Salvage Supperclub is a Pop-Up in a Dumpster

29-salvages-supper-club.w710.h473.2x.jpgSalvage Supperclub is the latest outcome of an increased public awareness about food waste: a traveling pop-up dinner made entirely from wasted food and served (appropriately) in a converted dumpster. The chef behind the club, Pesha Perlsweig, believes that they can change diners’ outlooks with each meal. “It makes me happy to hear that a former guest made carrot top pesto or was inspired by a dish of mine,” she says.

Salvage Supperclub has already hosted dinners in Berkeley, San Francisco and their native New York. And while the list of ingredients at one dinner (including bruised plums, vegetable pulp, garbanzo bean water, sweet potato skins and overripe, peel-on bananas) might force some guests to stifle a gag, the NPR reviewer present described almost everything as “finger-licking good.”

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Brexit’s Impact on the Specialty Food Market

ba5403b65e43df0297aeba68d6c0ca1fc082559f.jpegThis weekend’s news was understandably dominated by Brexit, and the far-reaching implications of the vote. One unexpected result of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union falls on the English specialty food market, which has so far benefited from the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin status on many of it’s products.

This status, applied throughout the EU to products ranging from wines to olive oils to cheese and meat, allows specific regions to claim sole use of specific brand designations. Most famously, “champagne” is not champagne unless it is produced in the eponymous French province, using the méthode champenoise. Gorgonzola can only be gorgonzola if it comes from Italy. And in England, products like Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire-forced rhubarb are all protected by designated status.

England actually has more than 60 foods and beverages with protected designations. After the vote late last week to leave the EU, this status will disappear, and producers around the world can begin making products like Rutland bitter beer, Stilton cheese and pork from Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs. While none of these have quite the cache of champagne, they still represent the food culture of the country – and the loss of PDO status could have a real impact on the farmers, brewers and craftsmen who make them.

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Ikea Gets into the Hyper-Local Game

635925890195816807-242942337_Header.jpgAt first glance, it might seem like an affordable furniture company has very little to do with the farm-to-table movement. But where others might see apples and oranges (or apples and bookshelves, as the case may be), Ikea sees opportunity.

The brand recently partnered with Space 10, a “future-living lab” and exhibition space in Copenhagen, to produce an environmentally sustainable hydroponic gardening system (called “The Farm”) made primarily using Ikea products like LED lights, shelving, and plastic bins. All told, 80% of the materials in The Farm come from Ikea’s product lines.

Ikea plans to roll out the new hydroponic system in their in-store cafes. Those cafes have historically been known more for Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and baked goods than for fresh produce, but that may change in the near future. Although food sales represent a very small portion of Ikea’s overall revenue, they ultimately plan to market The Farm to restaurants and home gardening enthusiasts interested in producing more of their own vegetables. If the hyper-local movement is any indication, this market will continue to grow in the coming months – and Ikea may just be on to something.

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Joe’s Crab Shack Defects from Gratuity-Free

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Several months after going the no-tipping route, Joe’s Crab Shack has now rolled back the model from 18 restaurants to just 4. CEO Bob Merritt tells investors that customers simply don’t like it, and foot count is down 8 to 10% on average among the locations.

The chain was originally praised for their efforts, which followed on the heels of higher-end restaurateurs like Danny Meyer, Gabriel Stulman and Andrew Tarlow. Overall they raised server wages to $14 an hour and menu prices by 12 to 15%. “We tried it for quite a while, tried communicating it different ways,” Merritt explained, but a large portion of guests were unswayed. Research indicates that about 60% of guests disliked the model, either because they didn’t trust management to pay the higher wages or they preferred being able to incentivize good service.

Joe’s will revert 14 locations back to their former tipped model, but the remaining 4 have apparently been working much better. Merritt says they plan to treat those stores as a rich source of research, and figure out what distinguishes them from locations where it doesn’t work.

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Highlights from the North American Restaurant and Foodservice 2016 Outlook

There’s good news to be had in the 2016 restaurant data so far, but there’s also a lot of data to sift through. You can read the full report here, or see some key take-aways below:

  • Employment levels and disposable income are high, riding positive tailwinds from the end of last year. The number of restaurants per-capita has also decreased steadily from a peak in 2013, meaning there is less supply to meet the growing demand.
  • A decline in oil prices is good news for restaurants’ bottom lines, but has affected the industry unevenly, creating more competition for major chains from smaller players.
  • Guest priorities include lower prices, improved healthy menu options, and a focus on food safety.
  • Quick-service-restaurants are focusing more on discounting, but guests are still most likely to use coupons and deals from restaurants they already visit frequently.
  • Most consumers support wage increases throughout the service industry, and would be willing to pay a premium toward such increases.
  • Tipping is still a controversial topic, with 65% of survey respondents saying they do not support replacing gratuity with a service charge.
  • Online and mobile ordering is the most important technological priority to restaurant guests.

Is Canned Cold Brew Coffee’s Fourth Wave?

Stumptown-Nitro-Cold-Brew-Canned-Coffee.jpgAccording to Todd Carmichael, founder of coffee chain and industry leader La Colombe, we’re about to witness the fourth wave of coffee consumption in America – and it will be bigger than any of the waves that came before. What are those waves, exactly, and what could possibly dwarf them?

Think of coffee’s first wave as the everyman brew – the reason people get nostalgic for diner drip and Folgers still has enough momentum to surpass all sales expectations. The second wave coincided with the growing popularity of espresso drinks, and the expansion of Starbucks. The third wave (and, we admit, our favorite so far) represented the growing popularity of small roasters treating coffee beans as real ingredients instead of a commodity. Many of the small roasters that represented this trend, like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, have since been bought out by larger players, but there are still newcomers who continue to expand coffee horizons with superior quality and innovative ideas. Enter the fourth wave, as Carmichael calls it – bottled (or canned) cold brew.

If your mind goes immediately to the current industry standard in ready to drink coffee – Starbucks bottled frappuccinos – you’re not alone. But Carmichael believes there is a huge opportunity gap between current levels of consumption and the possible market. “They’ve been working for 20 years to get it to $2 billion. Then you look to Mexico, which isn’t really a coffee-drinking country, and their [ready-to-drink] coffee is at $4.7 billion.” Carmichael is working on bridging that gap, with a variety of flavors introduced through channels ranging from local convenience stores to whole foods. One thing is for sure – he’s excited, and who can blame him? Great coffee in a can sounds like a win-win.

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Postmates Moves Into Speedy Delivery (Your Move, Uber)

blog_header-pop@2x.jpgOn Monday, Uber announced that it would be canceling Instant Delivery – the lunch-only, 10-minute curbside delivery feature in New York . The tricky logistics of the service had largely been offloaded to featured restaurants, who estimated how many of a given meal would sell each day and sent the prepackaged lunches to Uber’s midtown office to be picked up and driven or biked around the city. Even so, the delivery company admitted they may have overreached a bit, and have cancelled the service to focus on the core of the UberEats business.

Whether by coincidence or an impressively quick strategic move, Postmates has now stepped up to the ultra-fast delivery plate, rolling out their 15-minute delivery service (called Postmates Pop) in NYC at 11 am today. The service has been available for almost a year in San Francisco, and Postmates has said that it will work exactly the same way in New York (although only from 34th Street to Battery Park). To begin, you can order through the service from Fuku, Harry and Ida’s and S’MAC. It’s unclear how they’ll clear the hurdles that brought down Uber Instant, but we’re pretty sure contenders will keep stepping up until at least one nails it.

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