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."




Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Crumbl may be the next frozen yogurt, or the next Krispy Kreme

The Bottom Line: With word that the chain’s unit volumes took a nosedive last year, its future, and that of its operators, depends on what the brand does next.


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


High restaurant menu prices mean high customer expectations

The Bottom Line: Diners are paying high prices to eat out at all kinds of restaurants these days. And they’re picking winners and losers.


More from our partners