The week in ideas, March 12, 2012

Yellow is the new green. Restaurants in Harrisburg hire cops. And sushi takes an assembly-line approach.

Idea #1: Power begins with pee. A pop-up restaurant in Melbourne is collecting its customers’ urine, which will go to fertilize crops of canola beans. The beans will be converted to canola oil, which will then be used to generate electricity. The pop-up designer Joost Bakker explains, “Urine may seem an unorthodox energy source, but it is actually a great source of fertilizer when diluted. Urine is incredible for nitrogen, it’s so valuable—you only need the urine of 25 people to provide fertilizer for a hectare of crop.”

Idea #2: Pay for the cops. A group of restaurant owners in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, have had it with crime downtown and the image its casting on their business area. They also realize the city can’t pay for the police presence they need. So, they’re footing the bill themselves. Tom Scott, owner of Harrisburg’s McGrath’s Pub on Locust Street, spoke for the restaurants:  “We, as a group, wanted to get the word out that downtown Harrisburg is safe. We have had some issues over the last couple years, and as a group we were a little concerned the message was not clear about what’s going on in town.”

Idea #3: Assembly line sushi. It’s one of those why-didn’t-they-think-of-this-before ideas. Three sushi restaurants in the Los Angelas area are trying Chipotle-style ordering, where customers customize their sushi as it gets built. "You can already customize your computer, your car, your coffee—why not your sushi?" said Jen Duarte, co-founder of SushiFreak, based in San Diego. "When we get a line, we can just pump through. We're a well-oiled machine."

 

 

 

Today's top stories

1
In an effort to align with customer demand, McDonald’s will next week begin testing a breakfast version of its signature Happy Meal . The test—taking place at 73 locations in the Tulsa, Okla., market...
2
Same-store sales for the Pie Five fast-casual pizza chain fell 12% for the fourth quarter ended June 26, deepening the losses of parent company Rave Restaurant Group to $2.3 million for the quarter...
3
Ruby Tuesday took more dramatic steps on Thursday to improve the casual-dining chain’s fortunes, announcing corporate layoffs and the sale of the company’s Maryville, Tenn., headquarters. The...
4
Days after Neil Naroff’s departure as chief strategic officer of American Blue Ribbon Holdings was announced, CEO Hazem Ouf revealed he was also leaving the parent of O’Charley’s, Village Inn and...
5
The main advantage of having your kitchen as close as possible to your service line is freshness—something is lost the further production happens from consumption. Without knowing too much about your...
6
Customers may have recovered from the E. coli contaminations of nearly a year ago, but Chipotle Mexican Grill is still feeling poorly. The former high flyer has tried everything short of hypnotism...
7
The parent of Dunkin’ Donuts has hired the executive formerly responsible for McDonald’s high-growth international markets to lead the doughnut chain in the United States and Canada. David Hoffman,...
8
Restaurants and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday. The lawsuit asks the U.S. District...
9
The difference between a comfort food and a boringly safe menu option can be thinner than the crust on a classic baked macaroni and cheese. New research from Technomic shows how restaurants are...
10
Pizza Hut is expanding its senior executive team with the hiring of a social media and e-commerce veteran as the chain’s first chief customer officer. Helen Vaid will be responsible for customers’...