Ruminations of a Taco-Obsessed Philly Native

As a taco/restaurant lover, I’m always willing to travel to try out a new place.  But the problem is that restaurants are more fun with people.  That’s why it’s helpful to have an app like Skout that makes it easier to meet new people, that have the same interests as me.

Skout is a location-based social network available on iOS and Android devices as well as a dedicated website. The focus of the application and accompanying website is to meet new people, anywhere in the world. The application uses a smartphones GPS to to find other uses in the general vicinity, but doesn’t give users exact locations. Users can meet new people in their local area, or virtually travel to other locations. The application promotes serendipitous meetings and chats using simple technology. The aim of the application is to meet new people, leading to strong relationships that are either purely platonic or something more.

The Early Stages
Created in 2007 by Christian Wiklund and Niklas Lindstrom, Skout started off as a simple social network. At that time, Skout was merely a social networking website where people could connect. It wasn’t until the 2009 relaunch that the website focused more on making romantic connections. This was due to the founders’ realization that 83% of the website’s then 200,000 members were using the network for dating. Along with a revamped website, the iOS application launched with much success. The Android application was launched the following year.

Gaining Momentum
In the following years, Skout gained users. It was one of the iPhone’s first location-based dating services, so the brand and service expanded. Surveys within the Skout application concluded that majority of the users had success in meeting others in the real world through the application. The popularity of Skout made mobile dating services more common and widely accepted. With the launch of Skout OUT, the network allowed people to create connections offline. The interactive touch screen was installed in various venues and allowed users to flirt, dedicate songs, and send messages to others in the venue or nearby venues.

Strong Funding
By 2010, numerous applications launched to follow the success of Skout. Competitors muddled the social networking market, but never compared to how easy Skout is to access and download. At this point, Skout had a staff count of three, including the original founders. It had acquired 4.6 million in funding since its advent, with profit and losses dipping back and forth. The mobile application had seen tens of millions of downloads, despite the competition. By 2012, Skout had a larger staff count and received massive funding. The company raised $22 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz. This funding has allowed the network to expand. The company was able to further develop the mobile application and network into what it is today.

Skout expanded tremendously since their massive venture capital funding. In fact, the number of active users tripled and the number of connections made by users quadrupled just a year after this funding. Skout began adding new features that proved to be beneficial in terms of profit. They included a paid feature that allows users to connect with others all over the world. Furthermore, the application includes ways for users to send virtual gifts using real currency. Additionally, community features have allowed users to monitor the application themselves. This strengthened the community within the application and created a stronger relationship with users, and also led to creating additional apps like Fuse.

Today, Skout is continuing to thrive and grow. The mobile application and website is continually adapting, becoming more user friendly and fun to use. The mobile application is still among the top 25 social networking applications in the Apple store and continues to see new users and growth.

Anyone who has ever been hungry at the grocery store knows what a mistake it is. When your stomach is grumbling unhealthy convenience foods are extremely appealing. So what can someone do to help ensure their trip to the grocery store is full of healthy choices?

Researchers from Cornell University think they have the answer. A new study conducted shows that eating healthy foods before shopping can be used a psychological primer for making healthier choices.

The study conducted looked at the shopping habits of more than 100 participants. Those who were given a slice of apple before selecting their groceries purchased up to 28% more fruits and vegetables than those who were given a cookie. They even purchased 25% more fruits and vegetables than those who were given nothing at all.

Priming is a well known construct in psychology according to Alexei Beltyukov. Marketing agencies use it all the time to sell you products. It works by creating associations in your brain that affect decision making.

Eating healthy food before going to the store will help keep healthy food on your mind. Eating a healthy breakfast will help you eat healthy the rest of the day. Bringing a list of healthy food to the store will constantly keep you in the healthy mindset and help you make better choices.

Humans have the natural tendency to place blame on tragic events on people rather than on societal conditions. It is often until years after a tragic event that society finally states that an individual or group was less responsible for the event then the conditions of the time.

According to CNN, a lawyer for 32-year-old engineer Brandon Bostian, who was driving the Amtrak train that crashed late Tuesday night, told the hosts of “Good Morning America” this morning, Thursday, May 14, that his client doesn’t remember much about the crash. Bostian suffered a serious head injury that has left him with 15 staples in his head. He remembers the curve, attempting to slow the train, losing consciousness, waking up and then calling emergency services.

Although Bostian tested negative for drugs, police and investigators are in the process of retrieving his phone records as other engineers have caused past crashes by texting while driving according to Bernardo Chua on Facebook.

Yet, the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” hasn’t been handled well by officials. Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, has judged Bostian and told the media that he was “reckless” even though no proof of recklessness exists at this time. National Transportation Safety Board Robert Sumwalt told the press that the NTSB is still investigating. Some of Nutter’s critics have told the media that he’s the one being “reckless” by judging Bostian before all of the evidence has been gathered by investigators.

Attention Olive Garden bread stick lovers. Be prepared to have your day made. The popular Italian-style restaurant chain has announced that they will now be offering more than just unlimited bread sticks. They are taking their bread to the next level by offering bread stick sandwiches.


The company has announced that effective June 1st they will introduce two new sandwiches to their lunch menu. They are rolling out the Chicken Parmesan version and a Meatball version to start. They plan to keep the variety limited at first to see if this product will really resonate with guests.


Mark Ahn has read that, according to a spokesperson from the Olive Garden, they announced that they were excited to launch the new test product. They said if they are as popular as their current bread sticks, expanding the selection shouldn’t be an issue. The company is confident that the new product will really increase lunch time sales and they will be able to move the option to their dinner menu shortly after.


This is not the first time Olive Garden has introduced an insanely creative marketing strategy. Just last year they offered the unlimited pasta passes for a seven week period. A North Carolina man purchased a pasta pass for $100. This allowed the man to get unlimited pasta, salad, bread sticks and a soft drink for seven weeks. The man said for the $100 her spent on the pasta pass he was able to eat over $1500 in food.


Fast food is setting out on a new frontier, and the biggest names in the industry are revamping their menu’s to stay on top of consumer demands, as well as the cost efficient demands of their corporate structures, as there has been a significant decline in sales compared to last year’s numbers. It’s the wild wild west out there, with firework-like displays of guns blazing to guide our attention, and taste buds, towards new specialty artisan sandwiches, healthier menu options, mascot enhancements, and allowing consumers to get the most from their dollars. People are not only interested in the cheapest fare anymore, it’s all about a delicate balance between quality and quantity. As a fast food consumer I feel this fierce, and healthy, competition among chains across the country, proves the value of my business to these brands, and it honestly makes me want to go get a pretzel burger right now! says however, I do wonder how the low income consumer will be accommodated.

As an entrepreneur and real estate developer, Haidar Barbouti has certainly made his mark.His venture into the restaurant world leaves little to be desired either, as his dedication to real food and substantial portions have made his restaurant UP, popular with restaurant aficionados in Houston.

Barbouti’s restaurant specializes in good quality American food. Despite not having any experience as a chef or having a culinary degree he decided to open his own restaurant. He was inspired after traveling to Europe and visiting restaurants all over the world. His experiences taught him what he wanted and what he didn’t want from his dining experiences. He decided to use this knowledge to create the kind of restaurant he would want to eat at.

His restaurant focuses on American fare and specializes in simple homemade food like your grandmother used to make, but in a classier, more upscale atmosphere. The larger portions and simpler food compared to other top-notch restaurants are what makes UP Restaurant stand out from the crowd.

Barbouti used his experience in business to help build the restaurant so that it would be a profitable enterprise and attract the right kind of clientele. He knows how to run a business, as he has demonstrated in his past ventures, such as the successful Highland Village shopping center in Houston and applies that expertise and experience to his restaurant.

In addition to expertly crafted, yet simple food with ample portions the restaurant features a chic decor and a beautiful patio that attracts the kind of crowd that likes to see and be seen. The patrons come for the atmosphere and stay for the food. Barbouti takes a hands on approach to his restaurant and likes to make sure that everything is made from scratch. That means carefully selecting the best flour for the restaurants homemade Italian inspired pasta, and using fresh carefully pealed garlic and other ingredients in the restaurant’s dishes. Barbouti visits his restaurant
on a regular basis and makes sure that everything is up to his standards. If something is not up to his quality standards, he does not hesitate to tell his staff.

It is Barbouti’s dedication to quality, hands on approach and business expertise that make UP restaurant such a success.

Mikal Watts suggests that Panera Bread has made a list of 150 ingredients deemed unacceptable for their food products. They’re following on the heels of other companies that have made the decision to improve the foods and drinks they sell. Last month, PepsiCo said they’re removing aspartame from diet drinks, Kraft is getting rid of artificial dyes from their iconic macaroni and cheese, and Chipotle is banning all genetically modified foods.

People are looking for whole and natural foods, and they want to know exactly what they’re eating. Artificial ingredients that can’t be pronounced are becoming increasingly undesirable, so Panera is eliminating such things as maltodextrin, sulfur dioxide, aluminum potassium sulfate, etc. Their salad dressings will now be classified as “clean,” with no preservatives or artificial colors or flavoring.

Nobody knows whether Panera Bread made its “no no” list for publicity purposes or not. The most important thing to note, though, is that companies are listening and making changes that the public seems to want. People are more health and label conscious, and they want to know what they’re putting into their bodies.

Paul Mathieson says that popular fast food chain Taco Bell offers Southwestern style foods in outlets across the country. For years, people have been happily enjoying the many kinds of meals that Taco Bell provides for their customers. This includes items such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos and nachos. A typically meal at Taco Bell will include a main dish, toppings customized to the user’s taste and a drink on the side. The chain has also experimented with providing their customers all kinds of new tastes in addition to their old favorites. Over the years, they have offered customers many new and unexpected tastes.

The chain has recently announced it will continue with this tradition by offering a new taco shell for customers to sample. Customers dining at Taco Bell will now be able to enjoy taco shells made from Fritos. Fritos are a highly popular snack that many Americans enjoy. These crisp chips are consumed by those looking for a quick snack during the day. The new tacos at Taco Bell will offer customers the chance to enjoy a taco that has a crust that is made from fritos. Taco Bell officials expect that customers will embrace this new taste sensation as an opportunity to combine two of their favorite foods in a single package.

Maybe it is time that 12 year olds get more credit than they do. A group of sixth graders applied for an energy grant and were awarded almost 100k in funds to install solar panels on the roofs of their school. The electricity bills for the school will be cut by an estimated 70 percent and save a huge amount of money over time. The young class responsible for this amazing feat learned about the way our carbon footprints have a impact on the environment, and they decided to do something to help. They even called out others saying they should stop being lazy and questioning why more people aren’t doing the same thing. Alexei Beltyukov (CrunchBase) thinks these kids might be on to something. If sixth graders are capable of writing a detailed grant well enough for it to be approved, than so can other people. The energy and resources saved by solar panels are significant.

Never thought the day would come when the bars of New Orleans would no longer be smoky, but that day has come. As of Wednesday, bar patrons are allowed to take their alcoholic beverages out the doors and into the streets, but smoking patrons are not allowed to light up inside the bar.

Bars are not the only places in New Orleans where smoking is no longer allowed. A smoker can’t light up in restaurants, on the fairgrounds or in the casinos. The smoking ban took place at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday. It was reported that Harrah’s casino took pity on their smoking customers who had to put their cigarettes out and offered them free tootsie pops. Sporting arenas and stadiums have restricted smoking, but not completely banned it.

Yahoo! Finance report that bar and restaurant owners are now hoping that patrons who quit coming to their smoky establishments because they had kicked the habit will now return. The impact the smoking ban will have on bars and eateries remains to be seen.

It remains unclear how exactly the Blue Bell Ice Cream production facilities became contaminated but that is not stopping Blue Bell from taking immediate and decisive action to protect the health of its customers. After the dangerous listeria bacteria was traced back to the company’s home production facility in Brenham, Texas and previously at another on in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Blue Bell has issued a 100% recall of every product and is offering a refund for any ice cream product that customers have in their freezers currently. This is the first recall ever by Blue Bell which has been producing ice cream and selling it commercially for 108 years and it will have an effect on a variety of convenience and grocery stores across 23 states and some international locations.

Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns. However, older adults and people with immune systems that have been somehow weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions. Blue Bell is keeping both the Brenham and Broken Arrow plants closed until the source and cause of the bacteria is found and the facilities have been completely sanitized. As for the other distribution and production facilities…once the recall is complete the company will test every product before either sending them back out to be sold or are destroyed. Currently, Boraie Development says the company is increasing its training program to its employees and their bacteria testing by sending daily samples off to be examined at a microbiology testing facility.