The week in ideas, November 16, 2012

An in-house Iron Chef competition. A gracious restaurant in Jersey. A surcharge for customers in Florida. And a lot more, in this installment of the Week in Ideas.

Idea #1: Host your own Iron Chef. Landry’s, Inc., parent of chains like McCormick & Schmick’s, Morton’s The Steakhosue and Claim Jumper, decided to put the heat on its chefs. Thirty-five of them had to prepare 80 dishes in two days for a panel of nine judges. Each dish had to be prepared in eight minutes or less. The food was judged on taste, but also on how well it met the standard price point. Many of the dishes end up on one of the chains’ menus.

Idea #2: Share your restaurant. Madison, New Jersey, restaurant Rob's Bistro is sharing his space with restaurants displaced by Sandy. Robert Ubhaus: our guy of the week!

Idea #3: Pass the cost to the customer. Or maybe not. John Metz, a Denny’s franchisee in Florida, said on Thursday he would add a 5 percent surcharge to all meals to help cover the cost of health care reform. Denny’s headquarters quickly distanced themselves from Metz’s plan. And then on Friday Metz himself distanced himself from the plan.

Idea #4: Rattlesnake sausage. Or maybe alligator sausage would hit the spot better.

Idea #5: Veterans parking spot. An Applebee’s in southern Louisiana just dedicated two permanent parking spaces for military vets. “It’s a small token to thank them for their sacrifices,” said director of operations Tom Havrilla.

Idea #6: Keep gas in soy sauce containers. And yes, that would be a bad idea. A sushi chef in New York was arrested after the soy sauce container holding his gasoline ignited, severely injuring three.

Today's top stories

1
The price wars being waged by several major quick-service chains have increased the number of combo meals being sold at such outlets, or so says a recent report from The NPD Group. Combo meal visits...
2
Quick-service restaurant workers in Alabama have added their names to a lawsuit that accuses Governor Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange of blocking a minimum-wage hike in the city of...
3
Four legends of New York City’s restaurant scene were honored Thursday night for their roles in elevating American fine dining to a level even the snootiest European could no longer dismiss. Andre...
4
Starbucks has opened the first of what it says will be a group of stores purposely located in underprivileged areas to provide jobs as well as a dining option. The prototype, in Ferguson, Mo.,...
5
The launch of Grilled Dogs and other new products have been a boon to Burger King ’s comp sales, which grew 4.6 percent during the first quarter, according to the chain's parent. The flame-grilled...
6
Dunkin’ Brands is searching for a successor to Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. President Paul Twohig, who plans to relinquish his day-to-day duties by year’s end and retire by April 1. Twohig, 62, has been...
7
McDonald’s plans to offer a “cleaner,” less-processed version of its Chicken McNuggets nationwide by the time the Olympics start this summer, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. The new nuggets are...
8
A new snapshot of dining habits shows Americans increasingly relying on someone else to handle the kitchen work, even if the meal is enjoyed at home. The high-level look at today’s consumption...
9
As meal subscription services such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated proliferate at lightning speeds, it begs the question whether the home chefs they’re cultivating will be dining out less and...
10
Smashburger said it has promoted Chief Development Officer Michael Nolan to CEO of the fast-casual burger chain. Nolan replaces Scott Crane, who had served as CEO since 2013. Crane recently left the...