Category Archives: Food & Drink

Food & Dining: ‘Top 100 Independent Restaurants’

2020 Rankings – October 20, 2020

RB’s Top 100 Independents ranking is a measure of the highest-grossing independent restaurants. Only restaurant concepts with no more than five locations are considered “independents” for the purpose of this list (although it’s possible a restaurant that shares a name with a chain but is owned and operated separately would qualify, such as Smith & Wollensky in New York City). Rankings are based on gross 2018 food and beverage sales. Information was gathered through surveys. When data wasn’t provided, sales were estimated based on public information, similar concepts and other factors.

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Tomorrow’s Restaurant: Multiple Drive-Thru Lanes & Seatless Dining (Video)

Burger King unveiled its new prototype last month, a prototype that it began working on shortly after the pandemic began. It features a much smaller dining room, or no dining room at all, along with two or three drive-thru lanes, walk-up windows and curbside lanes. Some of the options allow for the complete removal of indoor seating.

Burger King’s latest restaurant design assumes that customers will not go back to dine-in service.

It’s not as if the Miami-based burger chain’s latest prototype doesn’t feature indoor seats. But its restaurants are 60% smaller, meaning a much smaller dining room. And one version of it replaces the dining room altogether with patio seating.

But the design is heavy on takeout options, an acknowledgement that consumers have been shifting that way for some time and then went all-in on takeout during the pandemic. It features two or three drive-thru lanes, with digital menu boards and merchandising. A “living wall” provides a view into the kitchen interior featuring Burger King’s broiler. And there’s an external walkup window on the glass façade.

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Food Industry Video: ‘How Restaurants Will Be Preparing For Winter (WSJ)

About 90% of the Duck Inn’s current revenue comes from customers enjoying socially distant table service in their outdoor seating area. Especially in places like Chicago where temperatures drop below freezing, it’s one of many restaurants grappling with how to prepare for and survive winter.

Photo: Nicolas Silva for The Wall Street Journal

Culture Podcast: “Wine Windows Of Florence” Date Back To 17th Century

In the era of social distancing, Italians in Florence have revived the custom of serving wine through pint-size windows in centuries-old buildings.

Year 2020: The covid-19 pandemic arrives. Italy is under lockdown starting March 8th. Everyone is confined to home for two months and then the government permits a gradual reopening. During this time, some enterprising Florentine Wine Window owners have turned back the clock and are using their Wine Windows to dispense glasses of wine, cups of coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream—all germ-free, contactless!

Year 1634: The Black Death or Plague has passed through the city of Florence, leaving death and havoc in its wake. The Florentine scholar, Francesco Rondinelli, writes a report about disease contagion and describes the use of the abundant Wine Windows in the city for the safe sale of wine, without direct contact between client and seller. Diletta Corsini describes this important document regarding Wine Windows and their uses almost 400 years ago.

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Travel & Cuisine: “Salina – Italy’s Island Of Wine, Capers & Pane Cunzatu”

ITALY MAGAZINE (Aug 25, 2020): Here, Michelin-star restaurants are hidden behind the secluded gates of family inns and the best wines are served by winemakers on a panoramic terrace using a vine leaf as a coaster while crystal clear waters are just a step away from the hydrofoils. And, though nothing lands in your lap since you have to climb through ferns and craters and puff along steep slopes to reach the most beautiful places and enjoy a magic sunset in the Pollara bay – it remains totally worth it. 

Pane cunzatu – literally, seasoned bread, is the most famous Aeolian specialty. It is different from the namesake recipe you can find all over the island, which is more similar to a sandwich. Here a huge, round flat loaf’s base is topped with a generous amount of local delicacies, resembling more a pizza.

Once upon a time Salina was considered the “lesser” of the Aeolian islands despite being the second biggest after Lipari with three different comuni of Santa Marina, Malfa and Leni and six volcanoes scattered around its 10-square mile surface. However, it was a place that silently carved out a very special place in the heart of island lovers. It smartly matched its wild nature and untamed spirit with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere offering a dashing bit of otherworldly hospitality.

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New Podcast Interviews: “Fever-Tree” Tonic Mixer CEO Tim Warrillow

Monocle 24’s “The Entrepreneurs”: Tim Warrillow is the co-founder and CEO of Fever-Tree, the premium drinks and mixers brand he launched with Charles Rolls in 2005. As you’ll hear, the pair went to the ends of the Earth to find the best ingredients possible.

Plus: Black Tomato co-founder, Tom Marchant, discusses the future of luxury travel.

Top Rooftop Restaurants: The “Mirabelle”, Hotel Splendide Royal In Rome

Romeing Magazine ItalySet on the 7th floor of Hotel Splendide Royal – an ancient monastery turned luxury hotel by the Roberto Nardi Collection in 2001 – Mirabelle’s panoramic view goes from Villa Medici to Trinità dei Monti, all the way to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Gianicolo. As the sun sinks into the horizon, leaving an unforgettable sunset over Rome, the dining tables, suspended over the green heart of the Eternal City, come to life with a magical romanticism.

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Mirabelle is a romantic roof garden footsteps from Via Veneto where you can indulge in a menu entirely characterized by Italian produce. Executive Chef Stefano Marzetti’s creations paired with the 900 wine labels and the 360-degree panoramic views over Rome, encompassing Villa Borghese and the Eternal City’s monuments, make Mirabelle the perfect culinary and sensory experience.

Mirabelle Website

If you’re on the hunt for an exclusive roof garden, a place to enjoy aperitivo or dinner while catching up, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Mirabelle is it. Not only will you get a stunning view of Rome, you’ll also be tasting zero kilometer food exclusively grown and produced in Italy.

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New Restaurants: “Ampia Rooftop NYC” – “Sanitary, Social Distance Dining”

Ampia Rooftop (Ampia meaning “Space” in Italian) is a sprawling 4,500 Sq. foot outdoor rooftop terrace featuring individual greenhouses for a social distance dining experience, opulent clusters of colorful flower gardens, and Italian-themed art and décor dispersed throughout. Chef Michele Iuliano offers up an authentic Italian menu of lite casual fare, along with a selection of inventive seafood paninis. 

Ampia Restaurant

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Restaurant Business (August 1, 2020) – The first step was a name change. When New York City announced that restaurants could open for outdoor dining during Phase 2, the Iulianos changed the name from Gnoccheria Rooftop to Ampia—a move that gave it a distinct identity. Then they set about redesigning the space to satisfy all the restrictions.

The entire space was sprayed with an electrostatic sanitary coating, including the tables, chairs, bar and every touchable surface. The process sanitizes for up to three months. The pair also purchased a facial recognition thermometer and all the essential PPE specified in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Phase 2 guidelines.

Next, the space was reconcepted from the original 250-seat restaurant to an outdoor dining venue with a limited bar and food menu. The beer garden in the original plan had to be scrapped; it’s impossible to enforce social distancing in that kind of setting. Instead, tables were spread out and seating areas set far apart, accommodating 60 to 65 guests.

The regulations around social distancing state that if tables cannot be arranged six feet apart, a restaurant can use plexiglass dividers between them. But the Iulianos wanted to infuse Ampia with the same stylish elements that differentiate their other restaurants.

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