Why You Should Buy Produce in Chinatown?


As anyone who’s spent an afternoon nibbling on roast pork while perusing the markets of Chinatown can attest, the neighborhood’s streets are home to an astounding variety of produce and vendors. In terms of fruits and vegetables, it’s an unparalleled shopping destination for the home cook in New York. This is in large part thanks to the remarkably cheap prices, but also the fact that you can consistently find new things to cook. The Wall Street Journal toured the neighborhood with economic botanist and From Farm to Canal Street author Valerie Imbruce, who filled the paper in on how the Chinatown produce economy works.

“You really can’t exaggerate this kind of variety”, says Imbruce. She counted 200 different fruits and vegetables, ranging from lots and lots of cherries to multiple varieties of choy and jackfruit, but also celtuce, long beans, bitter melon, dragon fruit, and all of the durian you would ever want. As far as their low pricing is concerned, Chinatown’s produce markets aren’t cheap because they’re peddling second-rate products, but because they’re actually kind of farm to vendor. Operators are linked to a network of small family farms, like home gardens in south Florida, and minor wholesalers that function independently of those that supply most supermarkets.

Furthermore, with low overheads — no credit cards, minimal staffing, and makeshift sidewalk stands — and collaboration among vendors to get bulk discounts means you’re paying as close to wholesale prices as you ever will. Chinatown’s markups typically run as low as 10 to 12 percent and don’t just beat Whole Foods (a.k.a Whole Paycheck), but also affordable chains like Key Foods.

Read more here.


8/15-8/17: CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit

Registration is open now for the CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit, to be held from August 15th to 17th in Chicago. In their own words, the event is an opportunity to explore the many opportunities that retailers, restaurants and other B2C enterprises have for leveraging mobile and digital channels to build their brands, increase sales and improve customer engagement, experience and loyalty.

Registration is limited to managers and executives of restaurants, retail and other business-to-consumer organizations.

To read more or register now, click here.

All Pizzas To Be Cooked By Robots?


A former Silicon Valley executive with a love of pizza and robots is on a quest to make a better pie and deliver it faster than the big chains can. Alex Garden is making robots that make pizza and they are coming for Domino’s.

The future of pie delivery, argues Garden, is being pioneered by robots at his Zume Pizza, and Bloomberg got a look inside the new company. The process seems to involve a team of enormous and very expensive-looking robots preparing pies that then get baked by a giant bank of ovens en route to customers.

One of the robots (her name is Marta) expertly spreads sauce “perfectly but not too perfectly, so it looks just like an artisan product.” Another, named Bruno, then “gently, without disturbing it,” moves the pizza into an 850-degree oven to prebake. Traditional humans are still required for tasks like sprinkling cheese, driving the delivery truck, and walking sealed boxes to customers’ doors, but these seem like minor obstacles, really. After all, even Domino’s has robots that warm pies on the road and diligently hunt down customers using GPS.  Pizza seems the ripest for full automation within fast food, so it’s safe to assume the whole industry is steadily moving toward the all-robot business model.

Right now, Zume’s pies only appear to be available in Mountain View, but Garden warns his company is targeting massive chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut, which he says he’ll be able to dethrone by offering “the best-tasting pizza in the country delivered in 15 minutes for the same price as any of the other chains.”As Bloomberg points out, there’s “a lot of profit in robot-made pizza.” Just envision one of the major pizza franchises but with “virtually no” humans, Garden calmly instructs everyone. “It would be like Domino’s without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be.”