Taco Bell and Chipotle Want to Shave Time off Food Deliveries

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“When it comes to restaurant delivery, speed matters. And the burrito chains want to be faster.

Taco Bell –– which now offers delivery at roughly two-thirds of its U.S. restaurants through GrubHub Inc. with plans to continue expanding the service –– says its average delivery time is 34 minutes. The company acknowledges that’s not good enough for today’s demanding customer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., meanwhile, says it’s averaging between 28 and 32 minutes for delivery, but it thinks it can shave four minutes or so as it expands pickup shelves across the nation. It’s also introducing prepaid delivery so drivers don’t have to pay in stores. It’s all part of a digital push that is a key part of the comeback plan laid out under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol in his first year on the job.”

“While restaurant delivery has long been part of the culture in major cities like New York and San Francisco, pizza was often the only option in many markets. That has started to change as on-demand delivery services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have proliferated, joining GrubHub to expand delivery options.”

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CBD-Infused Food and Drinks Have Been Banned From NYC Restaurants and Bars

“If you’ve been relying on a smidgen of CBD oil in your latte to relax after a long day at work, you might want to look into alternative methods of decompression (at least temporarily).

According to the New York Daily News, as of Tuesday, the New York City Department of Health is prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling any and all perishable products containing cannabidiol (or CBD, for short), a compound found in marijuana purported to have therapeutic effects.

This might seem dire, but the ruling was basically inevitable. When it comes to the ever-fluctuating invocations of cannabis law, state governments aren’t going to take any chances with validating CBD oil as a safe ingredient until the compound is confirmed to be harmless on a federal level. CBD oil was banned from Californian food last July, and authorities in Maine are taking steps to strip businesses of the marijuana-adjacent treats this week.”

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Minimum Wage Hikes in New York City Cause Restaurants to Eliminate Jobs, Cut Hours, Raise Prices

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“New York is known for its incredible food scene, but legislators in the Big Apple may have bitten off more than they can chew with the newest minimum wage hike.

The city’s mandated increase, which took effect on December 31, requires businesses that employ 11 or more people to boost wages from $13 to $15 per hour. But most restaurants operate with the tipped wage, offering servers and bartenders a lower hourly base pay and the opportunity to rake in the rest in tips, which often yields better pay overall. If workers don’t earn enough this way, employers are required to make up the difference.

That tipped minimum just rose from $8.65 to $10 an hour. A 16 percent jump is fairly punishing, considering the industry operates on razor-thin profit margins.

A new study conducted by the New York City Hospitality Alliance lends credence to the idea that substantial increases made to the tipped wage are far costlier than they are beneficial. After surveying 574 restaurants, they found that 2019 looks bleak: 75 percent of full-service establishments plan to cut employee hours, and 47 percent will eliminate jobs entirely in response to the forced minimum wage hikes. That follows closely on the heels of a dreary 2018, when 77 percent of full-service restaurants reduced employee hours and 36 percent cut jobs, both of which were also in response to the mandated wage increases.”

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The Rise, Decline and Section 363 Sale of the New York Coffee Chain Fika

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“Though the word “fika” famously refers to the Swedish cultural practice of slowing down to relax with those around you over coffee or tea and a small bite, the New York City coffee chain Fika has been operating at a breakneck pace in recent years.

By 2016, ten years after opening Fika with a single Manhattan location, founder Lars Akerlund had led the boutique coffee chain to 17 locations while signaling the company’s intentions to expand its physical footprint into more U.S. cities and countries overseas. Two years after that, by Sept. 2018, Fika had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Today, the company is down to six New York locations, and it has recently been acquired through an auction process under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, section 363, according to an announcement made by Cozen O’Connor, a law firm involved with the acquisition process.

“The expansion required significant start-up costs for each of the locations before they could become profitable,” the firm said, noting the rapid addition of 12 Fika cafes that began in 2013. “FIKA was subsequently unable to secure additional investors to cover the expansion costs and its operations alone could not absorb the increased start-up expenses. The legacy costs from the aggressive expansion forced FIKA, therefore, to close a number of locations and return to a streamlined, conservative business model centered on fewer stores.”

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WeWork Ventures into Coffee Retail with Bluestone Lane Partnership

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“The popular co-working and office space provider WeWork today unveiled Made by We, a public retail concept that includes a full cafe from New York-based and self-described “Australian-inspired” coffee chain Bluestone Lane.

Located at 902 Broadway in the heart of Manhattan’s Flatiron district, the Bluestone Lane bar stands at the center of the new concept from WeWork umbrella company The We Company, which signaled an intention to open more retail locations in the future.

While the Made by We location includes 100 bookable individual workspaces and meeting spaces for groups, it varies from other WeWork locations in that a subscription or booking is not required to enter.

In addition to Bluestone Lane, there are other vendors within the retail space offering items like snacks, apparel and digital accessories. Bluestone Lane said it is including its full extensive coffee and espresso drinks menu, along with its freshly prepared toasts, and grab-and-go items including gluten-free pastries from Husk Bakeshop.”

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New York City on sale: Deep discounts on shows, restaurants, hotels starting Jan. 21

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New York City is appealing to visitors for countless reasons, but price is not usually one of them.

But starting Jan. 21, the city will be at its cheapest thanks to a new initiative called NYC Winter Outing organized by the tourism marketing association, NYC & Company.

For the first time, NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week will take place at the same time.

That will result in some of the lowest hotel rates of the year, shopping sales, theater, restaurant and attraction/sightseeing deals.

About 400 restaurants will participate in NYC Restaurant Week from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8. Diners will get two-course prix-fixe lunches and brunches for $26, with three-course dinners for $42.

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Restaurant Boasting New York City Flair Coming to the Castro

“When it opens this spring, Gramercy Park will serve Californian cuisine in the evenings, New York City-style sandwiches in the afternoons, and all-American brunch on the weekends. Owner Mark White hopes to open the restaurant by mid-April at 216 Church Street, formerly Crepevine in the Castro.

White is fairly secretive about his background. He says he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America 20 years ago, and went on to own four restaurants in New York. But he sold off his stakes in those restaurants — which he did not name — and now has his eyes on San Francisco. He’s starting a new restaurant group, Madison Avenue Hospitality Group, and plans to open five restaurants within five years here. Gramercy Park is the first.”

“Gramercy Park will also occupy a smaller, 480-square-foot space next door — dubbed Gramercy Park To-Go — to serve commuters in the morning with coffee and grab-and-go items. It’ll also provide a streamlined area for delivery services like Caviar and Postmates to pick up orders without clogging up the main dining room. Between the two spaces, White hopes Gramercy Park will be the sort of neighborhood spot folks visit multiple times a month.”

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