It’s almost that time of year again! Time to celebrate another birthday of the one and only U-S-of-A! The 4th of July is spent with family, friends, fireworks, and of course lots and lots of food. We took a vote, and we are all in favor of eating all of the desserts. All of them.
So, in the spirit of the holiday, we gathered some of the best lookin’ desserts, drinks, and snacks that we could find to help you celebrate our freedom. (Note: red, white and blue is a definite theme in these delicious recipes and we LOVE it!)
It’s finally that time of year again where houses are illuminated by colorful Christmas lights, and the atmosphere seems a bit more cheery. The holidays are always a favorite time for people around the world, but some people don’t get to have a “happy” one.
This is where Giving Back takes place, especially for restaurants. Many restaurants helped out this past Thanksgiving by donating meals and feeding the hungry. Hubcap Grill owner Ricky Craig provided a Thanksgiving meal to 20 needy families in Houston, Texas. Craig wanted to help out needy families after he overheard a conversation with a little boy and his mother at a gas station. After posting a tweet about wanting to help out, Craig ended up giving a hundred dollars worth of food to 20 families. He ended up feeding 80 people that probably wouldn’t have eaten that day without his help.
Another restaurant decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the community. Old Chicago, located in downtown Manhattan, Kansas, opened their doors for a free Thanksgiving meal. At least 60 volunteers were on hand to serve everyone. The event created a family-like atmosphere to make guests who don’t have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with feel at home. Old Chicago also prepared meals to be delivered to hundreds around Manhattan who could not make it out of their homes, so that they could enjoy Thanksgiving as well. They served around 600 people this year.
Food drives are also a hit around the Holidays. Stadium Pizza, located in San Jacinto, California, held a canned food drive. Customers who donated non-perishable food items got discounts off of their pizzas.
One of Central’s customers, Luke’s Joint, pitched in and served a Thanksgiving Charity Lunch. They offered sliced turkey breast, glazed sweet potatoes, sweet peas, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and a mixed greens salad. The turnout was a big success, “Wow! What a tremendous success the 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Charity Lunch was this afternoon at Luke’s Joint!! We must have served about 100 people! I’d like to thank the three volunteers who showed up to help me today: Carol Anderson, Nick Cannella & Colin Curren. Without their help, this endeavor wouldn’t have gone NEARLY as smoothly as it did!” stated Luke Patterson.
The devastation of Hurricane Sandy left victims on the East Coast with no means of a Thanksgiving dinner. Restaurants and volunteers came together to serve free meals and deliver food to families whose homes were ravaged. A pastry chef in New Jersey made 2,200 desserts for people to eat. The American Red Cross served 35,000 hot Thanksgiving meals, including turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie. Even New York City food trucks got into the giving spirit when it came to Hurricane Sandy. Free meals were given to thousands, thanks to the dozens of food trucks stepping up to help. Indian Harvest wanted to help out the victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially the chefs who lost their homes, or jobs. They donated more than a ton of their Kansas Medley to the East Coast. The medley included wheat berries, wild rice, parboiled long-grain rice and brown and wild rice.
Ways You Can Help:
Inspired? You should be! If you’re looking for ways that your restaurant can help give back to your community, look no further. Eric Ripert, Chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, gives his ideas on how a restaurant can give back in this article from inc.com.
“1. Donate what you can’t use.
3. Fundraise as a team.
4. Participate in a fundraising event.
5. Create a win-win partnership.
6. Use your platform as a business leader to draw attention to a cause.”
To read the full article with Eric’s tips, click here.
If you want even MORE ideas on ways to give back during the Holidays, click here. Ivillage.com has 50 easy ways to help out. Spread the joy amongst everyone this holiday season!
Ah, St. Patrick’s Day—a day known for four-leaf clovers, leprechauns, and a day that restaurants can count on customers’ dollars and overindulgence, celebrating the Irish Saint Patrick and feasting on such delicacies as corned beef and cabbage, Irish lamb stew, and, of course, alcohol (usually consisting of green beer or Irish stouts). Most restaurants view St. Patrick’s Day as one of the busiest holidays of the year. According to a St. Patrick’s Day survey by BigInsight.com, a consumer research portal, 54.4 percent of Americans said they will celebrate the holiday this year, the most in the survey’s nine-year history. So, how did the holiday come about? Do Irish restaurants make more than their non-Irish counterparts? And what’s with all that green?
The History Behind St. Patrick’s Day
Born in A.D. 385, the man that would eventually be named a saint, was first bestowed with the name Maelwyn. He lived as a rebel until he was 16, when his village was raided by Irish intruders. Sold into slavery, he turned to Christianity and changed his name to Patrick. After six years of slavery, he escaped and fled to a monastery in Gaul, where he felt God was calling him to lead pagans toward Christianity. He decided to venture back to Ireland and convert the native pagans. Unfortunately, St. Palladius was appointed to become the nation’s bishop; yet, two years later, he transferred to Scotland, and it was then when Patrick was appointed second bishop of Ireland.
While traveling around the country, he established many monasteries, schools and churches, and his influence converted many into Christian believers. After 30 years of working hard in Ireland he retired, and he was laid to rest on March 17, A.D. 461. That date has been recognized as St. Patrick’s Day since he died.
Many myths were established after St. Patrick died, including that he raised the dead and that he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland (there have never been any snakes known to exist on the island). So, while it was first established as a religious holiday, it quickly converted to a secular holiday when it was brought over to Boston, Mass., in 1737. Instead of celebrating a saint that converted many into Christians, we now celebrate the Irish by wearing green and shamrocks (it’s said that people started to wear green because it’s only a few days before spring begins), conducting parades, and congregating at local restaurants and bars to eat and consume traditional Irish food and brew.
On March 17th, It Pays To Be Authentic
Although March 17th was originally set in religious roots, it now brings thoughts of debauchery and gluttony. Bars and restaurants everywhere are packed to the gull with patrons wanting to claim that 1% of so-called Irish “heritage” that they claim exists somewhere in their lineage. And although restaurants’ cash registers benefit from the day, it’s authentic Irish restaurants that cash in big.
Irish restaurants and pubs say it’s usually the busiest day of the year; Chaz Hastings, owner of The Tally-Ho, located in Erin, Wis., said, “It’s huge for us. On that day I’ll do as much [business] as an entire month.”
It’s similar at other Irish restaurants and pubs—places like The Claddaugh and Bennigan’s, the restaurant known for its signature “Irish Hospitality”—sales go through the roof on the holiday. This year, Bennigan’s is promoting St. Patrick’s Day with a “Pub in a Box” giveaway: each guest will receive a game card at various Bennigan’s locations, and on March 17th, a winner will be announced for a $2,500 “Pub in a Box”, where he/she will receive a full-service bar with pub mirror, two bar stools, bar supplies, wall art and more.
“St. Patrick’s Day is annually the biggest day of the year,” said Shaun Clancy, whose family runs Foley’s NY Pub on West 33 Street in New York City, just off Fifth Avenue. “You have to make corned beef and cabbage. People expect it. We’ll go through 300 orders on St. Patrick’s Day.”
So, when St. Patrick’s Day arrives, most customers want the real thing, and will often arrive early in the morning to make sure they grab a spot. Some restaurants open early in the morning to accommodate these consumers, because you really aren’t drinking like the Irish unless you drink all day!
In the End, the People Just Want a Party
When all is said and done, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a day to party. Restaurants have figured out that the Irish restaurants are going to be full, so they need to jump on the Irish bandwagon for March 17th, too. Buffalo Wild Wings will be opening at 7 a.m. with food and drink specials, TGI Friday’s will be introducing two new drinks, the “Irish ‘Rita” and “Paddy Peach,” and will also give their “Give Me More Stripes” program members double the points if they visit on the holiday, and Kona Grill will be offering Happy Hour prices all day at their “Luck-O Patio,” as well as giveaways, green sake bombers, and other incentives. Opening early in the morning, offering Irish-themed food and green-colored drinks, and contests including gift cards and money seem to be the incentives that restaurants have incorporated to lure consumers in.
This year is being poised to be the busiest St. Patrick’s Day in years, no doubt since it falls on a Saturday during the early stages of March Madness. Restaurants nationwide will be clamoring for customers’ wallets, hanging up shamrocks and leprechauns from the walls, encouraging the wait staff to integrate green into their uniform, and praying that the luck of the Irish is with them as the crowd evolves.
Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the week of December 19 through December 23.
Arby’s Raises over $2 Million for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign From QSR, Read Blog
Image: Share Our Strength
We’ve really enjoyed seeing how successful Share Our Strength has been this year with the “No Kid Hungry” campaign. From events such as the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry or other promotions, they are truly working hard to achieve their goal to end childhood hunger in America. Arby’s is one of several restaurants helping Share Our Strength meet their goal. QSR reported Arby’s recent announcement that they have raised over $2 million in the fourth quarter for the cause. Read more about Arby’s involvement here and visit Share Our Strength’s website for more information.
Top Searched Restaurants on Google for 2011 From FastCasual, Read Article
In a recent article from Fast Casual, they reported on Google’s Zeitgeist list that covered the top searched restaurants on Google this year. It was a mix of all types of restaurants with some being McDonald’s, Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings, Subway and Papa John’s. But who topped the list? You’ll just have to check out the article for yourself and find out! Read the full article here.
Wendy’s Taking in the No. 2 Spot for Fast Food Chains From Wall St. Cheat Sheet, Read Article
Normally the order of top fast food chains started with McDonald’s, then Burger King then Wendy’s. But it looks as though Wendy’s is moving into second place. According to a Wall St. Cheat Sheet article, Wendy’s will have $53 million higher sales than Burger King–but we won’t know for certain until the end of the fourth quarter. Either way, Wendy’s has been working hard this year and even working on a few different redesigns of their buildings. To read more about how they are possibly going to take the No. 2 spot, read the Wall St.’s article here, and to learn more about the redesigns, view this Huff Post Food article.
Airports Becoming More Nutritious From USA Today, Read Article
It’s easy to slack off when it comes to eating healthily during the holidays, especially when traveling. But it looks as though foodservice establishments in airports across America are providing healthier menu items for travelers. USA Today covered a survey which reported 15 of the country’s biggest airports now offer healthier menu offerings. According to the study, many airport foodservice establishments are offering more low-fat, vegetarian and cholesterol-free meals. Read more about airports becoming healthier here.
And finally, 2011 is coming to a close and Christmas is just days away! (So if you haven’t started your shopping, you better get started. And as a side note–restaurant gift cards make an excellent present). We always are excited to see what kinds of recipes Delish.com has, so here are a few that you can bookmark and possibly cook up for the holiday weekend.
Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!
1) There are new rules coming for debit card swipe fees. Taking effect this Oct. 1, the Federal Reserve will put a cap on debit card swipe fees for merchants at 21 cents per transaction. These fees are paid by merchants each time customers use a debit card to pay. The NRA (Nation’s Restaurant News) says they are disappointed and concerned the Federal Reserve’s cap rose as much as it did from the proposed rule, and put together this article about the new rule.
2) We’ve heard of some new ethnic foods becoming more popular in America’s fast casual market, the latest being Indian. This Nation’s Restaurant News article says, “full-service mom-and-pop operators have long dominated the landscape of Indian restaurants across America, but this new wave of chain concepts aims to offer the same flavors with limited-service speed and price points.”
3) The nation’s fifth largest fast food chain, Jack in the Box, is removing toys from their kids meals. The Huffington Post reports these changes have come amidst many towns in California who now require kid’s meals meet certain nutritional standards in order to be able to include toys. Jack in the Box comments the decision wasn’t related to recent events and children nutrition advocates hope Jack in the Box’s actions will help their competitors move in this direction as well.
4) Soul Daddy, winner of NBC’s “Next Great Restaurant,” has closed their last location in Minneapolis’ Mall of America. The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal reports the restaurant was open for “barely two months.” One of the store’s managers, Josh Furman, told the Star Tribune he didn’t see it coming as “they were in process of adding new items to the menu and developing the concept more in line with Jamawn’s (founder) original soul-food concept.”
5) The holiday weekend is here! From July 2 through July 4, Burger King is having a special deal and will offer their Original Chicken Sandwich for $1.04. Nation’s Restaurant News says the typical price for the sandwich is $3.69. Burger King isn’t the only one, take advantage of offers in your area and do a quick search to see what’s going on.
Central wishes you a fun and safe July Fourth weekend.
With the holiday season in full swing, sweets are virtually unavoidable. While most people don’t go looking for the healthy stuff this time of year (or heaven’s forbid turn down a cookie), it is nice to know that if you’re about to start baking there are some nutritious alternatives to the old favorites and classic standbys. There’s no need to skimp on flavor this holiday, but if you try these five recipes, your waistline will thank you come January.
Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookies provide a great base for decoration and (as seen in the blog post included with the recipe) are a big hit with both kids and adults. These delicious treats will not only give you a chance to experiment with the wide world of vegan without going too far outside your comfort zone, but also give you a chance to try out some new alternative ingredients such as egg replacements and vegan cream cheese that could be incorporated into other recipes.
Healthy Brownie Cookies let you have a little fun with chocolate (because who doesn’t crave it?) without all that added guilt. Everyone likes a good brownie and with these you’ll get a chance to stay on your diet because they are low-fat and incorporate fiber with added bran.
Chocolate Chunk Cookies are always a crowd favorite, but this recipe adds in a little something extra…tofu. While this may seem totally unorthodox to the chocolate chip cookie purists, tofu is a great way to keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol. As if that wasn’t enough reason to add tofu, the yummy chocolaty goodness of these cookies actually prevents you from even knowing it’s in there, which means all the benefits with the same great taste.
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies give you a way to control your portions without missing out. These goodies can often be high in fat due to the large amounts of butter. However, this take on the classic swaps out some of that badness that makes the cookies so moist for a fruity alternative. By just mixing up some hot water, pureed apples and a small amount of butter the cookies maintain their texture and add in a little more of a daily food group.
If you’re really feeling the health kick this season, you may even want to try Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe. This one may be just a bit out of your normal comfort zone, but promises to be rich, hearty and “macaroon-eque.” An extra bonus to the cookie is that it contains no butter, sugar or eggs and can also be made as a gluten-free option for those with allergies.
Labor Day weekend is coming up fast. Many of you know that Labor Day means a day off, the end of summer and maybe some last minute summer activities and big $ale$, but do you know the real meaning and history of Labor Day?
Labor Day was originally proposed as a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
It has been observed for over 125 years. Some records show that in 1882 the idea of labor day was proposed by Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, he was also the co founder of the American Federation of Labor. But many believe Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded the holiday.
Either way, the holiday was proposed in 1882, was first observed on September 5, 1882 in New York City and again on September 5, 1883. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday. By 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. By 1894 Congress passed an act naming the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
The rest is, as they say, “history”, but enough of that, let’s move on to what labor day means today.
DAY OFF!! Everyone loves a good day off of work, although what it is filled with varies. Some families take a last minute vacation, some spend the day on a nearby lake, some have cookouts for their family and friends, some clean the house while others catch up on homework. Whether you are doing something fun or something necessary, the day off is well-deserved.
End of Summer. These ideas associated with Labor Day are not always good. The end of summer means returning to school, the community pools are closing, outdoor eating areas are getting colder, grills and outdoor furniture needs to be stored away and winter is just around the corner.
Last minute summer activities!! These are always fun, whether you are visiting an amusement park, lake, family, having a cookout or just relaxing, you will be enjoying some last minute summer weather and activities.