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Random Food Report: Fry Cook From Venus Strikes Highland Park

1. Spaghetti Slushy.

"Quebecois convenience store chain Couche-Tard has rolled out a new drink: the Pizzaghetti Sloche, a shave-ice drink that comes in both pizza and spaghetti flavors, which can be combined to customer specifications to make Pizzaghetti flavor," Boing Boing reports. "Couche-Tard's slogan for the drink is 'love in a cup.'"


Click through to see the must-see photo.

2. Dunkin-fil-A.

"[Dunkin' Donuts] quietly started serving two new fried chicken sandwiches at locations across the country," Huffington Post notes.

"Though this launch was largely overshadowed by Monday's announcement of a new breakfast sandwich served on a doughnut, it may actually wind up being more significant in the long run. It's the clearest indication yet that Dunkin' Brands aspires to become a full-fledged restaurant rather than a place to grab breakfast and coffee on the way to work."


And when it fails, the post-mortems will note how the company got away from its core business.

3. Old Chicago Rebrands.

"In an effort to attract a broader audience, Old Chicago is rebranding itself with a new restaurant design and menu - and a new name," Nation's Restaurant News reports.

"Formerly Old Chicago Pasta & Pizza, the 37-year-old concept has been renamed Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom in an effort to emphasize craft and local beers."


I still think they should rebrand as Capone's.

4. Chicago Abroad.

"When Frank Harris got married and moved to Augusta from Chicago a few years ago, he learned many Augustans were not familiar with authentic Chicago cuisine," the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle reports. "It gave him the idea for a business.

"Last year, he and his wife, LaTina Harris, opened Frankie's: A Taste of Chicago, at 201 Shartom Drive in Augusta.

"I used to have two places like this in Chicago. I never knew that Augusta didn't have the same types of food as Chicago," Frank said.

"Frankie's will soon move to 4314 Wrightsboro Road in Grovetown to provide more seating. The restaurant, which has two employees plus the owners, will expand to 10 workers.

"'People want to sit down and enjoy our food, versus getting it to go,' LaTina said.

"Harris said he didn't consider opening a restaurant in Augusta until his wife tasted her first Chicago cheesesteak and made the suggestion. He was convinced after seeing the reaction of his stepchildren and others to food he brought back from trips to Chicago. Soon, he was taking orders for all types of items, from pizza puffs and rib tips to hot links and hoagies."

"Each time I went to Chicago, I'd bring back more and more. It just went from there," Harris said.


"Chicago - not unlike Rapid City - is so chock full of character and history that it gets into your blood," the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal reports.

"From cruising the skyscrapers of the Mag Mile to watching the Cubs at Wrigley or seeing 'Da Bears' at Soldier Field, to hearing its history of corruption, gangsters and the blow-hard politicians and Lake Michigan gales that gave the Windy City its nickname - Chicago has an aura that sticks with you.

"For Herb Weidmann of Rapid City, the sandwiches and unique deli-counter foods served in Chi-Town are also a big part of that lingering appeal.

"And now, Weidmann and his business partner have brought the essence of Chicago here to the Black Hills by way of their new restaurant, 'taste of Chicago' that opened last week on North LaCrosse Street.

One minute with Weidmann, and just a few steps into his new eatery, are all it takes to see how deeply the native Chicagoan feels about the city where he grew up.

"This is my whole history; this is where I come from," said Weidmann, 54, a former national union official who has lived in Rapid City since 1990. "You get a good feeling coming in here."

Part of that vibe comes from the restaurant decor, which provides a heavy dose of Weidmann's love affair with all things Chicago.

Flat-screen TVs will show all Chicago sports teams when they're in action; a photo of the city skyline adorns the sign outside; and giant display cases hold every form of memorabilia about the Cubbies, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, and of course, the Chicago Bears (one gem is a 1920s roster form for a Bears-Packers game signed by legends George Halas and Curly Lambeau).

Wiedmann's business partner is Tom Cone II, 56, of Rapid City, a retired Air Force employee who formerly ran Dogsters hot dog shop on Main Street. Beyond the accoutrements and vibe the small restaurant exudes, the partners are most proud of their traditional Chicago-style food.

While you won't find the famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, almost everything else the city is famous for is on the "taste of Chicago" menu. The most recognizable item is the Chicago Dogster, a classic hot dog in a poppyseed bun topped with cucumber, onions, hot peppers, a tomato slice, relish, mustard, celery salt and a pickle spear on the side.

"It's a wonderful adventure," is how Weidmann described the dog, that like most menu items can be had for less than $5 with a bag of chips.

Italian beef and other sandwiches, chili, potato chips made in Chicago, and Chi-town's famed Tom Tom Tamales round out the menu. Beer will be served as soon as city permits can be obtained, Weidmann said.

"Those of us from Chicago are very passionate about many things: our food, our sports teams, everything," he said.

At least one patron last week was already appreciating the new eatery. Todd Hollan of Rapid City said he got a good chili dog from the restaurant and would likely be back. Expressing passion on both counts, Hollan noted: "I love the city of Chicago, but I hate the Bears."

To be sure all food has that authentic Chicago flair, Weidmann and Cone will make regular trips in a van or SUV to the city to get supplies from Chi-town vendors. They plan to make the 26-hour round-trip road trip about once a month or so to pick up supplies in order to maintain the integrity of the "taste of Chicago."


Stories like this abound all over the country. Perhaps someone should roll up all these ex-pat Chicago joints into a national franchise. Perhaps call it Capone's.

5. Fry Cook On Venus.


Misdemeanor battery? Please. First-world pranks deserve first-world punishments. A weekend working in a soup kitchen should do it.


Comments welcome.


Posted on June 10, 2013

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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