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Applebee's Building Greenest Restaurant in New York

Applebee's Building Greenest Restaurant in New York

Waterless urinals, rooftop rainwater, and more abound at the latest development from Applebee's

Applebee's may not have reached cult Olive Garden status, but it's safe to say the neighborhood grill isn't particularly hip. But the brand is upping its metro cool factor by opening an eco-friendly restaurant in East Harlem on Dec. 10, complete with a wall of plants and LED lights.

The New York Post reports that the green Applebee's, which cost $4 million to build, will be the first restaurant in New York City to get a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, and all for just $1 million more than what a conventional Applebee's costs.

Rooftop rainwater harvesting, LED lights, energy-efficient appliances that use 1/3 less gas, and two "waterless" urinals to save about 40,000 gallons of water a year are built into the restaurant. And while waterless urinals might sound a bit unsanitary (but hey, what do we know), the harvested rooftop rainwater will be used for toilets that still need flushing.

Surprisingly, there haven't been reports of a rooftop garden (the roof will be painted white to keep the building cool during the summer), but an indoor "living wall" of plants might just be the place for an herb garden. Perhaps the menu will be a bit greener, as well?


Call it a game changer. Inexpensive surf and turf came in the form of Valle's, an East Coast chain that saw good business from 1933 until the millennium. Although it made it until 2000, the weakened economy that followed the 1970s gas crisis is thought to have sealed its destiny.

One of America&rsquos first casual dining/sports-bar chains, Bennigan's often lagged behind similar concepts from contemporaries like Fridays, Applebee&rsquos, and Chili&rsquos. The chain was sold several times over the years, and filed for bankruptcy in 2008. New ownership has kept just 23 locations open in the U.S.


Daniel Boulud’s Next Restaurant Nods to a New York Classic

He’s naming a new Midtown place for the fabled Le Pavillon, but it will focus on seafood and forgo much of the original’s opulence.

The opening of a white-tablecloth restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, by the chef behind the very formal Daniel, might seem counterintuitive in the midst of a pandemic. But Daniel Boulud is embracing the timing, right down to the new restaurant’s name.

Mr. Boulud is calling it Le Pavillon, after a famed palace of haute cuisine that opened in 1941 during another troubled time, World War II. “This name is significant for New York, and I’m a fan of the history,” said Mr. Boulud, who arrived in the city from France in 1980, eight years after Le Pavillon closed. “It’s good to bring back memories of the past.”

The project was set in motion three years ago, when SL Green, a real estate developer and management company, began construction of One Vanderbilt, a 77-floor office tower that covers a full square block between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues, and 42nd and 43rd Streets. The building was formally opened on Monday, and the restaurant, a joint venture of the company and Mr. Boulud, is scheduled to be ready early next year.

The restaurant, on the 42nd Street side of the building’s second floor, was not planned with pandemic restrictions in mind. It has no outdoor seating, though it features a plethora of greenery, including trees, in an indoor garden area in the bar, the ceiling soars to a height of 75 feet.

“With the bar, there are about 120 seats,” Mr. Boulud said. But, he added, as New York’s dining restrictions remain in flux, there could be far fewer. (Indoor dining in the city will resume on Sept. 30 at 25 percent capacity, and it is unclear exactly when that limit will be raised to 50 percent.)

There will be two small private dining rooms, and a chef’s table in the middle of the garden area. The restaurant is being designed by Isay Weinfeld, the Brazilian architect who did the relocated Four Seasons.

Mr. Boulud said he is not trying to replicate the original Le Pavillon. His menu will feature seafood and vegetables, not classic haute cuisine. “This is a different time that needs a different cuisine I don’t have a seafood restaurant in New York, so I’m excited to be doing this,” he said. Though he plans to use white tablecloths in the evening, tables will be bare for breakfast and lunch. The atmosphere will be modern and less opulent than the original Le Pavillon.

Another memory of Le Pavillon that Mr. Boulud is not planning to evoke is the reputation of Henri Soulé, who founded and managed that restaurant. Known for his sang-froid in the dining room, he was also known in the kitchen for what some on his staff have described as abusive behavior.

“A bunch of us left in the spring of 1960 because of the low pay and the way he treated the staff and the chefs,” said the chef Jacques Pépin, who worked at Le Pavillon for about a year. Still, he said reviving the name was a good idea. “Le Pavillon started a whole era of French restaurants, the Le’s and La’s,” he said. Its alumni went on to open places like La Caravelle and La Grenouille.

At One Vanderbilt, Mr. Boulud will also open a branch of his Épicerie Boulud shop and cafe on the ground floor, and provide the food for a lounge area for tenants on an upper floor.


Two Chefs Moved to Rural Minnesota to Expand on Their Mission of Racial Justice

Mateo Mackbee and Erin Lucas left Minneapolis for a small central Minnesota community, where they are using their restaurant, bakery and farm to promote diversity and teach children about food.

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. — Krewe, a restaurant in this small central-Minnesota city, is a tribute to Mary Mackbee, a former high school principal who raised four children in a Twin Cities suburb on the cooking of her native New Orleans.

“More than anything, gumbo is the smell I remember,” said Mateo Mackbee, one of those children and the chef and co-owner of Krewe. “That’s one you would get outside the front door.”

Mr. Mackbee was in the dining room of Krewe, a window-lined restaurant in a new low-rise building in downtown St. Joseph, a community of 7,000 about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis. His mother was there, too, sharing stories about her life and overseeing the jambalaya that Mr. Mackbee’s 21-year-old son, Makel, was cooking for takeout service later that day.

Krewe’s sign reads “est. 1944,” Ms. Mackbee’s birth year, even though it opened in late May, four days after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis police.

Mr. Mackbee, 47, and Erin Lucas, 27, his girlfriend and business partner, moved to central Minnesota from Minneapolis two years ago. They were driven by a shared desire to bring awareness of racial inequities to rural communities, and to find an alternative to the limited career options available to them in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“I had grown kind of weary of the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities, where it was hard for someone like myself,” Mr. Mackbee said. “I’m a little bit older and a little bit darker than most of the people on the line.”

The partners began with a successful pop-up restaurant in New London, a small city in a neighboring county. They sank deeper roots this spring, when they also opened Flour & Flower, a bakery in a cottage-style building behind Krewe. Ms. Lucas is the bakery’s chef.

On a sunny morning in mid-June, the line of customers waiting to buy her croissants, baguettes and pastries ran outside the bakery nearly to Krewe’s back door. Both businesses are a short bicycle ride from the Lake Wobegon Trail.

St. Joseph, though home to the small liberal-arts College of Saint Benedict, is not a cradle of racial diversity. It’s more than 90 percent white. Locals whose families have lived here for generations say Krewe is the city’s first brick-and-mortar business owned by an African-American. And the community is in a part of Minnesota known for its divisive politics around immigration and race.

But St. Joseph offered Mr. Mackbee an opportunity for ownership that he hadn’t received in the cities, despite his culinary degree and nearly a decade of experience in some of the area’s most respected restaurants. He proudly points out that three members of Krewe’s four-person kitchen staff are people of color.

“We’ve flipped the scenario that I’m normally used to,” he said.

Jon C. Petters, who owns the properties where Krewe and Flour & Flower are located, sold the couple hard on the potential of opening their businesses in St. Joseph. Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas were first wooed to central Minnesota by Mark Kopka, whom Mr. Mackbee met in 2015 in a bar in a Twin Cities suburb. Mr. Kopka is the pastor of Nordland Lutheran Church in Paynesville, which, like St. Joseph, is in Stearns County.

The men bonded over Mr. Mackbee’s dream of starting a farm where he could bring students of color who didn’t otherwise have access to nature — a goal the couple plan to realize in September through Model Citizen, the nonprofit group they created.

“We talked about this larger vision to get kids connected to the land and to food,” Mr. Kopka recalled. “I said, ‘Dude, come check out Paynesville.’”

Mr. Kopka introduced Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas to locals who were hungry for an alternative to the chain restaurants that proliferate in this region of farmland, rolling prairie and lakes. But the chefs were welcomed for reasons that went beyond their culinary talent.

“A lot of people who grew up here, they’ve never known a person of color,” said Steve Peterson, 62, a retired General Mills executive from Paynesville who attends Mr. Kopka’s church. “There’s something about these guys being here that helps.”

Stearns County, while still about 85 percent white, is home to some of the largest immigrant communities in Minnesota. Agriculture and food-processing jobs in central Minnesota towns like Willmar (home to Jennie-O Turkey, in neighboring Kandiyohi County), and St. Cloud, the Stearns County seat, have drawn workers, particularly from East Africa and Latin America, for three decades.

The demographic changes have touched off a rise in nativist politics and xenophobia in Stearns and bordering counties. In 2017, a St. Cloud City Council member proposed a moratorium on new immigrants. The motion failed, but it attested to the open white resentment over immigration. The same year, a Willmar man was arrested after placing a pig’s foot on the table of a farmers’ market booth operated by young Somali Muslims.

Growing up in Stearns County, Emma Ditlevson, a 21-year-old Krewe line cook, overheard friends’ parents as they criticized immigrants for failing to assimilate.

“I don’t think people here realize that it’s a beautiful thing to represent a different culture in a community that doesn’t have that much diversity,” said Ms. Ditlevson, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a white couple. “Instead of seeing the culture as something beautiful and something to embrace and something to understand more, they see it as something people should just give up.”

Mr. Mackbee said St. Joseph doesn’t feel far removed from the unrest and anger unleashed by Mr. Floyd’s killing. The St. Cloud police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters three weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death.

He and Ms. Lucas were drawn to the region in part for the opportunity to confront issues of racial injustice with Model Citizen, just on prairie land instead of pavement — an impulse that is as much a tribute to his mother’s influence as Krewe’s menu.

“We’re probably worse here, as far as racial tension,” Mr. Mackbee said. “I feel like my mom prepared me for coming out here and facing whatever comes my way.”

What to Cook This Week

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • One of the best things about Melissa Clark’s chile-roasted chicken with honey, lemon and feta is the sweet-and-sour drippings in the pan.
    • Yewande Komolafe’s glazed tofu with chile and star anise is a take on the technique behind Sichuan hui guo rou, or twice-cooked pork.
    • Mark Bittman’s shrimp burgers are perfect with mayonnaise, mixed with Texas Pete hot sauce and plenty of lime juice.
    • This spring-vegetable japchae from Kay Chun is made with the Korean sweet-potato noodles known as glass noodles.
    • Millie Peartree’s brown stew chicken is built on a base of store-bought browning sauce, a caramel-hued burnt sugar concoction.

    Mr. Mackbee is soft-spoken, though blunt. Two years ago, he ran for City Council in New London. “I came in third,” he said.

    Small-town life is not new to him. He attended college in rural Wisconsin on a soccer scholarship. While there, he recalled, he was asked to speak to a white student who had hung a noose over a Black student’s dorm-room door.

    “They wanted me to be the one to tell this guy this was a bad thing,” he said. “I’ve been a token my entire life.”

    Krewe’s opening would be notable even if it were in New Orleans, a majority-Black city where restaurants owned by African-Americans are still relatively rare. Equally unusual are restaurant chefs of Mr. Mackbee’s training who learned to cook New Orleans cuisine at home — through recipes that descend directly from African-American home cooks of the Jim Crow era.

    Mr. Mackbee has never worked in a New Orleans-style restaurant. And the food Ms. Mackbee cooked for her children in the 1980s and ’90s was virtually untouched by the vagaries of contemporary restaurant trends. The first time she ate at a white-owned restaurant, she said, was on a visit to Commander’s Palace, in New Orleans, in the mid-60s. She moved to the Twin Cities a few years later.

    “I never had a steak until I came up here,” she said. “I always thought steak was cooked with gravy.”

    Mr. Mackbee talks about his mother’s 51-year career as an educator as much as he does about her cooking. Ms. Mackbee served 26 years as principal of Central High School, the state’s oldest high school and the largest in its capital, St. Paul.

    She retired in 2019, two years after one of her former students, Melvin Carter III, was elected St. Paul’s first African-American mayor. Ms. Mackbee spoke at his inauguration, which was held at Central High.

    “She was one of those principals who never sat in her office,” Mr. Mackbee said. “She’s broken her wrist and all that kind of stuff, breaking up fights at school.”

    Ms. Mackbee, 76, leaned into adversity while growing up in segregated New Orleans. Her civil-rights activism occasionally drew her away from Louisiana as a young adult.

    She recalled knocking on the door of a Roman Catholic bishop in Mobile, Ala., in 1965. She was there to voice her displeasure with the bishop’s removal of a priest who had provided shelter for her and other Black activists when they traveled to Selma to protest that summer.

    Ms. Mackbee ended up taking her grievance to a higher authority. “We wrote a letter to the pope,” she said. “Never heard from him.”

    She married Earsell Mackbee, a cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings, after moving to St. Paul in the late ’60s to become the only Black teacher at a nearly all-white public school. After the couple divorced, Ms. Mackbee raised their four children alone in suburban Bloomington.

    She cooked her family large pots of the dishes she had grown up eating in New Orleans, except that she used sausage where her mother, struggling to make ends meet, used hot dogs.

    “That was the economical way,” Ms. Mackbee said. “But I had a job, so I could afford some real sausage.”

    Mr. Mackbee cooked dinner for a group of friends at Krewe in mid-June, when the restaurant was open only for takeout. (It will begin dine-in service on Thursday.)

    The gumbo, inspired by Ms. Mackbee’s, is reminiscent of a style found in older, Creole restaurants in New Orleans: The broth is thin, stained by a light brown roux and loaded with shrimp and sausage.

    A Midwestern twist came from the andouille sausage made by Johnsonville, a Wisconsin company famous for its bratwurst, and shrimp raised in aboveground pools by Paul Damhof on a former cattle farm outside Willmar. (“Our Willmar water is some of the best water for raising shrimp,” Mr. Damhof said.)

    Similar ingredients enriched a spicy jambalaya Mr. Mackbee also learned from his mother. Instead of mixing the ingredients together as in a paella, the traditional method in southern Louisiana, the Mackbees’ jambalaya is a savory sauce spooned over plain rice. “The way I make it, you don’t have to fish out the shrimp,” Ms. Mackbee said of the idiosyncratic technique.

    Matt Lindstrom, a friend of the chefs, sampled these dishes, along with red beans, barbecue shrimp and bread pudding, as New Orleans music played in Krewe’s dining room. Mr. Lindstrom, 50, is a political-science professor at Saint John’s University, a small liberal-arts college for men just outside St. Joseph that is closely affiliated with the all-woman College of Saint Benedict.

    He struggled to explain his excitement over finding a place like Krewe in St. Joseph.

    “When I was a kid, it was a big deal to go to Applebee’s,” said Mr. Lindstrom, who grew up in Willmar. “And you had to drive to St. Cloud for that.”

    In September, Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas hope to bring the first group of local students to the one-acre farm they are building with Mr. Kopka and other collaborators in Paynesville. It’s based on a project the chefs tried out in New London.

    “One of the things we noticed is that all of these kids are literally surrounded by farmland,” Mr. Mackbee said, “but they literally don’t have the opportunity to step onto it.”

    Ms. Lucas remembers how thrilled some young Somali students were by the sight of rhubarb, assuming it was tamarind. “They were like, ‘We haven’t seen this since we were home,’” Ms. Lucas said.

    The new farm is near the north fork of the Crow River, on land donated to Model Citizen by the retired executive Mr. Peterson and his wife, Mary, through a partnership with Nordland church. Mr. Peterson spent his later years at General Mills trying to educate farmers on the virtues of regenerative agriculture, a sustainable farming practice that aims to improve the soil.

    “We see this farm as a model for the area,” said Mr. Peterson, “to encourage other young people to be entrepreneurs, and to do what’s right for the land.”

    By year’s end, Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas plan to have a chicken coop, sheep and a wood-fired oven to cook for outdoor parties on the property. The ingredients will show up on their menus. And, ideally, the farm will enrich the community in other ways.

    Standing outdoors on a windy afternoon last month, Mr. Mackbee looked toward a patch of forest at the edge of the still-unplowed farmland. “I need to get the kids out here to see it and to smell it,” he said.

    His thoughts drifted toward a future when he can host children of color from the Twin Cities, like those his mother taught for so many years.

    “If we can just get them out here for a while, away from the stress,” he said, “maybe we can help give them what they need, to be what they want to be, and not what society says they are.”


    I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

    For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

    Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."

    Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.

    Just like the pro chefs use. A secret blend of herbs and spices that will make your homemade steaks taste like they came from a famous steakhouse chain. All-natural. Contains no MSG or preservatives. Great for anyone who likes a truly amazing steak.

    Top Secret Steak Rub is created by Food Hacker Todd Wilbur who has spent the last 30 years reverse-engineering popular menu items at the most-loved restaurant chains across America. By identifying the herbs, spices and other ingredients that make great restaurant food taste so good, Todd created this custom Top Secret Steak Rub to help you make restaurant-style steaks at home. All it takes is just a few shakes. Then cook the steaks your favorite way.

    7-ounce bottle. Money back guarantee. Kosher certified. Gluten-free.

    Menu Description: "Our most popular dish! Shrimp and Chicken Sauteed with Onions, Peppers and Tomatoes in a Very Spicy Cajun Sauce. All on top of Fresh Fettuccine."

    The Cheesecake Factory's founder, David Overton, says it was his unfamiliarity with the restaurant business that contributed to the company's success. In an interview with Nation's Restaurant News David says, "We did not know anything about running restaurants. We just knew that people valued fresh foods. In some ways our naivete helped us because we didn't know what you are not supposed to do."

    I think we all know it helps to serve good food and that's an area in which the Cheesecake Factory excels. The pastas and salads top the list of big sellers, but it's the Cajun Jambalaya Pasta that holds the pole position, according to the menu description of this dish. Jambalaya is a spicy Creole dish that usually combines a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some type of meat with rice. Rather than the traditional rice, the Cheesecake Factory has designed its version to include two types of fettuccine—an attractive mix of standard white noodles and spinach-flavored noodles.

    This recipe makes 2 huge portions, like those served in the restaurant. It's probably enough food for a family of four.

    What is the McDonald's sign referring to when it says "Over 100 billion served?" That's not the number of customers served, but the number of beef patties sold since McDonald's first opened its doors in the forties. A hamburger counts as one patty. A Big Mac counts as two.

    McDonald's sold its 11 billionth hamburger in 1972, the same year that this sandwich, the Quarter Pounder, was added to the growing menu. That was also the year large fries were added and founder Ray Kroc was honored with the Horatio Alger Award (the two events are not related). In 1972, the 2,000th McDonald's opened its doors, and by the end of that year McDonald's had finally become a billion-dollar corporation.

    Find more of my McDonald's copycat recipes here.

    Menu Description: "A house specialty full of baked potatoes and topped with Cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions."

    The thick-and-creamy texture and rich taste of Tony Roma's best-selling soup is duplicated with a little flour, some half-and-half, and most notably, instant mashed potatoes. Give yourself an hour to bake the potatoes and around 30 minutes to prepare the soup. Garnish each serving with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and green onions, and then humbly await your due praise.

    Menu Description: "Our famous fries are fresh cut daily from whole potatoes with the skins left on."

    Not only can I show you the best way to make french fries at home in this clone of Islands top-selling version, but I'm also supplying you with a super simple way to make the same type of salt blend that Islands uses to make those fries so dang addicting. As with any good french fry recipe, you'll need to slice your potatoes into strips that are all equal thickness. That means you need a mandoline, or similar slicing device, that makes 1/4-inch slices. Once you've got your potatoes cut, you must rinse and soak them in water to expel the excess starch. The frying comes in two stages: A quick blanching stage, and the final frying to put a crispy coating on the suckers. Islands uses a combination of peanut and vegetable oils in their fryers, so you simply combine the two in your home fryer. The whole process is not that tough once you get going, and certainly worth the effort if hungry mouths are waiting for the perfect homemade french fries. However, if you want to simplify the process because your hungry mouths aren't of the patient sort, you could certainly buy frozen french fries, cook 'em up following the instructions on the bag, and then sprinkle on this garlic/onion salt blend for a quick-and-easy kitchen clone.

    When Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola opened the first Carrabba's restaurant in 1986, they used a collection of their own traditional family recipes to craft a terrific Italian menu. You'll even find the names of friends and family in several of those dishes including Pollo Rosa Maria, Chicken Bryan, Scampi Damian and Insalata Johnny Rocco. Now you can easily recreate the taste of the delicious dressing that's tossed into the salad that's served before each Carrabba's entree. And you need only six ingredients. For the grated Parmesan cheese, go ahead and use the stuff made by Kraft that comes in the green shaker canisters. And if you don't have any buttermilk, you can substitute regular milk. Since it's so thick, this dressing is best when tossed into your salad before serving it, just like the real thing.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

    Menu Description: "Fire-roasted chicken breast topped with mushrooms, prosciutto and our Florio Marsala wine sauce."

    To reverse-engineer this big-time favorite entree, I ordered the dish to go, with the sauce on the side, so that I could separately analyze each component. After some trial and error in the underground lab, I found that recreating the secret sauce from scratch is easy enough with a couple small cans of sliced mushrooms, a bit of prosciutto, some Marsala wine, shallots, garlic and a few other good things. Cooking the chicken requires a very hot grill. The restaurant chain grills chicken breasts over a blazing real wood fire, so crank your grill up high enough to get the flames nipping at your cluckers (not a euphemism) for this Carrabba's chicken marsala recipe. If your grill has a lid, keep it open so you can watch for nasty flare-ups.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Carrabba's.

    Menu Description: "Loaded with cheddar cheese and bacon. Served with sour cream and chives."

    Perfume salesman Alan Stillman was a single guy in New York City in 1965, looking for a way to meet women who lived in his neighborhood. He figured out a way to get their attention: buy a broken-down beer joint in the area, jazz it up, and call it "The T.G.I.F." to attract the career crowd. Within a week, police had barricaded the area to control crowds flocking to Alan's new restaurant. The restaurant made $1 million in its first year—a lot of dough back then. Soon restaurateurs across the country were imitating the concept.

    In 1974 T.G.I. Friday's invented an appetizer that would also be copied by many in the following years. Potato skins are still the most popular item on the T.G.I. Friday's menu, with nearly 4 million orders served every year. The recipe has the added benefit of providing you with leftover baked potato ready for mashing.

    T.G.I Friday's has several popular dishes. See if I cloned your favorites here.

    The little red packets of viscous hot sauce at the fast food giant have a cult following of rabid fans who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on large quantities. One such fan of the sauce commented online, "Are there any Wendy's employees or managers out there who will mail me an entire case of Hot Chili Seasoning? I swear this is not a joke. I love the stuff. I tip extra cash to Wendy's workers to get big handfuls of the stuff." Well, there's really no need to tip any Wendy's employees, because now you can clone as much of the spicy sauce as you want in your own kitchen with this Top Secret Recipe.

    The ingredients listed on the real Hot Chili Seasoning are water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, and extractives of paprika. We'll use many of those same ingredients for our clone, but we'll substitute gelatin for the xanthan gum (a thickener) to get the slightly gooey consistency right. For the natural flavor and color we'll use cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, then filter the particles out with a fine wire-mesh strainer after they've contributed what the sauce needs.

    This recipe makes 5 ounces of sauce— just the right amount to fit nicely into a used hot sauce bottle—and costs just pennies to make.

    Menu Description: "Sliced turkey, avocado, tomato, sprouts, and lettuce with mayonnaise on wheat bread."

    The successful chain of Bennigan's restaurants is owned by Metromedia, one of the largest privately held partnerships in the country. Metromedia ranks second on the list of the country's largest casual dining restaurant companies, just behind Little Caesar's Pizza. Other restaurant chains controlled by Metromedia include Steak and Ale, Montana Steak Company, Ponderosa Steakhouse, and Bonanza Steakhouse chains. Altogether Metromedia owns more than 1500 restaurants that ring up nearly half a billion in revenue each year.

    It's funny how any sandwich with avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, and lettuce in it winds up with "California" somewhere in the name. This recipe is not exactly a healthier alternative with all the mayonnaise and avocado in there, but if it's low-fat you're looking for, simply substitute a "light" mayonnaise for the regular stuff, ditch the avocado, and you're on your way to the beach.

    In Zagat's 1995 New York City Restaurant Survey, Le Cirque 2000, one of the city's most upscale restaurants, received a 25 rating out of a possible 30. In the same guide, Al "The Soup Nazi" Yeganeh's Soup Kitchen International scored an impressive 27. That put the Soup Nazi's eatery in 14th place among the city's best restaurants for that year.

    It was common to see lines stretching around the corner and down the block as hungry patrons waited for their cup of one of five daily hot soup selections. Most of the selections changed every day, but of the three days that I was there, the Mexican Chicken Chili recipe was always on the menu. The first two days it was sold out before I got to the front of the line. But on the last day I got lucky: "One extra-large Mexican Chicken Chili, please." Hand over money, move to the extreme left.

    Here is a hack for what has become one of the Soup Nazi's most popular culinary masterpieces. If you like, you can substitute turkey breast for the chicken to make turkey chili, which was the soup George Costanza ordered on the show.

    Update 1/9/17: Replace the 10 cups of water with 8 cups of chicken broth for a shorter simmer time and better flavor. I also like using El Pato tomato sauce (recipe calls for 1/2 cup) for a bit more heat.

    A couple years ago Taco Bell and Kraft Foods got together to produce a line of products—everything from taco kits to salsas and spice mixes—all stamped with the familiar Taco Bell logo and available in supermarkets across the country. The idea was a winner, and now the Taco Bell line of products is among Kraft's top sellers. The clone of this mix, made with a combination of common spices and cornstarch, can be kept indefinitely until your brain's fajita-craving neurons begin firing. When you're set to cook, you'll need some chicken, a bell pepper, and an onion, then follow the same prep instructions you find on the package of the real thing.

    Top your fajitas off with one Taco Bell's famous sauces from my recipes here.

    Smashing a guitar and hanging it on the wall will not give you the true Hard Rock Cafe experience unless you then eat a sandwich with this cole slaw served on the side. You have to be patient though since it's not something you can enjoy right away. Good cole slaw needs a little time to chill in the cool box—24 hours at least. The cabbage needs a chance to get it together with the other ingredients before rocking out at the gig inside your mouth.

    Now, how about a killer pulled pork sandwich or bar-b-que beans? I've got more Hard Rock Cafe hacks for you here.

    Menu Description: "A premium charbroiled chicken breast with sweet teriyaki sauce, grilled pineapple, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. Why did the chicken cross the Pacific? Now you know."

    You're out there on the front line hanging over the grill. The smoke's in your eyes, the hair on your forearm is singed, and your sunburn is heading toward 2nd degree. But you don't care, because it's Saturday and you still get all of Sunday to heal. So whip out some chicken and grab the mallet or tenderizer to pound the chicken to a uniform thickness that works best when building these sandwiches. The sweet and salty flavors of the custom secret teriyaki marinade go perfectly with the grilled pineapple and Swiss cheese (this recipe is for one sandwich but you'll have enough teriyaki marinade to make several sandwiches). Just be sure to watch the pineapple and chicken carefully while over the flames, since the teriyaki marinade has sugar in it and could cause nasty flare-ups and charring.

    If you start making black bean soup in the morning using other recipes out there, you're lucky to be slurping soup by lunchtime. That's because most recipes require dry beans that have to re-hydrate for at least a couple hours, and many recipes say "overnight." But, you know, tomorrow is just too far away when you're craving soup right now. So, for this often requested clone recipe, I sped up the process by incorporating canned black beans, rather than the dry ones. That way, once you get all the veggies chopped, you'll be souped up in just about an hour. Friday's version of this soup has a slightly smoky flavor that's easily duplicated here with just a little bit of concentrated liquid smoke flavoring found in most supermarkets. Just be sure to get the kind that says "hickory flavor."

    If you like baked beans you'll want to try this clone recipe from the world's first theme restaurant chain. Combine ingredients in a covered casserole dish, and bake for an hour and a half. This makes the dish handy if transporting to another location for a party or potluck, since you can fill the dish, cover it, then pop it into the oven once you arrive. For the pulled pork you can either use the recipe here Hard Rock Cafe Pig Sandwich clone, or you can add some pre-made pulled pork found in most stores. Or just leave that ingredient out. Either way the beans you make here will be a tasty side dish or solo snack.

    In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

    Chi-Chi's cofounder Marno McDermott named his restaurant chain after his wife Chi Chi. He claims the name is quite memorable as it translates in Spanish into something like "hooters" in English. The Minneapolis Star quoted McDermott in 1977 shortly after the first Chi-Chi's opened in Richfield, Minneapolis, "English-speaking patrons remember it because it's catchy. And the Spanish-speaking customers are amused. Either way, it doesn't hurt business."

    One of the side dishes included with several of the entrees at Chi-Chi's is the Sweet Corn Cake. It's sort of like cornbread, but much softer, almost like corn pudding. You'll find it goes well with just about any Mexican dish. The recipe requires a bain marie, or water bath—a baking technique commonly used to keep custards from cracking or curdling. This is done by baking the corn cake in another larger pan filled with a little hot water.

    Try more of my Chi-Chi's copycat recipes here.

    Order an entree from America's largest seafood restaurant chain and you'll get a basket of some of the planet's tastiest garlic-cheese biscuits served up on the side. For many years this recipe has been the most-searched-for clone recipe on the Internet, according to Red Lobster. As a result, several versions are floating around, including one that was at one time printed right on the box of Bisquick baking mix.

    The problem with making biscuits using Bisquick is that if you follow the directions from the box you don't end up with a very fluffy or flakey finished product, since most of the fat in the recipe comes from the shortening that's included in the mix. On its own, room temperature shortening does a poor job creating the light, airy texture you want from good biscuits, and it contributes little in the way of flavor. So, we'll invite some cold butter along on the trip -- with grated Cheddar cheese and a little garlic powder. Now you'll be well on your way to delicious Cheddar Bay. Wherever that is.

    Give this simple soup clone a shot and you'll never again want to eat chicken soup from a can. I designed this recipe to be easy, requiring chicken fillets rather than a whole chicken, and you won't need to create a stock from scratch.

    Menu Description: "Our marinated chicken breast coated with Parmesan cheese and crunchy panko breadcrumbs, lightly pounded and pan fried to a golden brown. Served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and topped with a lemon Chardonnay butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese."

    This re-creation lays out a great way to prepare that 4-pack of chicken breasts you dropped into your shopping cart. While you're at the market, head down the aisle where the Asian foods are parked and pick up some Japanese breadcrumbs, also called "panko" breadcrumbs. Combining these coarse breadcrumbs with shredded Parmesan cheese makes a crispy breading for the chicken that doesn't even need a sauce to taste good. Still, the lemony Chardonnay butter sauce used at the restaurant is cloned here too, so you'll have the complete flavor experience. You'll want to plan ahead a bit for this dish since the chicken fillets will need to marinate in the brine solution for 2 to 3 hours. This dish goes great with the clone recipe for BJ's White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.

    You'll find these easy-to-clone mashers served alongside BJ's new Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast (click here for a clone of that dish). But this is a versatile side that can also be served up with all sorts of your home-cooked entrees. You won't need gravy for these rich, flavorful mashed potatoes—just a fork.

    Menu Description: "Two cheeses, bacon, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos grilled between tortillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa."

    When Bill and T.J. Palmer opened their first restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980, they realized their dream of building a full-service, reasonably-priced restaurant in a neighborhood setting. They called their first place T.J. Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs, and soon began franchising the concept. In 1988 some franchisees bought the rights to the name and changed it to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar. By that time, there were over 650 outlets, making Applebee's one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world.

    According to waiters at the restaurant, the easy-to-make and slightly spicy quesadillas are one of the most popular appetizers on the Applebee's menu. The recipe calls for 10-inch or "burrito-size" flour tortillas, which can be found in most supermarkets, but any size can be used in a pinch. Look for the jalapeno "nacho slices" in the ethnic or Mexican food section of the supermarket. You'll find these in jars or cans.

    Find more of your favorite Applebee's copycat recipes here.

    The secret to great crab cakes starts with great crab. Freshly cooked blue crab is the crab of choice for these crustacean cakes, but you can often find high quality canned backfin blue crab in some stores. One such brand comes in 16-ounce cans from Phillips Seafood and is sold at Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and Vons stores. Once you've got the crab grabbed you need to pick up some panko. Panko is Japanese-style bread crumbs usually found near the other Asian foods in your market. The Factory uses a little bit of panko to coat each of these small crab cakes for a great, lightly crunchy texture. One order of this appetizer at the restaurant gets you 3 crab cakes this recipe makes 6 cakes from 1/2-pound of crab. If you have a 1-pound can of crabmeat, you can save the leftover 1/2-pound for another recipe or double-up on this one. Any surplus crab cakes will keep for 24 hours in the fridge before you need to get them in a pan. Oh, and one other thing to remember when making crab cakes: be gentle. Don't stir the crab too much into the other ingredients. Rather, fold the mixture gingerly with a spatula to combine. You want any big chunks of tasty crab to stay as big chunks of tasty crab in the finished product.

    I've duplicated many popular dishes from Cheesecake Factory. See if I cloned your favorites here.

    Menu Description: "With pieces of chicken marinated in a spicy peanut-ginger and sesame sauce, green onions, bean sprouts, julienne carrots, cilantro and roasted peanuts."

    After the first California Pizza Kitchen opened in Beverly Hills in 1985 success came quickly: there are currently 78 restaurants in 18 states. In 1992, huge food conglomerate PepsiCo paid over $70 million for a 70 percent share of the company-just eight years after Larry and Rick started the company. As for those two, well, they pocketed $18 million apiece, or around 70 times their initial investment in 1985.

    Thai Chicken Pizza is one of the oldest varieties of pizza still on the menu, and remains a favorite. If you prefer, you can make this California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Pizza recipe with a store-bought package dough or dough mix, but I recommend making the crust yourself. If you decide to do that, make it one day ahead of time so that it can rise slowly in the refrigerator. If you liked this, be sure to check out our CPK BBQ chicken pizza recipe.

    The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

    One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

    This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

    Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

    I've cloned a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.

    Although the drink is 99 percent sugar water, that other 1 percent is the key to the drink's unique taste. The tangy citrus flavors, from lime juice, citrus oils, and citric acid (today the citric acid has been replaced with phosphoric acid), was used by pharmacist John Pemberton to overcome the inherent unpleasant bitterness of cocaine and caffeine. Even after removing the cocaine from the drink, it was still necessary to conceal the ghastly flavor of kola nut and coca leaf extract from the taste buds with the sweet, tangy syrup.

    To make an accurate clone of Coca-Cola at home, I started with the medicinal ingredient, probably just as John did. But rather than harvesting kola nuts, we have the luxury of access to caffeine pills found in any grocery store or pharmacy. One such brand is Vivarin, but it is yellow in color with a thick coating and it tastes much too bitter. NoDoz, however, is white and less bitter, with a thinner coating. Each NoDoz tablet contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, and a 12-ounce serving Coke has 46 milligrams in it. So, if we use 8 NoDoz tablets that have been crushed into powder with a mortar and pestle (or in a bowl using the back of a spoon) we get 44 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving, or 36 milligrams in each of the 10-ounce servings we make with this recipe.

    Finding and adding the caffeine is the easy part. You'll probably have more trouble obtaining Coke's crucial flavoring ingredient: cassia oil. I was hoping to leave such a hard-to-get ingredient out of this recipe, but I found it impossible. The unique flavor of the Coke absolutely requires the inclusion of this Vietnamese cinnamon oil (usually sold for aromatherapy), but only a very small amount. You'll find the cassia oil in a health food store (I used the brand Oshadhi), along with the lemon oil and orange oil. The yield of this recipe had to be cranked up to 44 10-ounce servings since these oils are so strong—just one drop is all you'll need. Find them in bottles that allow you to measure exactly one drop if you can. If the oils don't come in such a bottle, buy eyedroppers at a drug store. Before you leave the health food store, don't forget the citric acid.

    This recipe, because of the old-fashioned technique of adding the syrup to soda water, creates a clone of Coke as it would taste coming out of a fountain machine. That Coke is usually not as fizzy as the bottled stuff. But if you add some ice to a glass of bottled Coke, and them some of this cloned version, the bubbles will settle down and you'll discover how close the two are. You can keep the syrup in a sealed container in the fridge until you are ready to mix each drink with soda water.

    Because subtle differences in flavor can affect the finished product, be sure to measure your ingredients very carefully. Use the flat top edge of a butter knife to scrape away the excess sugar and citric acid from the top of the measuring cup and teaspoon, and don't estimate on any of the liquid ingredients.

    Menu Description: "Scallions, garlic and chili peppers stir-fried with ground chicken nesting on hot egg noodles. Garnished with shredded cucumber and bean sprouts."

    To clone P.F. Chang's take on this traditional Chinese noodle dish you should use a wok, but I found that a large saucepan works well too. Saute a couple of chicken breasts ahead of time and give them a chance to cool so you can finely mince them up. Get out the cleaver, if you've got one, and chop away. Or just use a big chef's knife. You can prepare the chicken ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge until you're ready to make the dish. Once you've got the chicken hacked up, you'll have tasty noodles on the table in less than ten minutes.

    This CPK creation is a top pick at the 209-unit chain, most likely because chefs slather on a delicious sweet-and-spicy Caribbean sauce where tomato sauce usually sits on traditional Italian-style pies. Making the sauce from scratch is the way to go for true clone rangers, but if you'd like a shortcut, find Tiger Sauce in your local market where the bottled hot sauces are sold, and use that. If you want another shortcut, rather than mixing your own jerk seasoning from scratch, use any jerk blend or seasoning. I do recommend making the pizza dough from scratch, rather than buying prepared dough, however. You'll need to plan ahead on this part of the recipe so that the dough has a chance to slowly rise in your fridge overnight. This is the technique the pros use to recreate professional-style, chewy pizza dough. To bake the pizzas—this recipes makes two—I suggest cooking them on a preheated pizza stone in your oven. This is the best way to reproduce the taste and texture of the great pizzas at CPK.

    Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."

    The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect clone with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version.

    According to legend, in 1683 a Jewish baker shaped dough into the form of a riding stirrup to honor King Sobieski of Poland, a skilled horseman who had saved the Austrian people from Turkish invaders. Three hundred years later, this Boulder, Colorado chain is the biggest seller of what has become Americas favorite bagel brand. Since the first Einstein Bros. Bagel store opened in 1995, the chain has quickly expanded into 38 states. Today there are around 450 Einstein Bros. Bagel stores serving 16 varieties of the chewy bread snack. The company also owns Noah's Bagels, giving them another 140 stores. Each company has its own style of bagel, but both brands often win awards in local bagel contests. The company strives to open a new Einstein Bros. or Noah's somewhere in the country each business day.

    Here are clone recipes for three of the chains most popular bagels plain, everything, and jalapeno. You'll notice the special ingredient that sets these bagels apart from others is molasses. That gives the bagels a sweet flavor as well as a slightly dark tint.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 bagel
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–Plain 337, Everything 356, Jalapeno 340
    Fat per serving–Plain 1g, Everything 2g, Jalapeno 1g

    Menu Description: "A large flour tortilla topped with melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, grilled chipotle chicken, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. Rolled, sliced and served with a Mexi-ranch dipping sauce."

    Take Applebee's delicious chicken chipotle fajita recipe, roll it up in a large flour tortilla with lettuce, cheeses and fresh pico de gallo and you've got a meal to wrap your hands around. The Mexi-ranch dipping sauce is the perfect creamy compliment for this recipe and you can use what's left over for a dressing on your next salad. The sauce is actually just a kicked-up ranch dressing recipe that includes a small amount of buttermilk in the ingredients list. But if you don't want to buy a whole carton of buttermilk to use just a tablespoon for this recipe, that's okay. Substitute the regular moo juice you've got sitting in the fridge. For the spicy marinade it's best to use ground chipotle pepper (dried smoked red jalapeno) made by McCormick. If you can't find that stuff, cut the amount in half and use cayenne pepper. For the cheeses, many major brands make a cheddar/Jack blend that will work great here if you'd rather not buy the cheeses separately. That's helpful if you're about to tip the limit for the express lane checkout line.

    Menu Description: "Shredded napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and scallions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressing. Topped with crispy rice sticks and Thai peanut dressing."

    You can plan ahead for this amazing salad clone by first grilling the chicken and chilling it, then preparing the cilantro-lime dressing and the peanut sauce in advance. The menu description says that the salad is topped with "crispy rice sticks," but they look to me like crispy bean threads, cooked in a flash when dropped into hot oil for a few seconds. The crispy wontons are made from frying thinly sliced wonton wrappers in the same hot oil. For the edamame (soybeans), look in the frozen food section, and if they're still in their pods, be sure to take them out before measuring and tossing them into the salad. Once you've got everything chilled and chopped, building each dish is a breeze, and you'll have four huge dinner-size salads that will each be enough for an entire meal.

    I've cloned a ton of dishes from California Pizza Kitchen. See if I hacked your favorites here.

    Exclusive signed copy. America's best copycat recipes! Save money and amaze your friends with all-new culinary carbon copies from the Clone Recipe King!

    For more than 30 years, Todd Wilbur has been obsessed with reverse-engineering famous foods. Using every day ingredients to replicate signature restaurant dishes at home, Todd shares his delectable discoveries with readers everywhere.

    Now, his super-sleuthing taste buds are back to work in the third installment of his mega-bestselling Top Secret Restaurant Recipes series, with 150 sensational new recipes that unlock the delicious formulas for re-creating your favorite dishes from America's most popular restaurant chains. Todd's top secret blueprints and simple step-by-step instructions guarantee great success for even novice cooks. And when preparing these amazing taste-alike dishes at home, you'll be paying up to 75 percent less than eating out!

    Find out how to make your own home versions of: Pizza Hut Pan Pizza, T.G.I. Friday's Crispy Green Bean Fries, Buca di Beppo Chicken Limone, Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, P.F. Chang's Kung Pao Chicken, Max & Erma's Tortilla Soup, Cracker Barrel Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake, Olive Garden Breadsticks, Cheesecake Factory Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake, Carrabba's Chicken Bryan, Famous Dave's Corn Muffins, Outback Steakhouse Chocolate Thunder from Down Under, T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniel's Glazed Ribs, and much, much more.

    Simple. Foolproof. Easy to Prepare. And so delicious you'll swear it's the real thing!


    I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

    For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

    Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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    Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

    I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.

    Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.

    Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.

    The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

    One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

    This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

    Menu Description: "Flame-grilled Atlantic Salmon with Applebee's Honey Pepper Sauce served with a side of almond rice pilaf, seasoned vegetables and toasted garlic bread."

    It's all about the sauce. This sweet, tangy and slightly spicy sauce goes perfectly with salmon, but can also be used on chicken or ribs. Just be sure to watch the sauce closely as it cooks in case it starts to bubble over. If it sounds like I'm speaking from experience, you're right—oh, what a beautiful mess I made on one attempt. So, cook the sauce slowly, and watch it closely as it thickens. If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit of water to thin it out. I suggest serving this salmon with almond rice pilaf as they do in the restaurant. You can find a good clone recipe here on the site.

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

    Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

    I've cloned a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.

    Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.

    If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.

    The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.

    After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.

    You might also like my #1 recipe of 2019, Texas Roadhouse Rolls.

    Crafting a clone of Olive Garden’s signature Lasagna Classico became the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful multi-layered lasagna hack recipe that uses up the whole box of lasagna noodles and fills the baking pan all the way to the top. This Top Secret Recipe makes a lasagna that tips the scale at nearly 10 pounds and will feed hungry mouths for days, with every delicious layer copied directly from the carefully dissected Olive Garden original.

    I found a few credible bits of intel in a video of an Olive Garden chef demonstrating what he claims is the real formula on a midday news show, but the recipe was abbreviated for TV and the chef left out some crucial information. One ingredient he conspicuously left out of the recipe is the secret layer of Cheddar cheese located near the middle of the stack. I wasn’t expecting to find Cheddar in lasagna, but when I carefully separated the layers from several servings of the original dish, there was the golden melted cheesy goodness in every slice.

    This clone recipe will make enough for 8 big portions, but if you make slightly smaller slices this is easily enough food to fill twelve lasagna-loving bellies. If you like lasagna, you're going to love this version.

    Browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.

    This 220-unit downscaled version of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro targets the lunch crowd with a smaller menu that features bento boxes, bowls, and small plates. The bestseller on the menu is this orange chicken, which I have to say is pretty damn good orange chicken. Obviously, a clone is needed for this one, stat.

    The name “Wei Better Orange Chicken” is a competitive callout to Panda Express's signature orange chicken, which is made with pre-breaded and frozen chicken. Pei Wei claims its orange chicken is prepared each day from scratch with chicken that is never frozen, so we’ll craft our clone the same way. But rather than assemble the dish in a wok over a high-flame fast stove like they do at the restaurant, we’ll prepare the sauce and chicken separately, then toss them with fresh orange wedges just before serving.

    By the way, this dish goes very well with white or brown rice, so don’t forget to make some.

    Braised and shredded pork shoulder is a staple of Mexican cuisine that Chipotle prepares with a simple blend of flavors, and a surprising ingredient you may not have expected: juniper berries. Once you track those down (they’re easy to find online), the berries are combined with thyme and bay leaves in a braising liquid that will transform your own pork roast into an easily shreddable thing of beauty in under 3 hours. Then you can use your freshly cloned carnitas on tacos, in burritos, or in a bowl over rice and beans just like they do in the restaurant.

    When picking your pork roast, try to find one without too much fat. If your roast has a thick cap of fat on it, trim off the excess. You want some fat in your braising liquid, but if the cap of fat is too thick, it may not fully render down and you’ll get chunks of fat in the shred.

    It’s often assumed that the pork butt is from the rear end of the pig, even though cuts from the back region already have a name: ham. The pork butt, also known as a Boston butt, is cut from the other end, the upper shoulder of the pig. It’s called a “butt” because in pre-Revolutionary War New England the roasts were stored and transported in barrels called “butts”, and the confusing name stuck.

    For two years after the first Olive Garden restaurant opened in 1982, operators were still tweaking the restaurant's physical appearance and the food that was served. Even the tomato sauce was changed as many as 25 times. It's that sort of dedication that creates fabulous dishes like this popular soup. It blends the flavors of potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage in a slightly spicy chicken and cream broth.

    You've got the soup recipe, how about creating your own bottomless Olive Garden House Salad and Breadsticks? Find more of my Olive Garden clone recipes here!

    A popular staple of any Chinese chain is the fried rice so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's an easy hack when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold.

    As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked.

    Now, how about some Honey Walnut Shrimp, or Beijing Beef to go with that rice? Find all my Panda Express copycat recipes here.

    Menu Description: “Two lightly fried parmesan-breaded chicken breasts are smothered with Olive Garden’s homemade marinara sauce and melted Italian cheeses. We serve our Chicken Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti for dinner.”

    Chicken parmigiana is a forever favorite, and it’s not a difficult dish to whip up at home. But for it to taste like the Olive Garden signature entree, we’ll need to take some very specific steps.

    Olive Garden’s chicken is salty and moist all the way through, so we must first start by brining the chicken. Give yourself an extra hour for this important marinating step. The marinara sauce used on the chicken is an Olive Garden specialty and no bottled sauce compares, so we’ll make our own from scratch using canned crushed tomatoes and the formula below.

    While the sauce cooks, filling your house with its intoxicating aroma, the chicken is breaded and browned. When the marinara is done, top the chicken with the sauce and mozzarella and stick it under your hot broiler until bubbling.

    Hopefully, everyone at your house is hungry, because the Olive Garden dinner portion is two chicken fillets, and this recipe will yield a total of four 2-piece servings. Add a small serving of spaghetti on the side, topped with more of the delicious sauce, and you'll have a perfect match to the restaurant plate.

    Can't get enough Olive Garden? Click here for more of my copycat recipes.

    Menu Description: "Chicken breast tenderloins sauteed with bell peppers, roasted garlic and onions in a garlic cream sauce over angel hair."

    This dish is a big favorite of Olive Garden regulars. Chicken tenderloins are lightly breaded and sauteed along with colorful bell peppers and chopped red onion. Angel hair pasta is tossed into the pan along with a healthy dose of fresh scampi sauce. The sauce is really the star, so you might think about doubling the recipe. If you're cooking for two, you can prepare this dish for the table in one large skillet, saving the remaining ingredients for another meal. If you're making all four servings at once, you need two skillets. If you can't find fresh chicken tenderloins (the tender part of the chicken breast), you can usually find bags of them in the freezer section.

    Find more delicious recipes for Olive Garden's most famous dishes here.

    The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet. Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.

    In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

    It may not be listed on the menu, but this is Applebee's most ladled soup each and every day. Just be sure you have some oven-safe soup bowls on hand before you jump into this clone, since you're going to pop the dish under the broiler to brown and melt the cheese on top. Under the gooey melted provolone of the original version you get from Applebee's is a unique round crouton that's made from bread that looks like a hamburger bun. So that's what we'll use for our clone. The round shape of the bread is perfect for topping this Applebee's French onion soup recipe.

    Before he became America's sausage king, Jimmy Dean was known for crooning the country hit "Big Bad John." That song came out in 1962 and sold more than 8 million copies. His singing success launched a television career on ABC with The Jimmy Dean Show, where Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, and Roger Miller got their big breaks. The TV exposure led to acting roles for Jimmy, as a regular on Daniel Boone, and in feature films, including his debut in the James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever. Realizing that steady income from an acting and singing career can be undependable, Jimmy invested his show-biz money in a hog farm. In 1968 the Jimmy Dean Meat Company developed the special recipe for sausage that has now become a household name. Today the company is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, and Jimmy retired as company spokesman in 2004.

    This clone recipe re-creates three varieties of the famous roll sausage that you form into patties and cook in a skillet. Use ground pork found at the supermarket—make it lean pork if you like—or grind some up yourself if you have a meat grinder.

    Check out more of my famous breakfast food clone recipes here.

    Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."

    In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.

    Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.

    Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.

    A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.

    While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.

    Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.

    Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.

    This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.

    This recipe was our #4 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

    In the Bush’s Beans commercials, Duke, the family golden retriever, wants to sell the secret family recipe, but the Bush family always stops him. The dog is based on the Bush family’s real-life golden retriever, and the campaign, which began in 1995, made Bush’s the big dog of the canned baked beans market practically overnight. Their confidential baked beans formula is considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.

    Bush Brothers & Company had been canning a variety of fruits and vegetables for over 60 years when, in 1969, the company created canned baked beans using a cherished recipe from a family matriarch. Sales jumped from 10 thousand cases in the first year to over 100 thousand cases in 1970. And just one year later sales hit a million cases. Today Bush’s makes over 80 percent of the canned baked beans sold in the U.S., and the secret family recipe remains a top food secret, despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drat!)—is on display at the company's visitor center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.

    I chose to hack the “Country Style” version of Bush’s Beans because I don’t think the Original flavor has enough, uh, flavor. Country Style is similar to Original, but richer, with more brown sugar. The recipe starts by soaking dry small white beans in a brine overnight. The salt in the water helps to soften the skins, but don’t soak them for more than 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.

    My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the real Bush’s beans, which include caramel coloring—an ingredient that can be hard to find on its own. I eventually discovered that the “browning” sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, will add the dark caramel color needed to our home version of the beans so that they’ll look just like the real thing.

    This recipe was our #5 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4).

    A recipe for Portuguese sweet bread inspired the soft rolls that became a big hit at Robert Tiara's Bakery & Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1950s. It wasn’t long before Robert changed the name of his thriving business to King’s Hawaiian, and in 1977 the company opened its first bakery on the mainland, in Torrance, California, to make the now-famous island sweet rolls sold in stores across the U.S.

    King’s Hawaiian Rolls are similar to Texas Roadhouse Rolls in that they are both pillowy, sweet white rolls, so it made sense to dig out my Texas Roadhouse Rolls clone recipe and use it as a starting point. These new rolls had to be slightly softer and sweeter, so I made some adjustments and added a little egg for color. And by baking the dough in a high-rimmed baking pan with 24 dough balls placed snugly together, I ended up with beautiful rolls that rose nicely to the occasion, forming a tear-apart loaf just like the original, but with clean ingredients, and without the dough conditioners found in the packaged rolls.

    Use these fluffy sweet rolls for sandwiches, sliders, or simply warmed up and slathered with soft European butter.

    This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), Olive Garden Lasagna Classico (#2), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4), Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas (#5).

    Menu Description: "Breaded boneless chicken breast is delicately spiced and covered in a spicy-sweet orange glaze. Served in a big bowl over almond rice pilaf and a flavorful mixture of mushrooms, broccoli, red pepper, sugar snap peas, and shredded carrots. Topped with toasted almonds and crispy noodles."

    In a dish like this, it's important to get the sauce tasting just right or the whole hack will be off. Simmering a secret blend of orange juice, brown sugar, marmalade, and few other ingredients will give you a sauce that's sweet, tangy, spicy and really, really freakin' good. Rather than going to the trouble of breading and frying the chicken from scratch, I've cut time off your prep by including frozen breaded chicken fingers that you simply bake in the oven when you're ready to assemble the dish. I used Claim Jumper brand chicken tenderloins for this recipe since one 20-ounce box was perfect for the two servings this recipe yields. However, these are mongo-huge restaurant-size portions, so you'll be able to divide this recipe up into four more modest servings if you like.

    Make more of your favorite dishes from Applebee's.

    Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated from England to New York City and opened his first bakery there in 1880. That is where Thomas created skillet bread that would one day become the famous muffins known for their craggy texture when split in half. This hack for Thomas’ English Muffins uses a special kneading process to give the muffins the "nooks and crannies" they are famous for, making craters in the finished bread to better hold on to melted butter and jam.

    I have seen several recipes that claim to re-create these muffins, but none produce the large air pockets that a proper clone requires, in addition to great flavor and a perfectly cooked interior. To ensure proper nooks and crannies and muffins that are cooked all the way through, I've included some important steps.

    The dough you'll make here is like a ciabatta dough in that it is very wet. So rather than kneading the dough, you stretch and fold it over several times on a well-oiled surface. Then, when the portioned-out dough has proofed on baking sheets for another 1½ to 2 hours, you par-bake the muffins.

    After baking, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan until dark brown on both sides, then they must cool. This is the hardest part. The muffins will be too soft to open for at least four hours, and now you have to fight off the temptation to eat one. It’s hard, I know. The muffins smell great and you’ve waited all this time, but resist for now and your patience will be rewarded.

    When the muffins have had their rest, split them with a fork and toast them as you would any English muffin.

    Check out all my top secret recipes for famous bread here.

    To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.

    As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.

    On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.

    I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.

    This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

    Menu Description: "Delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping."

    To make this clone easy I've designed the recipe with white cake mix. I picked Betty Crocker brand, but any white cake mix you find will do. Just know that each brand (Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, etc.) requires slightly different measurements of additional ingredients (oil, eggs). Follow the directions on the box for mixing the batter, then pour it into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans and bake until done. The filling recipe is a no-brainer and the crumb topping is quick. When your Olive Garden lemon cream cake recipe is assembled, stick it in the fridge for a few hours, and soon you'll be ready to serve 12 slices of the hacked signature dessert.

    In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.

    How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.

    Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

    Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."

    The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa burrito copycat recipe with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version. If you prefer chicken burritos, head on over to my clone recipe for Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken.

    Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”

    It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.

    I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.

    As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.

    For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.

    This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).


    The Ten Best Books About Food of 2020

    This stay-at-home year has translated, at least for me, to more time spent in the kitchen, baking and cooking comfort food, and to feeling nostalgia for restaurant chatter. Of the plethora of food-filled books published this year, these are some of my favorites, selected so there will be, hopefully, a morsel for every reader—those in search of new recipes to add variety to their quarantine kitchens, people seeking to experience travel through taste, the chemistry-curious, and others striving to make sustainable and healthy food choices.

    The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard

    This riveting biography chronicles the life a towering figure in American cookery, tracing James Beard’s rise to culinary fame from his boyhood in the Pacific Northwest to catering gay cocktail parties in Manhattan to the publication of an American culinary Bible, James Beard’s American Cookery. While Beard was gay, his closeted public persona became that of a “sexless bachelor,” two-time James Beard Award-winning author John Birdsall writes. His book pulls back this veneer to show a more complete portrait of Beard’s life, examining the cook’s use of coded language in early cookbooks and his place in New York City’s LGBTQ community. Birdsall’s multi-layered account also doesn’t shy away from darker parts of Beard’s life. The language itself is as rich as Beard’s fried quail. Birdsall describes his subject’s love for butter-saturated oysters, for instance, “hissing and foaming, edging into brownness, with a scent so rich it would seem capable of tinting the air gold.”

    Falastin: A Cookbook

    Sami Tamimi, a co-founder of London’s famous Mediterranean Ottolenghi restaurants, and Tara Wigley, a food writer and Ottolenghi alumna, delve into the food of Tamimi’s homeland, Palestine. (There is no letter “P” in Arabic, they explain of the book’s title.) The recipes in the cookbooks—like chicken shawarma pie, labneh cheesecake and tamarind-slathered eggplant—are intended to be doable for home cooks, with friendly notes about what can be prepared ahead of time, and paired with enticing photography of herb-studded food. Falastin also seeks to capture the political reality of life in an embattled land through vignettes about the people who live and cook there, from Islam Abu Aouda, a woman who offers cooking lessons in a Bethlehem refugee camp, to a family of farmers enmeshed in lawsuits to keep their land on the West Bank.

    How to Be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices That Are Good for You, Others, and the Planet

    This digestible book is meant as a one-stop guide for people who have wondered about how to eat responsibly and ended up in the “dark, dank rabbithole of twenty-seven different browser windows” with no good answers. Sophie Egan, a journalist and director of health and sustainability for the Culinary Institute of America, isn’t interested in strict moralizing—she offers guidance for the “conscious carnivore,” for instance—but rather helping readers decipher ingredient lists and nutritional claims. She explores the phenomenon of “food fraud” (like cutting Parmesan cheese with wood pulp), points out that a bar of chocolate takes a whopping 450 gallons of water to produce and offers a list of numbered tips for reducing your reliance on single-use plastics. As evidence of the 270-page book’s practicality, each chapter concludes with a bulleted “Top 5 Takeaways” list and an appendix of other trusted resources readers can turn to for more information.

    In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean

    Somali-American cook and food entrepreneur Hawa Hassan’s debut cookbook welcomes readers into the kitchens of dozens of bibis—the Swahili term for “grandmother”—from East Africa. In Bibi’s Kitchen, write Hassan and her co-author Julia Turshen, “is not about what is new and next. It’s about sustaining a cultural legacy and seeing how food and recipes keep cultures intact.” Each section opens with a brief history of each country and features interviews with each matriarch, asking the women about their culture, cooking and what home and community mean to them. Ma Penny, originally from Kenya but now residing in Massachusetts, shares a recipe for mukimo (mashed green split peas, corn and potatoes) while Ma Zakia fixes up a fudgy wedding sweet in Comoros. I tried out Ma Shara’s recipe for Tanzanian stewed eggplant, and it’s just as homey and celebratory as the cookbook itself feels.

    The Best American Food Writing 2020

    Some may say it’s cheating to include an anthology of standout food writing on a best books list, but to that I say: Think of it as a sampler platter. This mélange of food journalism includes historian Cynthia Greenlee’s account of “How Grits Got Weaponized Against Cheating Men,” New York Times writer Kim Severson’s profile of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and Washington City Paper food editor Laura Hayes’ exploration of how restaurants often fail to address the accessibility needs of disabled customers. The collection also tackles thorny questions of “authenticity,” with Texas Monthly taco editor (that’s right, taco editor) José Ralat recounting how a debate over authenticity threatens the homegrown tacos of Kansas City while food educator Sara Kay takes on how “authenticity” and racist stereotypes often go hand-in-hand in Yelp reviews.

    The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained in More Than 100 Essential Recipes

    Filled with fascinating factoids and mouthwatering recipes, Nik Sharma’s new book outlines the scientific building blocks of a delectable meal. Sharma draws on his background in biology and chemistry and upbringing in Bombay (now Mumbai) to present a comprehensive and clear theory of cooking, complete with eye-catching diagrams about the properties of different sweeteners or the minute-by-minute chemistry of boiling an egg. He explains the Maillard reaction that occurs when food cooks and why blanched greens retain their vibrant hue but overcooked veggies turn a dull olive. To me, the book, with a trove of flavor-rich recipes like crab tikka masala dip and chocolate miso bread pudding, seemed like a cousin of the fantastic Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat . (Each recipe comes with notes breaking down why it works the pudding, for instance, has coffee to bring out the chocolate, a sweet-salty note from the miso and a punch of tartness from the dried cherries.)

    Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World's Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes

    Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan’s legume-centric cookbook debuted just a month before Americans panic-purchased pounds of beans from their supermarkets’ shelves, making it a collection of recipes well-suited to 2020. Drawing from bean preparations across the globe, Yonan presents an impressive array of ideas for incorporating beans into a tasty, plant-based meal. There are the usual suspects—many types of hummus and bean-and-rice dishes—as well as cannelini canneloni, Georgian bean-stuffed bread and lupini bean ceviche. Yonan works beans into desserts and even drinks—his salty margarita sour puts aquafaba, the liquid that comes with a can of garbanzo beans, to use instead of egg white. Yonan also answers pressing bean questions—To soak or not to soak? Is there a way to reduce beans’ flatulence potential?—in zippy prose.

    Xi'an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York's Favorite Noodle Shop

    Even if you haven’t waited in the long lines for Xi’an Famous Foods’ famously spicy noodles (and you’ll find the recipe for those and many others here), this account of how a restaurant empire was born from a street stand in Flushing is engrossing. In between recipes, Jason Wang, the New York City mainstay’s now-CEO, and writer Jessica K. Chou tell a story about Xi’an, the “city of fiery desert food” Wang’s family left in the 󈦺s for America, and how his impetuous father, David Shi, bounced between restaurant jobs cooking “the type of Americanized Chinese food we’d never eat at home” until he eventually opened the first XFF in 2006. Shi’s rendition of the food of Xi’an caught the attention of scores of New Yorkers, among them Anthony Bourdain. Wang’s voice is conversational, peppered with cussing, a bit of braggadocio and bluntness about the realities (unclogging grease traps the basement apartment his family shared) of the restaurant industry and his immigrant experience. The entire book has the cadence of an assured Food Network documentary, with a liberal dose of extra-spicy chili oil on top.

    The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket

    Benjamin Lorr’s exposé opens with the cleaning of a Whole Foods fish case: crystal-clear ice and fresh fish cuts on top of a putrid, rock-hard layer of frozen fish sludge. Based on five years of immersive research, including infiltrating an industrial swine farm and accompanying a female trucker, Lorr’s expansive book digs into the place the average American will spend 2 percent of their lifetime—the grocery store. He meets with the Trader Joe, writes about how modern-day slavery is part of the complex Thai shrimp supply chain and lays bare the danger and exploitation of the trucking industry. Lorr’s frank tone and detailed descriptions carry the reader through the splendor and horrors of your neighborhood retailer.

    The Mexican Home Kitchen: Traditional Home-Style Recipes That Capture the Flavors and Memories of Mexico

    Beloved food blogger Mely Martínez started recording the recipes she’d accumulated in her travels throughout her home country of Mexico for her son, so that he could replicate her food himself. But, she writes in her first cookbook, “I realized that I wasn’t only writing these recipes for my son, but also for the many immigrant sons and daughters who were missing the home-cooked meals of their childhoods.” Accordingly, the recipes in The Mexican Home Kitchen are tried-and-true, comforting staples: nopales (cactus paddles), both sweet and savory tamales, menudo (tripe soup) and salsas galore. Sourced from varying regions of the country, Martínez’s recipes include both simple, everyday fare and special-occasion showboats, with notes on easy substitutions if an ingredient proves hard to come by.

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    About Lila Thulin

    Lila Thulin is the digital editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine and covers a range of subjects from women's history to medicine. She holds a degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and wrote for Slate, Washingtonian, Nautilus and the Denver Westword before joining Smithsonian.


    A Little Pizza Homework

    There is pizza dough in my refrigerator right now. I made it last night in about 20 minutes, 15 of which were spent reading a magazine while it rested. I’ll bake it tomorrow night under mozzarella, then put a small arugula salad on top, an homage to the Green and White pizza available at Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

    The actual cooking of the pizza will take about 10 minutes, from first stretching the dough to pulling it from the oven, a bubbling cheese pie of enormous distinction and flavor. Add the time needed for the oven to heat and I’d still be waiting to get a delivery of an ordinary cheese pie from the pizza joint six blocks away.

    Probably I’ll make two. I have enough dough for that. Everyone loves pizza night. “Particularly homemade pizza night,” says the youngest food critic in the family, our own Antoinette Ego.

    Americans consume an enormous amount of pizza. Running the numbers with market analysts and industry spokesmen can set the mind to reeling. Those who track the business say pizza is a $40 billion industry in the United States, in no small part because 97 percent of us eat the stuff, most of us regularly, to the tune of 2.1 slices a sitting.

    Most of that pizza comes from chain restaurants. A lot of it comes from independent operators with a few ovens and a high school kid delivering the pies in his mom’s old Mazda. A fair amount of it comes from the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket.

    Very little pizza is made at home, from scratch.

    I am here to change that. I am here to say: You can make pizza at home. You can make pizza at home that will be the equal of some of the best pizzas available on the planet. With a minimal amount of planning and practice, you can get good at it, even if you are a relatively novice cook.

    Image

    Yes, it may take a few tries before your confidence soars. Your first attempts may be wan. There may be issues with the dough, or the toppings, or the oven, or with the surface on which you cook the pie. But as anyone who has ever eaten a chain pizza out of a box in a terrible hotel room far from home can tell you, even when pizza is bad, it is actually pretty good. And pretty good is an excellent place to begin.

    Getting Started

    The basics of pizza are simple. There is dough. There is topping. There is a hot oven. There is a surface in the oven on which you will cook the dough and the topping. There is a tool to transfer the uncooked pizza from your countertop to the oven, and to pull the finished pie from the oven.

    The total costs associated with all this can be minimal or gigantic, depending on your frame of reference. Mario Batali, the restaurateur and television personality, has a wood-fired pizza oven on his vacation property in Michigan. He imported it from Italy. R. J. Cutler, the garrulous Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker and pizza fanatic, had one put into his outdoor kitchen in the Hollywood Hills, where he cooks for friends. You can buy a gas-fired pizza oven from Williams-Sonoma for $6,795 and a flat-rate delivery fee of $299.

    That’s the high end of the cost spectrum. The recipes we are going to work with for this exercise require only the oven most of us already have in our homes. Additional cost: .

    Unless you intend to adorn your pizzas with truffles and gold leaf, the dough and toppings won’t run you more than a few dollars, at most, per pizza made.

    A pizza stone, which is the surface upon which the pie is cooked, costs around $40 at most kitchenware stores and online, and a steel version, which heats more quickly, costs perhaps twice that, but is still less expensive than a decent frying pan or knife. You can easily cut costs, though, by buying 6-inch-by-6-inch unglazed quarry tiles at your local building supply store for roughly $2 a tile. Six of these make a fine cooking surface. You could get by with four. Whichever stone or steel you use, preheat the oven at its highest temperature for at least an hour.

    Finally, you will need a pizza peel, the device that helps transfer the pie to the hot oven. A peel runs $20 or so if you spring for a metal one, less for wood. You can easily just use a cutting board or the back of a baking pan and spend nothing.

    What to Cook This Week

    Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

      • One of the best things about Melissa Clark’s chile-roasted chicken with honey, lemon and feta is the sweet-and-sour drippings in the pan.
      • Yewande Komolafe’s glazed tofu with chile and star anise is a take on the technique behind Sichuan hui guo rou, or twice-cooked pork.
      • Mark Bittman’s shrimp burgers are perfect with mayonnaise, mixed with Texas Pete hot sauce and plenty of lime juice.
      • This spring-vegetable japchae from Kay Chun is made with the Korean sweet-potato noodles known as glass noodles.
      • Millie Peartree’s brown stew chicken is built on a base of store-bought browning sauce, a caramel-hued burnt sugar concoction.

      In any event, the table stakes for this game will fall considerably below that of, say, making ice cream or even setting yourself up to grill hamburgers in the yard. And they will pay dividends of flavor and enjoyment for years.

      Many home pizza makers begin their journeys toward the delicious with frozen dough from the supermarket, or with fresh dough purchased from a local pizzeria. Good pizzas result from both, but neither is really a homemade pizza. Homemade pizza starts with homemade dough: flour, water, yeast and salt.

      I have experimented with recipes for pizza dough for years, varying the ratio of flour to water, changing the flours, using different sorts of yeast. For the last few months, I have been using the recipe developed by the team behind Roberta’s, the Brooklyn restaurant and lifestyle incubator that built its reputation on the merits of its pizzas.

      Roberta’s has a wood-fired oven. It also runs a number of mobile wood-fired pizza ovens. Anthony Falco, the bearded, laconic chef who was the restaurant’s first pizza maker and now reigns as its official pizza czar (code name Tony Calzone), says that on a good day Roberta’s can serve something on the order of 2,500 pies, all of them cooked in wood heat, 60 seconds a pie. But he has made Roberta’s pizzas all over the country in residential ovens as well, on stones and steels and occasionally on or in cast-iron pans. “This dough works anywhere,” he said.

      It is superlative dough: thin and pliant, tender and chewy, with excellent flavor. It calls for a mixture of all-purpose flour and the finely milled Italian flour graded as “00” — available at many more markets than you would think, and always online. Combined with salt and a mixture of water, olive oil and yeast, it rises into soft pillows of dough that take well to gentle handling.

      Making it at home is a breeze, particularly if you follow the European model of measurement and use a kitchen scale instead of cups and spoons to gauge the ingredients. (For baking, weight is a far more accurate measure than volume.) An hour’s work can yield enough dough to make four, six, eight pizzas the next day, or up to a week later. The refrigerator holds the stuff well, wrapped in plastic. Its flavor improves by the day.

      How to Make a Pizza

      Watching Mr. Falco encourage a mound of dough to become a pizza is entrancing. He starts with his fingertips, spreading the dough out from its center, gently, on a well-floured surface.

      “It’s a living thing,” he said of the dough. “It’s your baby. You don’t want to beat it up.” He pushed down gently around the pie’s perimeter, creating the edge. He picked up the dough and lightly passed it back and forth between his palms, rotating it each time, using gravity to help it stretch. The top remained the top. The bottom remained the bottom. At approximately 12 inches in diameter, Mr. Falco called it ready to go. He slid the round back and forth on the floured surface to make sure it didn’t stick. “That is certified for topping,” he said.

      Topping a pizza is tender work as well. You do not want to overload the pie. Doing so leaves it soggy, no matter the heat of the oven. Mr. Falco demonstrated a two-cheese pizza that riffs on the classic Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe: mozzarella, taleggio and an enormous amount of ground black pepper. He showed off his Green and White, which is a plain mozzarella pie topped with a salad.

      For a plain pizza of tomato sauce, cheese and a few torn basil leaves, he applied only a couple of tablespoons of sauce. (For authentic Roberta’s pizza sauce, simply whiz together some drained canned tomatoes with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt.) He applied this to the center of the pie and painted it out to the edges with the back of a spoon. Then he added a few chunks of mozzarella, the basil and a drizzle of olive oil, and slid a peel under the pie to ready it for the oven.

      At home you should certify the pizza once more, making sure it moves back and forth smoothly on the surface of the peel. Then open the oven door and carefully slide the pie onto your stone, steel or tiles.

      Now close the door and watch what happens. The pizza is done when the edges are a beautiful golden brown, and the sauce and cheese are bubbling nicely. Even at 500 degrees in a dodgy oven your landlord should have fixed two years ago, it won’t take much more than four to five minutes. Grate some Parmesan over the top and serve. Chances are, you’ll want to do this again and again.

      Recipes: Roberta’s Pizza Dough | Pizza Margherita | Cheeses Pie | The Green and White


      1980–2006: Founding and going public Edit

      The Applebee's chain was founded by Bill and T. J. Palmer in 1980. The vision that they wanted was "to create a restaurant that had a neighborhood pub feel to it and could offer friendly service along with quality fare at a lower price than most of their competition." The name they thought of to suit their concept was Appleby, but found that it had already been registered. [5] They also considered "Cinnamon's" and "Pepper's" before arriving at Applebee's. [6] They opened their first location in Decatur, Georgia, at the time named T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs. They opened a second location outside of Atlanta, Georgia a few years later, and sold the company to W. R. Grace and Company in 1983. [7] As part of the transaction, Bill Palmer was named president of the Applebee's Division, an indirect subsidiary of W. R. Grace and Company. In that capacity, Palmer guided the operation from its entrepreneurial beginnings to a full-fledged franchise system. He became an Applebee's franchisee in 1985. Bill Palmer died in 2020.

      In 1986, the name of the concept was changed to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar. [8] In 1988, Applebee's International, Inc., became the restaurant chain's franchiser when Kansas City franchisees Abe Gustin and John Hamra purchased the rights to the Applebee's concept from W. R. Grace. [9] In 1989, Applebee's opened their 100th restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee. [10]

      In the 1990s, Applebee's became one of the largest sit-down restaurant chains in the United States, [11] and began trading publicly in November 1991. [12] In 1998, Applebee's opened its 1000th restaurant.

      2007–present: Acquisition by IHOP Edit

      On July 16, 2007, IHOP Corp. announced that it agreed to buy Applebee's International for about $2.1 billion. Applebee's shareholders would receive $25.50 in cash per share, representing a 4.6% premium to the closing price on July 13, 2007. [13]

      On November 29, 2007, IHOP (now DineEquity) announced that it had completed a $2 billion purchase of the Applebee's chain. [13] [14] After the acquisition, IHOP Corp. changed its name to DineEquity, Inc. [15] With their merger in November 2007, Applebee's and IHOP combined to make the largest full-service restaurant company in the world, with more than 3,250 locations. [14] [16]

      On September 3, 2015, it was announced that their parent company, DineEquity, would be consolidating its headquarters for Applebee's and IHOP to DineEquity's Glendale, California, location. [17]

      On August 11, 2017, DineEquity announced that Applebee's would close between 105 and 135 locations by the end of the year. Same-store sales decreased 7% in the previous quarter. [18] [19] As of December 31, 2019, there were 1,787 restaurants operating system-wide in the United States and 15 other countries, including 69 that are company owned and 1,718 that are franchised. [1]

      As part of the company's marketing campaign and slogan, Wanda Sykes was hired to voice the chain's new mascot, the Applebee's Apple. [20] The character appears in commercials touting Applebee's various specials and stating the new slogan "Together is good" or saying "Get it together, baby!" as the slogan appears at the bottom right of the screen. A new campaign started on February 25, 2008, without Sykes' character (the spokesapple), with the slogan "It's a whole new neighborhood." The commercials used both the original and new logos. [ citation needed ] In 2009 Applebee's changed its slogan again to "There's no place like the neighborhood."

      From 2012 to 2016 Applebee's aired an advertising campaign focusing on fresh ingredients and new dishes, narrated by Jason Sudeikis, featuring the slogan "See you tomorrow." [21]

      In late September 2017 Applebee's brought back its most famous slogan from the early-to-mid 2000s, "Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood." They also engaged in an alcohol–based advertising campaign to attract new customers by having a "drink of the month" at a reduced price. [22] The advertising fees of Applebee's globally from 2015 to 2019. In 2019, Applebee's advertising fees accounted for 165.5 million U.S. dollars.

      In October 2017 Applebee's added the 'Dollarita' to their menu, which Steve Joyce, CEO of parent company Dine Brands, has claimed to be a major change for Applebee's. “Dollarita turned everything around," he said. "It was a 13-point swing between September and October in Applebee’s performance.” After introducing the dollar drink deal Applebee's has had four consecutive quarters of growth after struggling to grow sales. [23]

      Side-work compensation Edit

      Since 2006, Applebee's and its servers have been engaged in a lawsuit over hourly wages. The servers, who received a federal minimum wage of $2.13 per hour as tipped employees, allege that the company requires them to spend 20% of their time doing non-serving labor, for which they should be paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The case has gone through several stages, including a judicially mandated binding arbitration session. [24] [25]

      In September 2012, a judge in Illinois ruled in favor of the Applebee's employees and will evaluate damages at a later date. [26]


      Want to Party? You Might Need a ‘Vaccine Passport.’

      At some parties and nightclubs, C.D.C. vaccination cards are the new velvet rope.

      You could hear the music from the sidewalk, high-spirited renditions of “Ice Ice Baby” and “MMMBop.”

      It was ’90s night at Rumi, a ballroom and event space in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, and millennials and Gen Zers lined up to get inside. They dressed the part in tracksuits, neon crop tops, denim overalls and scrunchies.

      To enter, they had to pass two checkpoints. First, a bouncer verified IDs and took temperatures. Then, Joseph Ko, one of the ballroom’s owners, confirmed that each person had been fully vaccinated for Covid-19. The process took about five minutes.

      The crowd seemed happy, eager even, to comply. Some flashed their paper vaccination cards, protected in a plastic case or folded into their wallets. “I carry it around with me everywhere,” said Tom Allen, 25, a lawyer in Chelsea, pulling the card out from his passport. He was with eight friends who had been texting days earlier to make sure everyone had the proper documentation.

      Catherine Fiorentino, 35, a lawyer who lives in Downtown Brooklyn, used an Excelsior Pass, a digital “vaccine passport” created by New York State. “This is the first time I’m going to an Excelsior Pass event. It’s so cool,” she said. “I’m not just excited to get to my first party post-Covid, but I’m excited to spend it with other people who are also vaccinated.”

      Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks (and stand closer than six feet apart), the ballroom took extra precaution, per state guidelines: Each group was assigned to a designated area marked off by white tape. But within each group, it felt like old times: Patrons were dancing, singing at the top of their lungs and smooching on the dance floor.

      “I feel like I can drink without a mask on, dance without a mask on and be a little less cautious,” Ms. Fiorentino said.

      Vaccinated-only parties have started to pop up across the country, especially in and around New York City, where anyone over 16 has been eligible for vaccination since April 6.

      Bar and club owners in New York are not required to check for vaccine cards, but there are benefits to doing so. On May 3, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that places where proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test is required can operate at a greater capacity.

      Some partygoers say they feel safer knowing that others are vaccinated. That was the case at the Bear Party, a sex-positive gathering for men held in a Midtown Manhattan loft. To its long list of house rules (no shirts, no pants, no alcohol) comes a new one: Patrons must be fully vaccinated.

      In addition to a C.D.C. card or an Excelsior Pass, patrons can also show documentation proving they “were part of a vaccine trial, were unblinded and did indeed receive real vaccine,” according to the Bear Party website. “Foreign vaccine card equivalents, Green Passes, etc. will be accepted too.”

      At 6 p.m. on a recent Friday, about a dozen guests in gym clothes and jeans arrived at a nondescript door at a building in the West 30s between a construction site and a South American restaurant. Like well-behaved schoolchildren, they had their vaccine cards out and ready to show before entering the building.

      “I will have more fun knowing everybody inside is vaccinated,” said a 35-year-old man who declined to give his name. He kept his vaccine card in a Ziploc bag. “Especially with sex, it’s important that people feel as safe as possible.”

      Some patrons likened the process at some venues to showing off their IDs on their 21st birthday. Time will tell whether vaccine cards become the new velvet rope, or whether the novelty will last.

      While New York State is encouraging bars and clubs to ask for proof of vaccination, other states are handling the situation differently. California does not have its own vaccine passport, but it does allow indoor events that check for vaccinations (or negative Covid tests) to operate at greater capacity. In Florida, however, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation this week making it illegal for businesses, schools and government offices to require proof of vaccination, with fines of up to $5,000.

      Legal experts say that absent such a law, public establishments are allowed to require proof of vaccination for entry. “If you are a bar or club you can legally discriminate on the basis of someone’s vaccination status, but the law requires you to give reasonable accommodation to those persons who have a medical disability or sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Lee Jacobs, a partner at Helbraun Levey, a law firm that represents restaurants, bars and hotels.

      Private parties are different. “If you are a private citizen, you can mandate everyone is vaccinated,” Mr. Jacobs added.

      John Seitz, 45, an anesthesiologist in Manhattan, was invited to such a party last month. A friend was moving out of his apartment and invited 70 people for a last hurrah. “He sent out a thing on Facebook that said you have to have a vaccine or a negative Covid test,” Mr. Seitz said.

      At the party, he was greeted by a bouncer who asked for a vaccine card. He showed him a photo on his phone in lieu of the real thing. (“If you lose it you are screwed,” he said.) Guests gathered around a bar stocked with beer, wine and liquor. A D.J. played house music until 3 a.m.

      Some hosts have resorted to more elaborate procedures, and have hired medical professionals to verify the vaccination status of guests.

      “These are elite parties thrown by companies or people with a lot of money,” said Dr. Asma Rashid, who runs a medical concierge service in the Hamptons that was hired to vet guests for 10 events last month. “They are birthday parties, weddings, conferences. They send out invitations and have people send a proof of vaccination to us.”

      “If you want to be in the social circle and you want to party it up,” she added, “you need to be vaccinated.”


      Watch the video: Applebees Showboatin Chef (September 2021).