NYC Council Investigates Third Party Delivery Companies

This past June, the Small Business Committee within the City Council of New York conducted a hearing regarding third party delivery business practices. The investigation, entitled “The Changing Market for Food Delivery,” is arguably the first of its kind. The hearing endeavored to address the growing tensions between restaurant operators and third party delivery companies.

“New York continues to be a trailblazer,” said Committee Chairman Mark Gjonaj. “I’m proud to be part of this historic moment.”

Restaurant operators hope that the hearing will kindle new government regulations that better protect the needs of the industry. According to Robert Bookman, counsel for the local industry trade group New York City Hospitality Alliance, “We’re calling for both the federal government and the state attorney general to look into this matter.”

The Small Business Committee called on restaurant operators, third party delivery companies, and various trade groups to share their practices, concerns, and complaints. The hearing was open to the public. Discussion ran long, and largely focused on rate structures, questionable fees, and the future plans of third party delivery companies.

The difference in perspective between the restaurant operators and the third party deliverers was considerable. Operators like Robert Guarino, the co-founder of 5 Napkin Burger, argued that delivery companies have every intention of moving toward discarding restaurants and offering their own meals for delivery. Third party representatives emphatically denied this claim.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the Hospitality Alliance, provided the council with an extensive list of questions for third party deliverers. Some of the questions addressed:

  • If financial factors don’t determine where a restaurant is listed on a third party’s app, what variables do? How can restaurants be safeguarded against erroneous fees?

  • Who owns the information on a restaurant’s customers who order through a third party, and what happens to the data if the establishment pulls out of the arrangement?

  • Does the prominence and penetration of the big third-party delivery services constitute a restraint of trade?

Restaurant operators appear to universally agree that third party delivery companies need to interact with restaurants in a clearer and more transparent fashion, and third party representatives at the council pledged to provide that. Next steps for both sides of the industry, however, remain unclear.

Why are CBD Edibles Being Pulled Off Restaurants in Some Parts of the Country?

Across various parts of the country, health department officials are asking restaurants to voluntarily pull CBD-infused foods and drinks off menus.

The latest local and regional governments that have reportedly taken steps against CBD are New York City, California, Texas, and Ohio banning the substance from restaurants and retail stores.

For example, according to the New York City’s official government website, beginning July 1, New York City restaurants that don’t comply with the CBD ban voluntarily could be embargoed of their CBD products by the health department... and by October 1, officials “will begin issuing violations to restaurants and retailers for offering CBD-laced foods and drinks. Violations may be subject to fines as well as violation points that count toward the establishment’s letter grade.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, which derives from cannabis, doesn’t cause the psychoactive effects for the lack of enough THC—the compound that gives people the “high” sensation.

In fact, CBD proponents claim the substance is mainly used for its therapeutic benefits helping people relax, ease pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression.

Despite the fact that not many studies have been done on cannabidiol in human trials, as pointed out by a recent New York Times article, we are seeing an immense amount of CBD products being sold across the country, with Walgreens as the latest retailer to announce plans to sell creams, patches, and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states.

So, why is it being pulled out of the restaurant space, specifically?

Although, the farm bill that was passed in December 2018 legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., this only means industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance category. Anything that is put in foods and drinks has to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and, as of right now, CBD is not determined safe or effective for other health conditions aside from being an active ingredient in an approved drug that treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

The FDA regulations are something different and there’s a huge push from lawmakers to change this.

Since there is no federal law specifically addressing CBD-laced edibles, some states, like Colorado and Maine, have already attempted to clarify the status of the substance by passing laws allowing the addition of CBD to food, as reported by Reuters. California and Texas have introduced bi-partisan legislation to do the same, as reported by the Associated Press.

Last week, the FDA slated the first public hearing to take place May 31 to discuss how to regulate CBD food and beverage products.

In the meantime, here at Foodable, we are tracking the latest in this arena:

In a podcast episode of Chef AF, Chef Brandon Foster shares with us a personal anecdote about how CBD has positively affected a local farmer to The point where this person wanted to dedicate the rest of his available land to grow hemp for the CBD industry.

In an On Foodable Feature episode, our host Layla Harrison breaks down for our audience some of the CBD-infused products that have stood out from the rest.

And in a Barron Report podcast episode, we learned about Azuca— a company offering CBD and THC products ranging from edibles to sweet syrups.

We expect to continue hearing about ‘Culinary Cannabis’ and its impact on the restaurant business and society as a whole. so, stay tuned for more interesting content!

Why the Food Scene in “Forgotten Cities” Is As Important As Those in New York, Chicago, and L.A.

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Derek Stevens— a Steel City “burning star,” as he calls him, for shining bright in the local food scene. Stevens is the co-owner and executive chef of Pittsburgh’s Union Standard. Both gentlemen are Pittsburgh-natives and they focus their conversation around those cites that seem “forgotten” in the food world.

The two agree that as chefs they are always on the hunt for honest food. Chef Stevens is candid about his favorite Pittsburgh food spots, highlighting establishments like LeoGretta located in the Carnegie neighborhood and ran by Chef Greg Alauzen; as well as, DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip District and ran by Chef Dave DiAnoia.

“When I talk about those chefs… when I eat their food, I think ‘Damn, I wish I could cook like this guy’ you know?,” says Chef Stevens. “It’s really heartwarming in a way, you know? They really got it figured out. And sometimes they’re thinking the same thing [about other chefs].”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation, Chef Steven’s thoughts on the resurgence of downtown areas in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, and how to cultivate interest for a local food scene in a “forgotten city.”


Show Notes:

  • 1:55 - Chef Derek Stevens’ Background

  • 4:07 - Favorite Pittsburgh food spots

  • 7:37 - Comfort Food vs. Fine-Dining

  • 12:47 - Cultivating Interest for local food scene

  • 17:19 - Incubators and the food scene

  • 23:13 - Labor Shortage

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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NYC New Mega Mall to Open With Online-Only Store Section

A new-age mega-mall in New York City coined “Hudson Yards” is now open for business.

Besides featuring 1 million square feet of popular retailers like Sephora and Louis Vuitton, there will be an array of restaurant concepts.

Hudson Yards developers have created the mega-mall with culinary experiences paired with convenience in mind.

“In addition to being located steps away from each other, several restaurants will have cafe or takeaway outposts offering “picnic versions” of meals should diners want to enjoy their food elsewhere or outside. There is also the ability to order via an app that streamlines delivery and pick up services across all Hudson Yards food properties, which Stuessi feels will be especially handy for the thousands of workers who’ll have offices with entrances that feed directly into the restaurant floors,” writes “Vogue.”

But there are also fine dining restaurants like Kāwi and Peach Mart by Momofuku and TAK Room by Thomas Keller.

In terms of retail, there will be a section dedicated to retailers that were previously online-only retailers.

These popular online brands, including show retailer M. Gemi and men’s athletic apparel company Rhone will be on the “Floor of Discovery.”

It’s an interesting transition, especially as other retail brands like Gap and Victoria Secret are focusing more on online business and are instead closing underperforming stores.

“We think about this as a long-term deal,” said Brian Berger, founder, and CEO of Mack Weldon, who is opening the first brick-and-mortar store at Hudson Yards.

Many are using these stores as a test to see if they can thrive in a normal retail setting.

“The statistic is in the markets where you have physical retail, the [e-commerce] business in that market increases by about 30 percent,” said Berger.

Some online retailers have aggressive plans to enter the retail space. The online mattress maker Casper, for example, plans to open at least 850 stores by 2023.

Hudson Yards isn’t the only mall to do this either. Malls across the country are introducing these online-only brands to entice new business.

“A business known as Fourpost is doing something similar at the Mall of America in Minnesota. And then there’s Neighborhood Goods, often referred to as the “department store of the future,” which is opening up stand-alone locations that house digitally native brands — like men’s wellness company Hims and sneaker marketplace Stadium Goods — and is soon coming to New York. A concept called HiO, headed by a former top real estate exec at Gap, is testing a space for online brands in a shopping center in Brooklyn,” writes “CNBC.”

The E-commerce giant Amazon has lofty goals to expand into the traditional retail space with its Amazon Go stores. Watch this past episode of The Barron Report to learn more about the Amazon Go stores and how these cashier-less stores are changing the retail space forever.

How The World's First OatMeals Cafe Has Reimagined The Use of The Traditional Grain

“I really believe that if you start your day with oatmeal you normally make better decisions throughout the rest of your day… So, this brand has a lot of legs in today’s world,” says Stephens.


On this episode of Emerging Brands, Samantha Stephens, chef and founder of OatMeals shares with Foodable the origins of her single-ingredient fast casual concept and how she built it from the ground up.

OatMeals is the world’s first oatmeal cafe located in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York known for its brownstones buildings. Stephens believes her brand in very on-trend right now especially with the rise of the health movement and all the benefits and versatility that oats have to offer.

What sets this concept apart is the fact that not only it is a business concept that revolves around oats, but also the fact that it aims to evaluate the way traditional breakfast meals involving oats have been regarded for decades.

“So, it’s a build-your-own toppings bar. We’re sort of putting a non-traditional twist on old-fashioned oatmeals...,” says Stephens. “The more and more I ate oatmeal the more I realized it’s very similar to risotto or rice… You could really think about it as like a savory side dish. It’s so versatile! It sort of adapts well to any kind of topping you put on it…”

Stephens went on to explain how she experimented with the grain by adding parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, truffle oil, goat cheese, eggs, and bacon. She offers savory oatmeals as well as the traditional breakfast and sweet oatmeal offerings.

Listen to the podcast above to learn about how Samantha Stephens gained the confidence to build this business, the challenges she faces when figuring out a reasonable price point for her menu items, and how her concept aims to stay relevant in the food world in terms of trends.

To learn more about the Shark Tank-backed concept—OatMeals— check out the The Barron Report Live video interview below!