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Weekend defibrillator report: News that should jolt any restaurateur

Here are some guaranteed shockers that might have slipped past.
busy dinner
Photograph: Shutterstock

Not all of the week’s weird news came from John Schnatter. Here are a few little-noticed developments that should evoke a gulp or two.

‘More bird guts for you?’

‘Tis the season for a look back at the major trends of the year, and this week brought a few stunners. Consider, for instance, Eater’s observation that largely intact dead birds were the fine-dining rage of 2019. Even the most jaded diner might’ve raised an eyebrow at the offer of a whole wood pigeon fermented with all its guts inside and the head still on. And that may not have been the most notable dish offered this year at San Francisco’s new Birdsong. Customers could also have a meatball made from ground guinea hen, skewered on one of the bird’s bones and served atop a bed of feathers. 

Angler in Los Angeles offered a chicken roasted whole and served with the feet still attached. 

If this sounds like a trend that could only find traction on the coasts, consider what the Dallas Observer picked as a sign of the restaurant times. Writer Brian Reinhart focused on the proliferation within Chain Restaurant Central of what he’s dubbed “servant restaurants.” 

“Servant restaurants exist primarily to cater to the whims and caprices of extremely rich customers,” Reinhart wrote. A telltale attribute: “They encourage a general decadence in the food scene. (Case in point: edible gold.)

He sees the nods to decadence and the nosebleed prices they command as warning signs that excess is about to trigger a backlash. 

We can only hope. 

Cats, come to Philadelphia

The restaurants of Rocky Balboa’s hometown are in the midst of a mouse infestation, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper reported this week that the vermin figured into 70% of the restaurant closings that were ordered by health authorities during the second half of November. The rodents were apparently unabashed, boldly leaving their calling cards in unused takeout containers, mixers and storage areas. We’re talking All Things Mice—live animals, carcasses and ample droppings.

The story didn’t reveal the absolute number of places that were shuttered, though it cited standout victims such as Lipkin's Bakery and Win Win Coffee Bar. 

Ignore scheduling laws at your own peril 

States, counties and cities across the nation are embracing proactive scheduling laws, or requirements that restaurateurs and other employers lock down hourly workers’ schedules at least two weeks in advance if they want to avoid steep fines. Just how much of a wallop those penalties can be was illustrated this week in New York City, where authorities went after a five-unit McDonald’s franchisee for failing to observe the mandate. The operator, Star Parker LLC, agreed to pay $155,000 to 280 workers because it hadn’t observed the city’s new scheduling requirements. 

Among the infractions were not getting employees’ written consents before changing their schedules, and failing to pay affected employees a consolation fee when their schedules were changed within two weeks of a shift. Star was also charged with directing employees who closed for the night to report back the next morning to reopen, and for impeding their use of sick leave. 

The settlement was announced by the city to commemorate the scheduling law’s second anniversary. The measure has since become a model for many other jurisdictions. 

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