Family finds pepperoni swastika on their Little Caesars pizza

Jason Laska stopped at a Little Caesars to grab a pre-made "Hot-N-Ready" pizza for his family. When he got home, he and his wife discovered a (reverse) swastika made from pepperoni on the pie.

Laska told CNN he tried to call the store but the number was constantly busy so he posted to social media.

According to Little Caesar Enterprises spokesperson Jill Proctor, the two ignorant dumbfucks who made the pizza admitted to it and were fired.

"This is an example of what needs to change in our world," Laska said. "And we hope that people start to realize that and use their time to make those changes and not blast us for trying to do it." Read the rest

Chuck E. Cheese has filed for bankrupty

CEC Entertainment, owners of Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza, has filed for bankruptcy. The company reported $29 million in losses for 2019. From Reuters:

Chuck E. Cheese’s bid to boost sales through delivery apps under the name “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings” earlier this year only created more problems, as many customers thought they were ordering from a local business.

As of Wednesday, 266 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurant and arcade venues were re-opened. The company expects to keep them open throughout Chapter 11 proceedings.

image: Dan Harkless (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Southern restaurant fills empty seats with blow-up dolls

Yesterday, we learned that Michelin-starred restaurant The Inn in Washington, DC had seated elegantly-dressed mannequins at their tables to fill the void left by half-capacity restrictions. Turns out, the Open Hearth restaurant in Taylors, South Carolina hit on the same idea but their approach matches the eatery's more casual atmosphere. From UPI:

[Proprietor Paula Starr] Melehes said she ordered "the G-rated kind" of inflatable dolls from Amazon, dressed them up like customers and seated them at tables that would be off-limits to diners.

"My grandson told me they look kind of creepy," Melehes said. "But, I think, when people walk in, they're going to laugh."

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Restaurant gives a free roll of toilet paper with each carryout order

Suburban Chicago restaurant The Beacon Tap is offering a free roll of toilet paper with each carryout or delivery order. Normally, restaurant providing toilet paper with their food would be an ominous promotion but in these times, it's boosted business! From NBC Chicago:

"[We were] trying to figure out ideas, and one of our other general managers over at Cafe Touché said 'Hey what about this?'" (General Manager Tommy) Riemer said. "I immediately made a phone call to Trimark (which supplies toilet paper to the Beacon Tap) ... and ordered as much as I could so we could offer it to customers as a little comic relief."

Riemer ordered 300 rolls. He said the response from customers has been "amazing" and he has already given out 80 rolls.

image: GorillaSushi (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Surveillance is the new blooming onion at Outback Steakhouse

The friendly surface-level rationale behind any mass data collection via surveillance is improved efficiency through metrics. With the right amount of the data, and the right analysts working through it, you can optimize pretty much any process. From a business perspective, this could potentially present new ways to work smarter, instead of working harder — increasing profits and productivity through better decision-making, which ultimately makes everyone happier.

In that context, it makes sense why a chain restaurant like Outback Steakhouse might be interested in implementing its own mini surveillance state. So far it's only limited to a single franchise in Portland, Oregon which is operated by Evergreen Restaurant Group. But Evergreen also owns some 40-other Outback Steakhouses throughout the country, which means this small pilot program could seen be expanded, if the suits think the metrics work out in their favor.

This particular surveillance experiment relies on facial recognition and other technology provided by Presto Vision, who claims to offer "real-time actionable restaurant insights." From Wired:

According to Presto CEO Rajat Suri, Presto Vision takes advantage of preexisting surveillance cameras that many restaurants already have installed. The system uses machine learning to analyze footage of restaurant staff at work and interacting with guests. It aims to track metrics like how often a server tends to their tables or how long it takes for food to come out. At the end of a shift, managers receive an email of the compiled statistics, which they can then use to identify problems and infer whether servers, hostesses, and kitchen staff are adequately doing their jobs.

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Behind the velvet rope hierarchies of NYC restaurant reservations

Not surprisingly, getting a reservation at the hottest Manhattan restaurants is easier if you're rich, famous, an influencer, a media bigshot, or all of those things. But even within the realm of restaurant reservation phone lines, there is a hierarchy of velvet ropes. According to former reservationist Foster Kamer, at his job the people calling were placed into one of the following four groups. There is also the PAB (Punk-ass bitch) group that included individuals known in the restaurant scene to be rude, bad tippers, or always late for their reservation. From Gossamer:

No Status PROFILE: Plebes. Normies. In binary, zeroes. The largest of the four groups. On average, well over half the calls. Almost never got what they wanted. Almost always pissed.

PX (or: Person Extraordinaire) PROFILE: Magazine editors and food writers, gallerinas, flacks, fashion girls, low-D-to-mid-C-list celebrities. Sometimes got what they wanted. Often felt they deserved better. Often annoyed.

PPX PROFILE: A rare, exotic bird. Important. Memorable. At least one person in the restaurant knows who they are on sight, sound, or name. An A-to-high-B list actor, editor in chief or of note, a Times writer or Page Six gossip, a novelist, artist, or top-tier chef. Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, a Gosling, a Hemsworth, a Bushnell, a Rushdie, or (groan) a McInerney. Maybe a regular or neighbor. But mostly, bona fide celebrities. Maybe 10 percent of the calls. Usually got whatever they wanted.

PPPX PROFILE: The 99th percentile. Royalty. No, really: actual, literal royalty. Wills and Harry. People who only need first names: Anna, Bono, Hillary, et al.

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Subway sandwich artist robbed the shop to teach her coworker "a lesson"

Lorena Ariana Marin, a 22-year-old Subway sandwich artist in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Angelo Rey Espinosa, 19, allegedly robbed the Subway where Marin works. Police caught them quickly and Marin apparently confessed, telling police "she wanted to teach one of the employees a lesson about what could happen late at night in that part of town." From Las Cruces Sun News:

Espinosa allegedly stood near the counter while Marin allegedly verbally and physically threatened the employees after hopping behind the counter. They ushered the employees to the back of the store but one employee ran to her car and got away. Both robbers then fled on foot, police said.

After police arrived, one of Marin's coworkers identified her by her voice. Marin and Espinosa were arrested within minutes of the robbery, police said.

image: Google Maps Read the rest

Chipotle CEO: If employees call in sick, a nurse might make sure they're not faking it

According to Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Brian Niccol, when their restaurant workers call in sick, they might have to talk to a nurse to make sure they're not fibbing.

"We have nurses on call, so that if you say, 'Hey, I've been sick,' you get the call into the nurse," CEO Brian Niccol said last week. "The nurse validates that it's not a hangover — you're really sick — and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again."

Later, a Chipotle spokesperson told the New York Post that Niccol's statement wasn't entirely accurate: “You don’t have to call a nurse if you’re taking a sick day... All employees who call off sick for any reason receive paid time off.”

After all, it isn't too tough to feign an illness over the phone.

From CBS News:

The CEO detailed steps taken to recover the trust of customers after a slew of high-profile safety scares that battered Chipotle's brand and led Niccol's predecessor, Steve Ells, to step down in late 2017...

Chipotle handles things differently these days in its 2,500 restaurants, acccording to Niccol. "We have a very different food-safety culture than we did two years ago," he said. "Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check."

Image: "The first Chipotle, near the campus of the University of Denver" by CW221 (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Airline opens restaurant serving their airplane food

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia has opened a food court restaurant at a mall in Kuala Lumpur. Called Santan, the restaurant serves the same food as what's on the airline's in-flight menu. Over the next five years, AirAsia expect to open more than 100 other Santan locations around the world. From WHDH:

Entrees cost around $3 USD and include local delicacies such as chicken rice and the airline’s signature Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak dish, a rice dish with chilli sauce. Locally sourced coffee, teas and desserts are also on the menu.

“We have seen a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand,” the brand’s general manager Catherine Goh said in a press release.

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A day working at Rustler Steak House (1977)

"Back in 1976/77, I worked at the Rustler Steak House in Alameda, California," writes Take2MarkTV. "One night, I took my Super 8 camera with me to document a typical shift."

Growing up, my family preferred the local Ponderosa Steakhouse over Rustler, and even Bonanza and Sizzler for that matter. That said, I'm sure the employee experience was similar at all four establishments.

(r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Michelin three-star restaurant French Laundry serves mushroom soup from a bong

In a New York Times review of celebrity chef Thomas Keller's Manhattan eatery Per Se, critic Pete Wells described the mushroom soup "as murky and appealing as bong water." So now for special guests, Keller's legendary French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley serves their porcini mushroom broth out of a blue and green swirl glass bong. From a column by San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho:

After dinner, I emailed the French Laundry’s public relations people about the bong. In an email, they responded that it’s something Thomas Keller pulls out for restaurant industry folks because he knows we’d get a kick out of it. (This is true. And Keller knows me from a previous encounter during my past life as a New Orleanian line cook.)

“It is clearly a tongue-in-cheek reference to past writing and is not on the menu,” they wrote, “but regularly prepared for guests as a fun item.” When I pressed them on where the bong was actually from — obviously not Riedel or Zalto — all they would say was that it was “hand blown by an artisan.”

"The French Laundry’s bong course is a brilliant act of artistry" (SF Chronicle) Read the rest

Impressive champagne saber fail at Michelin-starred restaurant

Below is New Year's Eve video of Michael Minnillo, general manager of Yountville, California's legendary French Laundry restaurant attempting a dramatic saber opening of a $2,000 bottle of Billecart-Salmon brut.

French Laundry disinfecting their kitchen floors for the new year with some questionable technique from r/wine

(r/wine) Read the rest

The Yogi Bear Graveyard

The Yogi Bear Graveyard was a short-lived accidental tourist attraction in North Carolina. After Yogi Bear's Honey-Fried Chicken restaurant chain dwindled to just one location, the owners sold all the fiberglass statues of Yogi, Boo-Boo, Cindy, and Ranger Smith to a local Jellystone Park campground. After that failed, the statues were dumped behind a truckstop.

Travelers who find themselves in Hartsville South Carolina can still visit that last location standing. The beginning of the end for the chain came when Hardee's bought the honey-flavored chicken additive they used in their chicken. Via The Post and Courier:

From its first location in Myrtle Beach, Yogi Bear expanded to Charlotte, Rocky Mount and Hartsville, among other cities. The franchise was about six stores strong when Hardee’s expressed interest in the honey technology; the Rocky Mount-based chain purchased the method for $1 million, according to Davis.

But once Yogi Bear belonged to Hardee’s, the branded stores were largely neglected.

“It was mismanagement,” says Yogi Bear’s current owner, George Atkins. “All the rest of them just didn’t control their costs.”

Anyone who finds themselves in Hartsville can still stop by Yogi Bear's and enjoy some batter fried corn, liver, or even the original honey-fried chicken.

The Yogi Bear Graveyard Read the rest

Restaurant servers can't afford San Francisco rents so restaurants are going self-serve

San Francisco is one of the most expensive places in the world to live -- six figure incomes are considered "low" and even the tiniest homes are farcically expensive. Read the rest

IHOP isn't really changing it's name to IHOb, but here's what the "b" stands for

IHOP caused quite a stir last week by claiming they are changing the restaurant chain's name to IHOb. They aren't. It's (duh) a marketing stunt and the "b" stands for "burgers." From the New York Times:

Many people said they were distressed, some because they hate the sound of the new word, others because they love pancakes. (Pancakes remain on the restaurant’s menu.) Still others pointed out that the “changed” logo, with its lowercase b, resembled that of o.b. tampons....

Brad Haley, IHOP’s chief marketing officer, said that the idea had been proposed by the marketing firm Droga5 in November. He said that only one IHOP location, on Sunset Boulevard, had undergone a design change in response to the new (fake) name, which is meant to promote a product line of Ultimate Steakburgers.

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A visit to a self-service sushi restaurant in Japan

You have probably seen sushi restaurants where plates of different kinds of sushi move past you on a conveyor belt. These kinds of places are called kaitenzushi. Here's one where you order sushi on a touch screen and the sushi arrives on a little rail system, stopping right in front of you. I want to go and see how it works. Read the rest

Finding a "secret" Chinese restaurant in Madrid

The folks at Great Big Story went to Madrid to find a hidden Chinese restaurant known as "The Underground."

Underneath a plaza in Madrid lies one of Spain’s greatest culinary secrets. Cafetería Yulong Zhou is home to some of the best Chinese food in the country. Getting there, however is another story. With no exact address or email, trying to find the restaurant takes some expert sleuthing. With the help of a friend and a hint, we embarked on the journey. Spoiler alert: the dumplings made the trek totally worth it.

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