Entries in Restaurant (13)


Chicago Restaurant Promotion Gives Twinkies Away to Customers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Thousands of Hostess fans showed up at two restaurants in south suburban Chicago on Wednesday for Twinkies. 

The restaurants were handing out the sweet treats to customers with every purchase, reports

The Baby’s Cheesesteak & Lemonade restaurants in Orland Park and Country Club Hills had approximately 12,000 Hostess Twinkies and Cup Cakes to give away.

How did Baby's get all of those golden cakes?  Well, Baby’s owner Hani Sughayer went to a Hostess and Wonder Bread bakery outlet the week after Thanksgiving to get some Twinkies for himself.  However, when Andres DeLeon, Baby's social media director, joined him at the outlet, the pair decided to buy out the store's entire Twinkie supply to generate some media buzz about their restaurant. 

The men left with about 10,000 Twinkies and 2,200 Hostess Cupcakes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


$1,200 Dish at New California Restaurant

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS GATOS, Calif.) -- What would you do if you sat down to try the new restaurant in town and noticed a $1,200 dish on the menu?

Some people may be a little discouraged, but what if that dish consisted of some of the finest caviar out there?

A high-end Japanese restaurant, Katsu, has just opened in the northern California town of Los Gatos. First thing on the menu is a dish called the Decadence Staircase, featuring Russian Sevruga, Osetra, Golden Osetra caviar and premium Beluga caviar, descending along bamboo stairs.

It also includes Pacific spiny lobster sashimi, Japanese Wagyu shabu shabu — and what better way to top it all off than with 24-karat gold leaves?

The restaurant’s top chef and part-owner, Chef Katsuhiko Hanamure, used his worldly experience in high-end kitchens and personal training by famed chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa to craft the menu at Katsu.

“I would like to attract many different people who are craving high-quality ingredients,” he said.

And for the prices they charge, there are definitely some high-quantity ingredients imported from all over.

“Pricing is based on market supply and scarcity of products that are difficult and costly to import,” said Derek Schuette, the restaurant’s general manager.

Local resident Hida Baghbni said she was a little hesitant to attend the restaurant at first, but she said her experience at Katsu was incredible, with dishes that are hard to find in the United States.

“It was the real stuff, I was pretty impressed,” she said. “The fish just melted in your mouth.”

Los Gatos local Bob Dobkin heard a lot of hype about the new restaurant and showed up on opening night, but said he was not impressed with all the restaurant had to offer.

“First thing that greets you on the menu is a $1,200 plate, and that doesn’t make you feel too comfortable,” said Dobkin. “I wouldn’t go back unless they cut their prices in half.”

The menu also includes an item called Serendipity that includes Wagyu beef — American, Australian and Japanese — for $400.

Another pricey dish is the Japanese Kegoshima Prefecture Wagyu New York strip for $200.

Schuette said Los Gatos is an intimate, high-end community that has some of the greatest chefs in the world but it was lacking something.

He said Katsu was an opportunity to bring something new to the area for residents to explore and indulge in.

Another local, Mike Cooper, said he’s been to the restaurant a few times since they opened. He said he enjoyed it and recommended it for a younger, more upbeat crowd.

“It’s great, very N.Y.C., L.A. vibe, great down-tempo music that picked up a bit later,” he said. “Hollywood is here!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chick-fil-A CEO Denies Giving "Concessions" to Open Chicago Restaurant

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Chick fil-A has “made no … concessions” regarding its support of groups that oppose gay marriage, company CEO Dan Cathy said in a statement that was posted online by Mike Huckabee, denying a statement by a Chicago alderman that the company said it would reevaluate its policies in the face of a move by city officials to bar Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant there.

“Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been,” Cathy said in the statement. “There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect.”

Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno told ABC News Wednesday that he had received a letter from Chick-fil-A’s senior director of real estate saying the company had decided to re-evaluate the multimillion-dollar donations it gives to anti-gay marriage activists and other groups with “political agendas.”

“The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas,” the letter said.

A representative from Chick-fil-A did not return calls made by ABC News by press time to explain the letter.

While the company memo “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are,” released last week, does use language quoted by Moreno, the document goes on to reaffirm the company’s commitment to funding pro-marriage groups, although the document does not clarify as to which groups.

“Chick-fil-A supports programs and marriage retreats to help strengthen and enrich marriages.  More than 4,000 couples benefit annually from these programs, including military personnel and sports coaches that received scholarships.”  

Previously the company’s WinShape Foundation gave money to groups like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defense Fund — donations that rekindled a firestorm among pro-gay groups.  The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Family Research Council as a “hate group,” as displayed on the group’s “hate map.”

Moreno raised the stakes last month when he threatened to block the construction of a Chick -fil-A restaurant, a move that prompted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to side with Moreno, declaring that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


For First Time in History, Beer and Wine in Magic Kingdom

Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- They say Walt Disney World is the place where wishes come true.

And if you're one of the countless frazzled parents who've wished for a beer or a glass of wine after a long day in the Magic Kingdom, your wish has been granted.

For the first time in its history, beer and wine will be available in the Magic Kingdom. It will be served at the soon-to-be-open Be Our Guest restaurant in the New Fantasyland.

Be our Guest is a French restaurant themed after Beauty and the Beast. The story is set in France.

The announcement was made on the Disney Parks blog.

"As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine," said Stuart McGuire, Beverage Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "The wines focus primarily on France's famous wine-growing regions, including Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

"We'll also offer the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664," he said. "And, staying in the general region, we'll also offer Belgian beers."

The beer and wine will only be available during dinner. The restaurant will feature three dining rooms and will seat over 500 guests. Items like Croque Monsieur and pommes frites will be served at lunch; charcuterie plate or mussels in wine are on the dinner menu. Lunch will be quick service, while dinner will be table service.

Reservations for Be Our Guest are being taken now, even though the restaurant doesn't open until Nov. 19, the same day New Fantasyland opens for previews.

New Fantasyland's official opening date is Dec. 6. It marks the largest expansion in the park's history and comes just in time for the holidays -- one of the busiest times of year for the theme park. During previews, guests will have a chance to experience some of the new attractions, but operating hours will be limited.

Park expansion will continue into 2014 with additional attractions. Princess Fairytale Hall, a place where the Disney princesses will greet guests, and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a musical rollercoaster, are two highlights.

To make a reservation at Be Our Guest, call (407) WDW-DINE or book online at

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Los Angeles Restaurant Discounts for No-Phone Dining

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Do you know how attached you are to your cellphone?  If you don’t, then a new discount offered at Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles will help you find out.

The new policy offers 5 percent off the total bill to diners that leave their cellphones at the door.

Eva’s owner and chef, Mark Gold, said that policy was implemented to motivate diners to sit back and enjoy their food and the people that are actually there with them.

“We want people to try and connect.  Our restaurant is kind of like home and that is the experience that we want to give to our customers,” said Gold.  “The phone is a distraction.  We always see families and couples on their phones and they just aren’t in the moment.  We want people to enjoy their company.”

Gold said that about 40 percent of his patrons have taken advantage of his offer.

Recently, technology has become almost unavoidable in restaurants.  It seems like food paparazzi are always ready to take pictures of their food and upload it to various social media such as Instagram and Pinterest.  Not to mention legions of diners tapping away at their smart phones and taking calls, oblivious to those around them.

Other restaurants have implemented similar policies to try to hinder cellphone usage, but Gold hopes that his new policy will motivate people to stop doing something that he is also guilty of.

“I’m guilty of it as well.  When my wife and I go to dinner it seems like the cellphone is part of the table setting now.  Every table you look at, it’s a wine glass, the silverware and the cellphone,” he joked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Domino's Tells Customers They're Not Always Right

PRNewsFoto/Domino's Pizza, Jeff Padrick(NEW YORK) -- Domino's is saying "no," literally, when it comes to the whims of picky pizza eaters.

The popular pizza delivery company says it will no longer make changes to its line of artisan pizzas for individual customers and is announcing it in a bold new TV ad campaign that says "No!" to customers.

The national ad campaign will launch Thursday and aims to send the message that after 50 years in the pizza business, its chefs got this recipe right, the company said.

"It comes from confidence in our artisan pizza recipe," Domino's spokesman Chris Brandon told ABC News.  "What makes this unique is that these pizzas are created to a specific recipe. Our chefs created the artisan recipes so they're preset and that's what this whole campaign is all about."

At the center of the "No" campaign is the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain's new Chicken & Bacon Carbonara Artisan pizza, the latest in the artisan pie line they debuted in the fall, part of an effort to expand its offerings and upgrade its image as a maker of high-quality pizza.  More than 80 percent of the items on the Domino's menu are new since 2008, Brandon said.

The company completed a redesign in 2010 of its 50-year-old pizza with a new crust, new cheese and new sauce based on customer feedback that the product could be better. "We completely invented it from the crust up," Brandon said of the 2010 effort.  "After the new pizza launch, we looked at the whole menu and how it could be improved and added to and that's what we've done since."

Customers in the chain's 9,541 franchised and company-owned stores throughout the United States will still be able to order their regular pizzas any way they want, but the artisan will come prepared. A voiceover in the new ad, created by ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, notes that the company spent years "perfecting the balance on our artisan crust toppings."

"There's more than 30 million ways to make a single Domino's pizza," Brandon said.  "We've always said yes to those but our artisan pizza, what makes it unique, is that it was designed to be a recipe in itself."

The whole payoff of the campaign is that "'no' is the new 'yes,'" he said.  

Brandon acknowledged the company will make exceptions and remove toppings for people with food allergies, but said that is it.

"If somebody is allergic or really needs or wants a product removed, we'll remove it," he said.  "We'll accommodate that for sure but we won't be adding anything."

Upending the long-held customer service mantra that the customer is always right is a bold move for the company that has had success with the "Oh Yes We Did" tagline it introduced with the 2010 pizza reinvention.

In its last fiscal year, Domino's Pizza Inc. reported its full-year earnings rose 20 percent to $105.4 million, and its annual revenue increased five percent to $1.65 billion from the last fiscal year.

"We'll see," Brandon said the potential for customer backlash from the "No" ads.  "It's definitely a unique campaign but one that people who have been following Domino's have seen that we've had a very honest and transparent way of talking with customers so I think they'll understand what we mean with this campaign."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Mystic Pizza’ Restaurant Has IRS Trouble

Comstock/Thinkstock(MYSTIC, Conn.) -- The Connecticut restaurant Mystic Pizza made famous by the Julia Roberts movie of the same name is under investigation by the IRS.

The U.S. Treasury Department seized more than $60,000 from the bank account of restaurant owners John Zelepos, George Zelepos and Christos Zelepos. The seizure of the money was revealed this week in a legal notice published in The Day newspaper in Connecticut.

Members of the Zelepos family did not respond to requests for comment and a representative at the restaurant said they had “no comment” on the matter.

The family owns Mystic Pizza LLC, which encompasses Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Conn., Mystic Pizza II in North Stonington, Conn., and the Mystic Pizza Food Co.

The Mystic Pizza Food Co. sells frozen pizza with the motto “A slice of heaven,” the same slogan that was on the t-shirts of Roberts and other actresses who worked at the restaurant in the movie.

Federal authorities confiscated the money in January after a criminal investigation, according to The Day.

Lisa Kennedy, the IRS special agent in charge of the investigation, told ABC News she could not comment on the case.

The legal notice in the newspaper asked that anyone with a claim to the money seized from the account contact Kennedy.

The 1988 film helped launch Roberts’ megastar career and her portrayal of Daisy Arujo in the movie is often considered her breakout role.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


IHOP Expanding to the Middle East

Scott Olson / Getty Images(KUWAIT) -- IHOP, also known as the International House of Pancakes, is living up to its name as it expands its reach across the globe.

DineEquity, the company that owns IHOP and the Applebee's restaurant chain, has announced plans for IHOP's first expansion outside of North America.

The expansion comes as a result of a deal between DineEquity and Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co. According to the deal, DineEquity will launch 40 IHOPS in the region over the next five years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pizza Chains Falling Like Dominoes

Steve Mason/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's an epidemic of pizza restaurant chains succumbing to tough economic times.

Just last week, Sbarro Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Round Table Pizza Inc. and Uno Chicago Grill also filed during the past 12 months.

Together, that’s 1,700 locations nationwide with a combined $1.6 billion in sales.  The factors driving their difficulties are the slow economic recovery and higher prices for ingredients like sauce, cheese and flour.

What’s more, pizza chains are also losing business to restaurants and supermarkets that now offer ready-made pies that customers can take home and bake themselves.  Some warehouse clubs, for instance, sell $10 pizzas that are much bigger than what customers get for the same price in traditional pizzerias.

Some pizza chains are also losing out to their bigger competitors such as Pizza Hut Inc., Domino's Pizza Inc. and Papa John's International Inc., all of which can afford to offer coupons and discounts that the smaller guys can’t match.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Number of T.G.I. Friday's Restaurants to Double Globally

Stockbyte(DALLAS) -- Carlson Restaurants has announced that it plans to double the number of T.G.I. Friday's restaurants globablly

The restaurant's parent company has outlined a strategic plan called Ambition 2015, aimed at solidiying Carlson as the "restaurant, employer and investment of choice by 2015."

Carlson Restaurants President and Chief Executive Officer Nick Sheppard says the company has a number of measures planned to help it reach its desired goal of doubling its international presence over the next five years with its trademark brand.

"With the strength of our Friday's brand, our management team and our franchise partners, we are uniquely positioned to dramatically increase the footprint of our business," Shepherd said.

According to a repot by Knapp Track, T.G.I. Friday's outpaced the rest of the casual dining market in the U.S. by 1.6 percent in 2010.

T.G.I. Friday's has 350 international locations in 60 countries other than the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio