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Week 3/1/21

PUBLISHED: March 7, 2021

In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do. 


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In the delivery app era, the ghost franchise can be a lifeline for the independent restaurateur, a way to make thousands of dollars a month in a devastating time. It can also be a liability, exploding the marketplace in ways that serve big brands more than small businesses.

James Garofalo, 52, grew up working at his father’s diner in Chicago Heights, Ill. Now, he’s the chief operating officer at Goddess and the Baker, a cafe with several locations in Chicago and one in Brookfield, Wis. At first, Mr. Garofalo was skeptical of the ghost-franchise model. But as the pandemic cut off foot traffic, he decided it might make sense. “At this point, you’re looking for ways to generate dollars, keep staff on,” he added.

Mr. Garofalo now runs 12 of Nextbite’s ghost franchises out of the kitchen of his Brookfield cafe: Monster Mac, the Big Melt, Grilled Cheese Society, Miss Mazy’s Amazin’ Chicken, Toss It Up, CraveBurger, Outlaw Burger, Ghost Grille, Firebelly Wings, Wild Wild Wings, the Wing Dynasty and HotBox by Wiz, from rapper Wiz Khalifa.

Art Director Jenn Boggs
“You’ve Heard of Ghost Kitchens. Meet the Ghost Franchises”, by Marissa Conrad, in the New York Times


Beginning writers see language as a means to an end, the paint used to coat your house. But language is the whole game, it’s not the frosting on the cake, it’s the cake, milk, sugar, flour, wheat. How accountable and original and mellifluous is the building material? That counts most of all.

Reader Rob Shapiro
Excerpt from “The Art of Fiction no. 248”, by Allan Gurganus, in the Paris Review


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