Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the week.
A Potential Boon for Fast-Food Dessert Lovers
How many times have you stopped at a fast-food joint with your heart set on a shake or McFlurry or Frosty only to hear those dreaded words: “The ice cream machine is broken”? A company called Kytch based out of California is hoping to provide customers and staff with realtime information about the functionality of ice cream machines with its new device, Kytch Gold, which is currently in beta testing at five Burger King franchises around the Boston area.
In addition to providing information to customers, the device is reportedly able to self-diagnose and correct some common problems with soft-serve machines that could otherwise require lengthier shutdowns for repairs.
Per a press release from the company, the Kytch team sees its technology as a way of improving realtime inventory systems for kitchens, especially as delivery is becoming more important. Those oft-broken (or “broken”) fast-food ice cream machines are just the start.
Tatte Founder Steps Down as CEO
In recent weeks, Tatte Bakery & Cafe founder Tzurit Or has faced backlash from current and former employees who allege a toxic work environment at the company, including incidents of discrimination against employees of color. The allegations began to come to light in early June after Or posted on the company’s Instagram account a message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The comments on the post have since been turned off, but it spurred employees into action criticizing Or and the company’s alleged hypocrisy regarding racism.
Employees launched a petition at the time, calling for Tatte to diversify its entirely white executive team and to match employee donations to Black Lives Matter funds, among other demands. An open letter and plans for a protest followed in July.
On July 24, Or publicly confirmed a move reportedly in the works since before the launch of the petition: She’s stepping down as CEO, remaining onboard as an adviser but not running day-to-day operations. Organized under the name Employees for Change, local industry workers and allies released a statement calling the move a good “first step” and noting that “many more actions must still be taken.”
A New Path for a Fenway Cafe
Fenway cafe Neighborhoods Coffee & Crepes (96 Peterborough St., Boston) is changing hands on August 1, with the team behind Vietnamese cafe delivery service Phinista taking over and transitioning the space into Phinista Cafe.
“They will serve exceptional coffee and delicious crepes their own way, and we are confident they will still care about being human and being in community,” writes the Neighborhoods team, with the Phinista team echoing the sentiment in a Facebook post: “There will be changes in the concept and menu, but the community, the heart and soul of Fenway, will always remain and flourish.”
Phinista first appeared in early 2020, delivering coffees, teas, crepes, and pastries while also popping up at several events around the area and opening a banh mi shop and cafe, Banh Mi Oi, in West Roxbury in July. The Phinista menu includes items such as a Vietnamese lavender latte; mango and passion fruit bubble tea; a creme brulee crepe; and ube lava cake. Some of the beverages are also available at Banh Mi Oi, alongside banh mi, pho, vermicelli bowls, and more.
In Other News...
- Widespread rumors of the Cantab Lounge’s demise may be a bit premature, but the legendary Central Square venue — a longtime home for Cambridge’s bluegrass and poetry scenes, among other genres of performance — is indeed for sale. However, in a July 21 announcement, ownership clarifies an intent to continue operating (once allowed to reopen during phase four of the state’s COVID reopening plan, anyway) until a sale is made.
- Two Quincy restaurants, Manet Lunch and Hofbrau Bar and Grill, are closed for two weeks after several employees tested positive for COVID.
- Somerville resident Erika Hapke, a fan of the excellent Porter Exchange food hall in Cambridge, is hoping to help out the small businesses within by compiling current hours and ordering information for each. Find Hapke’s notes on Facebook and Reddit.
- Roxbury West African restaurant Suya Joint is expanding to Providence in September, opening as a takeout-only “cloud kitchen” under the name of Abinchin Plateau.
- A summer 2020 food truck initiative is now in session, with a number of temporary pilot sites added to the typical rotation, spanning 23 parks, playgrounds, and other locations all around the city. Trucks are vending between noon and 7 p.m. daily.
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