Babu Ji redefines NYC’s Ice Cream Wars

As the humidity and heat rises in New York City, social media feeds have been buzzing around trending ice cream parlors. In recent years, gourmet ice cream shops have been spurring up in New York City and this summer is no different. Babu Ji is the latest contestant in this “ice cream war” and isn’t shying away from challenging the market.

While Babu Ji offers an array of traditional Indian fCard, Pista, Honey Kulfi Mikey Pozarikoods, it’s trademark is the Kulfi Ice Cream. New Yorkers are no stranger to Kulfi as it has already entered the market in the past through grocery vendors and other traditional Indian restaurants. However, the Kulfi at Babu Ji is unique in that Jessi Singh, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, invests almost an entire day into making a Kulfi. Continuous stirring of the milk base and adjustments of temperature create a consistency different from an average ice cream. Kulfi has a more chewy texture that is smooth, creamy and dense and in the last bites there is cardamom and pistachio. Babu Ji offers only one flavor right now but Singh intends to bring more flavors with local fruits and in “clove-and-ginger-charged chai.”

Not only does Singh invest hours into creating Kulfi but hopes to offer a nostalgic and traditional aura to his customers. Kulfi is “the only thing that cools you down in the afternoons in India where long summers days with 100 percent humidity and no proper electricity exists. Moms and grandmas often make Kulfi to cheer others up” says Singh. Singh also uses traditional metal molds directly from India to enhance the Kulfi experience to that of India.

To read more about Babu Ji’s Kulfi, click here.

Babu Ji – 175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

The Big M loses it’s Size

For the first time since 1977, one of the largest restaurant chains inMcDonalds-Closing the world, McDonald’s, is projected to close more stores than open in the United States. Over the past two years, McDonald’s has been suffering from decreasing revenue and drops in profit from stores worldwide. Increasing numbers of competitors in the United States, economic instability in Europe and strict food safety regulations in Asia have effected the performance of McDonald’s. Already in the first quarter of 2015, McDonald’s closed 350 stores performing poorly in Japan, United States and China hoping it will drive profits upward. McDonald’s CFO Kevin Ozan is implementing turnaround strategies to “win over the millions of burger-eaters.” The company’s approach within limited service fast food is labeled to be outdated and far from trending dietary factors. This generation, the Millennials, are prone to be more health-conscious and interested in key words like “organic, free range, locally grown” which are areas that McDonald’s is incoherent with. With McDonald’s lagging attempt to follow trends, competitors continue to grow like Chipotle which caused the biggest drop in sales to McDonald’s with its entrance into the limited service industry. McDonald’s has not officially disclosed the number of stores closing but it is speculated that a target of 700 restaurants with poor sales will be shutting down this year.

To read more from grubstreet, click here.

Retail Spotlight: Arcade Bakery

Arcade_Bakery

When one walks into the conventional office building of 220 Church, they are transported miles away as the intoxicating aroma of Arcade Bakery’s freshly baked bread fills the air. A sign on the side of the building identifies the bakery, but it is not until guests walk 300 feet into the building’s elegant Art Nouveau lobby will they find the discrete window of Roger Gural’s first venture.

People line up at the petite booth looking down at the small pastry case filled of beautiful goodies and above to the oversized loaves of bread lining the shelves beyond the counter. Just a window away, patrons can glare into the following room where bakers are hard at work crafting the next batch of confections. Eight fold out tables line the sides of lobby, providing cubbies for customers to nestle into and enjoy their freshly baked treats.

Arcade Bakery specializes in traditional handcrafted breads and yeasted pastries that are baked on site daily. The Bouley and French Laundry alumnus lunched Arcade Bakery in May 2014 and has been slowly expanding his operations since. Currently the hours of operation are 8am – 4pm, Monday through Friday and the bakery’s menu has welcomed a crossover to lunch that includes sandwiches and pizzas, which can be ordered online in advance.

Arcade Bakery is faced with a unique challenge. They must pull guests in without the assistance of a storefront. There is no neon sign screaming world-class pastries to draw in customers but instead they must find another way to let customers know they are relevant. In an interview with Eater, Rodger Gural shared that he was inspired by cities like Japan where guests can find fantastic food in subway and train stations. Just like these eateries in which Gural found inspiration, Arcade Bakery must keep their quality and service unwavering, making their unconventional retail space a destination.

In order to remain successful Arcade must rely on the return customer and good old-fashioned word of mouth, both which only occur if customers leave satisfied. Lucky for Gural, word of his fluffy slices of babka, the light and flaky croissants and unique creations such as his Pineapple Up-side Down Brioche have resonated with customers. Arcade Bakery is building a world-class reputation from an unassuming Tribeca lobby one pastry at a time!

Arcade Bakery is at 220 Church (between Worth and Thomas), http://www.arcadebakery.com

Whole Foods Announces a Whole New Concept

Popular sustainable grocer Whole Foods announced today that they are currently working on a sister concept that will provide budget friendly option for Millennials. The new concept will offer the same core values of Whole Foods, providing organic, sustainable options but with out the premium price tag. Whole Food’s co- CEO, Walter Robb states that their goal is to create a “uniquely branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace.”

Whole Food’s has often faced criticism for their high prices and have even been teased with the nickname “Whole Paycheck” as many cannot afford to shop there. Additional details about the chain will be released to the public before Labor Day and sources say that the new chain has the potential to be just as big as the original Whole Foods concept.

Trends in the industry show that healthy is what consumers want and companies are willing to do whatever it takes to get customers in the door. As we previously posted earlier in the week Panera Bread joined the vast list of food companies vowing to clean up their menus. Operations are removing artificial ingredients from their menus, sourcing food that is free of GMO’s and introducing healthier options.

To read more about Whole Food’s new concept, click here

Dine – In Traffic on the Rise

In recent years, diners have been choosing to take out meals or eat at home, but a recent study from The NPD Group shows the tides are changing. Consumers are enjoying more meals at restaurants as sit down traffic has grown 2 percent in 2014, in addition to 1-percent growth in 2013. Dine-in visits currently account for 39 percent of industry traffic and generate more than $233 billion dollars a year. For years there has been growth in the take out segment, which offers lower profit potential to restaurants as NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs told Nation’s Restaurant News “When you dine in the restaurant sales are much higher, you order more items”

One reason for dine-in growth is that restaurants are taking into account customer’s wants and taking the time to understand their target demographic. One industry spotlight of this is the national fondue chain, The Melting Pot. The chain began hosting focus groups with current and past consumers who gave much insight to the wants of their target market. Through these groups they found out that the restaurant was being used mostly for specialty occasions and consumers wanted a more approachable venue that they could frequent more often. By using the consumer feedback the Melting Pot made radical changes to their menu and operations that resulted in increased sales in 2014.

To read more from Nation’s Restaurant News, click here

New York Shines at James Beard Awards

Although this year’s James Beard Awards were held in Chicago, New York was the big winner of the night. The city that never sleeps brought home five awards showing that you can take show out of New York, but the winners are here to stay.  The James Beard Awards, deemed the Oscars of the culinary industry, celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year. Alton Brown hosted this year’s show, which was live streamed for viewers to enjoy at home. Congratulations to all of our New York friends!

  • Best New Restaurant
    • Bâtard, NYCScreen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.16.23 AM
  • Outstanding Baker 
    •  Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, NYC
  •  Outstanding Chef 
    • Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, NYC
  •  Outstanding Pastry Chef 
    • Christina Tosi, Momofuku, NYC
  • Outstanding Restaurant
    • Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY

To read the full list of winners, click here

Tea Makes a Stir in New York City

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Christopher Day at EMP

In the past tea has not always been though of as a trendy drink but now the industry is noticing an increase in demand. Loose leaf teas from around the world, tea preparation classes and artisan teaware are now available from a myriad of online purveyors and tea salons. Chain stores are also popping up nationwide as Starbucks purchased Teavana in 2012 and now has expanded to 301 stores across the country. According to the Tea Association of the USA in 2014, Americans consumed over 80 billion servings of tea, or more than 3.60 billion gallons.

These days, tea is also making a stir in New York Restaurants.  New York’s elite are now offering extensive tea lists and some even offer matching tasting notes. Tea programs are now offered at Eleven Madison Park, Atera, Blanca and Betony providing diners a chance to experience some of the world’s best teas. Eleven Madison Park’s tea program currently offers a seasonal menu of 32 types of teas served by the pot. Christopher Day, the man behind Eleven Madison Park’s tea program told Eater “”tea represents more than a beverage meant to be drunk at the end of a meal…We regard it as with wine, spirits, and coffee — as something to be selected and prepared with the same attention to detail and concern for excellence as any aspect of the menu.”

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Iced Matcha Teas at MatchaBar

Fast causal concepts are also appearing across the city offering different variations of the beverage. Flushing’s Fang Gourmet Tea offers 70 teas at $5 to $10. In Williamsburg New Yorkers can enjoy the city’s first speciality matcha cafe at MatchaBar where they offer everything from classic matcha to specialty  seasonal drinks such as Iced Mint Matcha Lemonade.

To read more from the New York Times click here

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