Bulletin Oct. 6 to 12: Burgers by Robots, Chickens for Toronto, and WestJet’s New Discount Carrier Gets a Name

The Billy Bulletin appears every Thursday with news about travel and the cities we cover, to help our readers and passengers navigate the week ahead.

What’s the talk of our towns this week? Read on …

New York

Some burger fans consider Shake Shack to be Manhattan’s gift to fast food – in part thanks to its community goodwill efforts – but will the chain be as appealing without the human touch? Shake Shack will replace front-line workers with automated kiosks and go cashless at its Astor Place location shortly, the New York Post reports. Or, as the press release puts it, Shake Shack will “evolve” and “introduce a new guest flow at the restaurant,” in a move “designed to enhance operations and guest experience,” while also introducing an “optimized kitchen for greater throughput.”

Sounds like robots already!

In case you’re wondering, minimum wage in New York City will increase incrementally over the next couple of years, reaching $15 an hour as of Dec. 31, 2019.


For the first time, the Kennedy Center will include a full slate of hip-hop engagements as part of its regular programming this season. America’s national performing arts venue has dabbled with booking rappers before – with Q-Tip, formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, providing some of the artistic direction. But as DCist writes, the performing arts centre has decided it's finally time to make a permanent space for a genre of music that didn’t quite exist when it opened the doors in 1971. The new series kicks off with a sold-out show featuring Jason Moran and Q-Tip this Friday, Oct. 6; find tickets for future shows here.

Courtesy the artist



The new National Holocaust Monument is open for visitors. Designed by famous Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, the site uses jagged slabs of concrete to create the general shape of a Star of David. Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic initially had misgivings about the design, but now writes that the finished edifice is “a powerful place, a powerfully symbolic work of architecture and an important addition to its context.”

The National Holocaust Monument, rendering of aerial view

(Meanwhile, Bozikovic quotes Libeskind responding to critics of his design of the Crystal wing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, who remain vocal 10 years after the renovation opened: “Some people don't like it? Fine! We don't have to agree on everything. That's the nature of art.")


Nearly 40 years after they were first banned in the city, backyard fowl are allowed in certain Toronto wards again. The city was too (ahem) chicken to re-allow them everywhere at once, so it’s studying the effects of poultry on the gentry in these limited areas first. Party chatter shall henceforth include people extolling the relative virtues of a home-laid egg.


Guess who's coming to dinner? (Answer: raccoons)

Also in Toronto, a startup called Flexday has arrived to do what Spacious does in New York: namely, turn restaurants into temporary work spaces during the day instead of having them just sit idle. Flexday is making two (soon to be four) Toronto locations available for laptop-luggers, all in the Spadina-King West-Liberty Village sector of town. The promotional membership fee is $70 per month for now – it will rise to $95 later – and it includes all the coffee you can drink.

Travel news

WestJet has announced Swoop as the name of its no-frills carrier, set to debut early next year. Said one company executive: “[‘Swoop’ is] a powerful verb that demonstrates we plan to swoop in to the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel."

Swoop’s all-Boeing 737 fleet will wear an eye-catching white-and-hot pink livery. And what’s on the inside? We’re hoping the seats will be more comfortable than the punitively hard ones in use on WestJet’s Q400s.

Published Thursday, October 5th 2017

Header image credit: Swoop! Courtesy WestJet



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