as well as out-of-towners. A condensed menu gives the customer the sense that they can’t go wrong with their choice and eliminates the ordering anxiety that happens all too frequently in restaurants around New York City.

Take Aways…Marlow & Sons wears many hats: bakery, coffee shop, market, bar and restaurant. They serve only quality, farm-to-table fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner in their casual and old style setting. The daily specials are the stars of the menu and promise to be seasonal, unpretentious and delicious. Guests immediately feel that at Marlow & Sons, they are a part of the community and that the staff strive to make you feel at home. Repeat clientele are impressed with the multi-faceted dynamic brought to them in a friendly and cost conscious matter and keep coming back for more.

Coffee Operators Driving Revenue Through Mobile Payments

There is a definite compatibility between specialist coffee shops and mobile payments due to the fact that their primary product is purchased at such a high frequency. Consumers purchase coffee daily (often multiple repeat purchases per day) and would benefit from a streamlined payment method and loyalty programs such as can be offered by mobile payment solutions. The consumer demographic is also most likely to participate in the mobile payment methods as it consists mostly of young students interested in technology and consumers who have easy access to mobile technologies.

While Starbucks was the first to launch its well-known loyalty program and mobile payment app years ago, third-party mobile payment technologies are now cropping up targeting independent coffee shops to help them drive revenue and better compete with larger chains such as Starbucks. CUPS is one example of a third-party mobile payment apps designed to engage consumers by providing incentives through loyalty programs that offer discounts and special offers based on their purchase history. BeansUP is another recently launched innovative app that allows consumers to set coffee pick-up times; this will allow for an enhanced consumer experience as the product is prepaid and the guest can avoid peak hour lines and pick up their coffee directly at the counter.

The increased demand for efficient, streamlined transactions will only continue to grow and these mobile technologies definitely help meet this need. In order for consumers to adopt mobile payment methods they must first be intrigued by the incentives and sign up for a subscription to their preferred coffee shop’s mobile app. As consumer engagement increases so too will the use of mobile payments and therefore help to drive traffic and revenues.

To read more about these two new innovative mobile payment technologies, click here


Rescue Plan for Crumbs Bakery

Marcus Lemonis, star of the CNBC show and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterpries, decided to take action when Crumbs Bakery closed their doors last week. Lemonis is devising a plan to attempt to rescue the bakery by partnering with owners of ice cream brand Dippin’ Dots to not only loan money but also to outline a new strategy which involves incorporating more products into a larger sweets shop beyond just cupcakes.

For the moment Lemonis is financing the chain to get their doors back open but is still working on a plan to really bring the company back to life. The owners of Dippin’ Dots are already investors in Crumbs whose ultimate goal is to buy the company. Lemonis is seeking to involve the founders of Crumbs, Mia and Jason Bauer, throughout the process even if it is only at an advising capacity.

Lemonis, who hosts a reality show based on helping troubled companies return to turning a profit, stated,  “I don’t believe a single (product) cupcake business is viable in the long term,” Lemonis said. “It was originally envisioned as a bake shop.” Hopefully Lemonis’ plan will be successful and enable Crumbs Bakeshop to recover, stay open and do a complete turnaround.

To read more about Lemonis’ involvement in resuscitating the bakeshop, click here


New Amsterdam Market Comes To An End

The New Amsterdam Market has ended having hosted its last market on June 21st. The market will no longer be taking place on South Street in Lower Mahattan on the site of the Old Fulton Fish Market. Unfortunately, Robert LaValva, founder of New Amsterdam Market, informs the public that they did not manage to raise the funding necessary to ensure the survival of the organization. Sadly, more than one acre of the public space will soon be property of a suburban shopping mall developer.

The market had been growing in frequency ever since its opening seven years go. The market consisted of a community of businesses who prioritized fair trade and sustainable food production. The market created over 350 jobs and supported 500 food entrepreneurs during the 88 times the market was held. The New Amsterdam Market also hosted numerous events to celebrate regional fare and products.

To read more about the market’s fate, click here


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