Bloomfield’s Planned FiDi Opening Called Off

April Bloomfield, the chef behind NY staples Salvation Burger, The Breslin, and The Spotted Pig, has officially called off plans to open a complex of restaurants and bars at the top of 70 Pine Street in the Financial District. Bloomfield had originally planned to open the project with business partner Ken Friedman and developer Adam Rose, who is converting the the former AIG building into apartments. But by mutual agreement the plan has been called off, supposedly due to the complexity of the concept and logistics necessary. According to Rose, “we need a simple bar with basic (but nice) food to make it work 66 stories up in the air on top of a landmark.”

Rose is now working on securing another chef or operator, but has not announced any possible partners yet. He says that a future collaboration with Bloomfield and Friedman is still “highly likely.”

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Philly Paves the Way For Diet-Soda Taxes

In less than a week, Philadelphia will vote on a new tax on sodas which they are all but certain to pass. The tax will add 1.5 cents to every ounce of soda sold – an amount which adds up quickly on larger bottles and value-packs. The measure will make Philly the first large city to tax soda (Berkeley being the only other city in the U.S. to pass a similar law), as well as the first city to extend taxes to diet sodas. While the original proposal taxed only drinks with added sugar at 3 cents an ounce, critics argued this was too steep and disproportionately affected those with lower-incomes. The city council then amended the measure to tax all sodas at a lower rate, since upper- and middle-income consumers are more likely to reach for the diet soda.

Big Soda is already suffering from tanking sales and bad PR, so this move has understandably put them on the defensive. In the weeks leading up to the vote, soda companies have poured millions into ad campaigns against the tax, and the city has responded with some of their own. The council can also expect some litigation once they vote, since the industry is not likely to go down without a fight.

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More Restaurants Planning on Eliminating Tips

According to a new survey conducted by the American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, more restaurants around the country are planning on going tip-free.

Of the 503 restaurants surveyed, nearly half have either adopted or plan to adopt a no-tipping policy. Further results were:

  • 18%: Already initiated a no-tipping policy
  • 29%: Intend to make the switch
  • 27% Pro-tipping and have no plans to change
  • 17%: Open to making a move if more of their colleagues do
  • 10%: Undecided

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Behind Chick-fil-A’s Success


Political controversy aside, Chick-fil-A’s success is undeniable. In 2015, they averaged $3.2 million in per-store sales, which is 25% higher than McDonald’s, and double Burger King or Wendy’s. In 2014 they overtook KFC as America’s biggest Chicken chain. Analysts now predict that they are on track to become the 4th largest chain in America in terms of revenue by 2020, calling them the largest and least appreciated threat to McDonald’s. And if you think that this is largely irrelevant in New York, where Bill De Blasio has come out officially against the company for the CEO’s homophobic remarks, you might want to think again. 8 blocks from their first NYC location in midtown they are currently construction a second, and there are additional plans in the works to open a dozen more around the outer boroughs – bringing them close to the number of Panera breads in the city.

Needless to say, controversy does not seem to be slowing them down too much. Analysts credit their tight operations, and perhaps a certain amount of exclusivity: apparently only 0.7% of the 20,000 applicants who applied for franchises last year were given a spot – an acceptance rate lower than Harvard.

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Café Henrie Launches Dinner


LES lunchtime favorite Cafe Henrie launched dinner service this week, with a beautiful menu of brightly colored, vegetable-heavy dishes like the Gypsy Salad (vegetables, chickpeas and beet tahini) and the tiger bowl (tuna, avocado and black sesame). The new menu is by Camille Becerra (formerly of Navy). Cafe Henrie is riding the wave of the (highly photographable) healthy-food-that-isn’t-health-food trend, as seen in spots like Dimes and El Rey. Their lunchtime success has allowed them to expand service to dinner.

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Chobani CEO Offers Full Time Employees an Unprecedented Bonus

On Tuesday Morning, 2,000 full time Chobani employees received the surprise of a lifetime: shares worth 10% of the company, a bonus which could mean up to a million dollars for some employees when the company is sold or goes public. According to CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, the goal is to pass along the wealth he could not have accumulated without the help of his employees.

The distribution of shares was based on tenure, with the employees who had been with Chobani longest receiving the largest distribution. Since Chobani’s current valuation, as estimated by TPG capital, is $3 – $5 billion, the average value of each employee’s distribution is $150,000. The shares come directly from Mr. Ulukaya, who is still the majority stakeholder. If employees leave or retire before Chobani is bought or goes public, they can hold onto the shares or sell them back to the company.

The move has obviously already generated a lot of press, particularly as it touches on the hot button topic of the wealth gap in America, much discussed this election cycle. Mr. Ulukaya himself has not made the connection explicit – focusing instead on his appreciation for his employees, and their crucial role in bringing the company where it is today.

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Street Vendors Protest Limited Number of Permits

13087313_10153582577593519_8831297411753637903_n.0.jpgThere are few things more closely associated with New York City than the smell of roasted peanuts and the ubiquitous carts selling shwarma, hot dogs, or decidedly-not-cold-brew iced coffee. There are around 20,000 street vendors in NYC, but the city only hands out 5,000 permits a year for a cost of $300 each – meaning many sellers are operating illegally or renting permits at much higher rates. On Tuesday, hundreds of vendors gathered at city hall to protest the cap on permits, originally issued in the 80’s in an effort to clean up the city streets. According to the protestors, that cap is no longer necessary, and puts a huge hurdle in the way of those who just want to legally work.

Some argue that the cap is still necessary, as the health department already struggles to keep up with monitoring the number of vendors with permits. Others view the vendors as “unsanitary and unsightly,” and worry that more permits will create dangerous street congestion and sanitation issues. Arguably, the increased revenue from adding more permits could help offset the added costs of inspections and enforcement, but the problem is a sticky one.

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