MRM News Bites: Rooster Soup Debuts, USHG Invests in Joe Coffee and The Granola Bar Crunches Expansion

Each week, Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. This time, we feature investments earmarked for expansion of hotspots, a food safety tool kit and “Food Truck Frenzy.” Send items of interest to Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at

Unique Rooster Soup Concept Opens Doors

Rooster Soup Co.,  top photo by Michael Persico, expected to open January 23, will become the first for-profit restaurant of its kind to donate 100 percent of its profits to a non-profit organization.  

A partnership between Philadelphia’s fried chicken-and-donuts purveyor, Federal Donuts, and Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative, Rooster Soup will be an all-day luncheonette with a special mission: to prove that when the interests of for-profit companies and philanthropic organizations are united in addressing common problems, real social change can happen.

The restaurant will extend Federal Donuts’ impact on Philadelphia’s food scene while also creating a sustainable funding source for BSM’s Hospitality Collaborative. The Hospitality Collaborative provides meals and essential services to those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity in Philadelphia, the poorest large city in America.

Rooster Soup is located at 1526 Sansom Street at the intersection of Philadelphia’s political, economic and cultural hubs, affording people from all walks of life the opportunity to make a tangible impact on the lives of their struggling neighbors just by eating lunch. What’s more: Rooster Soup’s diner-inspired menu will be anchored by soups made from the backs and bones of Federal Donuts’ chickens — over 700 each week – which transforms food waste into profits flowing directly to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens.

“We often take hospitality for granted and yet many of our fellow citizens virtually never experience this fundamental human interaction,” said Steven Cook, a Federal Donuts partner.  

Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative founder, Rev. Bill Golderer, elaborated: “This restaurant and this partnership demonstrates the transformative power of hospitality; It is a radical concept that unleashes new and creative solutions to our most intractable social problems. Patrons can change our city and change lives by becoming a Rooster customer.”  

The menu at Rooster Soup will be anchored by Chef Erin O’Shea’s expert southern-inspired, homestyle cooking. After transforming Federal Donuts’ spare chicken into nourishing broth, Rooster Soup will give special emphasis to a variety of soups ($4 cup, $7 bowl), including Matzo Ball; Beef & Vegetable; Mushroom Barley; and vegan Roasted Cauliflower.  For the ultimate in soul and belly-warming power and a cornerstone of the menu, the Yemenite Chicken Pot Pie ($11), is an “American cousin” of Rooster Soup’s sister-restaurant Zahav’s Yemenite Chicken Soup.  

In 2005, Rev. Bill Golderer together with other committed dreamers, breathed new life into an abandoned church building along one of Center City Philadelphia’s most vibrant corridors.  Broad Street Ministry began as a broad-minded faith community and over time expanded into an organization that holistically addresses the challenges facing Philadelphians living in deep poverty. At the core of BSM is a commitment to extending radical hospitality to all who wish a better life and a more just world. BSM’s Hospitality Collaborative incorporates stabilizing services that not only meet basic human needs, but also helps people move forward. Along with nutritious meals, guests can benefit from a mailing address, change of clothes, and personal care items. BSM collaborates with other best-in-class nonprofit organizations to offer medical and behavioral health care, legal assistance, and assistance with housing, public benefits, and personal identification. In 2016, BSM’s Hospitality Collaborative welcomed over 100,000 guests and provided over 76,000 professionally prepared meals in a manner that turns away no one, emphasizes human dignity, and enables people to live fuller lives. Restaurateurs Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Dizengoff, Abe Fisher), coffee geeks Tom Henneman and Bob Logue (Bodhi Coffee) and writer Felicia D’Ambrosio opened the first Federal Donuts in October of 2011. 

For additional information on Rooster Soup, click here

USHG Invests in Joe Coffee

Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) and affiliates have made  an investment in New York-based Joe Coffee that will be used to grow the brand in New York, Philadelphia and other locations.

Joe Coffee
Joe Coffee

“Historically we’ve had the privilege of investing in some incredibly special companies whose cultures, leaders, and innovative business models caught our eyes, and Joe is no different,” said Danny Meyer, Chief Executive Officer of Union Square Hospitality Group. “USHG has had a meaningful relationship with Joe Coffee and founder Jonathan Rubinstein for many years, both as avid fans of their coffee bars and also having served their coffee at Union Square Events for years. We chose to make this investment with Joe Coffee because they are dedicated to the pursuit of making flawless coffee, are led by passionate and exceptional management, and share the same hospitality values as USHG.”

Meyer noted that Joe Coffee, one of the early pioneers of the third wave coffee movement in New York, was a natural investment given the company’s commitment to brewing the highest quality, responsibly-sourced beans, and its passion for serving coffee with warm and genuine hospitality. The company roasts all of its own coffees in Red Hook, Brooklyn for its 14 cafes, as well as for many of the country’s most esteemed restaurants.

Jonathan Rubinstein
Jonathan Rubinstein

“We are incredibly proud and humbled that USHG and its affiliates have chosen to invest in Joe,” said Jonathan Rubinstein, Co-Founder and President of Joe Coffee. “Danny Meyer is a leader I have admired my entire professional career and to have the opportunity to partner with him and his outstanding team at Union Square Hospitality Group is a dream come true. With this new funding, we will continue to do what we love – roast, brew, and serve the best quality coffee with genuine hospitality – and now we are excited to bring Joe to even more great communities across the country.” 

Founded by CEO Danny Meyer with the opening of Union Square Cafe in 1985, USHG now extends beyond the walls of its eateries. In addition to creating Shake Shack, the company offers operational and strategic consulting, an investment fund, and runs a multifaceted catering and events business with operations in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. in addition to New York.

Joe is the New York based collection of beloved and award-winning coffee bars started in 2003 by Rubinstein and his family,  Joe is steadfastly committed to education, sustainable sourcing, and its deeply rooted desire to build, maintain and strengthen community at every level from producer to customer.

Granola Bar Expansion Plans

The Granola Bar, a healthy and indulgent all-day breakfast and lunch café with locations in Westport and Greenwich, CT, is embarking upon a growth investment by and operational partnership with Trilynx Partners of Westport.  Trilynx is an investment and operating platform whose founders have more than 15 years of experience in hospitality brands such as Disney and Starwood Hotels.  Concurrent with the announcement of the Trilynx partnership, The Granola Bar announced the opening of new locations in Stamford, Connecticut and Rye, New York later this year. 

Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily

Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily, who opened the first location in Westport in 2013, said they are excited to grow The Granola Bar with the help of Trilynx co-founders Adam Diamond and Michael Schwartz.  “As we evaluated the next phase for The Granola Bar, we knew we wanted to find partners with extensive experience building and scaling brands,” said Mountain.  “Trilynx Partners is a great fit for us.  Adam and Michael have jumped in and rolled up their sleeves right alongside us.  As a team, we believe the sky is the limit,” added Noorily.

The Granola Bar has developed a loyal following fulfilling its mission to give the people what they want.  All day breakfast and lunch includes freshly made eggs, avocado toast, sandwiches and wraps, salads, parfaits and, of course, granola.  Add to that artisanal coffee, signature smoothies and an array of baked goods, and the dine-in, take-out or grab-n-go offering is ripe for growth.  “From the moment we met Julie and Dana it was clear that their vision expanded far beyond Westport and Greenwich.  We believe there is a white space for a significant player in this category, and Julie and Dana have struck the right chord with the right consumer,” said Diamond.  Added Schwartz, “We could not be more excited to partner with Julie and Dana.  They are amazing entrepreneurs, and we look forward to providing them the support they need in all facets of growing the business.” Unknown

The next step in that growth will be the debut of the first ever The Granola Bar TO GO at 700 Canal Street in Stamford, CT.  The new location will offer the full The Granola Bar menu for take-out, delivery and catering as well as a grab-n-go fridge stocked with freshly made meals and snacks for diners on the run.  Next up, The Granola Bar will venture across the New York border to Rye,  on Purchase Street next to the Rye train station. The brand is also in the process of launching a catering program for its surrounding communities.  

Headshot by Bruce Plotkin Photography. Food photos by Kyle Norton.

Duke Marketing Relaunches Sites

Duke Marketing LLC©, established in 1989, a full service marketing communications firm specializing with multi-location foodservice  companies, relaunched two websites,, for the restaurant marketing book by Duke Marketing’s chief executive, Linda Duke, Four Star Restaurant Marketing Cookbook-Recipes for Restaurateurs™, and the company’s educational program for foodservice professionals website, LSM-U™, Local Store Marketing University™.  The websites were redesigned by chief technology and new media officer Jeremy Rigsby.   

Linda Duke
Linda Duke

“We wanted to refresh our websites to have a consistent look and include new testimonials and video,” said Linda Duke. 

“Four Star Restaurant Marketing Cookbook—Recipes for Restaurateurs™”,  provides restaurant owners and operators with proven marketing tactics in a reader-friendly format with over 250 photos and real restaurant case studies.  This recipe format cookbook includes 100 field tested tips, tools and tactics of successful marketing recipes, ingredients needed, and directions with a tactical guide to generate trial of new guests, build frequency and loyalty of existing guests, increase awareness, check averages and sales for any restaurant.   

“During my book tour, restaurant operators kept asking for an educational program to train their own people to use my Recipes for Restaurateurs book and learn about local store marketing,” said Duke.  “That’s when we developed LSM-U, Local Store Marketing University.”  In 2011, LSM-U was offered as an educational certification workshop across the country at several state restaurant associations’s including California, Texas and Florida.  Now, six years later, thousands have earned their LSM-U certificate and the popular training program is offered to restaurant chain operators with proven results.      

Firehouse  Rosedale Station Unveils New Prototype

Firehouse Rosedale Station hosts its grand opening celebration of the newest Firehouse restaurant in Bakersfield, CA. The celebration is a chance for Firehouse President Russ Johnson, to unveil the completely new, modern look for this location. This prototype delivers a fresh, contemporary and comfortable dining experience. The Northwest design follows the model set forth for all future new build Firehouse locations, and it will influence enhancements and renovations to existing locations.

“It is very exciting to add our new location in Bakersfield where we can showcase the new design. We hope to continue to be a thriving part of the local area and offer a dining destination known for its great food, outstanding service, and entertainment venue. Like the Southwest Bakersfield location, Rosedale station features a full-service technology advanced Qubica Bowling experience. The Alley at Firehouse will feature our full food and bar menu all while bowling and enjoying the music and light extravaganza. Firehouse is exceptionally proud to reveal this new design concept, reinvigorating the look and feel of Firehouse without losing the essence of our iconic Bakersfield brand that Kern County has loved since 2009,” said Firehouse Director of Operations, Kevin Dombchik.

The new Bakersfield design continues to build on Firehouse’s eight years of success with an eye on the future. “At our core, Firehouse is a place where people relax, enjoy great food, watch their favorite sports teams and get to have fun in an entertainment venue and are liberated from the ordinary. The new design exemplifies what the future of Firehouse looks like, and we’re excited about that future,” added Dombchik.

Firehouse in The Northwest part of Bakersfield California, provides a completely new guest experience.  The building itself touches on the modern, with a rustic undertone in order to maintain aspects of the Firehouse heritage. The design features clean lines and sleek finishes on the interior and exterior of the building, but there’s still a nod to the past with the use of brick throughout the space. One element guests will be sure to notice is the “bar centric” design of the vast bar and upstairs whisky bar, which highlights a full range of over-the-top whisky and tequila choices, over 26 draft domestic, import and local craft beers and various wine offerings for guests. Sports fans will especially enjoy the state-of-the-art audio visual elements like an interactive TV, giant high-definition flat panel TV’s, and a projection screen that creates life-size images of your favorite sports heroes and 17 pool diamond pool tables.

Comfort was also a key consideration in the new design. Guests can choose to sit at the high-back seating tables, high-back seating booths offer comfortable areas for late-night visitors and sports watchers, while the expansive outside seating area offers plenty of space to kick back and enjoy spending quality time with friends while soaking up the southern California sun on the patio, you won’t miss one minute of your favorite game as the phenomenal audio-visual package has you covered outside as well with multiple HDTV’s. The new design could not be complete without celebrating Firehouse’s eight years of history by featuring a “Heritage Walls,” which highlights the iconic Kern County Fire antiques and several milestones over the past decades’ history in Bakersfield truly a great experience.

Firehouse restaurant employs over 100 local residents currently and Rosedale Station will add over another 100 that make up the staff of cooks, bowling attendants, servers and managers. 

“Guests come to Firehouse to escape the ordinary and we have been focused on creating an even more inviting, laid-back environment for them to do so,” said Dombchik. “We are confident that the noticeable changes, significant amount of time and capital into this location we’ve made will impact every one of our guest, boosting the awesome dining, bowling and sports viewing experience they’ve come to expect from us. We are proud to continue to be a supporting business in the city of Bakersfield and look forward to this restaurant being our flagship location.”

Food Safety Tool Kit

GS Canada Inc. and The Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College are partnering to offer a risk-focused, tool kit based approach to train in the “HOW TO” of food safety management. The Food Safety Program Optimization (FSPO) is designed to target risk reduction and provide the tools to students to demonstrate true risk-based diligence.

This new partnership is a part of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute’s new continuing education program called Expert Edge.

“This new program focuses on delivering hands-on training led by true industry professionals,” shares Jeffrey Steen, Manager of Corporate Training at Niagara College. “We have a unique proposition to those seeking to take their careers to the next level in the fields of risk management, auditing and supply chains dealing with food, wine and beer.”

Those enrolled in the program will work towards a number of certificates each addressing the needs of the industry and the variety of sector specific needs within that industry (Bakery, Brewing, Foodservice). The program offers a wide variety of courses, small classes, flexible hours and a state-of-the-art campus to deliver an unmatched learning environment ideal for students and working professionals.

“What makes this approach to training so incredibly valuable is that you are taking a leader in academia dealing with food, wine and beer and joining forces with the world’s leading testing, inspection and certification company,” said Rob Sinyard, Vice President of Certification and Business Enhancement at SGS Canada Inc. “We are convinced that we need to prepare students to walk out of the classroom with not just the training to work locally, but provide them with a global perspective to the challenges of feeding a growing world population.”

Niagara College is home to Canada’s first teaching brewery and commercial teaching winery, along with a world-renowned full-service teaching restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal cuisine.

Craig Youdale, Dean of The Canadian Food & Wine Institute summed up the value of these partnerships to the college, “We are shaping the future of the Canadian food industry with corporate partners of this caliber.”

To learn more about the program, click here.

SugarHouse Welcomes Mian

Mian is SugarHouse Casino’s most recently opened restaurant. The quick-service restaurant features made-to-order meals including thick, rich broths; fresh vegetable, seafood, beef and chicken dishes; and daily chef’s specials.


At Mian, each dish is prepared using fresh ingredients. Guests will find everything from ramen and fried rice to calamari and clams to roasted duck and spring rolls. The most popular meals include Thai-style chicken, Vietnamese beef tenderloin and “X.O.” shrimp-fried rice.

“Mian offers a variety of authentic Asian flavors that guests can enjoy in a beautiful new space right on property,” said Wendy Hamilton, general manager of SugarHouse Casino. The restaurant adds to SugarHouse’s many amenities, which were unveiled last year as part of the casino’s expansion.

Mian is a 1,600-square-foot restaurant with 48 seats, and it is adjacent to the casino’s main cashier window. Mian is SugarHouse’s eighth dining option, joining four Philly favorites in The Marketplace: Geno’s Steaks, Tacconelli’s Pizzeria, Saxbys Coffee and the Revolution Grill. Guests can also enjoy meals at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House, The Refinery and Lucky Red. Hugo’s, the casino’s high-end steak house, is run by Chicago’s Gibsons Restaurant Group. Gibsons also manages the banquet service in The Event Center, SugarHouse’s 30,000 square-foot multipurpose space.

Food Truck Frenzy

S&D Coffee & Tea, the largest coffee and tea manufacturer and supplier to restaurants and convenience stores in America, is hosting its annual Culinary Challenge at Johnson & Wales University Charlotte (JWU). This year’s theme is “Food Truck Frenzy,” which challenges students to draw inspiration from the unique, innovative menus of this growing foodservice segment to earn a spot in the competition.

“Food trucks are becoming a culinary mainstay, and we thought the creativity they inspire would be a great theme for this year’s challenge — not to mention that the JWU students are very familiar with the food truck concept, since there are two parked across from their campus on a daily basis,” said John Buckner, vice president of marketing at S&D. “Each year we are impressed with the ingenuity and originality of the student contestants’ recipes, and we look forward to seeing how they take on the quick-serve angle in the 2017 contest.”

Students were invited to submit original recipes using S&D coffee and tea extracts or coffee grounds with 20 submissions making it through the first round of judging. These students will go on to compete in the Culinary Challenge Semifinals Taste Test, held Jan. 27 at the university. Students’ dishes will be judged by a panel of Charlotte-based food truck owners:

  • Aaron Rivera, The Chrome Toaster
  • George Leach, OooWee BBQ
  • Brian Stockholm, Papi Queso
  • DaRel Daniels, Street Spice
  • Scott Tang, Yummi Banh Mi

The 10 hand-selected students or student duos who pass the semifinals will be paired with one of the food truck owners who will serve as a mentor, helping them prepare to compete at the Culinary Challenge’s live culinary event on Feb. 14, held in the Hance Auditorium on the JWU campus. The top student chef chosen that evening will receive a $5,000 grand prize, and the winner’s food truck mentor will receive a $5,000 donation to the mentor’s charity of choice. Seven other students will also receive cash prizes.

“We are pleased to once again offer our students the opportunity to hone their recipe development, culinary and presentation skills through the S&D Culinary Challenge,” said Tarun Malik, Ed. D, vice president at JWU. “The partnership with S&D continues to be a source of pride for Johnson & Wales, and we benefit greatly from having this locally based, national foodservice leader investing in the future of the culinary industry.”

At the Feb. 14 finale, an all-star panel of judges and an auditorium filled with students, faculty and other supporters will watch the finalists prepare their dishes and make formal presentations, much like popular reality TV cooking competitions. For more information on the competition,  click here.

MBC to Open

Midland Brewing Company (MBC) is bringing a new dining experience to the Midland, MI area on Thursday, Feb. 9, with the opening of its restaurant. Sharing the brewery’s location at 5011 N. Saginaw Rd., the restaurant will feature a selection of fresh, creative menu options designed to pair well with the brewery’s wide range of craft beers.

“We want the food to be as interesting and creative as our beers,” said Dave Kepler, Chairman of Midland Brewing Company. “With so many chain restaurants in the city, we see an opportunity to fill a niche as a local establishment serving fun, inventive food in a rustic-chic atmosphere. We hope to become the top choice for hungry locals, as well as a destination for food and beer lovers across the Great Lakes Bay Region.”

“Our menu is a fresh, contemporary twist on casual dining,” said Mark Miracle, MBC’s kitchen manager. “We are working hard to match the quality and variety of our food with the tremendous flavors and craftsmanship of our beers.”

Working with partner Kosch Dining Solutions, a Rochester-based food service management company, the restaurant is the first step in MBC’s expansion. Later this spring, a beer garden and outdoor event space connected to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail will open. When complete, the entire facility will seat about 200. Midland Brewing Company was originally founded in 1935, just after the end of Prohibition, and operated for only a few years before closing its doors. It was reborn in 2010, 75 years after its founding, by a group of local entrepreneurs and brewers with a passion for both craft beer and Midland’s early history. 

Sofidel Introduces Luxurious New Line of Papernet Products

Sofidel introduced Papernet Heavenly Soft Superior which includes a range of high-quality laminated tissue and towels. Heavenly Soft Superior utilizes a unique construction that allows plies of paper to be bonded and embossed together with glue, creating a softer “at home” look and feel with laminated designs such as Micro, Circle & Leaf, Acorn and Wave.Pack_HeavenlySoft_Superior

“The Heavenly Soft Superior line exceeds customer expectations by providing an extra level of softness, unique designs, and increased reliability and reduced cost thanks to greater absorbency,” said Fabio Vitali, Vice President AFH Marketing & Sales for Sofidel America. “This range is key for brands that wish to enhance their restroom reputation, as well as incorporate sustainable hygiene with biodegradable and septic safe products.”

Papernet’s Heavenly Soft Superior line offers luxurious products available in Single Bath Tissue, Jumbo Roll Tissue, Center Pull, Hardwound and Multifold. Papernet paper products use advanced technology to limit plies and tissue tears for a more pleasant experience while also increasing strength, absorption and softness. The unique laminated range is ideal for high-end hotels, office buildings, restaurants and any area wishing to provide customers with an improved restroom image.

Taking it Personnely

North American Kitchen Solutions, Inc. (NAKS)  hired Sacha Polakoff as its new Chief Executive Officer. NAKS is a holding company and primarily operates through its subsidiaries HoodMart, Inc. and American Hood Systems, Inc. Polakoff, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with degrees in Economics, Finance and International Economics brings more than 25 years of experience to NAKS.  Polakoff has served in senior leadership roles throughout his career and most recently served as Chief Executive Officer for Columbus, Ohio based Oasis International, the worldwide leader in the manufacture of bottled and pressure water coolers, drinking fountains, dehumidifiers and water pitcher systems to offices, schools, businesses, hospitals, municipal buildings and homes. Oasis employs more than 450 individuals and has distribution in more than 80 countries.

As CEO of NAKS, Polakoff will assume direct operational control over HoodMart and American Hood and will report to NAKS’s Board of Directors. He will be tasked with working hand-in-hand with the senior management team to develop and implement the company’s long-term growth plan, while also continuing to drive incremental improvements across the organization. He will also lead the acquisition and integration of any future add-on businesses.

HoodMart specializes in the design, manufacture and sale of ventilation systems for the large and growing commercial cooking industry. The company manufactures both traditional hood systems as well as portable, ventless hoods. The Company’s hoods are manufactured as a complete system and include exhaust fans and fire suppression systems. HoodMart’s primary customers include individual restaurateurs, small restaurant groups, HVAC installers and smaller commercial kitchens such as those found in convenience stores and office cafeterias. American Hood manufactures and sells similar products through more traditional channels including distributors and resellers. NAKS was formed in April 2016 by Cleveland, Ohio-based private equity group Weinberg Capital Group to acquire HoodMart and American Hood from the former owner.

Ronald E. (Chip) Weinberg, Jr., Managing Director & Principal of Weinberg Capital Group commented, “The company is well positioned for long-term success and the addition of Sacha will only serve to enhance an already robust business. Sacha is a seasoned CEO possessing a long history of building great companies. His experience runs the gambit and he is comfortable working in all facets of business management. My entire team at Weinberg Capital Group looks forward to our new partnership with Sacha and many years of success.”

Polakoff added, “I’m excited and honored to be joining such a great organization. The Company is poised for growth and I cannot wait to get in there and start implementing our long-term growth plan.”