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Waffle House Shut Down 30 Restaurants as Hurricane Michael Hammered Florida

Plus, millennials are killing American cheese, and more food news

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A Waffle House restaurant Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Waffle House is no match for Michael

Waffle House, the Atlanta-based diner chain known for its 24/7/365 service, even in inclement weather, closed 30 restaurants as Hurricane Michael approached the Gulf Coast this week, reports USA Today. Once again, the Waffle House Index, an actual metric used by FEMA that monitors how bad a natural disaster might be based on whether Waffle House locations in the path are closing, proved to be a reliable guide.

Michael made landfall on the Florida panhandle Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 (out of 5) storm, with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars, making it the third-most intense hurricane to hit the United States. The last time Waffle House shut down so many locations in preparation for a storm was October 2016, as the chain temporarily shuttered more than 40 locations before Category 4 Hurricane Matthew battered the East Coast of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

World Central Kitchen, hero chef José Andrés’s non-profit that provides aid in the wake of natural disasters, is already feeding Michael’s first responders in Florida.

The death of American cheese?

Bloomberg nails the headline for this story: “Millennials Kill Again. The Latest Victim? American Cheese.” Big restaurant chains across America have determined the most coveted age demographic is not a fan of those yellow squares that come wrapped in plastic. That means fast-food outlets are branching out with the dairy toppings on their sandwiches: Wendy’s is serving asiago on top of chicken, while Panera Bread is using a blend of fontina, cheddar, monteau, and smoked gouda for its grilled cheese sandwiches.

Why are diners turning their backs on good old American? The cheese that nourished Baby Boomers back in the day does not satisfy today’s young adults’ appetite for all things artisanal and natural. Millennials, when will the senseless violence stop?

A ‘sign’ of the times

A year into the #MeToo movement, the New Yorker is asking restaurants to post a sexual harassment warning guide on their premises, as an acknowledgement that it is rampant in the industry and that restaurateurs are willing to publicly acknowledge that it is wrong. It is disappointing, yet unsurprising, that not many restaurants are choosing to participate.

And in other food news....

  • Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks now offers subsidized emergency child care for all of its employees, reports the Chicago Tribune. The new policy, which comes from a partnership with on-demand child-care service Care.com, will give baristas access to company-provided babysitters for a reasonable rate of $1 per hour should their original plans fall.
  • Chick-fil-A, which is rapidly climbing the global food-brand rankings, is expanding its model with delivery and catering-only locations, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. The chicken-sandwich chain, based out of Atlanta, will test these new models in the Nashville and Louisville, Kentucky, markets, starting this month. In other food-delivery news, Amazon has announced it is expanding Prime Now delivery service for Whole Foods customers to several more cities, including Cleveland, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and more of the Bay Area.
  • Nobu, the global sushi chain that celebrities adore, is opening its first Arizona location in Scottsdale, according to the local ABC affiliate. No opening date has been announced. Meanwhile, Europe’s first underwater restaurant, Under in Norway, is now accepting reservations, per Travel Pulse. The Lindesnes, Norway, establishment is expected to begin service next April.
  • Top Chef alum Fatima Ali wrote an essay about having terminal cancer in Bon Appétit. Ali’s Season 15 co-star Adrienne Cheatham has set-up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the medical bills, per Grub Street.
  • Finally, from the Onion: “U.S. Citizens: We Love When Thing Taste Like Other Thing.”

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