Mar 11, 2014
Tina George

Fun no filler at Spam Jam

Hawaii’s distinctive culinary culture will be on full display at the 12th annual Waikiki Spam Jam on May 3.

Among the Aloha State’s most anticipated food festivals, the one-day event draws about 25,000 people to Kalakaua Avenue, where officials shut down Waikiki’s main drag for live music and performances, a crafts market and, of course, a variety of food booths featuring Spam dishes.

“Each restaurant has to have at least one Spam dish,” explained event organizer Karen Winpenny. “We’ve had Spam french fries, Spam tacos, Spam ice cream and Spam cheesecake.”

Hawaiians buy 7 million cans of Spam annually, more than any other U.S. state.

Asked about folks who don’t think Spam is worthy of such hoopla, Winpenny replied, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Some of these recipes are fabulous.”

Proceeds support the Hawaii Food Bank. Visit

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Mar 11, 2014
Tina George

7 Creative Blogging Ideas for Restaurants

Do you own a restaurant? Have you ever considered blogging?

7 Creative Blogging Ideas for Restaurants image Grilled Crab 600x398

Now almost every restaurant has its own website and a dedicated Facebook page, if not anything else. But when it comes to branding, restaurants do need something extra. Wondering what would that be? A blog!

Blogging can do a lot to help your business grow. Let’s see!

  • Things that you cannot share on your website or Facebook Page, can be shared easily on your blog.
  • It adds a human voice to your restaurant.
  • It helps you maintain and strengthen your relationship with your customers.
  • It enhances your online marketing efforts.
  • It increases your other marketing campaigns’ reach
  • And last but not the least, it boosts the search engine friendliness of your business.

Many restaurants start blogging with a great zeal but discontinue publishing at some point, as they run out of ideas. But the fact remains, if you invest a little of your time and mind-space, you can create magic with your blog.

Here are some creative blogging ideas for you:

Share recipes: Did you know recipes are one of the most popular content forms that are being shared online? Every re-share adds to your branding and word-of-mouth marketing. It also energizes the brand recall.

However, being a restaurant owner, you may not want to share the recipes of your signature dishes. You shouldn’t do either! But sharing seasonal, lesser-known recipes would not cause any harm to your business. You may also go for the recipes that are related to your cuisine but less-complicated.

Don’t forget to mention the minute details like the preparation time, one or two original images of the dish, best side dish to go with and alternate ingredients in case you have used any rare one.

Announce new menu: Many restaurants change their menu occasionally. Some do it during festive seasons while some do it to use seasonal ingredients. Whatever the case is, you need to market the new menu to let people know about it. A blog can prove really handy to ensure a wider and better reach.

Blog compliments your Facebook campaigns: Your blog and Facebook page can work together.

Taking the cue from the last tip, let’s assume you are introducing a pocket-friendly menu to attract students. Create a blog post “Introducing Set Meal: Students, are you following?” Share it on Facebook and run page post ads to pull the attention of your target audience towards the menu.

Similarly, when you will be running a Facebook contest, offer or any other campaign, you can blog about it. It would increase the reach and at the same time educate your audience about the latest happenings at your restaurant. You never know, you might just get 100 new entries from one blog post.

Promote events and food festivals: Restaurants often organize events and food festivals. You might arrange them too! Why not promoting it through your blog? In fact, a blog perfectly fits in, when you need a bigger space to send your message across.

Write about the event in details like duration, venue and cuisine specification. Your audience should get a clear idea about what to expect. Take some room out to mention why they must visit the event.

Now post the blog on Facebook and run page post ads, targeting the potential local customers. And after it’s over, you can write another blog to share the experience with your audience.

Educate your audience: Sometimes, educating your target audience gives you more reward than what you expect. There are many ways that you can educate your audience and at the same time create trust, authority and reliability for your business.

Let’s say, you own a sea food restaurant in such a city, where very few people are familiar with the cuisine. A blog would help you introduce sea food to the people in an interesting way. For example, very few foodies know that there are many types of prawn. So blogging on something like “Know about the prawn, you are ordering” is a good idea.

Advice on food and wine pairing is also a rewarding concept for blogging. You might have experienced that many of your customers ask for suggestions while ordering their drinks. A perfect pair of food and drink is like a match made in heaven that can add a different dimension to a dining experience. Help you customers decide their drinks by using images, tutorials, experts’ interviews.

Give information on the neighborhood: You can write about the to-do things in the neighborhood to attract families and large groups. For example, if there is a spa or a newly opened bowling club near your eating-joint, write about them and suggest your audience how they can plan for a perfect day out in the neighborhood.

This would be beneficial in two ways.

First, if someone plans a visit with his friends near your locality, he can consider your restaurant. It will also help you make your potential customers discover your business.

Secondly, local businesses will start recognizing you as their ally. You never know, some of them might also end up having or recommending you as their restaurant or catering partner. But stay away from promoting your competitors.

Humanize of the brand: Try to give your restaurant a human face, so that your audience can talk and share their opinion with you.

Introduce your staff. Share interesting stories about your restaurant. Create vlogs (video blogs) to share recipes, to conduct tours to the kitchen, to show how you work during the busy hours or how you have fun while working. Feature your loyal customers. Featuring your suppliers is also a good idea, as your customers may want to know where your ingredients come from. And the bonus is, your relationship with your suppliers will grow stronger. You can either write text blogs with images or shoot short videos to make a collage.

The scope is endless. All you need is, a bit of creativity and patience to experiment. Don’t worry! The more you would think, the more ideas would come up! Start today!

This article is an original contribution by Ishita Ganguly.

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Mar 11, 2014
Tina George

Project of the Month: TAYLOR breaks ground for College Town; Local contractor …

Rendering of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues - Rochester, NY
Rendering of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues – Rochester, NY

Rendering of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues - Rochester, NY
Rendering of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues – Rochester, NY

Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues - Rochester, NY
Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues – Rochester, NY

Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues - Rochester, NY
Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues – Rochester, NY

Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues - Rochester, NY
Construction of College Town, Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues – Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY TAYLOR, a leading regional general contractor, was recently awarded the construction contract for a significant portion of the new 500,000 s/f mixed-use development at the intersection of Mt. Hope and Elmwood Aves. TAYLOR has teamed-up with Rochester-based CJS Architects for design-build services, joining a partnership called “CT Rochester” involving Fairmount Properties and Gilbane Development. Construction work is currently underway, with a project completion date slated for Fall, 2014.

“TAYLOR is excited to be a part of this monumental project. This type of project is good for the city, and surrounding region as a whole,” said TAYLOR president, Karl Schuler. “Helping to strengthen a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere within walking distance from the River Campus, College Town will enhance the quality of life for both the Mt. Hope neighborhood community, and the University of Rochester.” Schuler added, “Working with CT Rochester and CJS on the project as a design-build team has been a true collaboration.”

TAYLOR will be responsible for the construction of two buildings of the new mixed-use office and retail development along Mt. Hope Ave., which includes construction of a main 4-story, 220,000 s/f residential/retail building, featuring a 2-story Barnes Noble Bookstore, restaurants and shops; and a 3-story, 69,000 s/f residential/retail building, featuring street-level shops and restaurants.

College Town is seen as an extension of the community surrounding the University of Rochester’s main 534-acre River Campus, and the University of Rochester Medical Center, including Strong Memorial Hospital. Designed to create an engaging environment, the mixed-use buildings within the development are conceived in a “Main Street” vernacular that, true to the name, will maintain wide sidewalks and strong street edge to the surrounding streets, with a particular focus on Mt. Hope Ave. for on-street restaurants, cafes and retail. College Town will be host to several community events to be held in public gathering places within the College Town district, such as farmers markets, holiday walks, live performances, antique car shows, art festivals, sidewalk sales and international food festivals.

TAYLOR is a second-generation general contractor with over 30 years of experience in the design and construction of commercial, industrial, multi-family, and institutional buildings. Having successfully completed literally hundreds of projects, TAYLOR has the resources to deliver superior execution on all phases of every project from the ground up.

Story ran in the Upstate New York section on 03/11/2014

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Mar 11, 2014
Tina George

Selling seats at an event? This is just the ticket

Directors of Local Tickets Pty Ltd Jan Martin, left, and Kristen Goldup.
Directors of Local Tickets Pty Ltd Jan Martin, left, and Kristen Goldup.

A NEW ticketing service specifically aimed at SMEs and community organisations has been launched on the Sunshine Coast and the directors are now actively seeking a local person to take on the licence.

Kristen Goldup and business partner Jan Martin established Local Tickets Pty Ltd from their former base in the Whitsundays and Townsville about a year ago.

Kristen, who was working in the Far North in marketing and PR, noticed a gap in the market as smaller businesses and groups were looking for an effective way to sell tickets for events like breakfasts, food festivals, Melbourne Cup events or networking occasions.

“I did some research and there was no back-end operator that could help this side of the market,” she said.

“So I registered 60 domain names across Australia and New Zealand, promoting the destination. So there is, Cairnstickets, Sunshinecoasttickets.

“We now own Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, but our focus is on regional Australia, we feel that’s where the work needs to be done.

“Sites like Eventbrite are a competitor, but we’ve done it differently on purpose in that we’ve built in a front-end marketing channel so it can become a household brand quite quickly that attracts visitors.

“We’re the only destination-focused ticketing site.”

Customers go online and load details of an event, with a link generated for wider promotion and the site taking care of all ticket issuing, terms and conditions, RSVPs as well as assembling a database for each event host and information on final numbers and income generated.

Fees are $1 per ticket if the unit price is under $49.99; $2 if tickets range between $50 and $99.99 and $3 if it’s over $100. Fees are only charged on tickets sold.

So far, it has been used by Jupiters Casino, Zonta, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Gold Coast Turf Club and state government.

Here on the Coast, Accounting North partner Matt Richards used the service at a recent LNP business breakfast.

“The amount of time it chewed up to organise our breakfasts previously was extraordinary and I ended up thinking there’s got to be a better solution,” he said.

“Just by chance I came across Sunshine Coast Tickets when they rang us up for some advice on accounting software.

“We used them for a breakfast a few weeks ago.

“We set it up, put a link in an email, sent it out then didn’t need to do anything beyond that.

“We had 80 or 85 people attend. On the day we got a statement, with the final amount of people coming and the amount of money going into the bank account.

“Compared to what I did the last time, it was so much easier. For the cost of about $80, it probably saved us between 10 and 20 hours’ work.”

Kristen said she was in the process of building in allocated seating to the system.

She said a licence to run the site had been sold in Ipswich and the Gold Coast, with the search now on for a Sunshine Coast partner.

“We believe it’s a great part-time business or a great bolt-on to someone already in the industry.

“They really are local champions of the region.

“We sell them a licence, they market the site and in return they get 50% of the booking fees that go through the site.”

Kristen said Local Tickets was a member of each region’s tourism organisation and had met with the local events board and councillors.

“We know there’s a lot of events and opportunities on the Sunshine Coast and we understand the council are proactive at putting the Sunshine Coast on the map as a major events destination,” she said.

“We’d like to work in partnership with them.”

The Sunshine Coast Daily

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Mar 11, 2014
Tina George

New general manager looking to reinvent Decatur Civic Center

DECATUR – By his own admission, Chris Brodnicki describes the Decatur Civic Center as a fairly quiet place in recent years.

Despite hosting longtime programming such as ice skating and the occasional trade show, many of its facilities were largely dormant. That included the stage previously used by local community theater group Theatre 7 until their 2011 move to Richland Community College.

The facility made enough money to remain in operation, but in Brodnicki’s eyes, they were simply playing it safe. And so, when he applied for the civic center’s open general manager position in 2013, he brought with him a variety of proposals to inject new life into the building as a venue for entertainment.

“The formula that was in place paid the bills, with people occasionally renting the theater or meeting rooms, and we had ice skating,” Brodnicki said. “But is that what the civic center was built to do? We were created to be a venue where exciting things are going on.”

The Decatur native successfully sold that spirit to the civic center’s board of directors, and now the fruits of his labor are becoming visible. From the organization’s new website at, one can see an updated calendar of events that hints at the styles of programming the new civic center has in mind. They include live music/food festivals, musical theater, animal shows and stand-up comedy in addition to returning programs such as the Home, Lawn Garden Show or local roller derby squad, The Prairieland Punishers.

“I thought the best thing would be to appeal to the largest possible audience of families, adults and children alike,” said the new manager. “The civic center already has a base in family accessibility through ice skating. Decatur does have some great yearly entertainment events like Celebration, but we need to keep them going the whole year.”

Brodnicki is a Niantic-Harristown High School graduate who studied at Richland, joined the Navy and eventually received his master’s degree in tourism and recreation from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Along the way he gained pertinent experience managing small museums, booking traveling exhibitions and also large animal acts such as Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin.

Still, the civic center job is largely new to him. He brings, however, a memory of what the venue was once like when he was growing up in Decatur in the 1980s.

“It had some absolutely great stuff in its beginnings,” he said. “Johnny Cash was here, Metallica played here and Cheap Trick played here. There were rodeos, circuses and flea markets. The million-dollar question is why things slowed down. Obviously, the Decatur economy slowed, and it didn’t adjust as well as it could have. There’s a kind of sadness in Decatur sometimes, but it’s my hometown. I love it and I want to do everything I can do to reverse that trend. I believe we can offer things that people can afford to do.”

Affordability is indeed the name of the game, according to assistant general manager Mike Pritchett. He’s been at the civic center for 31 years and worked his way up from a go-kart attendant, and has seen the venue in both its heyday and slower period. Brodnicki refers to him as “a genius” whose ideas for the venue were never adequately sought before, but now he has assumed new responsibilities in the civic center’s planning processes.

“What we are looking for now is more affordable acts that aren’t so large, because ticket price is a big deal in Decatur,” Pritchett said. “We’re targeting acts where 25 percent of the house sales will pay for all the expenses to minimize our risks and hopefully make profits that can be invested into further shows.”

Most notably, the civic center is now looking into working “co-promotions” with prospective acts. Rather than simply having the acts rent the venue or pay full price for their services, they’ll pay a reduced rate to book a performer and then split the revenues generated by ticket sales. The arrangement allows for the possibility of greater profits than with rentals, but reduces the risk of self-promoted acts. The first to be brought in this way was the six-day run of “Menopause the Musical,” which Brodnicki said made a modest profit for both the civic center and the production company.

“It went well, we both got what we were looking for despite the terrible weather that week,” he said. “We didn’t sell out any of the shows, but we averaged around 250 a night over the course of its run. That was enough to make everybody money, and it kept the audience pleased as punch.”

The upcoming, April 1 theater performance of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” will be handled the same way. Pritchett credits the organization’s board of directors for being open to a change from what had become business as usual.

“We took these ideas to the board and they’re letting us consider self-promoted events again,” he said. “The fact that they’re a little more open-minded about it makes this all much easier. It’s exciting for me, because it’s nice to be able to say ‘yes’ to some new acts that want to perform here.”

David Martin is the Decatur Civic Center Board president, and had a hand in selecting Brodnicki as the new general manager after the retirement of Bud Wilcox. He said it was Brodnicki’s enthusiasm and drive to experiment in a prudent way that won him the position. He envisions the civic center as a gathering place where there is always something fresh and new happening.

“Our vision would be that there’s something going on at the civic center every weekend, and it’s among the first places you think of to check,” Martin said. “So we were looking for somebody who could come up with a nice mix of new ideas that would go over in Decatur.”

The next few months will be busy ones, as the civic center programmers attempt to capture public attention. Within the next three weeks they’ll host the “Wings to Soar” birds of prey show on March 13, “Men Are from Mars” on April 1 and returning Decatur Celebration performers Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band on April 4, among others. Profits will be sunk into future shows and an array of necessary technical upgrades, such as new dimmers for the amphitheater’s lights. Brodnicki is excited to have a full schedule and new website, one that doesn’t list year-old events as “upcoming.”

“I think I was able to sell the board on these ideas because I’m from Decatur and I care about the town,” he said. “I’m not a fly by night guy. This is where I’m going to remain, so I’m going to try and make it the best place possible. We’ve got to get more businesses and families moving back to town, and I think the civic center has an opportunity to be part of that.”|(217) 421-7973

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Mar 11, 2014
Terri Judson

New festival approach brewed up for beer

Surry County’s wine industry has been the subject of much hype in recent years, but a decision last week will allow craft beers to increasingly belly up to the bar as a festival attraction.

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted unanimously during a meeting Thursday night to amend a city ordinance, which is expected to lead to a greater beer presence during the upcoming Budbreak Wine Festival downtown. The change also will pertain to other events.

Thursday’s action resulted from a request by Budbreak organizers, which recognizes a reality among modern consumers. “The request is to have crafted malted beverages treated in the same manner as the wine industry,” according to a city documents regarding the issue.

“It is our observation and belief that the craft beer/micro-beer segment is as popular as the interest in the wine industry,” the organizers’ request further stated.

“Craft beers are becoming a big thing, and if you think about it, everybody doesn’t drink wine,” one organizer, Bob Meinecke, said Monday.

“People, for the same reason they like wines with food, like good-tasting beers with food,” he said.

Last week’s vote by the city commissioners is paving the way for a craft beer presence on the street for the first time ever during the Budbreak event, now in its fifth year.

It also will represent a first from a festival standpoint. While an area might host a beer or wine festival, the marriage of the two hasn’t been attempted as it will be during the upcoming Budbreak gathering sponsored by the Mount Airy Rotary Club in cooperation with the Downtown Business Association.

“It’s our notion that no other wine festivals around the state have introduced craft beers,” Meinecke said.

“We don’t want to become a beer festival — we just want to enhance our wine festival,” he explained, while also supplying a product people want and ask for at such gatherings.

The city’s action last week struck down a restriction on street festivals that any craft beer involved must be manufactured in Surry County. A change in language will allow craft beer made “in any North Carolina county” to be included.

“It is a recognition that North Carolina is developing a craft beer industry and it is a part of North Carolina’s economic base,” Mayor Deborah Cochran acknowledged Monday. “The governor has designated April as North Carolina Beer Month.”

The ordinance tweak is expected to lead to about four craft beer operations being allotted space on the street during the Budbreak festival, which Meinecke says is quite limited at the event that has become popular with vendors. Organizers are hoping to attract larger participation overall as a result.

The ordinance change recognizes that craft beer products carried at Old North State Winery downtown are manufactured by the Foothills brewing operation in Winston-Salem. Since craft brewing is now done on a limited scale in this area, lessening the restrictions to include any North Carolina county will promote the greater craft beer presence at Budbreak.

When the action was taken last week by the commissioners, the distinction was made that the measure pertains to craft beer producers and not major brands such as Budweiser.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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Mar 11, 2014
Kim Rivers

Hundreds Protest in South Sudan After a UN Food Truck is Caught Smuggling …

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Hundreds of young South Sudanese men marched in protest of the United Nations on Monday following the discovery of land mines inside a U.N. truck that was marked as carrying food.

The rally participants marched through the city and shouted slogans of support for President Salva Kiir while also denouncing Hilde Johnson, the top U.N. official in the country. Protesters accused Johnson of supplying arms to rebels fighting South Sudan’s government.

An internal U.N. security situation report over the weekend said the government impounded 12 U.N. trucks and the deputy governor of Lakes state requested the official cargo list. Last Thursday three South Sudan soldiers stopped and searched U.N. military vehicles on orders from superior officers following the impounding of the 12 trucks, the report said.

On Friday U.N. spokeswoman Ariane Quentier said it was “regrettable” a 12-truck U.N. convoy marked as food was discovered carrying weapons.

“The transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu. Several containers were wrongly labeled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition,” she said.

The discovery — as well as a video showing guns and land mines taken from the U.N. trucks that has been making the rounds on social media — has fueled even more skepticism of the U.N. here. Anti-U.N. sentiment began growing in January when President Kiir described the organization as a “parallel government” and ardent supporter of rebels.

Quentier declined to comment further on Monday and the U.N. has not explained why its soldiers would need land mines.

“If the guns found are going to U.N. troops, why do they have land mines too? Does the U.N. use land mines?” said Deng Gerang, one of Monday’s rally participants, voicing a common concern among the protesters.

Another protester, Deng Djames, 24, said South Sudan residents appreciate the U.N.’s assistance, but he said there needs to be a regime change at the top of the U.N. structure. “We want her to go. She assists the rebel leader Riek Machar,” he said.

South Sudan Vice President James Wani Igga told the protesters that the U.N. is was a colonial system trying to run the government’s administration. He was also critical of international aid groups for driving their agenda in South Sudan.

“If it’s a colonial system we need to fight, then that is good because now I am old. It makes me young again and I will go into the bush to fight,” he said to cheers and laughter.

The government’s major criticism of the U.N. is the protection its bases around the country provide for close to 70,000 citizens mostly from the Nuer tribe who say they fear reprisal attacks from the dominant Dinka tribe who support the government and Kiir.

Widespread violence broke out in South Sudan in mid-December, splitting the country’s military in two, with some supporting the government and others defecting to support the former vice president, Machar, an ethnic Nuer.

Aid groups estimate that thousands of people have died in the violence. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. The top U.N. aid official has said that if residents don’t go home to plant crops before the coming seasonal rains the country will face severe hunger.

The latest mass violence occurred last week, when fighting broke out at a military barracks outside Juba. Government and military officials blamed the outbreak over a disagreement over pay, and officials said that five people were killed.

However, the death toll was later revised upward to 65 by a military spokesman. Several soldiers who refused to give their names, however, told The Associated Press the actual death toll was more than 100.

Political unrest in South Sudan has not only left millions of people in need of food, but also very much in need of medical care. Doctors Without Borders is on the ground in some of the world’s most dangerous places, where they believe everyone deserves access to proper healthcare. Click the Action Box atop this story to support their crucial work in South Sudan and around the world, and share this story to Become the News!

RYOT NOTE: Political unrest in South Sudan has not only left millions of people in need of food, but also very much in need of medical care. Doctors Without Borders is on the ground in some of the world’s most dangerous places, where they believe everyone deserves access to proper healthcare. Click the Action Box atop this story to support their crucial work in South Sudan and around the world, and share this story to Become the News!

South Sudan Destroyed City
REPORT: The Crisis in South Sudan Has Reached Syria Levels
South Sudanese Patients Shot Dead in Their Hospital Beds
U.N. Calls for $1.27 Billion in Vital Aid for South Sudan

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Mar 11, 2014
Kim Rivers

Joyride brothers deliver office coffee that doesn’t suck

The UpTake: The three brothers behind Joyride Coffee Distributors went from New York City food truck operators to bicoastal $1 million business owners by delivering craft coffee to the offices of some of the city’s coolest tech startups. But they’re just part of a third-wave coffee movement that has investors on a caffeine buzz too.

Looking back, David Belanich considers the Manhattan food truck he started with his two brothers, Adam and Noah, to be their informal business school.

They mastered customer acquisition with office workers swarming Joyride coffee truck each morning to get the fresh-roasted coffee from Stumptown that the Belanich baristas served each morning. But a classic startup dilemma arose: how could they scale the business without buying another truck, staffing it, and finding a spot on a city street where they wouldn’t get struck by a city bus (as happened, multiple times.)

“The profitability was very hard. If you wanted to run the food truck yourself the rest of the days and be the guy on the truck, then you could make money on it,” Belanich tells me in an interview at the Joyride Coffee Distributors in Woodside, Queens. “But that was never my aspiration to be a food truck driver for the rest of my life.”

Joyride’s truck, which was in different locations on different days, was missed when it moved, and customers told them so. Belanich’s a-ha moment: why not go straight to offices? After finding out Portland, Oregon-based Stumptown receives 30 such office delivery requests annually but had no infrastructure to handle them, he offered to partner with them. Joyride pivoted to grinding and delivering artisan brands roasted locally, such as Stumptown and Blue Bottle Coffee, each with roasting facilities in Brooklyn.

Now Joyride’s Mystery Machine-like vans deliver to 200 offices in New York including Silicon Alley MVPs such as Twitter, Gilt Groupe, Foursquare, Tumblr, Fab, One Kings Lane and Squarespace. And while it is a tech startup league member, Joyride is benefiting from the association. When Joyride started the food truck in April 2011, the brothers brought in $35,000. This year, they’re on track for $1 million in revenues up from $600,000 last year, and quadruple the $250,000 they generated in 2012.

Next up for Joyride is a San Francisco office and storage facility that is open and will within a few months start servicing a waiting list of offices, including many that learned about it from East Coast sibling offices.

The startup is just one player in a U.S. coffee production market that is estimated at $30 billion to $32 billion, with specialty coffee representing 37 percent of the volume and nearly 50 percent of value, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America. It is unclear how much of that includes artisan or craft coffee. However, such operations have been on the receiving end of some big cash deals lately as the decade-old “third wave” movement in coffee, focusing on artisan roasted coffee ripples nationwide.

In January, technology-focused venture capitalists, including Google Ventures, put $26 million into Blue Bottle Coffee Co, bringing its war chest to $46 million. Other big deals include private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, which acquired Stumptown in June 2011, and San Francisco-based Philz Coffee, which got an eight-figure investment in May 2013.

“[The investment] has been happening for awhile, but I think what’s new is that people are really getting excited about these brands because they’re doing something special, and something unique,” says Andrew Hetzel, a Hawaii-based coffee industry consultant who founded CafeMakers. While people outside the industry might call them competitors to Starbucks, artisan roasters consider themselves in a different realm.

“Starbucks is a fast-food restaurant,” Hetzel says, adding that it is the only way to describe such a high-volume business. “These companies are serving a different type of clientele: their goal is to be the Michelin star restaurant of coffee.”

Belanich, who has become a connoisseur and ambassador for the coffee brands that Joyride offers, agrees.

“What’s going on in the coffee world is the wine-ification of coffee,” he says, Like wine, coffee flavor is affected by soil, altitude and other climactic factors and in Ethiopia alone there are reportedly 10,000 varietals. Some offices, including Etsy, are geeky enough about their coffee to have their own coffee bars and Joyride provides the pour-over Chemex brewing devices designed to maximize the flavor derived from single-origin coffees (not to be confused with coffee blends).

While fair trade coffee has been a common label, Joyride offers “direct trade” beans, a newer designation affixed to craft coffee makers who are skipping the middle man and going directly to farmers in far-flung locations around the world a to get the best quality.

The artisan coffee ecosystem is thriving elsewhere, including Los Angeles, where high-end coffee provides fertile grounds for other businesses like real estate. Tyler Stonebreaker, founder and CEO of Creative Space, an integrated real estate, development and architecture firm was mostly working with the entertainment industry when the founders of Handsome Coffee came knocking.

While Hollywood does not allow coffee roasting, he helped the brand get a foothold in Los Angeles’ industrial and bohemian Art District in 2010. Since helping Handsome get the zoning exemption to roast coffee in the city in 2012, more coffee roasters have followed its lead, creating what’s been dubbed the “Napa Valley of coffee,” with retail stores and roasters springing up in a residential area populated by artists.

“The reason businesses are coming in is it’s got character and history and these great old buildings,” Stonebreaker tells me. “Not just here, but globally that’s what people are looking for.”

While artisan coffee is popular for its taste—and the nostalgic and bohemian association that Stonebreaker mentions, some companies that offered K-cup coffee switched over to Joyride because of practical issues such as the waste associated with the packaging, and the cost.

“To be honest, our business would not be what it was if there were not all these single-serves,” Belanich says. “That kind of increased the threshold of what offices were paying, because we were coming in and we were cheaper.”

Empty the K-cups and weigh the coffee, and you’ll find that you’re paying about $25 per pound, according to Belanich, who points this out in a PowerPoint for clients. The most expensive coffee that Joyride sells is $21 a pound. Per cup that’s 50 cents per K-cup as compared to 44 cents per cup for Joyride-delivered Stumptown, which comes in 5-pound bags.

Catching the coffee entrepreneur spirit, Joyride now has its own special cold brew coffee, a chocolate-y fruity blend prepared in Queens through a proprietary method that takes 12 hours and yields kegs of cold brew. It was an experiment that yielded over $100,000 in sales last year, with Joyride even shipping kegs to California, which will become easier now that it is opening there.

Cold-brew coffee isn’t new but it often takes a backseat to hot coffee for many artisan coffee brands, says Noah Belanich, adding that “it is kind of crazy because these guys are fanatical about the way they hot brew their coffee and they’re paying attention to the way every single machine operates, and temperatures to the decimal.”

Not so much with cold-brew, but that’s fine with Joyride which is riding the third wave in its own way too.

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Mar 10, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Stops: March 10

Happy Monday, food truck followers! Take the edge off your daylight saving time blues with arroz con pollo from Borinquen Lunch Box, fried noodles with oakwood-smoked rib tips aboard Urban Bumpkin BBQ, and cannoli at Bada Bing.

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

Farragut Square (17th and I sts., NW), where you’ll find Amorini Panini, Salsa Room, Cathy’s Bistro, Henhouse, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Brown Bag; Puddin’ and Tasty Kabob (nearby at 20th and L).

Franklin Square (13th and K sts., NW), where you’ll find Tasty Kabob, DC Slices, Far East Taco Grille, Habebe, and Red Hook Lobster Pound; Carolina Q (nearby at 13th and New York Ave).

L’Enfant (Sixth St. and Maryland Ave., SW), where you’ll find DC Slices, DC Ballers, Mayur Kabab House, Fasika, Tokyo in the City, Little Italy, What the Pho?, and DC Greek Food.

Metro Center (12th and G sts., NW), where you’ll find Wassub, DC Empanadas, Far East Taco Grille, Tokyo in the City, Ball or Nothing, and Sang on Wheels.

Montgomery County, where you’ll find Holy Crepes (Rockville).

Navy Yard (First and M sts., SE), where you’ll find Wassub and Chitti Chitti Grill.

NoMa (First and M sts., NE), where you’ll find Pho Junkies.

Northern Virginia, where you’ll find Fava Pot, The Wagon, Tasty Kabob (Reston), Spitfire, Guapo’s, Korean BBQ Taco Box (Tysons), Bada Bing, Urban Bumpkin BBQ (Court House), Carmen’s Italian Ice (Pentagon City), Choupi Crepes (Rosslyn), and Mediterranean Delights (Ballston).

State Department (around 21st St. and Virginia Ave., NW), where you’ll find BBQ Bus, DC Ballers, Best Burritos, Borinquen Lunch Box, Lilypad on the Run, and El Fuego.

Union Station (North Capitol St. and Massachusetts Ave., NE), where you’ll find Dangerously Delicious Pies, Far East Taco Grille (Burrito Squad), Hungry Heart, Phonation, Kimchi BBQ Taco, and Amorini Panini.

West End (24th and M sts., NW), where you’ll find Basil Thyme, Peruvian Brothers, and Zesty Kabob.

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Mar 10, 2014
Jim Benson

Go For the Food: Take culinary world tour with Portland’s food carts, from …

PORTLAND, Ore. – The many accolades earned by chefs in this city are rooted in what the land offers. They succeed by adaptation to their environment.

That’s especially true with the city’s bustling food cart scene, which has become an incubator for great restaurants. Whether inspired by Norwegian comfort food, Peace Corps missions to the Republic of Georgia, or Thai “chaos in a bowl,” the menus reinvigorate and challenge both customer and chef to think harder and dream bigger.

The culture of Portland food carts — cheaper than restaurants and meriting just a couple-dollars tip (and sales-tax free, to boot) — allows diners to assemble their own multicourse tasting menu, provided they don’t mind a moderate walk or a quick bike ride. Luckily, most food trucks are assembled in pods scattered across the city, making it easy to visit multiple trucks at each stop.

Start in southeast Portland, where Viking Soul Food does one thing and does it well. The simple, steel-bodied trailer is adorned only with a red umbrella. A sign promises “marvelous handcrafted edibles,” and the menu is as stripped down as the cart itself.

Here you will find lefse, and not much else.

Like crepes without the milk and eggs, these Norwegian potato-flatbread wraps serve as a versatile bed for sweet and savory entrees that co-owner Megan Walhood’s great-grandmother put on the Christmas table every year. The fillings can include heavy-duty pork-and-beef meatballs or a local grab of mushrooms and Oregon-grown hazelnut patties.

The seasonal winter lefse presented a well-balanced mix of goat cheese, pears and walnuts under sherry-sugar reduction — fresh, elegant and simple. Another lefse of house- (er, cart)-cured salmon with pickled shallots and crunchy watercress presented a slightly lighter take.

The real star, though, may be the $3 appetizer of pickled herring and onions, meaty fillets that manage to be bright and salty without overbearing fishiness.

As a bonus, pop by the Brazilian House cart next door for the coxinha, a ball of shredded chicken and spices fried in dough into the shape of a drumstick.

Then walk (or hop on a rental bike) to a rising star of the culinary scene, Carte Blanche, where “Supreme Dictator for Life” Jessie Aron is willing admit to Thai influences from her days in the kitchen at the bicoastal sensation Pok Pok, but says her chief culinary driver is avoiding repetition.

“Usually when I explain the cart, the looks I get back are confusion,” Aron said. “We’ve gotten used to confusing the customer. Until they try the food. Then they’re just happy.”

Here you’ll get mysteriously-named bowls like “Mischief” and “Rum Tum Tugger.” Layered in a way that makes each bite genuinely different from the last are a fruit salad with diced pineapples, snap peas and corn in a sesame-miso crema, and a small heap of prawns.

Oh! The prawns! Crusted with coconut, cashew and kaffir lime, they are a revelation — sweet and citrusy, firm but yielding, the combination balances perfectly against a bed of jasmine rice. The eggplant in the vegetarian version was similarly impressive, glazed in a Thai lime-chili reduction and crisped to a satisfying crunch.

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