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 nation’s first surtax on sugared soft drinks has significantly cut consumption of the beverages and pushed consumers to drink more water, as advocates had promised, according to a just-released...
2
Despite recent efforts to simplify drive-thru menu boards, 59% of consumers say the rosters of options are difficult to read, especially when cars are lined up to order. That’s one of the findings of...
3
Romano’s Macaroni Grill has named a former Noodles & Company executive its new vice president of marketing. Holly Wagstaff-Bellomo, who had served as vice president of marketing at Noodles &...
4
The struggling Cosi fast-casual chain said it has fired CEO and President RJ Dourney and accepted the resignation of CFO Miguel Rossy-Donovan. The franchisor says Rossy-Donovan will continue in his...
5
Punch Bowl Social has brought on chef Hugh Acheson as culinary partner of the eatertainment concept, which has been working to build out its culinary team. Acheson, who runs four restaurants in...
6
Starbucks bumped up the number of postings for tech positions just three months after it announced plans to hire 100 tech workers. Now, most of those 100 positions have been filled, and the coffee...
7
The Virginia Department of Health said it has traced a “cluster” of hepatitis A cases to frozen Egyptian strawberries used by Virginia units of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain. Tropical Smoothie...
8
Today, flavor plays a big part in differentiation. Any foodservice operation that wants to distinguish itself from “the place down the street” needs to come up with flavors that are distinctive,...
9
Year No. 2 of a pumpkin shortage is upon the foodservice industry—at the same time restaurant chains are whipping up pumpkin LTOs earlier than ever. The PSL battle isn’t holding off until the fall,...
10
Guy Fieri could bring his signature Donkey Sauce to the home of Disney World, as the celebrity chef is creating a specialty menu for Planet Hollywood’s Orlando revamp. This fall, Planet Hollywood’s...