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Bon Appetit names Atlanta’s Staplehouse as America’s Best New Restaurant

When a restaurant opens its doors, its owners hope it will succeed. But in the case of Staplehouse, a restaurant located in an unassuming brick building at 541 Edgewood Ave., in the Old Fourth Ward, its owners probably never dreamed that their concept would garner such national aplomb.

Today, Bon Appetit magazine declared Staplehouse America’s Best New Restaurant of 2016. Staplehouse topped the food magazine’s Hot 10 list, which it whittled down from the 50 contenders it named earlier this summer. (Inman Quarter restaurant Bread & Butterfly was the other Atlanta restaurant included in that list.)

Since opening in September of last year, Staplehouse has earned high reviews, including three stars from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was also a 2016 James Beard Award finalist for Best New Restaurant, with executive chef Ryan Smith getting a James Beard nod as a semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

Staplehouse was also recently included in Eater’s annual list of the Best New Restaurants in America and named to the top of GQ’s Best New Restaurants of 2016 list.

Co-owner Jen Hidinger even graced the May 2016 cover of Entrepreneur magazine.

The accolades are the culmination of a tragic story with a happy ending. The restaurant is the brainchild of Jen and Ryan Hidinger. Ryan Hidinger passed away in 2014 after a battle with cancer, but during his medical treatment, the Atlanta restaurant community rallied around the Hidingers to raise funds for his bills. Such an outpouring of support led to the founding of the Giving Kitchen, a not-for-profit charity that provides emergency grants to metro Atlanta restaurant workers. Staplehouse serves as the profitable arm of the Giving Kitchen.

Bon Appetit deputy editor Andrew Knowlton determined the magazine’s Hot 10 list along with fellow editor Julia Kramer. Knowlton stated that the Staplehouse story “tugs at your heart,” but that “you don’t have to know this story to appreciate a meal at Staplehouse.” He said it earned top honors because “the restaurant, the area, the food (Smith) was doing, flew in the face of all my expectations of Atlanta and the South.”

“I was so amazed with the complexity and layer of flavors,” said Knowlton, who grew up nearby in Alpharetta. Of Smith’s approach to new American cuisine, he said, “His food reads simple on the plate, but if you start asking questions, you are like, ‘Jeez, there’s a lot involved in that.’ That’s the brilliance of the food. Most people won’t find it intimidating. You don’t need a Ph.D. to eat it, but it has the technique of a high-end, Michelin-star (restaurant).”

Knowlton cited food, plating, wait staff knowledge, music and lighting among the determining factors for Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list, but also passion. “Passion starts with the chef, owner, maitre d’ and trickles down to the bartender, waiter and host,” said Knowlton. “At the end of the day, you can tell who is trying, and those people usually succeed.”

Chipotle announces plans for burger restaurant

First Burger King started selling hot dogs. Now Chipotle has announced plans to stir things up by expanding its burrito and taco offerings to burgers with a new restaurant called Tasty Made.

The restaurant is set to open in Lancaster, Ohio, this fall.

>> Read more trending stories  

Tasty Made's menu will be mostly limited to burgers, fries and shakes, and the restaurant will aim to promote better, cleaner food and ingredients -- just like Chipotle. 

"Early fast food burger restaurants generally had focused menus," Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said in a release. "We think there's great strength in that original fast food model and wanted to create a restaurant built around that. Making only burgers, fries and shakes with really great ingredients, we think we can appeal to people's timeless love of burgers, but in a way that is consistent with our long-term vision.

"Tasty Made will use Responsibly Raised brand beef (from animals that are raised in more humane ways and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones), shakes made with real ingredients including milk, cream, sugar, eggs and other natural ingredients, and fresh-made buns that are free of preservatives, dough conditioners and other artificial ingredients."

Chipotle, which found success in positioning itself as an alternative to traditional fast-food chains, has been struggling to win back customers after a series of food scares in past years.

Chipotle has already ventured in the direction of different cuisines. In 2001, the company opened an Asian food restaurant called ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, which has 15 locations. The company also operates a pizza chain called Pizzeria Locale, which has five locations.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Twitter reacts to Chipotle plans to open burger joint" on Storify]Twitter reacts to Chipotle plans to open burger jointStorified by CMGNationalNews· Sun, Jul 31 2016 18:04:50Burger King hot dogs. Chipotle burgers. We're about five seconds away from getting Baskin-Robbins fried chicken. Albert.@ChipotleTweets wants to make burgers...? I mean. Alright.'s serving espresso, Starbucks serving salads, Chipotle making burgers - I'm not comfortable with this fast food fluidity.Charles Roth MPCChipotle is gonna start selling burgers? GrossNathan RyanIf chipotle just got queso their sales would be back to normal idk where they're trying to go with BURGERSallison fitzgeraldI love the idea that a restaurant that sells burgers and french fries is a “concept” RothThe radio just told me chipotle is going to start selling burgers and idk if I should be excited or scared Shawn Africa Simpson

There's a Krispy Kreme doughnut-flavored soda

If Coca-Cola Freestyle machines don't give you enough drink options, there's a new soda on the market: Cheerwine Kreme.

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Consumers can expect a soft drink that combines Cheerwine's cherry flavor soda with the taste of a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. 

"All that’s missing to crown it king junk food is a glob of Paula Deen’s butter floating on top," Grub Street wrote.

The beverage will only be available in Georgia and the Carolinas, but a 20-ounce bottle can be purchased for $7.50 here.

Deals and freebies for National Ice Cream Day

What better way to satisfy your sweet tooth than by indulging in some cool, delicious -- and most importantly discounted -- ice cream? 

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July is National Ice Cream Month, and the middle of the month marks National Ice Cream Day. 

This year, get a sundae on Sunday, July 17, when certain retailers will offer deals and freebies. Some won't even make you wait until Sunday -- Uber is offering a sweet deal on Friday.

Here's what to look out for: 

Baskin Robbins: Customers can receive a free upgrade to a waffle cone with any ice cream purchase during the month of July. The ice cream chain will donate a portion of all ice cream proceeds on Sunday to the United Service Organization.

Blue Bell: Try the newest flavor, Cookie Two Step, released Friday nationwide.

Carvel: Carvel will give customers a free cup or cone on Sunday with the purchase of one of equal or larger size.

Cold Stone Creamery: Members of the eClub can receive buy one, get one free coupons.

Friendly's: The restaurant's monthlong Sprinklefest offers discounts on frosted treats.

Marble Slab Cream Creamery: Marble Slab will offer a buy one, get one deal Sunday until 1 p.m.

Monkey Joe’s: Guests at select locations of the indoor kids play centers get free ice cream cups while supplies last on Sunday.

PetSmart: Participating PetSmart PetHotel locations will give out free ice cream samples to dogs on Sunday. 

Uber: On Friday, July 15, people in 400 cities around the world can have Magnum ice cream bars delivered to them by Uber, free of charge. Free deliveries are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

6 foods to try in Cleveland during the RNC and where to find them

The Republican National Convention will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland from July 18–21. 

But whether you're in the area before the convention, during it or afterwards, the city boasts many delicious foods for hungry visitors to fill up on. 

>> Read more trending stories 

The city’s food culture is heavily influenced by its Chinese, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovenian and German immigrants, as well as African-Americans and other ethnic groups.

Here are some of the best places to eat in Cleveland and what you should order, according to 

11 Ga. restaurants where your meal is free (if you can eat it all)

A previous version of this story included Bigshow Burger in Statesboro, now permanently closed.

There are few things better than a free meal. We're not saying it will be easy, but check out these 11 Georgia restaurants where your meal is actually free if you finish it all up.

1. The Brett's Beast Burger Challenge - 3190 Atlanta Hwy #11, Athens

Price: $40

 You've got one hour to devour a huge 6-pound patty with several toppings served between a giant bun. If you win, not only is your meal free, but you're officially a member of Brett's Casual American's Wall of Fame.

2. The Cannon Brew Pub's Turning Blue Burger Challenge, 1041 Broadway Rd, Columbus

Price: $30

30 minutes to devour three burger patties, three slices of cheese, eight strips of bacon – all served with chili cheese fries. If you win, you go home as a newly inducted member of  The Cannon Brew Pub's Wall of Fame, with a free t-shirt and of course, a free meal.

3. Bearfoot Tavern's Bear Mace Wing Challenge, 401 Cherry St, Macon

Price: $10

Here's the challenge: Gobble up 12 wings in 15 minutes. If you think that sounds pretty easy, you should know that eating these wings has been described like feeling like you're actually being maced. If you survive, you get to go home with a free meal, hat and beer and you're automatically inducted into Bearfoot Tavern's Wall of Fame. 

4. Mazey's 3lb Hamburger Eating Challenge and Mazey's Spicy Wing Eating Challenge, 105 Marie Church Rd, Dublin

Hamburger challenge: $25; Wing challenge: $18

Can you eat a three-pound burger topped with several toppings and two pounds of fries in under 40 minutes? How about 10 wings in under 20 minutes — with your fingers licked clean and the remaining hot sauce nowhere to be seen? If you win, your meal is on Mazey's Restaurant and you go home with a t-shirt. 

5. The Peach Pit's Quad Burger Challenge, 2505D Plant Ave, Waycross

Price: $25

Not only will you get a free meal and leave a newly inducted member of The Peach Pit's Wall of Fame, the winner of the challenge also gets to leave with $75 cash. All you have to do is eat a 10-inch, 4-pound burger loaded with toppings and another pound of fries — all in one sitting.

6. Cheeky's No Way Jose Burrito Challenge, 4475 Roswell Rd #1510, Marietta

Price: $30

Devour a 7-pound 2-foot burrito in one sitting and your meal as a proud new member of Cheeky Mexican Restaurant's Wall of Fame is free. 

7. B&D's Bring it on Burger Challenge, 13 E Broughton St, Savannah

Price: $35

You have 35 minutes to eat up three 1-pound patties with veggies and a pound of fries if you want to go home with your picture on B&D Burgers Bar & Grill's Wall of Fame, a free t-shirt and of course, your meal paid for.

8. The Square Pub's T-Rex Burger Challenge, 115 Sycamore St, Decatur

Price: $30

All you need to do is eat a stacked burger with three layers of beef (and toppings) served with cheesy tater tots. If you can do this in under 30 minutes, your meal is on the house at The Square Pub and you're now a newly inducted member of the restaurant's Wall of Fame.

9. Big Pie in the Sky's 30-inch Carnivore Pizza Challenge, 2090 Baker Rd A-103, Kennesaw

Price: $50

Don't worry, you don't have to devour this 30-inch gigantic pizza all by yourself. You can bring a friend to help. The pizza weighs 11 pounds and is loaded with meat toppings. If you and your friend win, not only is your meal free and your picture on Big Pie in the Sky's Wall of Fame, you win a whopping $250 cash prize to share.

10. The So Ba Pho King Challenge, 560 Gresham Ave, Atlanta

Price: $25

Eat two pounds of meat, another two pounds of noodles and yet another two pounds of broth with vegetables in under one hour and you get a paid meal, free t-shirt, picture on So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant's Wall of Fame and a $100 gift card.

11. The 2' Big Easy Grille "Not So Easy" Sandwich Challenge, 1193 Collier Rd NE, Atlanta

Price: $65

You have one hour to eat a sandwich two feet long loaded with meats and toppings and three small sides if you want your free meal, a free t-shirt and the pride that goes along with your picture on Big Easy Grille & Bar's Wall of Fame.

Barnes and Noble to open restaurants, serve alcohol

Barnes & Noble is merging books and booze to save its book business.

The bookseller is opening four concept stores around the U.S. that will feature full restaurants that sell beer and wine.

>> Read more trending stories  

Barnes & Noble already has Starbucks cafes in most of its bookstores, but the new restaurants will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and a server will take your order.

The first store will open in Eastchester, New York, in October. The three other stores will be in Edina, Minnesota; Folsom, California; and Loudoun County, Virginia, Fortune reported.

The head of the project said it was about creating "a better bookstore" that drives traffic to the store and keeps people there longer.

The company has faced slumping sales recently thanks to people turning to online retailers, like Amazon, to buy books. Its sales fell .8 percent last quarter.

The company's Nook devices and e-book business aren't performing well either. Nook's market share is at 9 percent after it held 27 percent in 2011.

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This video includes clips from StarbucksAmazon and Barnes & Noble, and images from Getty Images.

Taco Bell offering free tacos on Tuesday

Taco Bell announced today it would offer one free Doritos Locos taco to customers on Tuesday afternoon, June 21, as part of the restaurant chain’s “Steal a Game, Steal a Taco” NBA promotion.

The special offer will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday only. Taco Bell had announced prior to the NBA Finals that it would give away Doritos Locos tacos if a team won on its opponent’s home court in the NBA Finals — and that ended up happening not once, but three times, with the Golden State Warriors winning Game 4 in Cleveland, then the Cavaliers winning Games 5 and 7 on Golden State’s home court.

No purchase is necessary, according to the promotion’s terms and conditions, and as always, the offer will be good at participating Taco Bell locations. There is, of course, a limit of one free taco per customer.

12 things you didn't know about Waffle House

The soft glow from Waffle House’s black and yellow sign has been beckoning hungry travelers to stop, rest and dine for over 60 years.

>> Read more trending stories  

For many people, including Anthony Bourdain, eating at the restaurant is a unique experience. But if you think you know everything about the restaurant chain, think again.

Even the most devoted WaHo patrons may be surprised with these unusual facts about the company.

1. In a year, Waffle House serves 25,000 miles of bacon. If you laid out all the Smithfield Bacon that Waffle House serves in one year end-to-end, it would wrap around the earth’s equator. That’s a lot of miles of greasy goodness.

2. Waffle House has its own music label. The yellow-roofed restaurant has been concocting its recipes since 1955, but it began creating its own music 30 years ago. If you scroll through any Waffle House jukebox, there’s 40 original Waffle House songs. Hard to believe? Well, listen to one of Waffle House’s hits entitled “There are Raisins in My Toast.” WaHo’s musical playlist doesn’t stop there. The franchise has also dipped its toes into the syrupy waters of Gospel music.

3. School buses inspired the restaurant’s color scheme. Co-founderJoeRogers Senior picked the colors yellow and black because it reminded him of a school bus. He thought it would increase the restaurant’s visibility to drivers. It’s a common misconception that the founders chose the colors because Joe was a graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology, whose official colors are yellow and black.

4. FEMA has a Waffle House Index. Waffle House takes its commitment to being open 24/7 seriously. If disaster strikes, the chain has its own disaster management plan, which includes buying portable food generators, ice and food in advance. One of the first places the Federal Emergency Management Agency turns to gauge a natural disaster’s severity is Waffle House --it’s called the Waffle House Index

5. Waffle House has its own merchandise! You can purchase anything ranging from a WaHo hoodie to a vintage neon Waffle House clock on the restaurant’s website.

6. Valentine’s Day at Waffle House is a big deal. For the past eight years or so, designated Waffle Houses have organized romantic candle-lit dinners for couples on Valentine’s Day. The idea began in Johns Creek, Georgia, but now over 150 restaurant locations participate.

7. Waffle House has a unique call-in system. Have you ever noticed that colored tile on a Waffle House’s restaurant floor? Well, sale associates are instructed to stand on the colored tile when calling in an order. That way, the person working on the grill can easily hear the order.

8. The support team spends one day a year working in the restaurant. Although Waffle House’s support team isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, team members -- who work in Waffle House's corporate offices -- spend one day of the year working inside the restaurant. 

9. Waffle House is named after its most expensive menu item. Waffle House’s original menu had 16 items on it, and its most expensive menu item was the waffle. The founders named the restaurant after the waffle because they thought it would generate a big profit.

10. The restaurant’s founders still stop by to visit. The company’s founders, Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., are both in their late 90’s and are still involved with their brand. Tom visits the company’s headquarters three times a week. Joe, who is unable to drive, calls to check in on the company two or three times a month.

11. The menu items are named after real people. Bert’s Chili was named after an employee who served at the company for over 30 years. Alice’s iced tea was also named after an employee who helped perfect the restaurant’s signature iced tea. 

12. The restaurant had a cash-only policy until 2006. Waffle House resisted using credit cards because management feared that it would interfere with its promised 20-minute turnaround time. Also, the chain had to update it system to take credit cards. 

Have you always wondered what Waffle House order you would be? Take this quiz to find out!  

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