Upper Crust’s New Owner Brings Back Original Pizza Recipes, With A Twist
Ackil is so proud of his chicken sandwich that he put it in the chain’s new slogan, âpizza and chickenâ. (The chicken menu includes wings and fillets.) He’s added fryers at locations in Brookline, Cambridge, South End, and Lexington. The original Beacon Hill spot will soon have one too, as will the Upper Crust it is about to open in North Andover. The channel’s website was updated on Monday to reflect the new tagline.
âWe are renovating all the restaurants, renaming all the restaurants,â Ackil said. âWe have improved a lot in the past 18 months. We believe it is ready to be reintroduced.
Ackil’s interest in Upper Crust dates back to his 20s, when he was a regular customer of the South End spot. It was in the early 2000s, and Ackil and his childhood friend Jon olinto had just launched their own fast-casual chain, B. Good.
By the time Ackil resigned as CEO of B. Good in 2018 to go out on his own, he had at least 70 locations. Ackil said he has since sold all of his shares in B.Good as well.
Ackil’s next act was to become a restaurant consultant by launching Public lighting companies. Streetlight has also branched out into restaurant management and ownership, through Streetlight Capital Management, with the help of partners. Paul Twohig, Eric holstein, and Mitchell kahn. Streetlight took over management of Upper Crust last year, becoming a 50-50 investor with a private equity firm Capital of Quabbin.
Upper Crust encountered issues under the previous owner Jordan tobins, including a federal investigation that uncovered numerous violations of minimum wage and overtime laws about a decade ago. (Tobins is no longer involved.) Ackil said he has a different perspective on how to compensate employees – even if that means raising prices at some point.
âThe restaurant industry as a whole needs to have a little ‘come to Jesus’ moment,â Ackil said. âIf we don’t, people will continue to leave the industry. I am in the camp that salaries must be increased. We have to make it a living wage. We need to change the way we see business.
Gala season is back. But smaller.
While the first gala season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is finally underway, things are certainly not back to normal yet.
But people are always happy to have an excuse to try their fancy clothes again – even if it means wearing a mask, eating out, or congregating in a smaller crowd.
Among them: corporate financiers Mooney neighborhood, Kevin Murtagh, Cheryl Carner, Ken frieze, and Kevin Vercauteren. They kicked off what they hoped would be an annual tradition in 2018, bringing together the corporate finance community to benefit More than words, a non-profit organization run by Jodi Rosenbaum which teaches entrepreneurial skills to the city’s teens at its South End and Waltham bookstores and with its online store.
In 2018 and 2019, around 500 people attended the event. But the group cut things down for their 2021 return, October 7 to InterContinental Boston Hotel. About 150 people came; the food was casual, not a sit down and out meal.
Murtagh, a lawyer who co-chairs Riemer & Braunsteinthe practice of commercial financing, estimates that the group has raised approximately $ 295,000.
âWe were a little worried that because of COVID we were going to lose that momentum, butâ¦ people were so hungry to meet in person,â Murtagh said.
âA lot of us haven’t seen each other for a long time,â added Mooney, a financial entrepreneur. âThe energy this year was electric. â¦ People have been laughing at their lives all night.
Missing the chicken dinner circuit
The story was similar the following Wednesday to the Seaport hotel, where the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and its general manager Danna mauch held their annual awards ceremony and fundraising gala. (Donations totaled approximately $ 350,000.) The crowd was limited to 200, to keep the tables spaced.
The MAMH honored Governor Charlie baker, Secretary of Health and Social Services Marylou Sudders, President of the Senate Karen spilka, and Speaker of the House Ron Mariano for their public service during the pandemic. Senator Julien cyr and representative Marjorie Decker were praised for their mental health advocacy at State House. The top three vaccine suppliers in the United States – Pfizer, Modern, and Johnson & johnson – were recognized by video. And NBC10 Boston anchor JC Monahan gave a captivating speech about her struggle with depression, which she first described at length in a Boston magazine article earlier this year.
Communications strategist Joe baerlein, member of the MAMH board of directors, presented an award to Kyle grimes, President and CEO of WCVB-TV, to honor the station’s work on mental health issues.
Handing over the award, Baerlein remarked on how commonplace these chicken dinners were for most of the people in the room. After more than 18 months of absence, he said, it was really nice to be back.
“Is it ever better to eat chicken in a hotel?” Baerlein said. “I was just telling my classmates howâ¦ damn good this one tastes.”
When you love your product …
Yes Niren Chaudhary is not Panera breadthe biggest customer of, he’s probably up there.
Yes, he’s the CEO. But with Chaudhary, we get the impression that his passion for Panera – and his fondant chipotle chicken and avocado in particular – goes beyond his professional obligations.
After all, he’s written songs on his beloved fast-casual channel, like songs about the coffee subscription program and the flatbread pizza. He sang a few to a crowd of Boston university students and faculty members on Friday, as part of a visit with the School of Hospitality Administration at BU.
He also gave a vibrant account of his career, which began in the hotel industry in India. It moved to quick service restaurants in 1994 when Miam brands Hired him to help expand the company’s holdings – they include KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell – in this country.
JAB Holding Co. recruited Chaudhary to join the company’s management team Krispy kreme chain in 2017. He became CEO of Panera in 2019 after its takeover by JAB.
Chaudhary said it was intimidating to succeed longtime Panera boss Ron shaich.
âPeople must be asking, ‘Who is this guy? He made fried chicken, fried pizza, fried donuts. Is it the natural choice for Panera Bread? Chaudhary said.
Just as Chaudhary said he was gaining a foothold in work, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Panera has pivoted to focus more on mobile sales and takeout, and simplified its menu a bit. JAB also folded the Cafe Caribou, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Bruegger bagels channels under the responsibility of Chaudhary. (Chaudhary and other local Panera leaders are now working remotely, but will eventually occupy an office in West Newton.)
Usually when he goes out to eat with his wife, he says, he suggests Panera. He doesn’t always win.
âIt’s a brand that I loved and admired,â Chaudhary said. âI eat it every day. I could eat it twice a day if my wife allowed me.