Posts for February 27, 2013

Groupon Stock Continues to Drop After Sad Earnings Report

Insert joke about $10 for $20 in stock here.

Groupon, once upon a time a beacon of deal-site glory, continues to get battered as a public company: Yet another dismal earnings report got released today. The news of a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.1 million hit the airwaves after the markets closed, but it's already sent the company's stock price tumbling in after-hours trading — it's down at $4.46 as of this writing, a full 25 percent drop from its closing price of $5.98 just an hour ago. Things had been looking slightly up for the company since hitting an August low amid some media mumbling about the public having serious "deal fatigue." Maybe too many people are sick of the unused scuba lesson coupons staring them in the face every time they open their junk drawers. [Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Earlier]

Customers Weirdly Not Cool With Porn-Browsing Pizza Hut Worker

Several Pizza Hut customers in Richmond, Virginia, who encountered a worker spending his break looking at pictures of naked women on his laptop in the restaurant's dining room were nonplussed when management told them it wasn't their problem. "It was personal time," a shift manager tells the local NBC affiliate, explaining it's really Larry the mozzarella guy's right to spend his downtime any way he chooses. "He wasn't on the clock." The employee apparently spends many of his three-hour breaks out in the dining-room booth, which doesn't really seem to freak out Pizza Hut management, who say it doesn't affect his "job performance" and that they "had a talk" with the guy after the incident. Ten bucks says he was looking at pizza-delivery-guy porn.

Break time's over! Let's get back to work! »

Grains and Other Changes Coming to Supper’s Menu

Mitch Prensky

There’s some changes in the works for the menu at South Street’s Supper. Chef-owner Mitch Prensky has tweaked some of the popular dishes, and come up with some all new ones too. But the big news is, he’s added an entire new section that’s devoted to grains that falls under the heading “Mill.” Prensky says the new offerings are akin to an American version of the pasta sections you might find on Italian restaurants’ menus. Proteins and vegetables take a back seat to things like barley, quinoa and grits, which get top billing on these plates. They are available in appetizer and entree portions, and priced between $15 and $20. Keep reading to see the full spread.

Read more »

In Utah, Restaurants Still Can’t Pour Alcohol in Front of Customers

Home of the sober.

Close your eyes, kids! Don't look at the scary bottle of chardonnay! People in Utah apparently think it's harmful for children to see servers pour alcohol. In 2010, the state lifted a mandate that required bars to operate as members-only clubs, but there was a compromise: At restaurants that have been open for less than three years, servers can't pour alcohol in front of patrons. Now lawmakers are considering repealing the ridiculous "Zion curtains" rule, which requires bartenders to make drinks out of sight, like they're cocaine dealers. (One of the bill's notable opponents, Republican State Senator John Valentine, says, "Alcohol is a drug.") The law is crippling for new restaurants; not only do they have to waste money building special service bars, they also have to cut back on tables to make room for them. And pouring booze in the back causes customers to think a restaurant's being shady. "It lessens consumer confidence," says Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. "We have got to stop feeling like everyone who drinks alcohol is doing something wrong." Preach. [AP]

New Happy Hour Action at Fond and Meritage; Alla Spina Does Dollar Dogs For Its First Anniversary


Fond’s Lee Styer, one of the four James Beard semifinalists who calls East Passyunk Ave. home, is kicking off a proper happy hour for the first time since relocating the restaurant and securing a liquor license. Beginning tonight, Styer and his staff will offer guests $6 wines by the glass, $4 Victroy drafts, and $7 bites from the bar menu every Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Across town, Meritage is introducing the “Lombard Twenty,” a new happy hour deal that has a kobe beef burger with sesame slaw, truffle aioli, onions, toasted bun, and a glass of Cabernet going for $20. Going forward it will be available Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m.

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Satellite Bar Keeps the Drinks Flowing While Square 1682 Undergoes Renovations

Chauncey ScatesPhoto: Square 1682

So, it looks like construction is underway at Square 1682, the restaurant and bar that ordinarily occupies the street level space and adjacent mezzanine at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar. But that doesn’t mean both are going dark. Instead barkeep Chauncey Scates, who we last caught up with at now defunct Tapestry, has set up what’s being referred to as Satellite Bar in what used to be Square’s second floor private dining room. And she isn’t wasting any time rolling out some of the latest creations that will appear on her new cocktail list once the work downstairs is complete. The kitchen's still cooking, too. Guests are also being seated and served on the second floor.

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Drink Shots and Beers, Not Bombs

“Irish Car Bomb isn't a cute name for a drink or cupcake and, if you're pushing shite like this, cut it out. People that lived their lives punctuated by car bombs aren't amused. Twenty-five-year-old Ronan Kerr was murdered last year by an Irish car bomb; he can't join you for a drink.” — Larger than life barman, Fergus “Fergie” Carey setting the record straight on drinking nomenclature. [Fergus Carey/Facebook]

Nightmare Scenarios: Tainted Burrito Leads to Brain-Invading Tapeworm

Watch out!Photo: Corbis

It's like a scene from a particularly vile VH1 Behind the Music. Jay Whalley, the front man for Aussie punk group Frenzal Rhomb, suffered seizures, headaches, and feared he had a brain tumor. But his woes had nothing to do with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Instead, it was because Whalley consumed a tainted burrito while on tour in Central America, and then pork tapeworm eggs jaunted from his intestines to nestle in his brain.

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Macy’s Gives Emeril Lagasse the Boot

At a trial for Macy's case against Martha Stewart and JCPenney, the department store revealed that it will no longer sell Lagasse's cookware line. Stewart’s company owns and designs Lagasse's products, which it purchased in 2008 for $50 million (along with his franchises). Macy's is suing Stewart for violating their exclusivity deal, but claims that dropping Lagasse's line from 800 stores has nothing at all to do with the lawsuit. The decision apparently stemmed from weak sales performances; customers have been panning his pans. [NYDN]

The Yeastmaster: Flowers Foods Is Buying Wonder Bread

There was supposed to be an auction tomorrow for the portfolio of bread brands — including Home Pride, Merita, and Nature's Pride — that used to belong to the now-defunct Hostess, but since it appears that no other bidders are going to show up for this whole-wheat party, Bloomberg reports a crusted source tells them the Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers Foods will snap the brand up for $360 million, which sure is a lot of bread. We're now, of course, just counting down the days till PBR buys Twinkies. [Bloomberg, Earlier, Related]

Run For the Border: Cherry Hill Okays Booze Sales at Grocery Stores and Big-Box Retailers

See you on the other side, rummy

While members of the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee continue to side with the LCB’s modernization efforts over Governor Corbett’s plans for privatization, the lifting of a ban across the river that prevented grocery stores and big-box retailers from pedaling alcohol in Cherry Hill ensures that drinkers from Penn’s Peaceable Kingdom will continue to slip through the Jersey border to purchase their booze. The Inky reports that the township council agreed Monday to open liquor sales to retailers. It’s bad news for the area’s booze merchants; they argue that chain stores will decimate their small, independent businesses. But for those of us on this side of the Delaware, it means we’ll soon be able to pick up booze on the cheap when we cross the state line to shop at the town’s super-sized Wegmans. [Courier Times; Inquirer]

IACP Awards Food Writing Finalists Announced

The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the finalists for its annual food writing awards this morning. Nominees include the heavy-hitting Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but also Nancy Singleton Hachisu's excellent Japanese Farm Food and Naomi Duguid's great Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Friend of Grub Street Ian Knauer got a nod for The Farm, and the always thoughtful Rebecca Flint Marx was recognized for her "Modern Love"-esque, Gilt Taste essay "From Sex Cake to Spurned Salad," which you should go read right now. [IACP, PDF]

Mother and Daughter Crack Coca-Cola’s Bottle Cap Contest


A family of computer criminals manipulated Coca-Cola's bottle cap contest and ended up costing the company over $200,000. After Carrie and Sarah Jones from Albany, Oregon, figured out the winning codes, which awarded prizes such as concert tickets and gift cards, they grouped their earnings and sold them on eBay. The women have to pay Coca-Cola back $50,000, but no one's quite sure how much they actually made off the prizes, as they claimed thousands (thousands!) of codes. Kind of genius, no? This is like a modern-day version of Heartbreakers. [HuffPo]

Are These the Six Best Ramen Shops in the Country?


Food writer Keizo Shimamoto is a ramen obsessive: Exhibit A is his blog Go Ramen! and the tangential claim that he's "probably slurped more bowls of ramen than any other American." The peripatetic noodle guy is now also the subject of Michael McAteer's short documentary Ramen Dreams, an odyssey of broth and chashu. Shimamoto has been hitting up East and West Coast shops in the last year, and in no particular order, he tells the Asia Society's Asia Blog that his current top five are Totto Ramen in Manhattan, Dassara Ramen in Brooklyn, Tsujita in L.A., Shoki Ramen House in Sacramento, and Foo-Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Though not a dedicated ramen shop, Grant Achatz's high-end Chicago bar Aviary ranks as a bonus pick, if only for its "molecular ramen." [Asia Blog]

Watch This Homemade Robot Go to Town on an Oreo Cookie

Portland-based artist, copywriter, and Rube Goldberg machine builder David Neevel lost out on some quality time with his dog, risked cold hands, and skipped some potentially good lunches all in service of building this robot that separates the cookie portion of Oreo cookies from the cream, which Neevel dislikes and dispatches with an automated hatchet. It's a Nabisco ad, of course, but a fun one. "I don't have a catchphrase for my machine," he says. "But I guess if it did have one, it could be something like 'let's get that cream out of there,' or like, 'this cream's no good let's get it off the cookies,' or something."

Let's see what this baby can do. »

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