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New York Town Bans Fast-Casual Restaurants

New York Town Bans Fast-Casual Restaurants

Eastchester, New York, has already banned fast food

Wikimedia Commons/ Hepcat 748

Five Guys

A small town in Westchester County, N.Y., has decided to take their already-imposed ban against fast-food restaurants one step further and ban fast-casual chain restaurants entirely, according to LoHud.

Restaurants like Quiznos, Cosi, Five Guys, Chipotle, and Panera aren’t welcome in the town of Eastchester, which changed the zoning code to do away with the restaurant style.

"Generally speaking you have a corporate-driven architecture, you have a milliard décor, it's a plastic bubble menu, it generates a lot of noise, pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic and it diminishes the character of the community," the town’s Supervisor Anthony Colavita told FOX.

The town of Eastchester is long and narrow, according to Colavita, and most residents live very close to the main drag, where these chains would pop up. By banning these types of restaurants, he hopes to avoid "cheapening" the town.


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New York City restaurant workers fear for livelihoods as indoor dining banned

Restaurant owners and workers across New York City are fearing for their livelihoods after indoor dining was again banned across the city on Monday, as the mayor, Bill de Blasio, warned of the possibility of a “full shutdown”.

In a significant setback for the city’s struggling restaurant industry, eating inside will be suspended for at least two weeks amid soaring Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation rates.

“We have to make heartbreaking phone calls to 16 employees, and they’re going to be in limbo,” John Winterman, co-owner of Francie, a brasserie in Brooklyn, told the New York Times. “Which, in professional terms, sucks.”

It also comes as the city prepares for its biggest snowstorm in five years, expected to arrive on Wednesday.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced on Friday that he was reversing the decision to allow 25% capacity indoor dining – which has been in place since 30 September, following a six-month shutdown – saying it was “one of the few areas that we think we can actually make a difference”.

Takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining is still permitted.

According to city data, released on Monday, New York had 185 new hospitalisations, 2,137 new cases and a seven-day average positivity rate of 5.5%. New York state recorded 10,194 new cases and 116 new deaths, the Johns Hopkins university tracker showed.

Speaking on Monday – when Queens ICU nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first American to get vaccinated – De Blasio said there could be more restrictions to come.

“There’s the potential of having to do a full pause, a full shutdown, in the coming weeks, because we can’t let this kind of momentum go,” he told CNN.

“We’re seeing the kind of level of infection with the coronavirus we haven’t seen since May and we have got to stop that momentum – or else our hospital system will be threatened.”

According to the state’s contact tracing data, released on Friday, restaurants and bars contribute to comparatively few – 1.43% – of known exposures to the virus. It found that private household gatherings, meanwhile, accounted for 74% of infections.

But Cuomo said the combination of a caution from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on indoor dining and the rate of transmission, density and crowding of New York city, was contributing to a “bad situation”.

“The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it. If the hospital rate didn’t stabilise we would close indoor dining and it has not,” he said.

Ahead of the incoming storm, the city’s sanitation department issued new snow guidelines on Friday for restaurants operating outdoor dining.

Snow alerts will be issued when there is one inch or more of snow or ice forecast. If there is less than an inch, there will be a winter operations advisory and outdoor dining will be allowed to continue.

If there’s over an inch, a snow alert will be issued and dining banned from continuing. In the event of more than 12in, restaurants must also remove furniture and heaters from the road.

The return of the indoor dining ban is the latest hurdle in a disastrous year for many of the city’s bars and restaurants. Some establishments had already made the decision to close for the winter months and reopen in spring.

“Unlike our politicians, we always knew that winter was on the calendar,” Moshe Schulman, co-owner of East Village natural wine bars Ruffian and Kindred, told Eater. “We knew that cases were likely going to spike again in the winter, and we knew with how cold it’s going to be, we would have to close at some juncture.”


This Fast-Growing Midwest Chain Answers the Question, What Would Chipotle, But for Italian Food, Look Like?

Critics say quick-service pasta will probably never be a thing&mdashtell that to fans of Piada Italian Street Food, with dozens of locations in multiple states.

You&aposve got your pasta, your sauce, your grilled chicken, some sausage, a nice meatball or two, a bit of grated parmesan𠅌ould it be so hard to whip up, Chipotle-style, a bowl of Italian food? Yes, apparently. By now, we can&apost move for new pizza concepts in towns, cities and suburbs across America, but when it comes to that other Italian staple, pasta, the concept of quick-service remains more than elusive—it flat out doesn&apost exist.

That&aposs because it can&apost exist, or so the critics have decreed—when a talented New York chef opened Pasta Flyer last fall, whipping up bowls of fettuccine alfredo and basil pesto fusilli within minutes, the response was muted. More than a couple of writers opined that it simply couldn&apost be done. Pasta is too hard, it&aposs too tricky, it&aposs not like rice, you can&apost deliver something so delicate, so immediately. Maybe the critics are right—other talented chefs have floated the idea of starting their own fast-casual pasta concepts, but so far, no such luck.

As the argument rages on in places like New York and California, the Midwest has heard our concerns, and they&aposre totally ignoring them. Starting less than six hours&apos drive from New York, at any given lunchtime, you will find plenty of eager eaters lining up for pasta at locations of Piada Italian Street Food, a Columbus, Ohio-based fast-casual restaurant that&aposs now expanded as far east as Pittsburgh, and all the way out to Minnesota they&aposre in Texas now, as well. Founded back in 2010, there are now more than forty Piada locations, and counting.

Starting at less than $7 for an America-sized bowl, a visitor to Piada can select from three different offerings, each made with angel hair pasta. There&aposs the Carbonara, with a dab of parmesan-rich alfredo sauce, bruschetta tomatoes, flakes of salty pancetta and fresh spinach. There&aposs the Basil Pesto, again with that parmesan alfredo sauce, but also with the benefit of a dollop of green pesto, along with sundried tomatoes. Finally, you have the Diavolo, with a spicy sauce, those bruschetta tomatoes, and pungent green onions. All are mixed up right in front of you, and then topped with generous amounts of grated parmesan.

The real thing? Not so much. Then again, neither is Chipotle, and that never stopped them from taking over the world. Tasty and reasonably priced, also like Chipotle? You bet. For about a dollar more, you can super-size your bowl (they don’t call it super-sizing, but wait until you see this thing, more tub than bowl), and probably not need to eat for the rest of the day.

Maybe don&apost bring your Italian friends here, unless you secretly enjoy watching them cry—these pasta dishes aren&apost going to win any awards, but there&aposs nothing wrong with this food, either—it&aposs actually very good, once you make your way along the learning curve, laying to rest all of your questions, questions like, what exactly is an alfredo sauce doing in my pesto, or, when will Americans stop calling pasta with a cream-based sauce Carbonara, because it&aposs not, it&aposs really not?

Piada may be all about that pasta, but the idea actually came when the chain&aposs founder sampled a piadina from a kiosk in Italy&aposs Emilia-Romagna region. The simple and tasty flatbread, typically made with just a few ingredients𠅏lour, salt, lard, olive oil and water—serves a similar purpose to France&aposs crepe in that part of the world it is a vehicle for all sorts of fillings, both savory and sweet.

They&aposre here at Piada, too, and they&aposre stuffing the thin, stone-grilled beauties with everything from grilled chicken to avocado. They&aposre also sprinkling them with a bit of parmesan cheese, rolling them up, and selling them as a (calorific) snack. Go to a Piada location at lunchtime, and you&aposll see—just like Chipotle, people are into this. They like this. Piada, clearly, is on to something.

Exactly what, might be something of a mystery, to the first-timer—the company has now been around for a while now, but the uninitiated would be forgiven for wondering if Piada weren&apost still in experiment mode. The menu isn&apost terribly long, but there&aposs a lot going on. Do you want a wrap? (Sorry, a piada?) One of those giant bowls of pasta? Did you get lost on your way to Panera, and end up here by accident? That&aposs cool, because they&aposve got power bowls and salads, featuring your quinoa, your avo, your other superfoods.

As if those tubs of pasta weren&apost enough to satisfy your appetite, here you are also tempted toward a range of rather ambitious sides, too, from fried calamari, to cups of creamy lobster bisque. There are cannoli chips for dessert, served with filling for dipping. In a word, the menu is all over the place, like you&aposre in a test kitchen. It&aposs a lot to take in.

Based on visits this past spring, obviously for very scientific study, it&aposs difficult to not wonder if Piada might be better served by choosing a couple of ideas to really, truly nail down. The pastas, while good, could be improved is the supremely delicate angel hair, for example, the best means of conveyance? The shelf life of the also delicate piada is, admittedly, super-short—should they be making them in advance to sit off to the side, where they quickly go limp? (Waffle cones, these are not.)

Don&apost let the drawbacks deter you from further investigation, however—the food at Piada is quite good, if somewhat unusual, the prices are sensible, accessible, and the line will typically move very quickly. There&aposs a reason the company has been expanding, and there&aposs a reason why people are going. The critics might not be ready to green light the idea, but the horse has already left the barn—pasta bowls on the fly are here, and it would appear that they are here to stay.


Why fast-casual restaurants became the decade’s most important food trend

Talk all you want about avocado toast, plant-based meats, small plates and milk alternatives, but the biggest food trend over the past decade was the fast-casual. Nothing had a larger impact on American dining than these counter-service restaurants. They changed the way people ate and how ingredients were sourced at chain restaurants. They also forced the competition to adapt or watch their customer base shrink faster than a cotton shirt in the wash.

Fast-casuals predated the 2010s, of course. Launched in the 1990s with the promise of healthful food prepared with better ingredients than those at fast-food chains, fast-casuals became the darling of the last decade, driven in part by the effects of the Great Recession, skyrocketing rents and rising food costs. The numbers give you a glimpse into their dominance: In 2009, there were about 17,300 fast-casuals in the United States with sales of $19 billion, according the market research firm Technomic. By 2018, the last year for which statistics are available, fast-casuals had more than doubled their locations (34,800) and sales ($47.5 billion).

Yet, the numbers alone don’t begin to explain the influence that fast-casuals had over the past 10 years. If you’ll recall, the aughts were the decade of the chef as benign dictator, the chef as auteur, every bit as controlling as Alfred Hitchcock on set. You ate what the chef put before you, exactly how the chef told you to eat it. You ordered the tasting menu, only the tasting menu, a multicourse affair that could drag on for hours, long after your appetite and attention span had been satisfied and/or exhausted. You were not allowed substitutions, special requests or even a salt shaker. You were there to do one thing: savor the genius of the chef.

Fast-casuals turned that relationship on its head. The diner was, once again, in charge. Customization was not only encouraged but often built right into the business model as customers walked the line, engineering their own burritos, rice bowls, conveyer-belt pizzas or whatever other dish served as the focal point of the concept. Chefs may have helped design a fast-casual menu, but they were relegated to corporate kitchens, where the collective will of the people (and the poor economy) had deflated their ambitions and their egos.

But more than that, fast-casuals split the difference between chef-driven restaurants and multinational fast-food outlets. Chains such as Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, Cava and others promised fresh, sometimes organic ingredients, occasionally sourced from nearby farms, just like the white-tablecloth restaurants that used to list their suppliers right on the menu. Some fast-casuals even traded on seasonality, offering peaches in summer and kabocha squash in winter. Just as important, fast-casuals promised an attractive space to eat, not some industrially lit environment with hard plastic chairs and loud metal surfaces, which all but encouraged you to eat up and get out.


New York restaurant kitchens face threat of salt ban

Over the past few years New York has gained a reputation for taking the health of its citizens seriously – or nannying them, depending on your point of view.

Now a member of the city's legislative assembly has gone a step further by introducing a bill that would ban the use of salt in restaurant kitchens.

Bill A10129 would forbid the city's chefs from using salt in any of their recipes. The ban's proposer, Felix Ortiz, a Democratic member from Brooklyn, says it would give consumers the choice about whether to add salt to their meal.

Restaurants trying to sneak a bit of sodium chloride on to the plate would be fined $1,000 (£600) every time they were caught.

The idea of an outright ban, except for salt cellars on diners' tables, has led to raised eyebrows across the city, which prides itself on its cuisine. "If state assemblyman Felix Ortiz has his way," quipped the Daily News, "the only salt added to your meal will come from the chef's tears."

Tom Colicchio, who owns the restaurant Craft, told the paper: "If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore."

Ortiz's bill comes on the back of a high-profile attempt by the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to encourage New Yorkers to consume less sodium. The city estimates about 1.5 million residents already suffer from high blood pressure, which can be exacerbated by overconsumption of salt. In America as a whole, the average daily intake of 3,400mg is well above the recommended maximum of 2,300mg.

Bloomberg's campaign aims to cut the amount of salt in pre-packaged and restaurant food by a quarter, in five years. Unlike Bill A10129, however, it is purely voluntary.


Our perception of ourselves starts with the food we eat.

Pierre Thiam is a chef, author, and social activist best known for bringing West African cuisine to the global fine dining world. He is the Executive Chef of the award-winning restaurant Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria and the Signature Chef of the five-star Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. He is also the executive chef and co-owner of Teranga, a fast-casual food chain from New York City. His company Yolélé Foods advocates for smallholder farmers in the Sahel by opening new markets for crops grown in Africa its signature product, Yolélé Fonio, is found in Whole Foods, Amazon, and other retailers across America.

Born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Thiam’s cooking style is at once modern and eclectic, rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. His newest cookbook, The Fonio Cookbook, was published in October 2019. His first two cookbooks, Yolélé! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal and Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl were finalists for several awards including the Julia Child Cookbook Award, the Gourmand Award in Paris, and the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook.


New York Town Bans Fast-Casual Restaurants - Recipes

Find the Nearest Slapfish

Our goal at Slapfish is to get people to eat more seafood. There's a seafood deficiency in the U.S. If we can make it fun and sexy again, hopefully we can get people to eat more of it.

It's good for you, and it can be very sustainable.

It can be incredibly sustainable, and I think that people are afraid. There's a lot of sensationalism in the media about contaminated seafood ? mercury and this and that. It's scaring people away from eating seafood. We're trying to cut through the noise and bring people back to Real American Seafood.

Slapfish takes the fine dining mantra and puts it into a fast casual model. It was designed so that anyone can step in and run a seafood business. Featured on The Cooking Channel and voted OC Weekly's Best Seafood Restaurant, Slapfish offers socially responsible, chef-driven seafood recipes at affordable fast casual prices.


Houston restaurant veteran serves up casual bistro to Memorial area

For over 10 years, Kerry Pauly has been a fixture at all of Benjy Levit’s restaurants (Local Foods, Benjy's), but the time has come for the restaurant industry veteran to go out on his own. Pauly has signed a lease to open his first restaurant, KP’s Kitchen.

Located in a former Smashburger in the Town & Country shopping center, KP’s Kitchen will offer classic American fare in a family-friendly, fast casual environment. Pauly, a Memorial resident, tells CultureMap he thinks his restaurant will be a good fit for its neighborhood. It’s tentatively on track to open in early April.

“This area needs a casual, bistro-style restaurant,” he says. “There’s starting to be some really cool restaurants coming in this area with Federal Grill and Masraff’s, but there’s not really that casual, American fare where families can hang out.”

Pauly describes his influences as restaurants like Barnaby’s and Houston’s, but KP’s Kitchen will offer counter service instead of full service. In addition, it will be BYOB.

The restaurant will serve the same menu at lunch and dinner to start with the possibility of a few brunch items once the kitchen has its sea legs. Pauly’s proposed menu includes starters such as spinach-artichoke dip and a cheese plate with local honey, plus familiar salads such as Caesar and market vegetables with Champagne vinaigrette. Sandwich options include a bacon cheeseburger and a vegetable panini.

Pauly’s entrees include filet mignon, baby back ribs, and grilled red snapper. For dessert, choose from classics such as apple crumble, key lime tart, and cheesecake.

“It’s American fare that’s elevated, just really simple, ingredient-driven dishes that lets the food speak for itself,” Pauly says. Like Benjy’s and Local Foods, Pauly will source ingredients from local businesses such as Blue Horizon Seafood and vendors at the farmers market.

Former Reef chef Bryan Caswell is helping Pauly by consulting on the kitchen’s layout and helping refine recipes so that they can be executed consistently. One of Caswell’s former sous chef will serve as the restaurant’s kitchen manager.

For now, Pauly divide his time between helping Levit open Local Foods Market and preparing for KP’s Kitchen. As the restaurant draws closer, he’ll step away to focus on his business.

“As I told Benjy, I didn’t want to wake up at 70 and have never [opened my own restaurant],” Pauly says. “I think it’s time. I couldn’t be more excited to take this next chapter of my life.”


Viand Coffee Shop

This is about as classic Manhattan as you get. Viand is a long, slim, shoebox of a diner space lined on one side with small booths and on the other with a white Formica counter. The service is surly yet jovial and fast as can be, and they serve everything a New York diner should – milkshakes, coffee, burgers, chicken salad sandwiches, egg sandwiches on Kaiser rolls, black and white cookies, and Nova lox. While prices are slightly high for diner fare (sandwiches hover around $10) keep in mind it's located on Madison Avenue, just across the street from Manhattan's most overpriced restaurant, the celeb-magnet Nello. There are now other Viands around town, but the original is by far the best.
673 Madison Avenue, +1 212 751 6622. Burgers from $5.50-9.95