Feb 26, 2015
Freddie Kitson

4 can’t-miss March events you never knew existed

You know about the St. Patrick’s Day parade. You know about the beer festivals and the bacon festival. But did you know that there is a whole day dedicated to cardboard costumes or that you can celebrate a fake marriage? Here are four events that you never knew existed, but are worthy of your attendance.  

Saturday, March 7. If you have an imagination and some cardboard, you’re all set! Cardboard*Con is a science fiction and fantasy convention in downtown Atlanta, dedicated to cardboard costuming. See incredibly elaborate and creative costumes, win contests and participate in panels and workshops. Who knew cardboard could be so fun? Event details at events.accessatlanta.com/cardboardcon

Southern Fried Burlesque Fest
March 19 -22. The 5th Annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest brings you the most talented group of burlesque dancers in the Southeast. Four days of performances will keep you entertained, and if you’re feeling adventurous, participate in the “most elaborate class workshop schedule you will ever see.” Event details at events.accessatlanta.com/burlesque

Big Fake Wedding
Sunday, March 29. You’re invited to the wedding of the year! There’s just one catch; it’s totally fake. If you’re getting married or you just really love weddings (and who doesn’t?), $25 is the price of admission to dance the night away and celebrate the pretend nuptials of your fake best friends. Event details at events.accessatlanta.com/fakewedding

Georgia Elvis Festival
March 12 – 15. This one isn’t in Atlanta, but if you’re up for a road trip to Brunswick and you love the King, you’ll be glad you made the trip. Two Vegas-style headline shows, an ultimate Elvis contest and as much memorabilia as you can buy, this Elvis festival is packed with fun and a hunk of burning love. Details at georgiaelvisfestival.com

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Feb 26, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Redhook finds a home between beer snobs and Bud Light

Redhook Brewery is the U.S. beer industry’s middle class.

Founded in 1982 in an old transmission shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Redhook went from a craft beer pioneer to a scorned outcast with little to lose. Founders Paul Shipman and Gary Bowker have been out of the picture for years. Anheuser-Busch

BUD, +2.45%

 bought a 25% stake in the brewery for $18 million back in 1995 and upped its stake to 32.2% when Redhook joined what is now known as the Craft Brew Alliance in 2007.

For years, Redhook drifted aimlessly — tethered to an ill-defined hippie/yuppie personality with a sprawling catalog of beers with names like Rope Swing and Mudslinger. Finally, in 2011, the folks in charge of the brand decided they’d had enough of pouring faceless beer to a group of drinkers constantly wailing about how they felt its ESB and Longhammer IPA weren’t as good as they were before the sale. Craft didn’t want them, and they didn’t want to brew light lager, so they aimed for the space in between.

“We just hired a new creative agency, and we talked about being in the middle and how it’s saturated most of the time, but it really is a void,” says Karmen Olson, Redhook’s brand manager. “Nobody’s willing to go there, but we’re like ‘We’re in the middle and we’re gonna own it.’ We’re totally good with being in the middle, and this is exactly where we want to be.”

In this case, the middle means males 21 to 34 years old, which means sports, jokes and the occasional spokesmodel. In 2011, Redhook signed a partnership with former ESPN personality and current NBCSports host Dan Patrick that got Redhook mentions on the show, slapped Patrick’s name on the brewery’s malty Audible Ale and spawned events like the giveaway of a rolling “man cave” and trips with Patrick to the Super Bowl. In 2012, Redhook partnered with the Emerald City Supporters — a supporter group for Major League Soccer — to brew No Equal Amber Lager and followed it up with No Equal Blonde in 2014.

In 2013, Redhook reached an agreement with Buffalo Wild Wings

BWLD, -0.37%

 to brew Game Changer Pale Ale exclusively for the restaurant chain and to put its beer in more than 900 restaurants. It also padded its list of partners by teaming with hoax and celeb-worship site TheChive on its KCCO (“Keep Calm, Chive On”) black lager later that year.

Last year, Redhook recruited former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Joe Tafoya to help brew and promote its False Start Session IPA. However, no deal Redhook has made in the past four years matches the $3.5 million, six-month partnership it just entered with Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to promote the chain’s Redhook beer-battered cod sandwich for Lent. Because Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s aim for the same target demographic as Redhook, the television ads for that cod sandwich look like this:

“There are definitely lots of female Redhook drinkers, especially in Seattle, but at some point you have to draw a line in the sand and declare who you’re targeting,” Olson says. “I’m totally OK with declaring that I’m targeting young males, if that’s not so obvious by now.”

It helps when that strategy is working. In 2013, with Craft Brew Alliance sales up 7.6% and overall beer sales down nearly 2%, Redhook saw its own sales jump 13.6% to nearly 217,000 of CBA’s 726,000 barrels. That made it a far smaller brewery than Samuel Adams producer Boston Beer Co.

SAM, +0.07%

 (2.9 million barrels in 2013), Sierra Nevada (980,000), New Belgium (792,000) or Lagunitas (400,000), but larger than Brooklyn Brewing (216,000), Stone (213,000) or Dogfish Head (202,000).

A 12% boost in sales across the board for CBA in 2014 and a 5% jump in Redhook sales only bolstered the brewer’s position.

As a result, Redhook has jumped into a spot that craft beer has generally shunned and that larger brewers — including Redhook’s shareholders and distribution partners at A-B — are shying away from. Redhook got a reminder of this when A-B, in part reacting to a multiyear slide in light lager sales, ended a spate of craft brewery purchases by picking up Seattle’s Elysian Brewing in January. In a town where it isn’t the wholly owned subsidiary of A-B that Elysian is and isn’t quite as independent as brewers like Fremont Brewing and Schooner Exact brewing are, Redhook finds itself in a beer demilitarized zone where seemingly none of the rules apply.

In Seattle, that’s not such a bad place to be. It means that cans of its Longhammer IPA are welcomed at Seahawks games at CenturyLink Field and Mariners games at Safeco, but Nick Crandall is also welcomed at Seattle-area craft breweries including Hilliard’s, Black Raven and Triple Rock to collaborate with other brewers on small-batch beers. That the ESB they were making back when Microsoft

MSFT, +0.15%


SBUX, +0.31%

Nirvana and playoff-caliber Sonics teams were just coming into being can still be one of the best-selling beers in the city today. It means that the brewery that Olson considers Seattle brewers’ “hip uncle” from the suburbs after it moved more than a half hour outside the city to Woodinville, Wash., more than 20 years ago can now consider buying a pied-a-terre brewpub in its old neighborhood. (Though Olson admits that plan, which she’s pitched routinely, wouldn’t take effect until late 2016 at the latest.)

“Making it exclusive is part of it, to make Seattle beer drinkers feel special because they [expletive] are, but also so we can be good at it,” Olson says. “When we try to spread everything like peanut butter across the country, we trip up sometimes. It’s hard to manage that from the pure logistics of things.”

Yes, it still has a brewery in Portsmouth, N.H., that it opened 20 years ago and still doesn’t quite know what to do with it — other than contribute to local beer festivals and distribute coasters reading “Born in Seattle, raised in Portsmouth.” Yes, there’s still that 32.2% A-B stake. But at a time when one of Seattle’s most respected craft breweries is wholly owned by A-B and one of its oldest, Pyramid Breweries, is owned by a Costa Rican umbrella company that also brews Genny Cream Ale, there’s a level of security in being somewhere in between upstart craft brewers and fully absorbed subsidiaries of a big brewery. It’s why Redhook can slap 35th anniversary labels on its ESB, pour it into 16-ounce cans and go tailgating this summer. It’s decades beyond its coolest years, but isn’t hunched over a cubicle in some corporate office with all its rough edges rounded off. It’s somewhere in between, and it isn’t such a bad place to be.

“We’re staying really true to who we are because, back then, it wasn’t about delivering the most crafty experience or super-artisan anything. It was just good [expletive] beer, it was a better beer,” Olson says. “It’s the same thing now: We’re not trying to be something that we’re not. We brew good beer, we’re good at it and we do it consistently, which is really [expletive] hard.”

Jason Notte is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Esquire. Notte received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 1998. Follow him on Twitter @Notteham.

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Feb 26, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Michigan Brewer’s Guild’s Winter Beer Fest is tomorrow and there are …

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    The Michigan Brewer’s Guild throws, arguably, the most well-respected beer festivals in the state. They’re known for their yearly summer fete that takes place at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti as well as an autumnal affair held at Eastern Market. Their events almost always sell out. 

    Tomorrow the 10th annual Winter Beer Fest starts and surprisingly there are still tickets available for the Friday night portion of the festival (tickets for Saturday are sold out). Here’s the catch though, folks, Winter Beer Fest takes place in Comstock Park, which is just north of Grand Rapids.

    The Friday portion runs from 3 to 7 p.m., so if you can wrangle the day off, it might be worth the nearly 1000 different craft beers that will be available to sample. Over 100 Michigan craft breweries will be on-site with their goods and there will be music, food, and other entertainment. 

    Click here to grab tickets while they still last. They’re $45 plus a $4 service fee for buying them online. 

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    Feb 26, 2015
    Kim Rivers

    Popular food truck adds brewhouse as part of bricks-and-mortar plan

    Dale Stoudt Super Food Truck

    Dale Stoudt, co-owner of Super Food Truck, would like to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the street-level storefront space in 11 East Forsyth, the apartment building in the background.

    Andrew Thurlow
    Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal


    Dale Stoudt, co-owner of Super Food Truck, plans to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant featuring a brewhouse in the street-level storefront space at 11 East Forsyth.

    Stoudt has applied to the Downtown Investment Authority’s retail enhancement program for help in building out the space in the 11E apartment building. The DIA approved the request this week, the fifth since it began recommending businesses for grant money in January.

    The new space will be called Superfood and Brew, according to the DIA.

    The company requested $49,837 from the city and estimates the project costing about $99,685. The owners will contribute $49,838 toward improvement at the 2,595-square-foot space.

    It plans to open no later than the first week of April and will hire 10 full-time employees, according to its application.

    DIA CEO Aundra Wallace said he anticipates more applicants to be considered by the board in the near future.

    The Zodiac Bar Grill at 120 W. Adams St. and the Burrito Gallery at 21 E. Adams St. are in the process of working with the city on applications to the program.

    The Burrito Gallery plans to make interior renovations costing more than $200,000. Some of the upgrades will include remodeling the bathroom and expanding the kitchen.

    “It’s only the beginning,” Wallace said. “It’s not a giveaway program. Business owners have to prepare a business plan, identify expenses and revenue forecasts. It’s a good indication to us of how successful this program can be.”

    Andrew covers real estate, retail and sports

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    Feb 26, 2015
    Kim Rivers

    Fort Smith Continues Food Truck Regulation Review

    As Fort Smith city planners probe potential changes to food truck regulations, some city directors hope to one day see them parked downtown.

    “I think it’s a great idea,” At-Large Director Don Hutchings said during a study session Tuesday, “and everybody I’ve talked to is in favor of this.”

    In August, the Fort Smith Board of Directors requested from the Planning Department updated regulations for food truck vendors, which are currently not allowed in the downtown district.

    Planning Director Wally Bailey told directors that he and his staff, along with the Planning Commission, have been looking to downtown merchants and other communities for regulation advice.

    Fort Smith’s current regulations are “kind of scattered and out of kilter with what a lot of cities have,” Bailey said. There are currently 29 licenses issued to food truck vendors.

    “Downtown is the only district they are not allowed,” he added.

    Seeking opinions in the downtown district, city planners mailed 188 surveys, Bailey said. Of the 66 returned, 77 percent indicated support for mobile food trucks downtown. Also, 68 percent of the respondents said they favored minimum distance requirements from existing restaurants, while 58 percent backed the use of public parking spaces.

    Ward 4 Director George Catsavis said he was interested in a downtown food court for trucks.

    “I think that would be better having a concentrated area,” he said.

    Ward 3 Director Mike Lorenz agreed.

    “It just seems like a good way to control it,” he said. “You won’t have random trucks here and there.”

    In 1993, a push for mobile food trucks downtown was sidelined following opposition from restaurants and the Downtown Merchants Association, according to the city.

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    Feb 26, 2015
    Kim Rivers

    This food truck is an engine of change

    Shortly after graduating from Wesleyan University, Jordyn Lexton took a job with East River Academy, teaching literature to incarcerated youths on Rikers Island.

    “I grew up with every opportunity in the world,” said the 28-year-old Upper East Sider. “So many things struck me about being on Rikers. I was overwhelmed by how many young people of color were there.”

    Three years in, Ms. Lexton grew determined to make a difference in her students’ lives. Last year, she raised nearly $500,000 to buy a food truck (called Snowday) and launch Drive Change, a nonprofit that trains formerly incarcerated young people and helps them find jobs in the food-service industry. They all start out working on the truck, which serves sweet and savory dishes, all featuring New York maple syrup.

    So far, Drive Change has trained eight men and two women, some of whom have jobs at the sandwich chain ‘wichcraft and the caterer Great Performances. Snowday hit the road on a high note, winning Rookie of the Year at the Vendy Awards street-food competition. Gothamist and Time Out named it one of the top 10 food trucks in the city.

    On some days, Ms. Lexton works on the truck, talking to customers about social-justice issues while also planning her next big initiative: securing a commissary where food trucks can park overnight, get cleaned and load up. “We have relationships with organizations that own real estate that would be perfect for this,” Ms. Lexton said.

    The idea is also to provide back-end services to the food trucks parking there, supplying them with employees as well.

    While she was teaching on Rikers, Ms. Lexton said, her students were most excited about the culinary-arts class. “I realized that we could create a business that would be practical,” she said, “and be engaging at the same time.”

    A version of this article appears in the February 23, 2015, print issue of Crain’s New York Business.

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    Feb 26, 2015
    Kim Rivers

    Food Truck Stops: February 25

    Happy Wednesday, food truck followers! Fight the cold with warming dishes like shrimp and grits from RockSalt, truffled mac and cheese crepes from Crepe Love, or cornbread from BBQ Bus.

    Sign up for our new Food Truck Stops daily newsletter to have a roundup of locations delivered directly to your inbox.

    Capitol Hill (First and C sts., SE), where you’ll find Crepe Love.

    Chinatown (Seventh and G sts., NW), where you’ll find Souvlaki Stop and Sate Truck.

    Farragut Square (17th and I sts., NW), where you’ll find Ball or Nothing, Sang on Wheels, Sate Truck, and DC Taco Truck.

    Franklin Square (13th and K sts., NW), where you’ll find BBQ Bus, DC Slices, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Tasty Kabob.

    Friendship Heights (Western and Wisconsin Aves., NW), where you’ll find Hungry Heart, South Meets East, and Pars Kabob.

    L’Enfant (Sixth St. and Maryland Ave., SW), where you’ll find Carolina Q, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Big Cheese.

    Metro Center (12th and G sts., NW), where you’ll find CapMac and Far East Taco Grille.

    NoMa (First and M sts., NE), where you’ll find Basil Thyme, Borinquen Lunch Box, Popped! Republic, and Tasty Kabob.

    Northern Virginia, where you’ll find Korean BBQ Taco Box (Ballston), Bada Bing, Kafta Mania, Big Cheese, Urban Bumpkin BBQ (Courthouse), Tortuga (Reston), Choupi Crepes, and Fava Pot (Rosslyn).

    State Department (around 21st St. and Virginia Ave., NW), where you’ll find Feelin’ Crabby and Korean BBQ Taco Box.

    20th and L Streets, Northwest, where you’ll find DC Slices, RockSalt, and Far East Taco Grille.

    Union Station (North Capitol St. and Massachusetts Ave., NE), where you’ll find Habebe, Puddin’, Lilypad on the Run, and DC Taco Truck.

    West End (24th and M sts., NW), where you’ll find Tasty Kabob.

    Too many good trucks to decide? Check out our guide to the Top 25 Food Trucks in Washington and the Wheelie Awards for best individual dishes, deals, and more.

    Sign up for our new Food Truck Stops daily newsletter to have a roundup of locations delivered directly to your inbox.

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    Feb 26, 2015
    Tim Lester

    VIDEO: Touring Dubai’s best street food vendors

    What’s On tucks into some of the best street food in Dubai on a tour with Penny De Los Santos, who is exhibiting at Dubai Food Festival.

    - Frying Pan Adventures
    - Dubai Food Festival
    - Food Trucks in Dubai
    BBQ Spots
    Perfect picnic

    As part of the Dubai Food Festival, renowned street food photographer Penny De Los Santos has been exhibiting some 30-pieces of her works at Dubai Airport.

    The award-winning snapper, who is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine, Time, Sports Illustrated, and many more, is on her first visit to the region, and granted What’s On a tour of some of the city’s street food vendors.

    In total, she took in more than 70 locations through Bur Dubai, Deira, The Creek and surrounding areas, documenting pop-up vendors, markets and open air restaurants.

    Penny De Los Santos street food in Dubai tour

    Penny De Los Santos street food in Dubai tour

    Speaking to Gulf News during the tour, Penny said: “Of all the places I’ve travelled to around the world, I can honestly say that very few cities offer the same diversity and range of food as Dubai. If I’m speaking honestly, the exhibition really only scratches the surface of Dubai’s incredible food scene.”

    And discussing her exhibition, she added: “The aim is to capture the ‘heart of Dubai’ — the real city. Food is one of those things that really embodies the soul of a city, so it was a perfect avenue to capture how Dubai really ticks. Dubai is well known for its five-star hotels and restaurants, which are truly spectacular, but I wanted to showcase the elements of the city that go beyond the glamour.

    Penny De Los Santos street food in Dubai tour

    Penny De Los Santos street food in Dubai tour

    “I was amazed and awed at what I discovered during my visit. I couldn’t believe the amount and diversity of scenes, flavours and nationalities on offer in a single city. I think my photographs represent a side of Dubai that most people are unaware of, and I hope this exhibition brings to light what amazing culinary diversity the Emirate has to offer.”

    Some of the places Penny visited were:
    - Bu Qtair, Umm Suqeim
    - Deira Fish and Vegetable Market
    - Al Bait Al Baghdadi Restaurant, Muteena Street
    - Maharaj bhog, Karama
    - Bait Al Wakeel, Textile Souk, Bur Dubai
    - Kebab Colony
    - Raju Omlet, Karama
    - Ravi Restaurant, Satwa

    Penny De Los Santos street food in Dubai tour

    What’s On‘s videographer Ajith Narendra was hot on Penny’s heels through much of her tour. You can see the video below.


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    Feb 26, 2015
    Kim Rivers

    A Food Truck Park Is in the Works for Downtown Plano

    The once-sleepy downtown Plano area continues to get cooler: Now it’s (probably) getting a food truck park that sounds an awfully lot like Lowest Greenville hot spot Truck Yard.

    CultureMap Dallas says the Hub Streat concept “will be anchored by a restaurant created from former shipping containers with space surrounding it for two or three food trucks, live music and entertainment, and seating.” (No mention of booze or a bar, so keep your fingers crossed?)

    The food truck park, which will be located “at the corner of 14th Street and M Avenue,” just received unanimous approval from the city’s planning commission “and will go before the Plano City Council for final approval soon.”

    The past couple years have seen a host of new forward-thinking additions to downtown Plano including a second location of pho favorite DaLat, Lockhart Smokehouse, and Fourteen Eighteen Coffeehouse.

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