Two trends are increasingly working at cross purposes to create a thorny dilemma for the restaurant industry.
The first of those trends is a growing demand for delivery at all price points in the dining out world, from fast food to fine dine. Restaurants are finding delivery (and curbside pickup) to be relatively low-cost ways to build capacity and thus revenue, particularly when they partner with a third-party delivery service like Grubhub or Uber Eats.
However, the need to employ single-use packaging to support a food delivery strategy is putting the industry squarely in the sights of another current of social change – the increasing pressure, both in the form of regulation and public opinion, for businesses to minimize or altogether eliminate the use of plastic disposables.
Items once thought of as essential to a successful food-to-go experience, such as plastic straws and Styrofoam “clamshells,” are now increasingly shunned or banned outright, leaving restaurants scrambling to find environmentally friendlier alternatives.
Unfortunately, options like compostable containers and bio-degradable plastic utensils are more expensive than the traditional single-use items they replace.
Moreover, though this new class of takeout supplies might be less permanent that thin-film plastic bags and hard-plastic forks, their ability to be recycled is often constrained by the lack of systems that are willing or able to handle “compostable” waste. The result is that high-priced, “green” packaging options end up in the traditional solid waste stream, where they either get incinerated or entombed in a landfill. Neither outcome, unfortunately, does much for the environment.
Many in the industry are now calling for a more thoughtful look at the whole issue of single-use disposables, urging collaboration in finding a solution that is both good for the environment – and for a restaurant’s bottom line.
MGM Springfield will be kicking off a weekend of food and entertainment on May 3 with its “Derby de Mayo Weekend” event. To be held in MGM’s Armory Square outdoor venue, the weekend will feature the seasonal opening of TAP Sports Bar’s outdoor beer garden as well as an inaugural “Food Truck Friday.”
The latter is to be a summer-long offering at MGM Springfield, with a changing roster of local food trucks offering a variety of “eats” each Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
In addition to three original concept food trucks fielded by MGM Springfield, the Friday food truck events will feature vendors like Wahlburgers (Boston), Holyoke Hummus, Hot Oven Cookies (Springfield), and Kona Ice of Stamford, CT.
On Saturday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. the food and fun at Armory Square will focus on a Kentucky Derby viewing party, with the race projected live on an outdoor screen.
The next day, Sunday, May 5, starting at 1 p.m., the festivities will take on a Cinco de Mayo flavor, with MGM Springfield hosting a live mariachi band and a custom tequila bar.
For more information on Food Truck Fridays and the upcoming Derby de Mayo Weekend at MGM Springfield, go to mgmspringfield.com.
1105 Main in West Springfield will be hosting a Bourbon and Cigars Night on Thursday, May 16, starting at 6 p.m.
Along with a four-course menu incorporating the restaurant’s contemporary cuisine, the dinner will feature four boutique Bourbons from sources across the Northeast and beyond.
Priced at $40 per person, the dinner will include a starter course of smoked bluefish pate, which will be followed by a wedge salad garnished with Gorgonzola cheese and grilled pork belly.
A duck breast partnered with an apricot chutney will serve as the third course, while a smoked and grilled rib eye steak is to be the “main.”
Reservations for the dinner can be made by calling 1105 Main at (413) 737-4905 or e-mailing [email protected].
Joe Stevens, the chef-owner at 1105 Main, also sent word that the restaurant plans to be open on Mother’s Day, May 12, serving a three-course pre-fixe menu from noon until 5. p.m.
The Orlando, FL-based LongHorn Steakhouse chain has launched a new beverage lineup designed to provide bold flavors that will complement its signature selection of steak dishes.
Included in the new beverage effort is a Three Dons margarita that is made with three different tequila pours; an oversized LongPour margarita, and a locally determined selection of draft beers designed to cater to host community preferences.
Also part of this marketing effort is all-day special pricing on several drink options.
There are LongHorn Steakhouses locally on Riverdale Street in West Springfield and on Phoenix Avenue in Enfield, CT.
On Saturday, May 18 Teresa’s Restaurant in Ware will be hosting a “boy band tribute” show featuring “Larger than Life,” a group that takes its musical inspiration from the performances of boy bands such as N’Sync and the Back Street Boys.
The dinner/show event begins with a cocktail hour at 5 p.m.; a six-course family style dinner of Italian-American favorites will follow at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the evening, which are priced at $50 per person, can be obtained by calling (413) 967-7601.
Max’s Tavern at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be hosting a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Winemaker Dinner on May 8.
One of Napa Valley’s premier winemaking operations, Stag’s Leap is part of the renowned “Class of ’72,” a group of wineries founded in 1972 that collectively elevated Napa Valley’s stature as a wine producing region.
Max’s Tavern is welcoming Marcus Notaro, the winemaker at Stag’s Leap, as its special guest for the evening. Mr. Notaro will be providing commentary during the evening’s dinner.
MAX Restaurant Group chefs Hunter Morgan and Steve Micahlewicz have developed a menu for the event that’s designed to show the vintages served to best advantage. The gastronomic lineup will include pan seared sea bass cheek, a roasted duck breast with fiddleheads, and a grilled ribeye filet accented with ramp butter.
Tickets for the dinner are $145 per person. Contact Max’s Tavern at (413) 746-6299 for more details.
Panera Bread Bakery Cafe locations have recently enhanced their menu offerings.
New on the savory side is a maple-glazed bacon, scrambled egg & cheese wrap; a Mediterranean egg white wrap; and a chipotle chicken, scrambled egg & avocado wrap.
Cold-brew coffee is now also available at Panera Bread locations, either unflavored or enhanced with Madagascar vanilla or vanilla and almond milk.
The chain has further upgraded its beverage offerings by introducing new light and dark roast coffee blends.
There are Panera Bread Bakery Cafes in Hadley, on Route 33 in Chicopee, in the Riverdale Shops in West Springfield, and in East Longmeadow on North Main Street.
The Delaney House in Holyoke is offering newly graduated students and their proud loved ones a special dining opportunity on Friday, May 10.
The restaurant will be hosting a Graduation Buffet Dinner that evening starting at 7 p.m. An array of chef-selected dishes such as N.Y. sirloin, chicken marsala, and oven-roasted salmon will be featured along with a soup station, a salad bar, and a “lavish” dessert table.
The Graduation Buffet Dinner is $36.95 per person, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (413) 532-1800.
Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has over 40 years of restaurant and educational experience. Please send items of interest to Off the Menu at the Republican, P.O. Box 1329, Springfield, MA 01101; Robert can also be reached at [email protected].
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