Cucumber Chef Fri, 21 Jan 2022 14:32:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cucumber Chef 32 32 METCO board approves $200,000 in small business loans Fri, 21 Jan 2022 14:32:03 +0000

The Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO) Board of Directors today approved $200,000 in low-interest small business loans.

METCO’s Boards of Directors meet monthly to review, discuss and vote on applications for small business loans available through the Louisville Metropolitan Government. The city’s small business loan programs are administered by Louisville Forward.

Small businesses that got METCO loans in January:

  • Talk Childcare to Me, LLC, a Black and women-owned daycare center, has been approved for $100,000 in loan funds for financing small and disadvantaged Gap. The loan will be used to purchase new furniture and interior renovations to the property located at 3817 E. Indian Trail.
  • Babie Bac’z LLC, a Black-owned family barbecue restaurant at 8533 Terry Road, has been approved for a $50,000 COVID-19 relief loan.
  • Ntaba African Safaris Inc., a tour operator and travel agency specializing in African travel at 2407 Brownsboro Rd, has been approved for a $50,000 COVID-19 relief loan.

In 2021, METCO approved more than $2.4 million in traditional METCO loans to 26 businesses, leveraging nearly $17.2 million in investments across the city. It has also allocated $744,000 to 17 businesses under the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Program, which provides small businesses negatively affected by the pandemic with low-interest loans of up to $50,000 for pay the expenses that will sustain the business.

More than $3.1 million in loans to 73 businesses have been approved under the COVID-19 Relief Loan Program since its launch in 2020, including two of the loans approved today.

To learn more about the city’s small business loan programs, visit


2022 Chicago Auto Show Dates: First Look for Charity Gala to help raise funds ahead of annual event at McCormick Place Thu, 20 Jan 2022 22:13:57 +0000 PRESS RELEASE (WLS) — The 2022 Chicago Auto Show is less than a month away and after a pandemic hiatus last year, this year’s First Look for Charity Gala is back.

Here’s a look at what you can see and eat at this event that raises millions for charity.

The glitz and glamor of the best and newest cars at this year’s Chicago Auto Show are upon us.

RELATED: 2022 Chicago Auto Show Returns to McCormick Place in February

The day before the show officially opens on February 12, a Chicago feast is held at First Look for Charity.

“You get to sample food and drink from the best restaurants in Chicago,” said Jennifer Morand, public relations director for the Chicago Auto Show.

But this crowd of champion cuisine and cutting-edge cars belies a larger mission.

“If ever there was a time people needed it, it’s now. And for us to be able to come together as a group of dealers and help provide for these charities that go beyond the community they serve, it’s just a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Jason Roberts, president of First Look for Charity.

Since First Look for Charity began 30 years ago, it has provided $52 million to Chicagoland charities and hopes to raise nearly $2 million this year to donate to 17 charities.

“It’s one of the biggest one-day fundraisers in all of Illinois every year, so miss it next year and bring it back, and that’s one step closer to normal, hopefully- the, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” Kevin Keefe said. , president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association.

The event broadcast includes Goose Island beer, Trinchero wines, Chicago Chop House steak and more!

Last year, the historic Summer Special Edition Chicago Auto Show was a pioneer in reopening the city. This year is no different. Masks required indoors during the show and vaccination required in the dining rooms, including the First Look event.

“We’re really lucky to be able to put this together and really get back to these grassroots organizations,” said Jennifer Morand of the Chicago Auto Show.

The first look is Feb. 11 and the auto show opens to the public Feb. 12 and runs through Feb. 21 at McCormack Place.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.

Soul Island cooking with New Orleans flair ignites this tiny Mid-City restaurant | Where NOLA eats Thu, 20 Jan 2022 10:00:00 +0000

The opening menu for Lisa “Queen Trini” Nelson’s new Mid-City restaurant is short, but it deserves special attention from diners. Even people familiar with the cuisine of Nelson’s native Trinidad and Tobago will find unfamiliar and singular dishes here.

Lisa Nelson (left) and her daughter Jamila at Queen Trini Lisa, Mid-City’s new restaurant serving flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

That’s because Nelson’s cuisine reflects both his roots and his journey, and the new Queen Trini Lisa restaurant is a big step in that direction.

It’s all on the plate or, in some delicious examples, nicely wrapped in waxed paper.

trini jerk.jpeg

The barbecue jerk chicken is a variation on the classics of Queen Trini Lisa, the Mid-City restaurant with flavors of Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

A prime example is barbecue jerk chicken, a dish that starts with the earthy, peppery spice of classic jerk preparations, then layers of molasses-black barbecue sauce that’s just a little sweeter, a little smoky, and good to eat. smack the lips.

Jerk chicken is a Jamaican staple. Growing up in Trinidad, the Caribbean island right next to Venezuela and furthest from Jamaica, Nelson had never seen a jerk chicken.

“The first time I had it was in New York,” Nelson said, after his family immigrated to the United States.

trini cook2.jpeg

Lisa Nelson wraps another order of doubles in waxed paper in the kitchen of her restaurant Queen Trini Lisa, serving flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

Her own version came together when she entered the jerk chicken contest at the Marley Gras festival in Central City in 2019.

“All of these guys were from Jamaica, and it’s their dish, so I knew I wanted to do something different,” she said.

To his surprise and initial disbelief, the festival judges awarded him first place for the barbecue jerk chicken.

trini ext.jpeg

Queen Trini Lisa is a new Mid-City restaurant with flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

Barbecue is very popular with us in Trinidad and Tobago, the two islands that form one nation, and African, Indian and Chinese influences play a fundamental role in the country’s Trinbagonian food culture.

Nelson finds harmony by linking the cuisine of the Caribbean’s southernmost island to its northernmost port, New Orleans.

“There are so many things here that feel like home,” she said.

Nelson got his start in his adopted home running a pop-up in a small grocery store in Bywater. Later, she moved her operation to a salon in Central City.

When the pandemic hit, she was part of the Feed the Front Line initiative, providing handmade meals to medical staff then battling the first pangs of the coronavirus crisis.

drinks trini.jpeg

Sorrel, a sweet and refreshing hibiscus drink, and fruit punch made with grapefruit juice for a not-too-sweet flavor are among the drinks at the Queen Trini Lisa restaurant, which serves flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

It allowed her to cook and introduced her style to many more people.

To kick off 2022, she opened her own restaurant, a corner on a Mid-City side street just off busy South Carrollton Avenue. The address was home to Cuban restaurant Garces for decades before Hurricane Katrina, and later became a market called Regla Store. Most recently it was a Latin American restaurant called Union Market, which closed last year.

Every Thursday, we give you the scoop on NOLA meals. Register today.

trini int.jpeg

Queen Trini Lisa is a new Mid-City restaurant with flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

When Nelson first walked in and saw the pressed tin ceiling, Spanish-style tiled floor, and wide, sunny windows, she thought to herself “this is a restaurant fit for a queen.”

Of course, his kitchen too.

Another creation from his journey is the coconut bread fish sandwich. She jokes that it’s the “United Nations sandwich”, mixing elements from different cultures.

trini coco.jpeg

The coconut bread sandwich pairs fried catfish with pineapple, fried plantain, cucumber and tomato at Queen Trini Lisa, the Mid-City restaurant for Trinidad and Tobago flavors. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

Coconut bread is another Jamaican staple that has a soft, milky interior texture and a firm exterior crust. The finished loaf looks like it’s folded in on itself. Nelson splits this opening and fills it with Louisiana fish fry crusted catfish, sliced ​​pineapple, sweet fried plantains, cucumber and tomato.

She recommends a shot of thick, tangy tamarind chutney. I also like it with habanero mango hot sauce.

As far as the doubles are concerned, it’s the whole Trinbagonian tradition.

trini double.jpeg

Doubles are classic Trinbagonian street food, with chickpea curry in turmeric flatbread, served at Queen Trini Lisa, a Mid-City eatery for flavors of Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

The doubles start with a distinctive puffy flatbread tinged with yellow and flavored with turmeric. These are folded around (or lined) with a curried chickpea chana and a refreshing cucumber chutney.

Each of these taco-like packets are wrapped in waxed paper, and Nelson has developed quite a knack for making them. Look into her kitchen and you can see her whipping the paper into twists with a quick flick of her wrists.

trini cook1.jpeg

Lisa Nelson wraps another order of doubles in waxed paper in the kitchen of her restaurant Queen Trini Lisa, serving flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, | The Times-Picayune)

This kitchen is another thing Nelson loves about the new location. Compared to its previous stops, it is large, modern and well equipped. And it’s also open to the dining room

“It’s so big and open,” she said. “I can see everyone and interact with them now.”

Queen Trini Lisa

4200 D’Hemecourt Street, (504) 345-2058

Initial hours Tue-Sat noon to 8 p.m.

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Ascension restaurant opens its doors to employees with special needs Thu, 20 Jan 2022 01:01:00 +0000

PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (WAFB) – A restaurant owner is opening its doors to people with special needs seeking employment.

Staff shortages have been a major problem for businesses, especially restaurants. So, to help get his new restaurant off the ground, Urian Clements is giving people with special needs a chance. And for now, it pays off.

Clements directs Ca C’est Bon on Airline in Prairieville

“It’s always been a goal to employ people with special needs…and it’s worked out wonderfully,” Clements said.

Clements’ brother suffered from Down’s syndrome, so he always understood the additional hurdles in the lives of people with special needs.

“They are very proud of their work; they show up on time every day…you really can’t ask for better employees,” Clements continued.

It currently employs eight people with special needs who are functioning well, along with the rest of its staff. He said each of them is the life of the restaurant.

“You know, you might run over their pup in the morning, and they’ll still come to work with a smile on their face. It’s just their behavior,” Clements explained.

“It means the world to me beyond expectation because they are so nice they would do anything for us disabled. It’s the first job I’ve ever had…it’s a blessing that they’re doing this. And, we’re family here,” said Seth Whitney, who does the dishes for the restaurant.

“His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds, and his independence, his self-esteem…I really believe that now he believes in himself,” Seth’s mother, Phoebe Terry, said.

For Seth and other people with disabilities, a chance at a job is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I clean the tables as soon as the customers leave, that’s our thing. I make sure the place is clean and nice, that sort of thing,” said Spencer Decoteau, who hauls the tables.

Asked about his message to other people with disabilities, Spencer said: ‘Be stubborn, keep looking, keep being stubborn and keep looking. Because in the end, that’s all we could do. If we don’t become stubborn or adapt to our situation, then where would we be… that’s how we got here.

“Just keep your head up and stay motivated because sooner or later your life will get a lot better,” Seth said.

Urian Clements and his wife wanted to emphasize that their doors are always open to anyone willing to work hard. The only requirement is that you come with a positive attitude.

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Copyright 2022 WAFB. All rights reserved.

Government faces skeptical bench to defend campaign finance law challenged by Ted Cruz Thu, 20 Jan 2022 00:35:29 +0000

Charles Cooper, representing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responds to a question from Judge Stephen Breyer. (Art Link)

Senator Ted Cruz is no stranger to the Supreme Court. In the 1990s he served as a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and between 2003 and 2010 he returned as a barrister to litigate nine cases there. On Wednesday, Cruz was in court in another capacity, challenging a federal campaign finance law that limits how and when candidates can repay loans they make to their own campaigns. During nearly 90 minutes of discussion, the justices appeared to agree that Cruz, a Republican from Texas, had the right to bring his case, but they were divided on whether the law itself was constitutional.

The law at the center of the case, Federal Election Commission vs. Ted Cruz for Senate, is Section 304 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which allows candidates to use up to $250,000 in post-election contributions to repay loans that candidates made to their campaigns before the election. This meant that although Cruz could repay almost all of a $260,000 loan he made to his campaign the day before the 2018 election, the remaining $10,000 qualified as Cruz’s contribution to his campaign. Cruz then went to federal court, challenging Section 304 as a violation of the First Amendment, and a federal court agreed.

Representing the Federal Election Commission, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart spent much of his time at the desk arguing that Cruz and his campaign lacked the legal right to sue, known as standing, because that (among other things) any injury they suffered was “self-inflicted. Without Section 304 in place to dispute, Stewart argued, Cruz would not have loaned his campaign money at all, or had he done so, he would have repaid it quickly with the contributions he had received before the election.

The man speaks at the podium in front of two judges.  His colleague is sitting next to him.

Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart pleads on behalf of the government. (Art Link)

Stewart compared Cruz’s actions to a lawsuit brought against McDonald’s by a plaintiff who knew the fast-food giant was selling “dangerously hot coffee” but nevertheless bought a cup and poured it on himself just so he could. sue the restaurant. “I think we would all have the strong reaction,” Stewart told the judges, that such a lawsuit “cannot go forward” because the plaintiff’s “own willful conduct” in causing his injury “broke the causal link between any wrongdoing”. by McDonald’s and the “ultimate wound”.

Judges from both ends of the ideological spectrum were skeptical. Judge Samuel Alito pressed Stewart several times, asking if the premise of his argument was that someone “cannot challenge the constitutionality of a law that imposes an allegedly unconstitutional restriction on the exercise of a right if the party could very easily have satisfied the conditions precedent to the exercise of the right”. When Stewart replied that the government would “probably say that,” Alito was in disbelief. How, he asked, “can this be the law?”

Judge Stephen Breyer was also dubious. “I just don’t know of a case,” he told Stewart, challenging the constitutionality of a law in which the Supreme Court investigated the relative ease or difficulty of other options when challengers sway. oppose the use of these options.

Chief Justice John Roberts noted that just because a case is brought as a test case doesn’t mean plaintiffs don’t always have standing. Challenges to discriminatory housing practices, he observed, can arise after “testers” express interest in a home and experience racial discrimination; the courts do not require the testers to prove that they would have actually purchased the house before the lawsuit can proceed.

And Judge Clarence Thomas referred to Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in the landmark 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, who was arrested after refusing to sit in the car reserved for non-white passengers on a Louisiana train. “How about,” Thomas asked Stewart, “about Plessy sitting in the wrong car?”

When Stewart turned to the question of whether the loan repayment limit violated the First Amendment, he pointed to the government’s interest in preventing corruption. But several judges have questioned whether limits on loan repayment actually help prevent corruption. Judge Amy Coney Barrett cited Cruz’s claim that paying off his loan “doesn’t personally enrich him because he’s no better off than he was before.” It’s paying a loan, not lining your pockets. Barrett then cited a lower court finding that the government had presented no evidence of “actual quid pro quo corruption” – that is, politicians exchanging favors for contributions.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh asked Stewart why another provision of federal campaign finance law — the $2,900 limit on individual contributions — wasn’t enough to address the government’s interest in preventing corruption. Corruption. He expressed more skepticism later, telling Stewart that Section 304 seemed like a “chill” on a candidate’s ability to lend their own money to their campaign: it forces candidates to choose between lending to their campaign over $250,000, knowing they won’t. get back some of that money, and not lend it out at all.

Representing Cruz, attorney Charles Cooper compared post-election contributions that pay for the pre-election speech to paying for tonight’s dinner with a credit card and then paying the credit card bill for dinner on the next month.

But the court’s liberal justices were unconvinced. In Justice Elena Kagan’s view, the loan repayment limit was more like a “restriction on how a candidate can use third parties to fund their speech, which is exactly what contribution limits are.” than an expense by the candidate. Later, Kagan made his opinion even clearer, telling Cooper that “the whole point of this law is that we start to worry when people start paying off the candidate’s debt, because that’s just another way of putting money in his pocket”. For Kagan, such a scenario “screams corruption quid pro quo”.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor echoed Kagan’s sentiment. Why, she wonders aloud, would anyone want to give money to a candidate after he was elected? The money will not be used to “promote a candidate because the candidate has already won”. “And for me,” she continued, “it’s a natural counterpart. I give because I want to draw my attention to you.

And Roberts raised what he described as an “interesting question”, wondering whether the case had been heard in the wrong lower court – a rare case. three-judge district court, called because Cruz challenged the constitutionality of a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. As part of the government’s argument that Cruz lacks standing to sue, the FEC argued that Cruz was in fact aggrieved by a regulation enacted under Section 304, which allows candidates to repay amounts over $250,000 using pre-election contributions as long as they do. therefore within 20 days of the election.

Roberts posited that Cruz could win his case if the settlement was invalid. But, he continued, Cruz does “not have the requirement of a constitutional challenge necessary to trigger the three-judge district court.”

Kagan suggested that, putting aside the permanent argument, the settlement’s 20-day requirement seems inconsistent with the text of Section 304, which does not mention such a requirement.

And Alito asked Stewart if the FEC was willing to admit the settlement was invalid. The government didn’t, leaving the judges to deal with this and other issues in Cruz’s case. A decision is expected by the summer.

This article has been originally published at Howe on the Court.

Next Chicago Bars and Restaurants You Need to Know Wed, 19 Jan 2022 04:22:54 +0000

January 18

Bronzeville: The highly anticipated wine bar and restaurant Bronzeville Winery, co-owned by Eric Williams (Silver Room), has applied for a liquor license at 4420 S. Cottage Grove Avenue. Pandemic delays have pushed back an opening, but residents are eagerly awaiting a rare wine-focused spot south of Madison Street.

Bucktown: Fans of famed baker Mindy Segal (HotChocolate) will have to wait a little longer to visit her highly anticipated bakery at 1623 N. Milwaukee Avenue, as various delays pushed its hoped-for Valentine’s Day opening into March. Segal is simultaneously navigating both the closure of its bakery operation inside the former Damen Avenue restaurant and the move to the new Bucktown space. “What I’m about to oversee here is a little crazy,” she said. Stay tuned for news of an opening date.

Lincoln Park: The first Chicago location of Sushi by Bou, the New York mini-chain that serves $50 omakase meals in 30 minutes, is set to open Friday, Jan. 21 on the second floor of the Lincoln Hotel at 1816 N. Clark. Street, according to a rep. Co-founded in 2018 and known for its acclaimed and controversial chef David Bouhadana, Sushi by Bou has locations in New York, Miami and New Jersey, as well as local sister spots Sushi Suite 202 and Sushi Boutique.

North Lawndale: Popular Jamaican restaurant Ja’ Grill in Hyde Park is preparing to open its second location soon in the new 10-acre Ogden Commons development just east of Douglass Park at 1407 S. Washtenaw Avenue, according to a Facebook post. Owner Tony Coates hasn’t shared many details since announcing the project in May 2021, but told Eater at the time that the follow-up restaurant would maintain the Ja’ Grill ethos with “a few additional surprises.”

January 11

Andersonville: After 10 years at Clark and Foster, Japanese spot Ora Sushi is in the midst of a six-block move to 5701 N. Clark Street. Construction is underway, the restaurant reports on Facebook, and management expects an announcement to open “soon.”

Lake view: Crab King Cajun Boil & Bar is expanding to two new locations in 2022, according to its website: 3443 N. Broadway in Lakeview (the former Revolución Steakhouse) and 1550 75th Street in Downers Grove.

Lincoln Park: All Too Well, a new sandwich shop and market from Evette owner Mitchell Abou Jamra, will open next month in a former subway at 352 W. Armitage Avenue, according to a rep. There will be a take-out section with Lebanese-style meats, cheeses and mezes, as well as an assortment of sandwiches.

Lincoln Park: Red Light Chicken, a new chicken spot, will soon open in Devil Dawg’s former flagship location at 2147 N. Sheffield Avenue, WhatNow Chicago reports, and is currently in the process of hiring staff.

Lincoln Park: Asian tea chain Uni Uni is planning a third Chicago location at 2550 N. Clark, slated to open in 2022, according to its website. Uni Uni, which serves tea in a variety of styles, as well as flavored milk, smoothies and snacks, already has locations in Chinatown and Uptown, Minneapolis and Katy, Texas.

Downtown : Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, the successful Logan Square virtual restaurant founded by Robert Maleski after he was laid off from his job at the start of the pandemic, is moving to a permanent location at 1005 W. Argyle, the former site of D-Benny Grill, reports the Block Club Chicago. The opening is scheduled for February 15.

West Loop: Puttery, the 21-plus mini-golf affiliate of Drive Shack, the driving range restaurant and bar that canceled its Bucktown expansion in 2020, plans to open a new location at 932 W. Randolph later this year, reports WhatNow Chicago. There will be immersive miniature golf, accompanied by appetizers, salads, pizzas and a full bar with specialty cocktails. It’s part of a broad expansion effort: Puttery already has locations in Charlotte and Dallas, but plans additional outposts in Houston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Gurnee: Construction is underway on a new Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant location in the parking lot of a former Lowe’s in the northern suburb of Gurnee, the daily herald reports, and is expected to open in 2022. The village council authorized a $1.5 million incentive for the project last April. There are already 13 Cooper’s Hawk locations in the Chicago area and 32 more in 10 states.

Rosemont: Shaquille O’Neal’s fried chicken sandwich, Big Chicken, will open its third full-service restaurant this fall in a new suburban development at 9421 Higgins Road, Free time in Chicago reports. Its neighbors will be the outposts of Stan’s Donuts and Small Cheval, Hogsalt Hospitality’s burger chain. Big Chicken already has locations in Las Vegas and Glendale, Calif., as well as shadow kitchens and cabins in sports stadiums and on cruise ships.

For a list of upcoming attractions beginning in Fall and Winter 2021, Click here.

The Surge: how to help local restaurants Tue, 18 Jan 2022 22:50:52 +0000

Everyone is exhausted.

I hardly feel like writing this, because I too am exhausted. Not just because of the omicron I currently house in my vaxed and boosted body, but because of fear, worry, confusion, and just: all of it.

And yet, how not to do it?

Tomorrow marks the start of the vax/test mandate at restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I know you know this, because there have been a million articles about the mandate, and even more asking restaurants what they think of the mandate. Some restaurants say they’re happy, some say they’re worried, but I can’t help but think that’s the wrong question. That asking what they think of the current mandate is like asking a drowning person how that last sip of seawater tastes.

Spectacular? Probably, but I’m trying to break down the widespread frustration and exhaustion I see there to help you understand that many local restaurants are on the brink, yet again. But this time there is no fund, no PPP, not much owner forgiveness as everything and everyone is exploited in the last 22 months. And the rallying cries are quieter too, so here I am.

A Bloomberg article last week outlined the national situation, according to data obtained from the Independent Restaurant Coalition: “Sales fell at 98% of restaurants across the country in December, according to a survey of 1,169 restaurants by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Sales fell by at least half for 58% of respondents, while 80% of restaurant owners said omicron had an impact on their opening hours. »

What I’m hearing across town is that while January post-holiday activity typically drops to 80-85% of average activity, restaurants are seeing a drop to 40-50%. Is the vax mandate about to solve this problem? Not likely. It’s hard to believe that people who care enough about being vaxed and stimulated look at the groundbreaking cases, the current health care crisis, the distance learning/daycare conundrum and plan to dine this hard . I know that’s not the purpose of the vax mandate, but it’s being talked about as if it’s a concession to help keep restaurants open. Yes, everything went well in Chicago and a little in Seattle, and New York has its own way of handling the situation. But ours feels a bit too late. And I’m not really sure it’s not just throwing a towel on that lead.

Because meanwhile, even outside cities and the vax card problem, restaurants have to close for a day or two due to infections. Or due to loss of personnel. Or due to supply chain issues. And it’s an industry that measures its sales hourly, so without business hours, there’s no money coming in. I know you’ve heard that drumbeat before, but it’s not like everything has settled down over the past few months. We may have evolved because our attention spans found something brighter to obsess over, but restaurants had only just begun to emerge from obscurity when this wave arrived. Perhaps, like some exhausted and angry commenters on some social sites, you remember restaurants receiving millions of dollars in aid from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. But the vast majority did not. About 60% of those who applied did not because the money ran out in 12 days. And those who did probably didn’t get a million. In fact, the average grant was $300,000. And yet, I know of one owner, who didn’t get that free money, said he planned to lose $100,000 by the end of February.

One of the hardest parts is that I want to keep you hopeful, to give you respite from the disaster and the gloom with good news of openings and restaurants planned on the horizon. I want to talk about all the good stuff in the industry, and I feel like I did this summer when I could sneak down to the bar and buy a big set of spins for my buddies and myself. imbue with the feeling that we saved it, we saved our beloved restaurant scene. But I can’t yet.

So, I pull a Bernie and ask you once again to support your local restaurants: buy takeout or dine in or buy gift cards and merchandise, whichever feels safer for you on your trip. COVID. If you’re eating out and making reservations, keep them or cancel them with enough time so it’s not a total waste for the night. If you limit your outings: order extra, for leftovers the next day (leftovers are a special balm for exhaustion). If ever there was a time to carry cash for extra tips, it’s now.

Especially in these next few weeks when we’re supposed to hit omicron’s peak, which will hopefully soon collapse, your restoration dollar could be an investment towards better days ahead: when we’re not exhausted and that we find a way to truly love each other again. I own my role as Sally Positive.

Tim Niver, who is about to close his Mucci’s in Uptown, said even more on his Niver Niver Land podcast: “Restaurants and the people who work in restaurants need your help…restaurants are devastated right now. moment. …Go to the places that show you love, and you show them love in return. Keep on going.”

If you haven’t harassed your politician to restart this FRR fund, do it now.

Menu Pricing: How an LA Restaurant Balances Low Prices with Profits Tue, 18 Jan 2022 14:16:00 +0000

We often assume we understand restaurant economics because we know what a chicken breast costs at the supermarket. “I could make this dish at home for $5,” the refrain goes. Could we? Here, Eater takes a look at all the costs of a popular restaurant dish to see what’s in it and the benefits that come with it.

Uyên Lê has profitable items on its menu at Bé Ù, such as its banh mi. But there are two main reasons why she has so far been willing to lose money in order to keep the $10.50 egg caramelized pork (thit heo kho) on the menu.

The first is that the founding principle of his restaurant, which is not quite a year old, is to provide jobs with decent wages: Lê has pledged to start all staff at $18/hour (the minimum wage in Los Angeles is $14.25/hr and living wage in Los Angeles is $16.25/hr). However, this puts its labor costs above average, and the understatement of its fixed costs – like equipment, maintenance – also affects this.

“Do you know the WAG method? I did a lot of market and retail analysis in my old life,” says Lê, who has a master’s degree in urban planning and worked at the UCLA Labor Center and an electricians’ union. “You look at the size of the retail operations in the geographic market, the square footage and the services, the amount of revenue generated per square foot. You have to enter all of these numbers, but you have to make assumptions in order to have some level of analysis. The WAG method is the Wild Ass Guess method and that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Although she wants the menu to remain affordable, Lê will soon have to balance her high fixed costs and labor with the prices she charges. “We’re trying to capture it a bit more.”

But the main reason Lê is willing to take a $3 hit on every dish sold is much more personal: Lê is dedicated to executing the cherished family dish and making it available to a restaurant audience. His version starts with the simple act of boiling and peeling hard-boiled eggs. They are then placed in a large pot with pork belly on top (to keep the eggs submerged and prevent them from drying out). The braising liquid, adapted from her mother’s recipe, calls for seasoning with fish sauce, the sweetness of Coco Rico coconut soda, hints of brown and amber color from caramel and coconut oil. annatto, as well as water, which simmers uncovered for more than four hours. The reduced liquid is thick – not as sticky as French jus and not as viscous as a Jamaican oxtail sauce – and the gooey pork belly is served with the egg and sauce over rice with scallions and pickled mustard greens. “Every Vietnamese family has a recipe for it,” says Lê, but as ubiquitous as this heo kho might be in home kitchens, Lê couldn’t find it in restaurants. So she did it herself.

“It’s the kind of thing people will eat and say, it took me back to my childhood,” Lê says. And it’s worth it.

Menu price: $10.50

Total restaurant cost: $13.51
Profit: -$3.01 (loss)

Food costs: $4.59

Red Boat fish sauce: $0.38
Caramel: $0.04
Annatto seed oil: $0.28
Coco Rico: $0.45
Pork belly: $2.63 (0.45 lbs)
Eggs: $0.45
Rice: $0.28
Green onions: $0.04
Marinated mustard leaves: $0.04

“The food cost of this dish is probably the highest of all my dishes,” says Lê, who aims to maintain an average food cost of 25%. comparable to menu price; the thit heo kho is at 43.71%.

Lê notes that ingredient prices have risen sharply, especially at wholesalers. “Wholesalers are quick to increase the cost of something by 50% overnight. So it was an increase, 20-30% in a lot of things, that I didn’t expect.

Despite unexpected supply chain issues that led to increased food costs, Lê was uncompromising on her choice of ingredients. A typical restaurant would buy whole pork belly (which would be cheaper). But wanting to maintain the fidelity of his mother’s dish, Lê insists on only getting the central cut of the belly. “We call it thit ba chi, which means three-thread meat. It creates that mouthfeel – it’s a quality control issue. And where other restaurants might save a premium brand to finish off a dish, Lê empties a bottle of Red Boat into the pot, which in LA costs twice the average price of fish sauce. Ditto for using annatto seed oil to infuse an amber tone to the broth. These two liquids alone add $0.64 to the food cost of each serving. But the dish is meant to be “a hug for your stomach and your soul”, says Lê. “So you have to do it that way to feel like that.”

Labor costs: $5.25

Lê is the first to admit that her menu is too labor intensive for a takeout restaurant. Combined with the payment of a living wage, this translates into a payroll that currently hovers around 50% of income. “I always assumed mine would be above the industry average,” she says, but it’s higher than she likes. “There will come a time very soon when I will increase my prices for certain dishes. That’s just the way it has to be.

Its goal is to reduce labor costs by 40% by helping staff become more efficient, while slightly increasing the prices of certain dishes to reflect the true cost of the restaurant’s cumbersome preparation. Raising prices is a last resort, and it goes against his desire to serve affordable food to residents of Virgil’s village. piece.

Fixed fee: $3.67

Although Lê has not compensated itself or reimbursed any of the initial investments in the purchase of the restaurant and equipment, the fixed costs of Bé Ù—the rent; Assurance; bank charges; garbage; dishwasher; Security; exterminator; hood cleaning; call; and Toast, his favorite online ordering software, are at the upper end of what’s generally advised (most restaurants I’ve reported on tend to operate between 18-30% fixed costs, versus 35 % for Lê here). “I probably assumed too low a cost for equipment and maintenance when I started, [and for] those other business disruption costs that arise when operating in a pandemic.

Third-party delivery and pick-up costs

“We don’t deliver because of the high margins,” says Lê. “We only offer takeout where you can order online through Toast, call or order at the window.”

profit or loss

At a menu price of $10.50, Bé Ù loses $3.01 on each order of caramelized pork with egg. “I wish it was a loss leader to bring people to the restaurant,” says Lê, “but it’s actually just an emotional connection to a dish that I want to share widely as if it were of a cultural ambassador.”

Not wanting to raise prices across the board, she’s considering paying on a sliding scale, perhaps keeping a few items, like vegan banh mi or popcorn chicken, at a fixed price. It is possible to selectively increase prices, keeping certain dishes, like this one, at a value that makes it more widely available. And once she’s a bit more stable, she plans to apply to accept EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer). “I grew up on food stamps. And I feel like it might help maintain some accessibility for people on fixed incomes.

Lê’s tried to figure out how to communicate to customers why she needed a price increase, after establishing the three pillars of her business as good food, good jobs and affordability (already three times the ambition of the most restaurants). “I still keep this foundation. But something has to give to figure out how to build a sustainable and resilient restaurant, so I can stay and achieve those goals.

Corey Mintz, a food journalist who focuses on working in restaurants, is the author of The Next Supper: The End of Restaurants as We Known Them and What’s Next (Public Affairs 2021)

Disbursing over 38,000 loans, how Indifi leverages technology to help small businesses grow and improve Tue, 18 Jan 2022 06:47:32 +0000

“If we were a country of farmers 50 years ago, today we are a country of small businesses,” said Alok Mittal, MD and CEO of Indifi.

Filling a critical gap in India’s lending landscape, Indifi has become a tool for startups and small businesses to seek seamless access to funding. The digital financial services company offers business loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that have limited access to credit from financial institutions.

“There are millions of small businesses that really fuel this economy. They weren’t getting the equity financing, the media spotlight, and weren’t being celebrated as entrepreneurs. I wanted to help that part of the economy,” Alok explains in the video.

Indifi executives Alok Mittal and Siddharth Mahanot are among the entrepreneurs whose stories are captured in Omidyar Network India’s new video series titled “The Bold – Innovating for the Next Half Billion”. A compilation of 11 short videos, the series captures powerful stories of entrepreneurs building for the more than 500 million Indians who are going online for the first time through their mobile phones – a segment often referred to as the “Next Half Billion”. . ‘ or NHB.

Since its inception in 2015, Indifi has disbursed over 38,000 loans in over 400 cities.

Expanding Access to Finance for MSMEs in India

“It’s painful to see nearly 60 million entrepreneurs out there who don’t have access to capital and therefore can’t grow their businesses,” says Alok while mentioning that small businesses “are the real drivers of economic growth in India”. ”.

“We provide unsecured trade credit for the business needs of MSMEs,” says Siddharth Mahanot, COO, Indifi, while mentioning that small business lending is one of the most underserved segments in the country.

Indifi’s technology platform gathers and analyzes company data from a variety of sources and derives insights to judge their creditworthiness, past and current performance in the context of the industry in which they operate. This differentiated approach helps find low-risk and high-risk businesses. on a pledge basis, opening up opportunities for those who previously did not have access to short- or long-term commercial finance.

“Over 40% of our clients are entrepreneurs who have not received a business loan before contacting us. We find pockets of underserved entrepreneurs, especially in Tier II and III cities. This is our main area of ​​interest. Today, we serve over 300 cities nationwide, all in a remote model,” adds Alok.

Indifi has also supported many aspiring and new female entrepreneurs, enabling them to take a step towards financial independence.

Bridging a gap with technology and entrepreneurship

“We’re probably the only lender in the country that serves customers in over 400 cities without having any physical footprint, and we’ve been able to do that through substantial use of technology,” says Siddharth.

Offering tailored loans for travel, hospitality, e-commerce, catering, commerce and retail businesses, Indifi covers over eight industries and has over 80 partners. The platform has collaborated with top players such as Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy, Zomato, etc.

“We are going through a phase where our society and the economic status of people will transform over the next 20 years. I am convinced that it will be the entrepreneurs who will do it [foster economic growth]. So do you want to be a spectator or do you want to go out and play the game? asks Alok while reiterating the power of entrepreneurship.

To learn more about the personal and professional challenges and successes experienced by the leaders of Indifi, watch the video here.

The 11-episode series is live Moreover, the series is also available on Omidyar Network India’s Youtube channel and social media handles.

Companies cited for vaccination mandate, new CDC guidelines – NBC Chicago Mon, 17 Jan 2022 13:39:58 +0000

Several Chicago businesses have received citations under the city’s new vaccination proof ordinance.

Plus, from masking guidelines to travel advice, many are looking for the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois today:

Do you need a vaccine to fly? CDC air travel guidelines and what else to know

As the omicron variant surges, questions are swirling online about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel advice, particularly regarding testing and vaccines.

The specific requirements and guidelines largely depend on where you are and where you are going.

Here’s what you need to know.

Former Chicago alderman seeks release from prison over COVID reasons

A former Chicago city councilman convicted of tax evasion has requested early release from prison due to his age, medical condition and the omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge.

Edward Vrdolyak’s attorneys filed an emergency motion on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lawyers said the 84-year-old suffered from medical conditions, including dementia, and a weakened immune system, which would put him at higher risk of serious illness or death.

Learn more here.

Chicago cites restaurants and gyms for COVID vaccine violations

Chicago officials have issued more than 30 citations to businesses for failing to enforce the city’s requirement that people show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations in many locations.

The ordinance went into effect Jan. 3, and as of Wednesday, the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Agency had issued 32 citations to 16 businesses.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the businesses include restaurants, fitness centers, a swim school and a children’s playground.

Learn more here.

Is dizziness a symptom of COVID-19? What there is to know

COVID-19 can cause a large number of symptoms with fever, cough and fatigue among those most commonly reported.

But it’s also important to be aware of less common symptoms, such as dizziness.

“Countless studies” from various parts of the world have found that dizziness has occurred as a result of COVID infections, according to an article published in the National Library of Medicine of the US National Institutes of Health.

The doctors who wrote the article say the results are not surprising, as dizziness has always been associated with viral infections.

Learn more here.

Here’s what you should do after a positive COVID test, according to the CDC

As the omicron variant continues to drive up the number of COVID cases, some people may be facing the prospect of testing positive for the coronavirus for the first time, and may not know what to do if that diagnosis occurs.

In the state of Illinois, nearly 2.6 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported over the past two years, and last month saw the highest case count of the entire pandemic in the state. ‘State.

Fortunately, most cases of COVID-19 eventually produce mild symptoms, and there are a series of steps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you take if you test positive for the virus.

Learn more here.

What if you test positive for COVID after quarantine? Here’s what the CDC says to do

If you test positive for COVID-19 after quarantine and you no longer have symptoms, do you still need to stay in isolation?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person is encouraged, but not required, to take a coronavirus test after being quarantined for five days after diagnosis.

After five full days, a person can end the isolation period if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever medication and if other symptoms have improved, the CDC wrote online.

Learn more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 207,203 new cases, 738 deaths as measures increase last week

Illinois health officials reported 207,203 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, along with 738 additional deaths and more than 357,000 new vaccine doses administered.

New cases and deaths mark a continued increase in recent weeks.

A total of 2,589,640 coronavirus cases have been reported in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths reported in the past five days bring the state to 29,099 confirmed COVID deaths.

Learn more here.

CDC updates mask guidelines: Here’s the best protection against COVID-19

As the omicron variant spreads rapidly in the United States, health officials argue that booster vaccinations and the COVID-19 vaccine are crucial to curbing the spread of the virus, but wearing a face mask is also strongly recommended.

The Centers for Disease Control updated masking guidelines on Friday, saying N95 and KN95 masks provide the best protection against COVID-19 and people “may choose” to wear them.

Previously, the CDC did not recommend that the general population wear N95 or KN95 masks, a similar type of mask made in China, over concerns that demand could impact supply in health care settings.

In its Friday update, the CDC said shortages were no longer an issue.

Learn more here.