Today’s Food Newsbits: The Reinvention Of The Jewish Deli; McDonald’s Names Social Media Director

This week’s New York Times has a fantastic piece on the reinvention of Jewish delis across the country, many of whom are trying to up the ante from the traditional deli by incorporating natural and organic food stuffs into the menu. Portland’s own Kenny & Zuke’s, well-known locally for their delish sandwiches and menu items, is recognized, with owner Ken Gordon commenting that after his move from East Coast to West Coast, he realized that if he wanted a good pastrami sandwich, “I was going to have to make it myself.”

Some note that the change in traditional deli offerings has to do more in keeping with the times and providing food stuffs more in line with the local and seasonal ingredients available – a move often necessary to stay in business.

“The old-school places are closing faster than I can write about them” said David Sax, the author of “Save the Deli,” a 2009 history of, and guide to, the remaining authentic Jewish delis in North America.

You can read more about the changes deli owners are making, as well as their big challenge – natural meats, including salami and pastrami – here at the NY Times.

Also in an effort to keep with the changing landscape of the restaurant industry, burger giant McDonald’s announced recently that they have appointed their first Social Media Director. Rick Wion, formerly the vice president of digital communications at GolinHarris in Chicago, will man the social media helm for the mega-company. Wion has been working with McDonald’s since 2006 as a founding member of their Digital Task Force. According to Advertising Age, Mr. Wion stated that his three primary goals for the position include ‘using social media to build the business, manage customer problems, and beef up outreach to target groups such as mommy bloggers.’

McDonald’s isn’t the only large corp to put more emphasis on a social media effort. Starbucks, Pizza Hut (part of YUM! Brands) and Darden Restaurants have all taken to the social side of the web to increase brand recognition and customer/company communications.

~Jennifer Heigl

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