Teriyaki Madness bowl

Ordinarily, this is the type of place I would probably take a pass on, another franchise location among the thousands — yes, thousands — that already litter the Central Florida foodscape. But something about the press release announcing the opening of Teriyaki Madness made me take notice.

The Colorado based franchise is being brought into the area by Brevard Achievement Center, a nonprofit agency with headquarters in Rockledge that offers programs and services to assist people with disabilities. According to the press release, BAC decided that one way it could assist its clients — and generate income, to boot — would be to purchase a fast-casual restaurant franchise. Besides being a revenue source, the business could provide on-the-job training, not to mention employment, for people with disabilities. That’s smart thinking, and that’s the sort of organization that I would like to support.


Now what is Burger King up to?

In a full-page ad in major newspapers Wednesday, Burger King issued an open letter to McDonald’s, which of course is its Golden Arch enemy, proposing a truce. Or at least a one day ceasefire.

“Good morning McDonald’s,” the letter began, omitting a needed comma after the word morning. “We come in peace. In fact, we come in honor of peace.”

The ad explained that BK has been inspired by the designation of September 21 as Peace Day by an organization called Peace One Day. The nonprofit’s tagline for the event is “Who will you make peace with?”

So Burger King proposes in the letter that the two burger companies come together to form, for one day only, a pop-up restaurant that would serve a single item: the McWhopper, a mashup of all the mashed up ingredients that make up the fast food ginants’ signature items, the Big Mac and the Whopper.

The restaurant would be in an Atlanta parking lot that lies between a McDonald’s and a Burger King. (Atlanta lies midway between the brands’ headquarters, Chicago for McD’s and Miami for BK.

So is it real? Burger King insists that it is, and has even created a website, mcwhopper.com, with details (including a glimpse of the proposed uniforms the workers would wear that day).

But Burger King has been known to do some outrageous marketing stunts in the past. Who can forget the meat-scented cologne from a couple of years ago?

What Burger King has definitely done is put McDonald’s in a difficult situation. It can turn down the offer and look Putin-esque, or it can accept the offer and sheepishly follow in the marketing ploy of its business enemy.

Either way, it’s a lose-lose proposition for the clown. And I don’t see the dining public coming out a winner, either.

UCF Tiki renderingUCF Athletics

When the UCF Knights kick off at the first home game on Thursday, Sept. 3, some of the fans will be cheering with a mouthful of brisket from 4 Rivers Smokehouse.

I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for a couple of weeks, but there were still a couple of obstacles in the way that kept it from becoming a done deal. But our friends at Orlando Business Journal have announced that it is a go, and I’ve just confirmed it with John Rivers.

Rivers and his catering team will be providing barbecue goodies for the Carl Black and Gold Cabana, a new premium seating area with a Florida theme (think tiki bar) that is being constructed on the east side of Bright House Stadium. As loyal fans know, the home team crowd sits on the west side of the stadium, so the east side usually has a lot of empty seats.

“I admire what they’ve done,” Rivers told me as he was driving back to Orlando after checking out one of his restaurants in Gainesville. “They’ve taken unused space and turned it into a revenue generating area.”

Sabor del Caribe platter

An article in Tuesday’s New York Times says that Central Florida is the destination for an influx of Puerto Rican transplants, and that Florida is set to overtake New York as the state with the most Puerto Ricans. “The migration … is transforming a corridor of Central Florida that is increasingly viewed as economically powerful, culturally diverse and politically pivotal,” the article said.

If it means that we’ll see more restaurants like Sabor del Caribe, I say “Welcome!”

Sabor del Caribe is a small storefront place in a strip mall in extreme East Orlando just around the corner from the city dump. That’s the sort of proximity that restaurant critics take note of just in case the food isn’t very good. But is what I sampled at SdC is any indication, the only things that will be going into the landfill will be the extra takeout containers the guests will need for the sample leftovers.

tip jar

People have been railing against the practice of tipping for service in restaurants for as long as there have been tip jars. I recall doing a feature article in the late 1980s on a man who had started a national campaign to do away with tips. He had printed cards that he left instead of a gratuity with the check. The cards explained to the hapless server that he did not believe in the tipping strategy and that he thought the restaurateur should pay the servers a proper wage. I’m sure the servers understood his position entirely.

Obviously, that movement didn’t go anywhere. Neither have any of the other efforts to dismantle the practice of tipping that seem to crop up every year or so.

But there is a new move afoot, and this time it could take hold. This time the situation is different.