Poke Taking L.A. by Storm

-1x-1Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a marinated raw fish dish in Hawaii. Recently over half a dozen shops specializing in poke have popped up in L.A neighborhoods. Speciality shops have created different dishes with poke that attracts Californian consumers because of its health benefactors and its cost of being an average of $10. Bowl of rice, salads, quinoa are topped with poke and stand as alternatives to eating lunch at a sushi bar that would bring an average check of $40.

Sweetfin, a widely popular poke shop, serves a bowl of sashimi-grade tuna heaped on top of rice, or greens, such as citrus kale salad, with a wide range of accompaniments like avocado, edamame, and scallions. Marinades range from soy sauce and sesame oil to creamy togarashi sauce, Sweetfin’s specialty Japanese spicy mayo. While traditional poke in Hawaii involves onions, lime, and nuts, Nestdat and Cohen used more ingredients from Californian and Asian cuisines. Owners of Sweetfin says “Poke is the natural progression from sushi.” Seth Cohen and Brett Nestadt, owners of Sweetfin, wanted to reshape the lunch culture in America with its progression from sushi to poke. Sweetfin has doubled in the amount of fish it buys per week since opening in April, increasing from 700 pounds to 1500 pounds. Daily sales have jumped 40 percent. Cohen and Nestdat are planning to expand and open more shops in metropolitan areas.

Not only has Cohen and Nestdat seen success in poke, but several chefs including Kayson Chong and Eric Park has also seen a rise in their sales. Mainland Poke Shop, and Ohana Poke Co. are poke specialty shops, respectively, that have also contributed to the new wave of poke in California. While Mainland Poke Shop offer poke with quinoa and kale, Ohana Poke Co. offers poke with both French and Korean combinations.

Poke has been making appearances in other foodie destinations outside of L.A. Chef Jesse Sandole’s restaurant in Charleston and Nantucket have poke on their menus. Poke has been growing in Chicago, Washing, and Colorado. New York City’s East Village also has poke dishes from Per Se- one with octopus and another with big-eye tuna.

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Governor Cuomo Proposes ‘All Industry’ Minimum Wage of $15

Unknown-1This past summer, legislation passed that restaurant chains in New York would need to implement yearly increases for minimum wages until 2018 for NYC and 2021 for the rest of the state to incur a $15/hr wage. However, Governor Cuomo has announced his intentions for all industries to increase minimum wages in New York State. “You cannot support a family on $18,000/ year in New York State, not to mention have a decent living,” Cuomo said. The New York State minimum right now is $8.75 and will rise to $9.00 in January, which is an annual salary of about $18,720 assuming 40 hours a week for 52 weeks. However, a $15 wage would raise yearly salaries to about $31,000.

Cuomo’s intentions to drive salaries in all industries will potentially effect the hospitality industry the most. The hospitality industry occupies some of the lowest paying jobs in the economy. Many of the employees in the hospitality industry conduct a tip based wage, where the minimum is $5.00. An average server in the greater New York Metropolitan area makes $13.21 per hour after tips, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. In New York State, servers make an average of $12.16. NYC cooks make about $13.41 and dishwashers make about $9.66.

The tipped minimum wage will be increasing to $7.50 in January. However, for Cuomo to increase minimum wages for all workers in all industries to be $15, he will need legislative approval.

Many businesses have opposed the raise in minimum wages as it increases labor costs, and can potentially cut back on hourly staffing and reduce hiring. However, those that support “Fight for Fifteen” disagree with examples from San Francisco and Seattle, as the rising minimums in those cities did not prompt to a significant layoff or closure of hospitality industries. Moreover, believe that these measures will increase employee retention, decrease worker reliance on taxpayer subsidized public assistance programs like food stamps and stimulate consumer spending throughout the economy.

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Websites will never completely replace stores

imgresOver the past several decades, much has changed in retail businesses. With constant revolutions in technology, E-commerce has become a major factor in business sales. Consumers now have capability to research stores, products, reviews, ratings, prices, inventory and specs online. This data allows consumers to access a wider range of options for “where” to buy from, just from searching the web. However, with all the choice and consumer empowerment that E-commerce enhances, physical stores are predicted to remain as the most important aspect of retail businesses.

In a 2014 Capgemini study consumers were surveyed on their preferences of shopping methods. The majority of consumers’ first choice was traditional in-store experiences, and was followed by retailers’ websites. E-commerce only accounts for 7 percent of U.S. retail sales. Study shows that human desire to see, and touch things while shopping is evident. There is also distinctive connection between the consumer and the brand that can be experienced only through in-store interactions. E-Commerce only businesses, like Amazon, eBay, Google, are aware of the limited experience and connection that comes from only distributing through the internet, and have taken efforts to reach customers through pop-up stores, and trucks. Companies like Amazon, and Warby Parker embrace that in-store and online experiences don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Instead, a symbiosis relationship can exist, where consumers invite online experiences into the physical store.

Popular online experiences that consumers want extended in stores include inventory visibility, in-store pickup, drop/ship home delivery, app and loyalty integration, and online/in-store community building. E-commerce has revolutionized inventory visibility for consumers. And now, consumers expect and like to ‘see” if a local store has a desired item in-stock before visiting the store. Home Depot is a primary example that allows consumers to search, on their e-commerce web, the availability of certain items at their local store. In-store pickup is also a major sales driven potential extending e-commerce to retail stores. In-store pickup potentially reduces shipping costs, increases foot traffic and encourages add-on sales. And for consumers gives them opportunity to recognize items as wanted or unwanted items after purchase, giving them access to potentially “return” items directly after shipment. Drop/Home Delivery allows for more convenience for consumers, and can potentially drive check averages. Consumers can conveniently shop without having to worry about transporting in-store purchases home through methods of “pick up later” or “home delivery.” App and loyalty integration is an aspect of business that is becoming trendier, and expected by consumers. In both online, in-store purchases customers should receive loyalty points, have personalized product recommendations, and promotional information. This integration can retain customers, and build traffic.

Retail Owners and companies have now shifted their focus on how they can combine the best of online and in-store distribution methods to deliver the best possible customer experience.

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Dominique Ansel Hosts its First “Pie Night”

FoodFightBlackWhite_cropped-e1441319093825On October 1st, Dominique Ansel will host their first ever Pie Night. Dominique Ansel has gained a lot of attention and popularity because of its mashup phenomenons like the Cronut, the Cookie shots, etc. And now, Dominique Ansel Kitchen will feature nine different varieties of confection for their ‘Pie Night’ event. The Salted-caramel apple pie, blueberry pie with buttermilk-oat crumble, flaméed banana-cream pie, bourbon-pecan pie, 66 percent dark-chocolate cream pie, whiskey-kissed sweet-potato pie with torched marshmallow, lemon-cream pie with thyme and brown-sugar meringue, dark-meat chicken and fall-vegetable potpie, and lastly the roasted heirloom-tomato tart will be be featured on Pie Night.

Tickets are priced at $35 and includes unlimited slices of pie, a glass of Champagne, and Ansel’s homemade ice creams. Tickets started to go on sale at 12 PM, September 10th. There are three one-hour time slots from 7PM-10PM. Many are anticipating Ansel’s first after-hours event, hoping that there will be many more to come. Ticket sales are on a first come first serve basis. Participants must email events@domiqueanselkitchen.com with their Full Name, Phone Number, the Number of people in your party (max 2), Time slot, and Credit Card Information.

To read more, click here.

Restaurants required to be More Transparent

saltThe Board of Health will vote today on whether chains will be required to add saltshaker symbols next to menu items with at least a day’s worth of sodium, which FDA defines as 2,300 milligrams. Mayor de Blasio’s administration has already expressed their support for this regulation, and want more transparency for customers in restaurants. “It’s quite difficult for consumers to understand which products might have too much sodium in them” a Health Department official expressed.

The New York State Restaurant Association has opposed implementing symbols identifying sodium levels, as it is a step toward food-warning fatigue, and seeing it as a warning label than food products for consumers. The New York State Restaurant Association lawyer said “The concern, at some point, is that warning labels and the confluence of warnings on menus will lead to a collective shrug by consumers…as every item on a menu will be flagged as inappropriate in one way or another.”

If this regulation is passed by the Health Department, New York will be the first in America to put transparency and regulations to salt levels.

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California Is Shutting Down Major Water Supplier

tumblr_l4nsht3HtT1qb7v91California has declared a drought emergency almost 19 months ago and is still implementing new ways to conserve water. In its efforts, California has given clear instruction to Sugar Pine Spring Water to change their water source out of California. Sugar Pine Spring is the company listed as a certified source of Starbucks bottled water Ethos. It uses “California’s bone-dry water supplies in its mission to alleviate worldwide thirst.” Starbucks, however, has complied with state regulations and released statements to switch to a new water source within six months that isn’t experiencing regional drought.

Despite warnings from the California, agents from the State Water Resources Control Board revealed that surveillance cameras captured 99 Sugar Pine tanker trucks filling up with San Francisco’s water supplies. The Water Resources Control Board has announced that fines will begin soon if Sugar Pine doesn’t comply with regulations. The state has also fined Sugar Pine at $224,875 for disregarding the original request to stop draining supplies in California back in 2014.

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Sadelle’s Opens

20-fall-preview-sadelles-2.w529.h352Sadelle’s, one of the most anticipated restaurants to open this fall, has finally opened. Sadelle’s is named to be a leading competitor in this year’s trend of bagels. The bagel bakery boasts pastries, babka, bagels and bistro from baker Melissa Weller and the Major Food Group. Already, many are anticipating the bagels and lox. Moreover, as the Jewish holidays are in season, Sadelle’s opening fits perfectly into this fall’s trend.

Sadelle’s has opened their retail bakery from 8 AM- 3PM and is expecting to open their full restaurant menu next week.

To read more, click here.


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