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Taco Bell Plans More Boozy Restaurants; Is Starbucks the New Neighborhood Bar?

Plus, Coke pledges to be more transparent.

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— Taco Bell is plotting to expand its boozy experiment beyond San Francisco and ChicagoBloomberg reports that the company is looking to penetrate more "urban markets" where customers may not have cars. Taco Bell is scoping out sites in Boston, New York, and Columbus, Ohio for the expansion. While not every new location will offer alcohol, the new pedestrian-friendly format does feature a walk-up window. The Chicago location will open later this year, serving Dos Equis, Fat Tire, red sangria, Don Julio tequila, and Ketel One vodka.

— Carlo's Bakery, the location of the TLC show Cake Boss is opening its first Connecticut location in the Casino of the Earth on September 12. The company's 11th bakery features a special dessert-only dining concept called the Sweet Room, which will offer a small menu of Italian-inspired desserts.

— Coca-Cola is pledging to be more transparent about its health and nutrition efforts. According to the Associated Press, the sugary soda company's CEO Muhtar Kent announced that Coke would publish "a list of health and well-being partnerships and research activities" funded by his company in the past five years, with updates added every six months. The company, which regularly works with fitness and nutrition experts to promote Coke as a health food, recently came under scrutiny for funding the Global Energy Balance Network, an organization that promotes the idea that media places too much blame fast food and sugary drinks for health issues. The information will be posted to the Coke's website "within the next few weeks."

— Is Starbucks the new neighborhood pub hangout? Charles Passy of MarketWatch thinks so. At select locations across the country, the coffee chain has been busy rolling out its Starbucks Evenings concept, which offers a nighttime menu of beer, wine, and appetizers. Passy thinks the concept could catch hold in an untapped market — people who hate Starbucks coffee — because it offers a place to surf the internet and work while casually drinking beer.

— Brook Johnson, who you can thank for Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives, is retiring from Scripps Networks Interactive, according to Deadline Hollywood. Johnson is resident of the Food Network and Cook Channel and was influential in expanding cooking competition programming including shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen.

— The Nebraska State Fair is launching a host of new novelty foods this year including the Willie Wonka Burger, a bizarre fusion of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, smoked cheddar, and bacon melted into a sandwich. Fried Spam on a stick, Bacon in a Blanket, the double bacon corn dog, and the jalapeno cheese corn dog will also make an appearance at this year's concessions, reports Kearney Hub.

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