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Statement: Small Businesses Aghast at Trump stopping COVID Relief Negotiations

Today President Trump announced an end to the stimulus talks with no hope before Election Day. Main Street Alliance Executive Director, Amanda Ballantyne shares this:

“For Trump to stop negotiations on urgently needed relief, stating he will only resume negotiations after he “wins” the election shows callous disregard for millions of Americans suffering extreme financial hardship. The President appears willing to take the economy down with him if he fails, at this point.

Small business owners across the country are aghast at the short sightedness of this refusal to move an aid package. The failed leadership of the Trump Administration to control the pandemic and keep the economy on track will drive many small business owners to close and lead to prolonged economic hardship for working families in this country. Main Street Alliance members and small businesses across the country have been clamoring for months that additional support is necessary to avert a prolonged, protracted, costly and livelihood destroying economic crisis.

Small businesses have waited far too long for needed relief, and the consequences of delay have meant hundreds of thousands of closures impacting the labor market and economy. This is no time for political brinksmanship. Senate Republicans must come to the table and take action.”

Main Street Alliance is a national network of small business coalitions working to build a new voice for small businesses on important public policy issues.

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NEWS: Celebrate Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary with Cold Stone

Cold Stone Creamery is partnering with Nintendo for Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary. Nintendo fans can enjoy their favorite Cold Stone treat in a special edition Gotta Have It® ice cream cup featuring their favorite character, Mario, during the promotion. The Mario-inspired Creation, Shake, Ice Cream Cake, and special edition cups are available at all participating Cold Stone Creamery locations and online ordering until December 15.

“We are thrilled to join together with Nintendo once again to commemorate the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary with our super-premium ice cream,” said Sara Schmillen, vice president of marketing for Kahala Brands™, parent company of Cold Stone Creamery.

“Cold Stone and Nintendo both focus on bringing families together; so gather your loved ones, grab some ice cream, pick up your Nintendo Switch system and let’s start making memories that last a lifetime!”

  • Mario’s Super Birthday Blast Creation features Cake Batter Ice Cream® with Yellow Cake, Bright Blue Frosting and Star Sprinkles
  • Mario’s Super Star Shake features Cake Batter Ice Cream and Bright Blue Frosting with Whipped Topping and Star Sprinkles
  • Rainbow Road Rally features layers of moist Yellow Cake and Cake Batter Ice Cream with Star Sprinkles wrapped in fluffy Bright Blue Frosting

Cold Stone® will feature four Mario-inspired Gotta Have It cup designs. These collectible cups feature Mario through the years and are available in red, blue, green, and yellow, while supplies last.

“To commemorate the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., we are excited to continue our collaboration with Cold Stone,” said Nick Chavez, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“From fun ice levels to delicious ice cream, Nintendo and Cold Stone are offering cool treats this year for people of all ages.”

Cold Stone Creamery is also offering a multi-faceted sweepstakes (Nintendo is not a sponsor, co-sponsor or administrator of this sweepstakes) for fans. 5 customers, who enter the sweepstakes, will be awarded a grand prize package that includes one (1) $50 Cold Stone Creamery gift card and one (1) Nintendo Switch Prize Pack that includes one (1) Nintendo Switch system and twelve (12) download codes for digital Nintendo Switch games.

The fun will continue for even more fans as one-hundred (100) first prize winners will be awarded a first prize package that consists of one (1) $25 Cold Stone Creamery gift card and one (1) Nintendo Switch Prize Pack that includes one (1) Nintendo Switch system and five (5) download codes for digital Nintendo Switch games.

My Cold Stone Club Rewards® members will also receive My Nintendo Platinum Points* throughout the promotion.

For more information about the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary, visit supermario35.com.

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NEWS: Armature Works to launch “The Drive-In at Armature Works” with Rooftop Cinema Club

Armature Works, Tampa’s largest food hall and event space, is joining forces with Rooftop Cinema Club to launch “The Drive-In at Armature Works”, a contact-free drive-in event in Tampa Heights District.

Audiences can enjoy a mix of modern and classic films every day of the week, two showings per night, including a full week of Halloween and Horror favorites. 

Family-friendly screenings will take place at 7:30PM followed by a second screening for the night-owls at 10PM.

Tickets will start at $22 per vehicle, regardless of occupancy. Parking will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis depending on ticket type, and audio can be picked up through local FM stereo.

Guests can order concessions or food and drinks online from their vehicles and will be notified for pick up.

Tickets and programming will be released this coming week. Locals are encouraged to sign up to Rooftop Cinema Club’s email database via rooftopcinemaclub.com/armature to be the first to know when tickets and programming are released, and to receive 10% off their first purchase. One lucky subscriber will also win unlimited drive-in movie tickets for the first two weeks of screenings. 

For more information visit Rooftop Cinema Club at rooftopcinemaclub.com.

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NEWS: PSL is back at Starbucks along with other fall favorites

PSL season continues with Pumpkin Spice Lattes now at Starbucks locations nationwide and as well as in Canada. This is the 17th year that the drink will be featured at Starbucks locations.

The pumpkin spice industry is worth over $500 million according to the Forbes. This is the earliest that the coffee industry has moved to begin the fall season.

Pumpkin spice is back at Starbucks.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes feature real pumpkin sauce, signature espresso and steamed milk with the celebrated flavor combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Available hot, iced or blended.

Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew

Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew returns to the menu, crafted with Starbucks® Cold Brew sweetened with vanilla syrup, topped with a pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping. 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, Pumpkin Scone, and Pumpkin Bread at Starbucks

Fall bakery items are also on menus nationwide with the pumpkin trio: Pumpkin Cream Cheese MuffinPumpkin Scone, and Pumpkin Bread. 

There is also a number of pumpkin spice-flavored ground, packaged, and ready-to-drink products now available and NEW Starbucks® Maple Pecan Flavored K-Cup® Packs + Ground Coffee and Starbucks® Salted Caramel Mocha Flavored Creamer.

Hopefully this brings this cheer to people. Happy PSL!

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Hershey’s, Jet-Puffed and Honey Maid Brands join forces to give $50,000 to local restaurants

Three popular food brands are joining forces this summer to give $10,000 to five local restaurants in celebration of National S’mores Day: Hershey’s, Jet-Puffed, and Honey Maid.

The trio is calling on small, hometown restaurants and their staff to showcase their favorite S’mores dessert on their menu (new or existing) for a chance to win one of five $10,000 prizes. Restaurants have until Monday, August 24th to enter.

“We are overwhelmed by the love people have had for S’mores this summer. During the current pandemic, many families have turned to the connectivity and comfort of making S’mores as a way to get through this challenging time,” said Bill Maclean, senior marketing director, Hershey’s brand.

Photo Credit: Hershey’s

“We wanted to say thank you and bring attention to all of those local restaurants who have been affected. We want to provide some relief while celebrating these restaurants, their recipes and their love of S’mores.”

The rules to enter for businesses are:

  1. Post a picture or short video to Instagram or Twitter showcasing your most creative S’mores recipe. The treat MUST at least be made with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows and Honey Maid Graham Crackers or Graham Cracker Crumbs – the classic S’mores ingredients!
  2. Make sure to tag @hersheys @kraftjetpuffed @honeymaidsnacks and use the hashtag #SmoresGivesBackContest. For the caption of the posted photo or video, tell why your restaurant deserves to win a prize, and how the prize would be used to impact the restaurant and its employees.
  3. No Purchase is Necessary to enter. For full details of eligibility and entry, including judging criteria, see the Official Rules. Contest ends 11:59:59 PM EDT on August 24, 2020. Void where prohibited. Must be age of majority or older to enter. Entries submitted on behalf of restaurants.

Find more information at smoresgivesback.com.

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NEWS: Publix finally mandates masks for shoppers

The pandemic has been a doozy but one constant in Florida has been the very vocal arguments between anti-mask shoppers and regular people trying to survive in grocery stores and society in general. Ironically, most polls show that the anti-mask people make up a very small but loud minority. The issue has been widely politicized much to dismay of healthcare experts nationwide.

Masks are one of the only defenses that society has against the Coronavirus.

Recent studies show that wearing a mask not only protects others from you, but also protects you from other people who are shedding the virus. It really helps explain why cases are so much lower in other countries who never shutdown but distributed masks widely, although many of them have also instituted other aggressive methods as well such as contact tracing and strict criminal penalties for violating pandemic laws.

Publix initially resisted employees who wanted to wear masks and then eventually came around to providing plexiglass and social distancing guidance as well as masks, but still refused to enforce masks in their stores for customers. There have been several cases of COVID-19 documented from employees at more than 20 Publix stores who were likely exposed to the virus by shoppers who didn’t care about the people bagging their groceries.

Once re-opening began in May, many Publix shoppers stopped wearing masks at all and it was business as usual as the virus started to spread faster and faster. On one visit on June 8th, I witnessed an entire produce aisle filled with dozens of people not social distancing or wearing masks. To be frank, I was horrified. I did not go back to Publix for weeks.

Once Hillsborough County and City of Tampa passed emergency mask ordinances in late June, I had to run to the store and decided to give Publix another shot nearly one month later. To my surprise, 100% of the shoppers were wearing masks and so were the employees. A huge difference. The mask orders have made a difference.

Unfortunately, these actions have come late and Florida’s COVID-19 growth is out of control. Florida added 100,000 cases in 10 days. The daily death toll and hospitalizations are climbing.

We are heading towards another shutdown that will have devastating economic impacts on the state. 6 Tampa Bay Publix locations had virus cases in July so far despite mask orders. Imagine if companies and politicians would have acted early to stop the spread instead of removing responsibility from each other.

Finally – now Publix is saying that they will mandate masks for all shoppers except children and those with medical conditions starting Tuesday, July 21st.

It’s late – but always better than nothing. They are not alone as other big names like Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, and other retail companies begin to mandate masks nationwide. America is in a crisis.

I hope these mandates will at least help the “essential” workers who have been forced into this mess without any leadership until now.

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Goya Foods CEO says USA “blessed” with President Donald Trump and #BoycottGoya trends

2020 is filled with twists and turns. #GoyaBoycott and Goya are trending right now after the CEO of Goya Foods praised Trump at the White House and said we’re “blessed to have a leader” like Trump.

There’s a large sense of irony to Goya Foods which primarily sells to Latinx audiences joining forces with President Trump just as the President is caught in numerous scandals including rising Coronavirus cases, preparing a new lawsuit to kill DACA, separating children from their parents at the border, allegations of supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin despite bounties on American soldiers, an investigation by SDNY for tax fraud and evasion, among other things.

Let’s not forget that time that Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans as thousands of them died from Hurricane Irma and Maria and then left the island in the dark.

Twitter immediately responded and began to trend nationwide.

There’s never a dull day on Twitter.

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Interview: Chef Rosana Rivera and Ricardo Castro on upcoming Chef & The Baker

There’s an exciting new concept coming Friday, June 12th, 2020 to the Hall on Franklin food hall called Chef & The Baker from Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro. I had a chance to ask them a few questions about this new initiative and how things have changed since the pandemic began.

CARLOS EATS: First off – How have you guys been getting by during the pandemic? 

Chef Rosana: We pivoted early on in the pandemic through R2 Provisions, our ghost kitchen in Pinellas Park, to do delivery of products, Xilo Mexican favorite food items, bakery items like bread, and provisions like eggs, flour, sugar, yeast, and toilet paper. The response was phenomenal and we are so grateful that Tampa embraced the concept, no questions asked. 

Chef Ricardo: We continue to service via delivery from R2 Provisions. Customers can order through r2xilokofe.square.site.

Pastries from Chef and The Baker at Hall on Franklin.

CARLOS EATS: Chef & The Baker is a highly anticipated project considering your past with Piquant. How will this project be different?

Chef Rosana: The recipes have been tweaked and perfected. Chef Ricardo, over the past couple of years has really honed in on his talent and craft to become an even better baker. 

Chef Ricardo: We will have artisan breads, more viennoiseries (pastries), and a higher quality of patisserie items (cakes and European tortes).

CARLOS EATS: Who are some people you look up to in the baking world and is there any pastry or bakery chefs who inspire you? What are your favorite bakeries around the world?

Chef Rosana and Ricardo: Belinda from B Patisserie in San Francisco, Eric Kayser from Maison Kayser in NYC & Paris; Antonio Bachour from Bachour Miami; and the quintessential Francois Payard from around the world. However, there are a lot of up and coming pastry superstars that we are always following and trying to learn from like Johan Martin.

CARLOS EATS: When it comes to ingredients – What makes a quality baked good different? Does water make a difference?

Chef Rosana and Ricardo: Best quality of ingredients is crucial and yes – water quality makes a huge difference. There are some things we have little control of – but buying the best ingredients is something we can control, especially when it comes to baking ingredients. We buy flours that are unbromated, we use cage-free eggs for baking applications, all-natural products, European chocolates, filtered water, and butter with a higher fat content. It all makes a difference in the quality of the product you bake.  We never cut corners, you can taste the quality.

CARLOS EATS: Food enthusiasts have been making their own sourdough starters at home during the pandemic as people tried to find a way to get through being home constantly and still enjoy the things they love. What trends do you see emerging in the baking world and how will it change in the future? 

Chef Rosana and Ricardo: More at home baking for sure! Our plan is to launch a virtual cooking kitchen class in which we are able to share our knowledge with our audience on a digital, but interactive format. I think the love for the art of baking is going nowhere, on the contrary its getting better and better.

CARLOS EATS: Industry experts say the pandemic has changed how goods are bought and prices of food seems to be going up. How are you dealing with that?

Chef Rosana: We are sticking to our prices as much as we can, and if we can’t do that – we try to minimize the impact by increasing the price by 25 or 50 cents. Our margins are taking a hit and are reduced, but at the end of the day we want to be conscious of how people spend their money. We don’t want or need to abuse.

Koign Amann from Chef and the Baker at Hall on Franklin in Tampa.

CARLOS EATS: Which menu item would you say is the most complex or time-consuming dish you make? Can you tell us more about it?

Chef Rosana: Anything croissant, which is easily a 72+ hour process, but we love it and our guests love anything croissant that we do. My favorite item is the Kouign Amanns.

Chef Ricardo: That is how I make the croissants, not everyone follows that. It creates better flavors as the dough ferments slowly. My favorite item is The Morning Buns (citrus crispy laminated dough) is my favorite item on our menu.

CARLOS EATS: What made you both fall in love with baking? 

Chef Rosana: I fell in love for baking because of Ricardo. Every day I see him bake I am in awe of him!

Chef Ricardo: I fell in love with baking when my Mom AKA Chef Cookie, would teach me how to bake things since I was 9 years old. Later, Chef Rudy from Austria took me under his wing and taught me everything European pastries. The right way and the best way!

Don’t forget to check out Chef & the Baker when it opens on Friday, June 12th at 11AM at the Hall on Franklin at 1701 North Franklin Street Tampa, Florida, 33602.

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NEWS: National Pancake Day at IHOP February 25th

Who is ready for a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes at IHOP? Maybe 2020 isn’t all bad after all. Celebrate National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 at IHOP locations around the United States from 7AM to 7PM (10PM in select locations).

IHOP is adding a giveaway this year with barcodes at tables that guests can scan for a chance to win up to 250,0000 instant win prizes. Prizes include limited-edition pancake-themed merchandise such as bicycles, scooters, customizable jackets, handmade berets and more. In addition to the “Pancakes for Life” grand prize, ten lucky winners will also score $500 in IHOP gift cards.

Guests are asked to make a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Other Charities on their way out of the restaurant. Since 2006, IHOP has raised more than $30 million for its charity partners.

“The communities where IHOP and our franchisees operate is at the core of everything we do, and National Pancake Day serves as a great example of our commitment to helping the kids and families who are our guests, neighbors, friends and family,” said Stephanie Peterson, Executive Director of Communications.

Find more information at ihop.com.

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NEWS: 6th Annual Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival kicks off February 29th

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is launching their 6th Annual Food and Wine Festival earlier this year on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. The festival will run every weekend from February 29th to April 26th and included with park admission to the theme park.

This year will feature 25 new food items in addition to fan-favorite dishes and 80 wines, beers, and cocktails, to choose from. Some new additions include:

  • Chef’s Corner Cabin: Features 3 signature dishes carefully crafted by the park’s head chefs such as arroz con pollo, a pork belly taco with kimchi slaw, and pork tenderloin with champagne watercress sauce
  • Coaster Cocktails: Iron Gwazi Gimlet, Falcon’s Fury Lemon Drop, and Tigris Tea
  • Pick-A-Barrel Tastings: create your own flight of liquors and wines from around the world
  • Some other new food items include Kung Pao Ribs, Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, “Boujee” Bacon, Fried Clams, Pork Tamales, Grilled Shrimp Elotes, and Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes

Guests can purchase a 5, 8, or 12-item sampler lanyard to use at each festival cabin to explore sample-sized dishes and drink offerings and they start at $32. Pass Members can purchase an exclusive 15-item sampler for the same price as a 12-item sampler and save 20% off.

Pass Members can get a sneak peak on February 28th that will include an all new menu of sips and samples and Eaglemania: The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band.

Busch Gardens plans to launch Iron Gwazi this spring, North America’s tallest hybrid coaster and the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world.

The 6th Annual Food and Wine Festival concert schedule:

Feb 29:                 Collective Soul
March 1:              The Commodores

March 7:              Chase Bryant & Danielle Bradbery

March 8:              Rachel Platten

March 14:            Ezra Ray Hart
March 15:            THREE DOG NIGHT

March 21:            LOCASH 
March 22:            Fitz & The Tantrums

March 28:            Home Free
March 29:            Taking Back Sunday

April 4:                 Third Eye Blind
April 5:                 KC & The Sunshine Band

April 11:               38 Special 
April 12:               Micah Tyler & Austin French 

April 18:               Lee Brice
April 19:               Clint Black

April 25:               El Gran Combo
April 26:               Toad the Wet Sprocket & The Verve Pipe

Find more information on the 6th Annual Food & Wine Festival at http://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/food-and-wine-festival/