Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today's ride on the Capital Region foodie-go-round


REOPENING

Bel Cibo, closed for renovations since a fire last March caused four fatalities in two neighboring apartments and the restaurant was heavily damaged by water poured onto the blaze, is set to reopen the first week in December. Owner Jeanette Massaro had just opened the 96 Jay Street, Schenectady, location after moving Bel Cibo from the Jay Street Marketplace when the fire occurred. Cosmetic work will be completed over the next few weeks on the redone venue that has expanded to take over the former Persian Bites that moved to 703 Union Street. While the original Bel Cibo will remain a restaurant, the extra space will be used for a specialty food boutique.

UPSIZING

• If you're one of those people who think the term "jumbo shrimp" is a contradiction in terms, you may like this announcement. The Red Lobster chain says it is increasing the size of the shrimp it uses in its skewers and scampi dishes. It now is using size 31/35 shrimp for its scampi, instead of 46/55, meaning the new shrimp weighs in at 31 pieces to 35 pieces per pound, instead of 46 to 55 pieces per pound. Lunch skewers have been increased to 36/40 from 51/60, and dinner skewers to 26/30 from 46/55. "Our guests shared they wanted shrimp scampi and shrimp skewers to be bigger, so we increased the size," Red Lobster president Salli Setta said in a press release. "And, they wanted them to be better, so we changed our preparation to improve taste and give the shrimp a better bite."

INNOVATING

• The fast-casual segment of the restaurant industry is an ever-expanding one, with the need for innovation to stand out from the crowd of paramount importance. A California-based chain called Zpizza International Inc. is adopting something some independent pubs have been trying for a few years -- making customers their own bartenders by installing self-service beer technology. Zpizza converted three of its units into tap rooms by installing 10 to 20 taps. After customer IDs are scanned, they can open a digital tab and pour their own draft, paying by the fluid ounce. That allows them to taste an ounce or two of different options. The result: At the tap room units, alcohol sales have reached as high as 20% of the unit's revenue. In other units without the taps, that figure is about 2%.

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