Jordan Melnick

Jordan Melnick is <em>QSR</em>'s online exclusives reporter.
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Boy-Friendly Cupcakes, Really.

Butch Bakery is capitalizing on the snack’s popularity, and eyeing the male market with cupcakes complete with rum, brandy, and whiskey.

In 2008, with the housing bubble ready to pop, David Arrick lost his job as a Wall Street attorney specializing in asset-backed securities.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says. “There were no jobs for anybody with my background. My securities were backed by mortgages, which were the worst thing possible.”

Soon after, Arrick found work helping to develop Universal Studios Dubailand. But just as he was getting ready to move to the Arabian Peninsula, the real estate market there also came crashing down, burying his new job in the rubble.

Health Care Passed. Now What?

Despite opposition from industry leaders, health care reform is here and has many wondering what the legislation means for their restaurants.

Now that health care reform has passed in Washington, despite opposition from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and other business interests, quick-service operators across the country are trying to figure out how the bill will impact them.

But after a year of hyper-partisan legislative combat, many are confused about what is in the 1,990-page bill President Obama signed on March 23, and anxiety is running high.

“There’s an underlying fear about the unknown in the bill and how it’s going to affect us,” says Mike Stimola, CEO of Sandella’s Flatbread Café.

Bob Evans Competes with Retail

Proving that extending menu items into retail doesn’t have to involve a grocery or convenience store, Bob Evans is taking the concept of retail into its own stores.

Bob Evans restaurants, known for their farm-style menu and aesthetic, are trying out a grab-and-go concept called Taste of the Farm in an effort to update the company’s image.

So far, the new concept has been implemented in just one of the chain’s 713 restaurants, near its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters in the suburb of Westerville. Bob Evans representatives say it will likely announce a broader roll out in mid June, after the release of its annual financials.

NYC Restaurants Come Clean

New York City’s new requirement for restaurants to post sanitation grades is garnering mixed feelings from consumers and operators.

Last week’s decision by the New York City Board of Health to give restaurants sanitation grades and require them to publicly display their “report cards” garnered mixed reactions from operators.

“Like everything else, it’s change and it’s something you worry about,” says Mike Savini, director of operations for Hale and Hearty Soups, which has more than 20 locations in the city. “But as much as I hate to admit it, I can’t say it’s a bad thing.”

Mobiles Find It’s a Bumpy Road

Thinking of tapping into the trendy food-cart craze? Here are a few points to consider.

As mobile quick serves grow in popularity across the country, operators should be prepared for a host of challenges when running one.

Alternatively known as lunch trucks or food wagons, these horse-powered kitchens might seem like the cure to the common restaurant operator’s daily headache, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“Imagine the workload and times it by 100,” says Molly Taylor, who drives her Sweets Truck around Los Angeles.

Attack Ads Aren’t Just For Politicians

Quick-serve chains are taking to the airwaves to dog on competition and to steal market share.

When the economy is tough, restaurants tend to get tough in their advertising. As customers tighten their wallets, chains will often claim superiority over competitors in the hopes of boosting business. Comparative advertising, as it’s called, veils an often messy marketing strategy.

Who Dat Culinary Leads Nation

Before Louisiana’s big win in Miami, the state won another, less publicized, title this month.

With the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl win and Mardi Gras festivities already under way, February promises to be a good month for Louisiana. The icing on the cake—or the okra in the gumbo—is that the state was recently singled out by the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA) as one of the premier destinations in the country.

Calorie Confusion

A new Tufts University study reveals calorie count inaccuracies in foods, but the industry isn’t buying it.

As several big chains roll out new healthy offerings for weight-conscious consumers, a recent study found that restaurants often provide substantially inaccurate calorie counts on menus. Some of the restaurants mentioned in the study, however, are questioning its accuracy.

Cold Snap Threatens Produce Supplies

Record low temperatures in Florida could freeze crops and supply chains.

Freezing temperatures in Northern Florida could wipe out a large percentage of the Sunshine State’s citrus fruit, strawberry, and tomato crops, causing higher prices for staple ingredients for the nation’s restaurants.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a warning “urging residents, visitors, and agricultural interests throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark throughout this entire week.”

Will Diners Pay for Tap Water?

UNICEF hopes so. The organization’s Tap Project asks restaurants to raise money for water accessibility across the globe.

Next month, hundreds of restaurants across the country will ask their patrons to pay for their tap water to quench the thirst of people they have likely never met.

That’s because March 21 marks the beginning of World Water Week and the start of the fourth annual UNICEF Tap Project. Launched in 2007, the Tap Project has restaurants ask their customers to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy free of charge. All donations help UNICEF bring clean, accessible water to the nearly 450 million children worldwide who lack access to safe water.