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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Taco Bell stops selling kids' meals, focuses on Millennials

Posted by on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Sorry kids, youll have to order off the grown-up menu at Taco Bell now.
  • Taco Bell
  • Sorry kids, you'll have to order off the grown-up menu at Taco Bell now.

Sorry, Mom and Dad, but the Taco Bell at 1306 Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard is no long selling kids' meals. Neither is the location at 9690 Metcalf. ("We stopped offering them a few days ago," the manager told me. "It all came down from corporate.") Nation's Restaurant News reported yesterday that the fast-food chain decided to eliminate its answer to the popular McDonald's Happy Meal from all of its stores this month. Most Kansas City locations have already stopped offering the meal-with-toy option.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watermelon Oreo cookies? A limited edition, thank goodness

Posted by on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 2:59 PM

There are few things as pleasurable as a slice of watermelon on a brutally hot day. But does watermelon really have a flavor? It does: pink sugar water with a subtle, almost evanescent hint of melon. Any melon does, by the way, including cantaloupe or honeydew. The bland sweetness of the fruit makes it ideal for salads (particularly teamed with a salty cheese like feta or a brash arugula), for bubble gum, for sorbets, and for Nabisco's 2013 Limited Edition Watermelon Oreo sandwich cookies.

It would have been a lot more daring for Nabisco to pair its pastel pink-and-green cream "watermelon" filling with the traditional chocolate hard cookie instead of the nearly flavorless "Golden" version. I'm not the first to bite into one of these cookies and have an immediate flashback to watermelon-flavored bubble gum (the gang of the Huffington Post did, last week), but who wants a cookie that tastes like Double Bubble?

Or, the more provocative question might be: Who wants a cookie that tastes like watermelon?

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Worlds of Fun sells David Wayne Reed a $1,000 hot dog

Posted by on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Its a great hot dog, but maybe a little expensive.

Actor and playwright David Wayne Reed spent Father's Day at Worlds of Fun. While he was at the amusement park, he bought a hot dog, a soda and a funnel cake with strawberries. The total purchase should have cost him less than $20.

The actual charge? Way more than that.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

McDonald's sued by employee who wants a check, not a debit card

McDonald's sued by employee who wants a check, not a debit card.

Posted by on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 11:20 AM

McDonalds accepts debit cards, but some of their employees wont.
  • dave_mcmt
  • McDonald's accepts debit cards, but some of their employees won't.

A 27-year-old McDonald's employee in Pennsylvania was singing the old Burger King theme song last week: She wanted it her way. And she's going to sue to make her point.

Philly.com reported yesterday that Natalie Gunshannon was expecting to get a paycheck after working at a McDonald's in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania from April 24 through May 15. "When she received her first paycheck," the philly.com story says, "enclosed was a Chase Bank debit card with instructions on how to use it and the fees attached.

"Her future earnings would be deposited into the debit card account and she could access her money from there.... When she returned to work she asked her supervisor if she could be paid by check or by direct deposit. She was told the card was the only option."

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  • McDonald's sued by employee who wants a check, not a debit card.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Restaurants that ban children? Really?

Posted by on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Not everyone thinks that children in restaurants are adorable.
  • qwrrrty
  • Not everyone thinks that children in restaurants are adorable.

My late father hated taking his four young children to restaurants. But he did it anyway.

For one thing, he believed that the only serious way that youngsters truly developed a sense of behaving properly in a restaurant dining room was to actually eat in a restaurant dining room. We did not eat in the kind of places that we now call "kid-friendly" (although my parents were always relieved to find a Howard Johnson's restaurant on the highway, because they did not trust little "Mom and Pop" diners - too many of them had unspeakably dirty bathrooms).

As a waiter, I never minded waiting on families with small children (although the post-meal cleanup could be daunting). Not everyone can afford a baby sitter, you know? That's why I was sort of reeling when I read about a sushi restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, banning all children from the premises. Yes, the combination of sushi and toddlers probably isn't a great one, but is it all that preferable to eat a California roll in a child-free environment?

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shirley's Cafe: The good, the bad and the kind-hearted

Posted by on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

If you love the food at Shirleys Homestyle Restaurant, you better go and see her.
  • If you love the food at Shirley's Homestyle Restaurant, you better go and see her.

It's only Tuesday, but it has already been a hell of a week for restaurateur Shirley Van Black.

Van Black has operated the Grandview diner Shirley's Homestyle Restaurant for 19 years. Back in the 1960s, this venue was a Dixon's Chili franchise.

Business has been up and down at the blink-and-you'll-miss-it venue, located at 12704 South U.S. Highway 71, over the last few years (particularly the dinner business), and the 74-year-old Van Black says she has had to use part of her Social Security income to keep the business afloat at times. But the worst was yet to come: Last week, a telephone scam artist convinced Van Black that KCPL was on its way over to shut off her electricity - KCTV Channel 5 first reported the story and its ultimately happy outcome - and insisted that she needed to pay the $631 bill over the phone immediately.

"I was told, 'You have to pay it now. Hurry, hurry.' I should have been more suspicious, but the call made me so nervous," says Van Black, who was recovering from a recent fall at her home that left her bruised and shaken.

She paid the bill, only to find out that none of the funds went to KCPL. That's when fans and longtime regulars of the restaurant sprang into action. Motivated by the news report of Van Black's loss, customers piled into the cafe on Sunday.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Oak Street Mansion will be an art hotel for midtown

Posted by on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

The 1907 Woods mansion will soon be checking in paying guests.
  • The 1907 Woods mansion will soon be checking in paying guests.

The neighborhood surrounding the Kansas City Art Institute was once one of the most exclusive suburbs of Kansas City, lined with stately mansions (including the former August R. Meyer estate, which has been the centerpiece of the Kansas City Art Institute campus since 1927) that are, for the most part, no longer private homes. One of the grander homes in the neighborhood, which is bordered by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, was the red-brick manor home constructed in 1907 for Dr. William Stone Woods, who was the chairman of the National Bank of Commerce at the time that he built his three-story Georgian Revival home at 4343 Oak.

Over the last century, the Selby Kurfiss-designed building has had several owners and been used for a variety of purposes: in the 1920s, it became a dormitory for the Missouri State Nurses Association, and after the Art Institute leased it in 1949, it was used as a dormitory for female students until it was sold to a local lawyer, William Pickett, in 1978. Pickett lived in the home until his death in 2009.

For the last two years, 29-year-old John Sabates has been overseeing the renovation of the Woods mansion into an eight-bedroom bed-and-breakfast (Sabates prefers to call it an "art hotel") for the building's owners, his parents, Dr. Roland and Marcia Sabates. When the new business, the Oak Street Mansion, officially opens later this summer, it will also serve as a showplace for much of the art collection that Dr. Sabates has collected over the years.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Saru Jayaraman laughs at the $25 hamburger and other restaurant myths

Posted by on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Author and activist Saru Jayaraman signed copies of her controversial book, Behind the Kitchen door last week during her appearance at the Central Library.
  • Author and activist Saru Jayaraman signed copies of her controversial book, Behind the Kitchen Door last week during her appearance at the Central Library.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard, during the years I was a server, a customer gripe: "If your employer would pay you a decent wage, I wouldn't have to leave a tip."

My response: "But they don't, Blanche. And they're not going to as long as they can get customers to subsidize our salaries and the National Restaurant Association to aggressively fight a rise in the tipped minimum wage."

That shut them up pretty quickly.

Saru Jayaraman, author of Behind the Kitchen Door and co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a national restaurant workers organization, has heard all the same arguments for not paying restaurant worker a living wage - and then some.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

When restaurant customers become a pain in the ass

Some diners go overboard when dining out.

Posted by on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Some restaurants really dont want to do it your way.
  • Some restaurants really don't want to do it your way.

Like many former restaurant servers, I have a lot of memories of customers who were almost too impossibly difficult to deal with. I try not to think of them. I learned, over the years, to become more tolerant to the customers who insisted on customizing their dinners with a lot of substitutions: "Can I have half-chicken and half-beef with my pasta instead of just chicken? Can it have green peppers instead of red? Can you make it with ricotta instead of parmesan?"

As a server, I frankly didn't care if the customers asked for the moon instead of red sauce. What I did care about was the kitchen crew screaming at me because making a lot of custom substitutions on the line was time-consuming - particularly on a busy weekend night - and often required upgrading the cost of the dish. There's a good reason why "No substitutions" is frequently seen on modern menus. You want a complicated custom-made dish? Make it yourself at home.

One thing I never experienced, in all those years, was a customer handing me a list of requirements and a bag of pasta and insisting I have the kitchen prepare their meals to their exact specifications. I've known chefs and managers who have kicked patrons out of the dining room for less serious infractions.

And that brings me to a recent fracas in New Jersey involving a vegan couple claiming to have been cheated by a restaurant after they brought their own whole wheat pasta to the restaurant and were not given a discount on their tab. New York Magazine headlined its report on the story "Are These the World's Worst Restaurant Customers?"

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  • Some diners go overboard when dining out.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is that hard, pingpong-ball-size thing in my bag of potato chips?

Posted by on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

potatochip.jpg
A couple of weeks ago, I was getting lunch at a local deli. I ordered what I always do - half a meatball sub and a salad - and I grabbed a bag of cracked-pepper-and-sea-salt potato chips. Dirty brand. Because I love that brand's chips. The bag promises "all natural," kettle-cooked chips, prepared "in a premium peanut-oil blend for a crunchier, tastier potato chip!" And they usually are crunchy and tasty and worth a buck or so.

Usually.

But when I popped open this particular bag and put the first chip in my mouth, it was soggy. I spit it out. Then I noticed that all of the chips inside were mushy - except for a round, hard object the size of a pingpong ball.

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