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
First impressions count. And for many of your potential customers, especially millennials, those initial impressions of your operation will be formed via a glimpse at your website. So, how can you...
2
For several years, trend forecasters have been predicting that Native American would emerge as the next hot cuisine . But it’s taken a while for the supply chain and dining public to get the message...
3
Unable to find a buyer, the parent company of the Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical quick-service chains has appointed a new CEO, fine-dining veteran Rich Stockinger, and revised its board in a renewed...
4
McDonald’s is cutting drink prices in its latest bid for bargain-hunting customers. The chain plans to offer $1 sodas and $2 McCafe specialty drinks for a limited time beginning in April. The deals...
5
A delay in mailing federal income tax refunds has put a crimp in consumers’ restaurant spending, adding to a traffic downturn from bad weather in many areas of the country, chain executives told...
6
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has called on the city to adopt a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on sugared soft drinks as a way of simultaneously discouraging consumption and raising money for education. The surcharge...
7
Last-minute shift changes would require restaurants to pay affected employees for at least four hours, whether the time was worked or not, under bills likely to be heard next week in the Oregon...
8
Starbucks is pulling the plug on another of its secondary restaurant concepts, this time the Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juice chain. The coffee giant intends to shut the two remaining Evolution...
9
One thing I’ve loved about writing this column over the past seven (!) years is that by using real reader-submitted questions, I am always learning new things, due to the complexity of running a...
10
Chipotle has finished rolling out its new Smarter Pick Up Times platform to all of its locations that offer digital ordering. Through Smarter Pick Up Times, the chain says it’s able to monitor its...