Food News Roundup: Guy Fieri Shutters NYC Restaurant, Free Bloomin' Onions, and Le Bernardin Goes Vegetarian
All the big food stories that happened over the holidays.
Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant shutters: Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, the infamous Times Square eatery from Guy Fieri, somewhat abruptly ended operations on December 31. Despite what was apparently a popular five-plus-year run, the restaurant will probably best be known for the initial trashing it took in a New York Times review. A statement from a Fieri spokesperson gave no reason for the closure. “I’m proud that for over five and a half years, Guy’s American in New York City served millions of happy guests from all over the world,” the rep told HuffPost. “And upon the restaurant’s closing, I’d like to say thank you to all of the team members and guests who helped make it all happen.”
Free Bloomin’ Onions today: On the field, the winner of yesterday’s Outback Bowl might have been the South Carolina Gamecocks, besting the Michigan Wolverines by the score of 26 – 19, but off the field, Bloomin’ Onion fans everywhere are the real winners. As a tie-in to the annual football bowl game, each team was paired with an appetizer, and the winner determined which app will be given away for free at Outback Steakhouse locations across the country the day after the game. A Wolverine win would have earned us all free Coconut Shrimp, but alas, a free Bloomin’ Onion with any purchase will have to suffice. The promotion is good on January 2 only.
Le Bernardin goes veggie: With 23 years under his belt as head chef at Le Bernardin, you might think Eric Ripert has tried it all, but according to the New York Times, for the first time in its 35 year history, the Michelin three-starred restaurant is offering an exclusively vegetarian tasting menu. “I often get a dozen inquiries a week for a vegetable tasting,” Ripert told the Times. “I like the idea of a menu that pays homage to the vegetable, though it’s a creative challenge.” The eight course meal runs $185 per person.
Blue Apron partners with Whole30: Blue Apron already sets out to make cooking easier; now, the meal kit delivery service will also help simplify that strict diet you’ve been meaning to start following. Blue Apron has partnered with the trendy diet brand Whole30 – known for its restrictive guidelines that focus on unprocessed foods and eliminate things like sugar, grains, dairy and booze – to offer eight weeks of Whole30-approved meals. “These simple, satisfying recipes are designed to help customers kick off the new year with a clean plate,” a Blue Apron spokesperson said about the partnership which will run from January 8 to February 26.
Chipotle eating record: An Ohio man has broken the record for most consecutive days of eating at Chipotle. The Batman-monikered Bruce Wayne has had at least one entrée per day for the past 426 days at the burrito chain. Chipotle commemorated the occasion by presenting Wayne with a custom-made Chipotle superhero cape and cufflinks, as well as by making a donation to the charity of his choice equal to the amount of money he’d spent at the restaurant over that span. For those wondering, yes, the previous record was 425 days. Wayne said he has no immediate plans to stop his Chipotle run.
UberEats subscription service: The food delivery arm of taxi giant Uber told Business Insider that it’s already been testing a flat-fee subscription service, allowing customers to save on delivery costs, as well as enjoy other perks, while hopefully driving user loyalty in the extremely competitive online ordering market. “We are constantly testing,” UberEats UK country manager Toussaint Wattinne told the site. “We've actually run a few tests within specific cohorts in a few cities.”
40,000 Pounds of avocado destroyed in truck fire: Putting a painful punctuation on an already rough 2017, a few days before New Year’s, about 40,000 pounds of avocado were destroyed in a massive tractor-trailer fire on Interstate 35 near Dallas, Texas. The results were described by one local news anchor as “some weird guacamole something.”
NYE revelers build island to skirt alcohol ban: A group of New Zealand beachgoers devised a crafty, if not necessarily legally-sound method for circumventing a ban on public drinking this New Year’s Eve. During low tide in the Tairua estuary, some locals constructed an island out of sand with a wooden picnic table and a cooler on top, allowing them to drink and watch fireworks outdoors penalty-free from what was humorously dubbed as “international waters.” Local authorities took the move in stride. “That's creative thinking,” one police officer said according to stuff.co.nz. “If I had known that I probably would have joined them.”
Iconic 1940s’ beer sign shines again: A massive neon beer sign in Minneapolis is once again shining its gaudy lights across the Mississippi river. The Grain Belt Beer bottle cap, described by the Star Tribune as one of the city’s “most recognizable landmarks,” was re-illuminated after 21 years of darkness on December 30. The sign, which built in the 1940s, was acquired by the current owner of the Grain Belt Beer brand, August Schell Brewing, in 2016. The brewery refurbed the old sign by replacing its neon tubes and incandescent bulbs with LED lights and plans to keep it glowing until at least the Super Bowl.
From Hershey’s chocolate to marijuana powerhouse: In the days leading up to marijuana legalization in California, Bloomberg offered a peek into how pot was able to help save a struggling Canadian town. Smiths Falls, Ontario – once home to a major Hershey chocolate factory – had been struggling since the facility shuttered a decade ago, but after marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. moved into the building four years ago, the area is thriving once again as “the pot capital of Canada,” according to Mayor Shawn Pankow.
North Korea invests in kimchi: Kim Jong Un is best known for his militaristic provocations, but according to the Associated Press, the North Korean leader has been focused on more than just nuclear weapons, taking a similar scientific approach to another pet project: kimchi production. The recently-opened Ryungyong Kimchi Factory in Pyongyang is said to operate in a “scientific manner at every stage,” offering features like a one-of-a-kind “kimchi analyzer” intended to streamline quality control. “This is the model,” manager Paek Mi Hye told the AP. “Other factories like ours are being planned in every province.”
Heartbreak song laments Chick-fil-A’s Sunday closures: Songs about heartbreak are a well-covered topic, but rarely are those tunes lamenting a fast food chain’s one-day-a-week closure. Shama Mrema’s “Chick-fil-A (But It’s Sunday)” found viral success with nearly a million views over the holiday week by playing off one of fans’ biggest gripes with the beloved chicken joint – that the company still closes on Sundays.