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Operators tap into equipment evolution

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-27 19:21

Restaurant equipment is undergoing an evolutionary creep that is providing economy for operators.

Equipment innovations are providing broader options for operators in both the front and back of the house. The right equipment choices can increase labor savings, accommodate dietary-restriction food prep and lead to more efficient footprints.

“It’s an interesting time for restaurants when it comes to equipment,” said Charlie Souhrada, vice president for regulatory and technical affairs, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.

“Labor is definitely at the forefront of everyone’s minds because of the difficulty of finding people to do the work but also in the cost of labor and healthcare benefits,” Souhrada said.

“We’re seeing more and more tools to try to do jobs more efficiently, faster and better.”

Bojangles’ Inc spent more than a year planning out a Greenville, S.C., prototype to ensure the design would hold up years into the future. That especially included the equipment choices, said Randy Icard, Bojangles vice president of construction and development.

Photo: Bojangles'

Equipment got a starring role. The 699-unit Charlotte, N.C.-based quick-service company created a “Biscuit Theater” to showcase its signature product — the in-house biscuits made every 20 minutes throughout the day — and the equipment was part of that stage.

“We’ve really designed this Bojangles to take us into the future,” Icard told NRN. “We started in the kitchen, because Bojangles is all about the food.”

The company paid careful attention to the kitchen design before the prototype launched in January.

“The biscuit-making and baking were moved to become the centerpiece,” he said. “We’ve made biscuits from scratch since we started in 1977, and we felt like we were known for that in a lot of markets.”

While the restaurant didn’t make many changes to the biscuit-making equipment, it moved that function into the “theater” area behind the order counter, which allowed Bojangles room to make strides in kitchen design, Icard said.

Photo: Bojangles'

The restaurant moved a six-burner stove with separate egg grill and griddle top for breakfast menu items and fryers under a dual-sided venting hood. Menu items prepared there now shift into a double-side T-shaped line for order preparation. The design was incorporated after the company made a number of time-and-motion studies.

“During high volume periods, there’s a line for drive-thru production and there’s also a line for front-line production,” Icard said. “During lower-volume times, they can be combined as needed.”

As Bojangles streamlined the back of the house, it also updated the so-called “middle of the house,” or the counter service area. 

“Our food used to be in steam tables there, so it was basically being held in standard one-third size pans,” Icard said. “From a holding perspective, you can tend to overcook food, even if you think you have temperature set correctly.”

A new system of custom-manufactured round, multi-colored crocks provides visual rustic appeal and maintains the temperature for holding, Icard said.

Photo: Bojangles'

Digital menu boards have been in test for two years, and the new Bojangles prototype offers what the company plans to use going forward. “We’ll put digital menu boards in all the stores that we build,” Icard said. “Being able to manage all the updates offsite was very important for us.

A significant shift in the Bojangles prototype has been in the lighting throughout the restaurants — moving from incandescent to more energy efficient light-emitting diode fixtures.

“This new prototype is almost exclusively LED, especially in the kitchen,” he said. Bojangles now uses digital timers throughout the restaurant, and LED lighting is used in all exterior fixtures, he said.

The restaurant company phased in tankless hot water systems into many Bojangles units as well, he said.

“As equipment and technology in equipment as changed, we’ve tried to stay on top of it,” Icard said. “We may not be the first adopter, but we’ll invest in what will best suit what we need in our restaurants.”

Photo: Ron Ruggless

Equipment for labor savings

NAFEM’s Souhrada said manufacturers are embedding more technology into their equipment to provide labor savings, both for monitoring and maintenance.

“More companies are emphasizing labor savings, but it’s usually something that’s multi-use equipment or something that can reduce food or prep cooking times,” Souhrada said. “There’s also a much greater emphasis on simplicity in terms of training or servicing the equipment.”

When the Richardson, Texas-based Golden Franchising Corp., owner of the 165-unit Golden Chick brand, redesigned its prototype restaurant in 2011, it especially looked for equipment that would reduce labor in maintenance.

Brian Gilbert, Golden Chick’s director of development, said the company sought out equipment that would easy to clean or self-cleaning.

“Part of it is in saving time,” Gilbert said, but another piece was knowing the cleaning maintenance was built in. “We know it will get done,” he added.

The chain is adding new combi ovens, said Matthew Parmerlee, Golden Franchising’s construction manager.

“It can cook six pans of roasts rather than the one that we traditionally had,” said Parmerlee. Mark Parmerlee, Golden Franchising’s chairman, added that roasted chicken menu items have been a growing part of the chain’s menu mix, so expanding roasting capabilities was required to meet consumer trends.

Brian Gilbert (left), Golden Chick's director of development, Matthew Parmerlee (middle), Golden Franchising’s construction manager and Mark Parmerlee (right), Golden Franchising’s chairman. Photo: Ron Ruggless

Menu trends and diet changes always mean equipment has to adapt, Souhrada said.

“There’s always a concern about making sure equipment can focus on dietary restrictions that have become more prevalent,” he said. “Can it be label uniquely in a gluten-free or allergy-free zone? There are increased codings. We’re seeing equipment move beyond allergen-free cutting boards to knife handles and allergen kits that are colored purple.”

Equipment manufacturers and operators are also looking at ways to do more with less space, especially as real estate costs increase. 

“Space savings is probably the most creative category in equipment,” Souhrada said. “It’s incredibly important. It’s not just equipment like a rapid-cook oven with a small footprint. It’s also stacking condiment guns in a tower so that it takes up less space on a cook or prep line. Operators are using the air above the prep tables.”

Gilbert said Golden Chick, in the most recent unit that opened in Dallas in January, made use of the space above the double-sided prep line to store paper goods in the 975-square-foot kitchen.

“We always look at cost effectiveness,” Gilbert said. “It’s much more cost effective to add a foot or two of ceiling height than add square footage, especially as materials costs have gone through the roof.”

Photo: Ron Ruggless

Green equipment moves

Another category of innovation in kitchen equipment has been to make it more environmentally friendly.

“That reaches back to the early 2000s when NAFEM members worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to develop the Energy Star program for commercial foodservice equipment,” Souhrada said.

“It has been growing in importance over the past five years, thought there isn’t really a threshold. Operators have been looking at energy for a while, but it has been getting a lot of attention and regulatory restrictions.”

The latest changes have been in refrigeration equipment, he said, with manufacturers moving to the use of natural refrigerants like versions of propane.

“We put a lot of time and energy into our new prototype,” said Icard of Bojangles. “We’ve reached a milestone, but there’s always something new on horizon in equipment. You just have to be open to taking the blinders off and looking at the possibilities.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Starbucks says mobile ordering slowed service in 1Q

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-27 18:47

Starbucks Corp. has had some impressive success evolving into a digitally enhanced coffee chain.

But maybe it was too successful. Now the company is blaming mobile order and pay for slow service last quarter. 

Use of Starbucks’ mobile order and pay skyrocketed in the first quarter ended Jan. 1. At a time when many restaurant chains are just testing the digital waters, 7 percent of Starbucks’ U.S. consumers used mobile ordering and payment — up from 3 percent a year ago. And 27 percent of transactions at company-operated locations involved mobile payment.

Starbucks is outperforming, “by significant margins anyone of scale in the restaurant and retail industry, engaging more deeply, frequently and expanding our base of customers more effectively and reliably,” CEO Howard Schultz said on the company’s earnings call Thursday.

The problem is this: So many people used mobile order and pay in many locations that it had the opposite effect that the chain intended. Rather than speed orders and improve service, mobile ordering actually drove some customers away by crowding the counter where people get their drinks.

So, while same-store sales increased 3 percent in the U.S. in the period, including 5 percent higher average check, transactions fell 2 percent. The 3-percent number was Starbucks’ lowest same-store sales number since the financial crisis, according to Buckingham Research analyst John Zolidis.

“A growing number of stores are challenged to keep up with volume demands,” Schultz said. “We are now laser focused on fixing the problem. The nature of it is too much demand. Operational challenge is a problem we have solved before. I assure you we can solve it again.”

Kevin Johnson, tapped to succeed Schultz as CEO later this year, noted on the earnings call that 1,200 locations now get 20 percent or more of their orders through mobile order and payment. By comparison, only 13 locations were at that level a year ago.

The skyrocketing use led to “significant congestion at the handoff,” he said.

“When those orders come in at that volume, it’s creating congestion at handoff,” Johnson said. “If the line looked too long, customers decided not to do the transaction.”

Johnson noted that Starbucks has had this problem before, when its soaring popularity led to long lines at the point-of-sale line. Now those problems are developing at the drink handoff line. 

“I think that’s the most significant, contributing factor to our 3-percent” same-store sales number, Johnson said.

Per Schultz’s vow, executives on the call said they are working on plans to deal with the problem. Some locations are already working on solutions on their own, and the company is analyzing those solutions to see what works, and what could be expanded chainwide.

Starbucks is also testing new digital enhancements, such as text message notifications that let customers know when their drinks are ready.

Still, Starbucks executives said the company’s digital strategy is giving it a leg up in an evolving market. Schultz has been warning of the digital encroachment on retail traffic for years, and says Starbucks’ digital strategy has helped protect it from that issue.

This week, Starbucks touted numerous figures in the first quarter that many other restaurants and retailers could only dream of: 40 percent of transactions in the U.S. came through the Starbucks Card. Consumers loaded $2.1 billion onto their cards. And there’s $1.5 billion on those cards that customers haven’t used yet, all but guaranteeing future revenue. There are now 12.9 million members in Starbucks Rewards loyalty program.

“We are going to be one of the true winners, regardless of what happens from those retailers suffering from a downturn of traffic,” Schultz said.

Investors were not totally buying into the idea. Starbucks’ stock fell more than 4 percent in Friday morning trading. And analysts were decidedly mixed on the company’s explanations for its traffic problem. 

Bernstein Research analyst Sara Senatore said difficult comparisons helped fuel the weak same-store sales number. 

“We see evidence that digital initiatives have increased the difficulty of forecasting, but we have confidence [Starbucks] can address this,” she wrote in a note Friday. 

But Zolidis was skeptical, saying, “it’s also undeniable that the business is slowing.”

“We struggle with this explanation,” Zolidis said of the idea that mobile order and pay is hurting traffic. “Our view is that traffic across the industry was terrible and [Starbucks] was simply not immune.”

He also wondered whether Starbucks’ prices had grown too much for some customers.

“The divergence in traffic and ticket leads us to speculate whether the price-value offer is getting lost in the quest for ever-increasing premiumization,” he said. 

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

Imagining life without restaurants

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-27 17:09

One of my favorite sportswriters, Steve Rushin, wrote a story last year called “A World Without Mookies,” in which he imagined how different life might be without sports.

The piece got me thinking: As a pastime, sports are thousands of years old, but restaurants didn’t really take root until early 19th century. Yet restaurants are just as ingrained in our lifestyles, books, film, music, art and popular culture. Playing or watching sports is optional, but eating is not. To me, it’s much more difficult to imagine a world without the foodservice industry.

Without restaurants, you wouldn’t be able to pronounce chipotle, shiitake, charcuterie, quinoa, souvlaki, half-caf, barista or venti, much less use them in a sentence. Without restaurants, brunch would be a typo, and only baseball would have starters. There would still be breakfast, lunch and dinner, but without restaurants, they would be miserable. To meet a friend for coffee or lunch would mean going someone’s house or hosting, every single time.

There would be no chefs — or celebrity chefs. No James Beard, Paul Bocuse, Jacques Pepin, Wolfgang Puck, Auguste Escoffier, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Alain Ducasse, Jonathan Waxman, José Andrés, Nobu Matsuhisa or Alice Waters. Gordon Ramsay would be a carnival sideshow barker and Guy Fieri would be running the Tilt-a-Whirl down the midway. Anthony Bourdain’s parts would be known.

Instead of having buildings named after them, Howard Johnson would just be a character in Blazing Saddles, Harry Caray a dead baseball announcer, and Mike Ditka and Michael Jordan would have to eat at home. John Daly would have to nowhere to go after a celebrity tournament to chug beer, ogle waitresses and down wings. Eggrolls would be strictly a White House lawn activity at Easter. Farm to table would be called food, and all diners would be locavores. Williamsburg and Wicker Park would be blighted neighborhoods. Every worker, student and commuter would brown bag at noon.

The Two Broke Girls would both be unemployed; Cheers would be set at an AA meeting; and Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica and Rachel would meet at the local Kinko’s instead of Central Perk. Delhi would only follow the word “new,” and the most famous scene in When Harry Met Sally would take place in a community center, not a table. Placemats would be found only in Cleveland’s NFL franchise.

Without restaurants, Five Guys would describe how many people you needed for a men’s league basketball game, not your favorite lunch spot. You’d take a Subway, not eat at one. Dominos would be played, not delivered. Shake Shack wouldn’t be a place; it would be a prank you play on a friend using the outhouse. Drive-thru windows would be a New York Post headline describing the actions of a Long Island drunk driver, not the car’s involvement in fast food. The Cheesecake Factory would be a business that manufactured pinup girl posters, calendars and t-shirts. “Ruby Tuesday” would a Rolling Stones hit from 1966. The only time you’d visit a hut is if you lived in Bora-Bora or needed a pair of sunglasses. DiGiorno’s would have no tag line for their commercials.

General Tso’s Chicken would be a historical reference to military cowardice, not No. 14 on the takeout menu. Potstickers would be price labels in a California medical marijuana dispensary, instead of Asian dumplings. The Early Bird special would refer to discounted 6 a.m. hot yoga classes, not two fried seafood platters for $12.99. A frequent diner would be a Weight Watcher’s member, not a target market. A salad bar would be the upper limit of how many chopped vegetables you could eat in a sitting, not a traffic generator. Point of sale would reference the tip of a jib, not a cash register. Eighty-six would merely be a number between 85 and 87, and not refer to running out of anything. There would be no bustubs, busboys, monkey dishes or salamanders. The only thing in the weeds would be your lost Frisbee, not the new waitress. Windows and doors would open and close, but not managers.

Technology would be radically different sans restaurants. UberEats would be fruit or nuts you plucked from a tree, not an app-based delivery system. Grubhub would describe your fridge or pantry. Yelp is what your dog would do if the rocking chair leg caught his tail. TripAdvisor would just be a detour sign.

Only computers would have menus. The only tips would come from bookies or brokers. “Surf and turf” would be the marketing slogan for Del Mar racetrack in Southern California, not a steak and lobster combo. A side of mushrooms would be a witty remark about fungi that Oscar Wilde muttered to a friend, not a sliced vegetable blanched in red wine and beef stock to accompany a medium-rare ribeye. A New York Strip would be a new inmate processing procedure at Riker’s Island.  

Without restaurants, you could die for your beliefs or your country, but not for the Molten Fudge Flan with raspberries and powdered sugar. You could experience death by malaria, but not chocolate. The only weekend “reservations” my wife and I would have would center around our daughter bringing her new boyfriend home. Without restaurants, Ireland and Scandinavia would no longer be embarrassed by their culinary absence, and return to their dual proficiencies at drinking and depressing filmmaking.

A greasy spoon would describe something to stir chili with, not a roadside diner. Without restaurants, the CIA would be an agency you’d avoid, not a program you’d matriculate in. A well drink would be a dipper or bucket of water. Prime rib would be an Old Testament explanation of how God made woman, and the most popular Buffetts would be Jimmy or Warren, not Bellagio’s. Casual-theme would refer to your college roommate’s sartorial choices, not the architecture and menu of a branded restaurant group. A chain would restrain your dog, or secure your wallet. It would not describe a string of identical franchised restaurants. There would be no full service or quick service, just self service. And fast food would refer to rabbit.

Meanwhile, if there were no restaurant business, there would be no Greensboro Four on Feb. 1, 1960, to jumpstart the Civil Rights movement with its most influential and significant sit-in. And our nation would most likely be in a Depression, because 14.4 million people would be unemployed, 1.7 million new jobs would not be created annually, and an additional 16.5 million citizens would be jobless because the manufacturing, distribution and brokerage industries that directly support foodservice would be nonexistent.

This is a world I would not like to live — let alone eat — in.

The restaurant business is far from perfect, but it is ingrained in our national fabric and has given hundreds of thousands of immigrants a start, tens of millions of teenagers their first jobs, and countless people a second chance. Foodservice has jumpstarted juveniles, made mavens of misfits and built the greatest industry on earth.

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote speaker at leadership conferences worldwide. His two books, Fundamentals and Multiunit Leadership, have sold over 400,000 copies. You can get his free catalog, apps, podcasts, insight and more at Follow him on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter @Sullivision


Is mobile payment really the future?

Nation's Restaurant News - Fri, 2017-01-27 16:16

Mobile payment is a huge trend in the restaurant business. Consumers like their phones after all, so enabling them to use those phones to pay for their food seems a no brainer.

Or is it? 

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” said Christopher Sebes, president of payment systems company Heartland Commerce. “It’s not hard to pull out your wallet and swipe a credit card.”

As companies invest millions of dollars in mobile apps and mobile payment technology, it’s important to examine how much potential this capability truly has. And many believe it’s inherently limited, at least for now, because it’s just not that hard to pay with a credit card.

Yet there is only so much space on a phone for an app. Most customers will only use a couple of restaurant company apps, and those apps are for companies they frequent. As such, chains like Starbucks and Domino’s are easy beneficiaries of mobile apps and mobile payment.

“If I’m going to download an app, I have to have a reason to download the app,” Sebes said.

And mobile wallet services haven’t exactly taken off, either, because they’re either not broadly offered or customers don’t always know about them. This is where it gets back to the problem that mobile payments are basically trying to correct.

Because it’s not difficult to pay now, there’s no real need to adopt a simpler solution. And as long as we have physical drivers licenses, there will still be a need to carry an actual wallet.

“It’s still a nascent technology,” Sebes said.

To be sure, this doesn’t mean it won’t take off down the line as consumers — and businesses — grow more accustomed to the idea. “We’ll get there,” said Steve Fredette, cofounder of the point-of-sale system Toast. He noted that it takes years for a system to adopt a new payment format. “In five years, you’ll see the numbers creep up.”

And Fredette added that there is a need for the speed that mobile payment can provide many restaurants. He said that customers at family dining restaurants could download the mobile app so they can pay their bill and avoid the line that can develop at the cashier at the end of the meal.

“An app can improve customer experience and help a restaurant win in their market,” said Chris Comparato, CEO at Toast. “We’re still in the early adopter phase.” 

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

Labor groups amp up Andy Puzder protests

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 23:31

Restaurant worker activist groups on Thursday amped up their protests against the Secretary of Labor nomination of Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., filing 33 complaints against Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s franchisees.

"This is more fake outrage from the unions and special interests which will stop at nothing in order to push their own self-serving agenda," a Puzder spokesman said in an email. "Fact is, Andy is a job creator and has provided opportunity for advancement for thousands of employees. His record of creating jobs is exactly what this country needs."

A CKE spokesperson emailed a response Thursday on behalf of the company. “While we do not comment on pending litigation, we’d like to offer a reminder that CKE Restaurants is nearly 95 percent franchised,” the company said. “Each of these 2,769 franchise stores are run independently and solely responsible for their employees, management and adherence to regulations and labor practices.”

In a phone conference with two current Hardee’s workers and one former Carl’s Jr. employee, the organizing Fight for $15 said workers on Wednesday and Thursday filed complaints of wage theft with state departments of labor, sexual harassment complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Fight for $15 organizers also held protests at quick-service restaurants in 31 cities, from Los Angeles to St. Paul, Minn., amplifying pressure started earlier this month.

Kendall Fells, organizing director for Fight for $15, said the 33 complaints included 22 wage-and-hour complaints, four sexual harassment charges and seven unfair labor practices claims filed with the National Labor Relations Board by local Fight for $15 chapters.

“We’ve been collecting violations at the stores for quite a while,” Fells said, adding that Fight for $15 is looking at other restaurant chains like McDonald’s as well.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Thursday delayed for a third time its confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee to allow Puzder more time to submit his paperwork, the Washington Post reported.

The hearing is now scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, according to a statement Thursday from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

Earlier confirmation hearings had been scheduled Jan. 12, Jan. 17 and Feb. 2. George Thompson, a spokesman for Puzder, issued a statement that said: “Mr. Puzder’s nomination paperwork is progressing and he is looking forward to the hearing.”

As part of Thursday’s Fight for $15 protests and complaint filings, Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel and program director for the National Employment Law Project, said it was galling that CKE restaurants “chisel wages from the workers that are the face of the brand across the country. CKE should be setting standards and not undermining them.”

Today fast food workers spoke out against Trump Lab Sec Nominee and @Hardees CEO Andy Putzner in St. Paul. We'll be back! #NotOurLaborSec

— CTUL (@CTUL_TC) January 26, 2017

With these complaints, Ruckelshaus said, “It’s clearer now than ever that Andy Puzder presides over a fast-food empire that routinely exploits and abuses the workers who build its profits.

She said the Senate had all the reason it needs to reject Puzder’s nomination “and demand a labor secretary who will look out for working Americans instead of one who looks for ways to keep them down.”

The press conference also included statements from: Caetana Cardona, a 28-year-old former Hardee’s worker from Tampa, Fla., and single mother of four, who recounted an incident of alleged sexual harassment; Ivan Nava, a 24-year-old Carl’s Jr. worker in south-central Los Angeles; and Torrance Chambers, a Hardee’s cook from Birmingham, Ala., for the past three years. 

Joe Kefauver, managing partner of the Align Public Strategies public-affairs firm, said the protests and complaints would add fuel to the fire of Puzder's and the industry's detractors and elevate the rhetoric, but the actions would “likely make little difference on the outcome.”

“I doubt they expect to scuttle Puzder’s confirmation, they are simply using the process to continue driving their message,” Kefauver said in an email to Nation’s Restaurant News. “Republican leadership in the Senate is wholly committed to confirming the president's nominees, and I think this nomination is no different. Barring something unforeseen, he will likely be confirmed.”

Kefauver said the claims and protests are “a double-edge sword” for the industry and restaurateurs. 

“Puzder's nomination, the confirmation process and his tenure in office will provide the industry with a significant platform to demonstrate that we are an industry of opportunity for millions of Americans, a critical player in the national economy and an important part of the communities we serve,” Kefauver said.

On the other hand, he said, Puzder’s nomination gives the industry’s detractors ammunition to criticize the business model, call into question the value of jobs that restaurants create and perhaps tarnish the reputation of the leading employers.

Puzder’s nomination and potential service as labor secretary will heighten the stakes for both sides, Kefauver added.

“At the end of the day,” he explained, “I think the opportunity for us to reset the narrative around our industry is far greater than theirs and I'm hopeful that we will take full advantage of this opportunity.”

Update: This story has been updated to include a comment from Andrew Puzder's spokesman.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Starbucks U.S. transactions fall 2%

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 23:19

Starbucks Corp. served fewer customers in the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 1, but customers spent more money per order, helping Starbucks generate a 3-percent domestic same-store sales increase in the period, the company said Thursday. 

The Seattle-based coffee giant said U.S. same-store transactions fell 2 percent in the period, but the average ticket rose 5 percent.

The company said that, adjusting for the impact of “order consolidation” related to its new loyalty program, the average ticket grew 3 percent and transactions for the period were flat.

The stock fell 1.5 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday.

The company highlighted strong results from its loyalty- and mobile-ordering programs. Customers loaded $2.1 billion on Starbucks cards in the U.S. and Canada in the quarter, up 15 percent. Starbucks Card transactions represented 40 percent of transactions at company-owned locations. 

Mobile ordering also gained traction. Mobile order and payment represented 7 percent of transactions, up from 3 percent a year ago. Mobile payment represented 27 percent of domestic transactions.

“Starbucks is engaging more deeply — and more frequently — and expanding its base of loyal customers faster and more consistently today than ever before,” said CEO Howard Schultz in a statement.

Same-store sales increased 3 percent worldwide. Revenues rose 6.7 percent to $5.7 billion, up from $5.4 billion. Net earnings increased 9.3 percent to $751.8 million, or 51 cents per share, from $687.6 million, or 46 cents.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

Pastry chefs serve chocolate desserts with a twist

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 21:51

Tremendously popular and widely consumed, chocolate is an essential ingredient on any respectable dessert menu.

But with almost all restaurants offering at least one chocolate dessert at any given time, chefs are getting creative by applying innovative, on-trend tweaks to classics.

“Brownies are delicious, but sometimes just come across as plain Jane,” said Jared Hills, executive chef at Hello Betty in Oceanside, Calif.

To spice it up, he serves a Mexican chocolate brownie spiked with ancho chile and cinnamon, served with dulce de leche ice cream, hot fudge, candied pepitas and whipped cream. On the menu since the restaurant opened in 2014, the south-of-the-border-inspired brownie is among the restaurant’s top-selling desserts.

“Adding a little spice to the dish just seemed natural, especially this close to the border,” Hills said.

Two culinary classics — molten lava cake and chocolate fondue — collide in the new Blackberry Crush Chocolate Fondue at Tampa, Fla.-based fondue chain The Melting Pot.

“The Blackberry Crush Chocolate Fondue was inspired by the iconic molten lava cake, which has a dense chocolate cake filled with an irresistible molten chocolate center,” chef Jason Miller said. “The Melting Pot is already known for having the most decadent melted chocolate around, so in creating this dessert, I thought, why can’t I turn that dessert inside out?”

Added to the 125-unit chain’s menu in September, the new dessert features a dense chocolate genoise cake infused with Merlot that seals the top of a pot filled with blackberry-chocolate fondue. The dessert is finished with berries, a mint sprig, and a dusting of powdered sugar, and is served with fruit for dipping.

The milk chocolate crème brûlée at Urban Farmer in Philadelphia makes for a classic modern dessert with the addition of a winter citrus salad of cara cara and blood oranges.

“It sort of adds an unusual sweetness and is really refreshing,” said pastry chef George Fritzche of the citrus salad. “[It] takes a little of the ‘burnt’ brûlée sugar away without adding bitterness.”

Meanwhile, some chefs aren’t adding ingredients to their chocolate desserts, but rather taking one out: Gluten.

At 16-unit Phoenix-based True Food Kitchen, where chocolate is part of the anti-inflammatory food pyramid, the dessert menu includes a flourless chocolate cake served with a side of warm caramel sauce and cocoa nibs, topped with a scoop of dairy-free vanilla “ice cream” made with coconut cream and rice milk.   

“While chocolate is naturally gluten free, desserts — more often than not — tend to have gluten in the recipe,” said Taylor Domet, True Food Kitchen’s director of culinary standards. “So for most guests who are gluten-free, chocolate isn’t something they are used to freely enjoying. We like to think this dessert provides all guests with a decadent chocolate option, but it especially speaks to the GF [gluten-free] community.”

At Departure, a pan-Asian restaurant in Denver, pastry chef Erin Koroll offers an entire menu of gluten- and dairy-free desserts, including a dark chocolate brownie cake.

“It is fun to take iconic comfort desserts and flip them around a bit to fit,” Koroll said. “It's a win-win: The pastry team is doing something out of the ordinary, making it craveable, and guests limited by their dietary needs are able to enjoy an amazing dessert experience.”

To make the brownie gluten-free, Koroll replaces flour entirely with Valrhona cocoa powder. For a savory crunch, she bakes chile-spiced peanut brittle into the brownie, then adds banana ice cream — a combination of modified crème Anglaise made with coconut cream instead of milk, and banana purée — miso caramel and togarashi meringue to balance out the rich chocolate flavor with “a spicy, savory and umami effect.”

It’s a simple recipe, Koroll said, but it produces a brownie that can rival a standard take.

Inset photos courtesy of The Melting Pot and Departure

KFC to roll out Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 21:47

KFC is rolling out fried chicken coated in tangy mustard following a successful test of the item last summer, and has hired actor Billy Zane to promote it.

Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken is coated in a mustard-based barbecue sauce, popular in South Carolina and northern Georgia. The chicken will roll out nationwide at the chain’s 4,300 domestic restaurants as a limited-time offer starting Jan. 30.

The BBQ version follows the successful rollout last January of Nashville Hot Chicken as an LTO through early April.

Georgia Gold, which was tested last August in Mobile, Ala.; and Pittsburgh, is available as Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders, Chicken Littles or Extra Crispy Chicken. Participating locations also will offer the sauce on grilled chicken and hot wings.

Promoting the chicken is a new actor portraying The Colonel: Billy Zane, who played tycoon Cal Hockley in the film Titanic. Underscoring the gold theme of the promotion, Zane is gilded in body paint for commercials, which start airing Jan. 29. In the ad, Zane strolls around a solid gold office and declares that the new chicken is “finger lickin’ gold.”

KFC is also bringing back its Nashville Hot Chicken, along with the Georgia Gold item.

Both chicken options are available through April 23, as $5.49 meals, including three tenders or two pieces of chicken, cole slaw and a biscuit, or as $9.99 Big Baskets, comprised of six tenders or four chicken pieces, cole slaw, mashed potatoes with gravy and two biscuits.

Contact Bret Thorn at

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary 

Trending Tables: The era of the multiconcept operator

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 20:40

To offset high costs and a shrinking labor pool, every restauranteur these days would seem to need deep pockets, multiple revenue streams, and a good deal of experience.

• New York City
• San Francisco
• Charleston, S.C.
• San Diego
• Las Vegas
• National Tables

See more Trending Tables coverage >

Maybe that’s why so many of this class of Trending Tables are operators’ third or fourth restaurants, the latest unit of a small chain or even an upscale version of Taco Bell in Las Vegas.

San Francisco has no shortage of excellent independent restaurants, but even so, the third unit of fast-casual South Asian restaurant Tava Kitchen is turning heads, and so is the Palo Alto location of 16-unit True Food Kitchen.

In San Diego, ramen chain Tajima has scored a it’s fifth run, in North Park. 

Then there are multiconcept operators such as Keith McNally and Tom Colicchio in New York, and Philadelphia-based Stephen Starr, who has scored a hit with Le Zoo in Miami. 

Other experienced operators are trying new things, such as Brian Malarkey at Herb & Wood in San Diego, Corey Lee at In Situ in San Francisco, and Kelly Liken at Harvest by Kelly Liken in Edwards, Colo.

In D.C., old pastry hand David Guas is at it again with Bayou Bakery, while Sugarbacon of McKinney, Texas, has done well with its new Dallas location, and local St. Louis star Gerard Craft is drawing crowds to his fast-casual concept, Porano Pasta.

As far as cuisines go, chefs are continuing to push new boundaries. Two of this season’s trending tables are ramen specialists — an indication that that trend isn’t going away anytime soon — and India’s growing influence is being felt not just at obvious places like Tava Kitchen, but in the caramelized carrot soup with coconut foam and chaat masala at In Situ, and in the coconut curry chicken at Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen in Charleston, S.C. (there has long been a strong East Indian influence in the West Indies).

There are also two barbecue specialists: Sugarbacon and Lewis Barbecue, both from Texas although the latter is in Charleston.

There are plenty of French and Italian influences at many of these restaurants, as usual, as well as some interesting one-offs, such as Good Time Poke/The Grass Skirt in San Diego and Chubby Cattle Mongolia Hot Pot House in Las Vegas.

All in all, it’s an impressive array of interesting places to eat this winter.

Contact Bret Thorn at

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Inset photo by Emilie Lucie

Will bad NFL ratings hurt Buffalo Wild Wings?

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 19:55

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

People are watching fewer NFL games this year. This past season, ratings for National Football League games fell 6.8 percent. Ratings for playoff games fell 5.3 percent.

Exactly why this is happening is something of a mystery. Part of it was the presidential election — and, as Maxim Group analyst Stephen Anderson noted Thursday, those ratings improved once the election was over.

Perhaps consumers are simply binge-watching shows and movies on Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix.

Maybe viewers are turned off by the violence. Or maybe the game has become unwatchable.

Whatever the reason, the diminishing interest in the NFL this season could be a warning for Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. The Minneapolis-based chicken wing chain has based much of its business on attracting sports lovers to its restaurants where they linger over chicken wings and beer while watching football.

Anderson says it’s a definite risk. “We remain concerned about declining NFL TV viewership and its potential to hurt traffic,” he wrote. He estimates that about 10 percent of Buffalo Wild Wings’ traffic comes from NFL games. So the popularity of America’s biggest sports league is a big deal to the wing chain.

It remains uncertain whether diminishing NFL popularity is hurting Buffalo Wild Wings yet. And company executives said early in the season that they didn’t see much difference this season.

“You don’t really see a different sales performance when you look at NFL days versus non-NFL days,” Buffalo Wild Wings chief operating officer James Schmidt said on the company’s conference call in October. “So that would at least suggest we’re not seeing any dramatic impact.” 

We’d imagine that the people who are going to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch football games are more hardcore fans than those who would skip the game to binge-watch the latest season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

But, as Anderson noted, it’s a risk. And after the year Buffalo Wild Wings had, with its weakest same-store sales performance since its initial public offering in 2003, a shaky NFL season would be bad news, indeed.

Jonathan Maze, Nation’s Restaurant News senior financial editor, does not directly own stock or interest in a restaurant company.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

San Francisco Tables: Highbrow and low

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-01-26 15:36

Very refined preparations are turning heads in San Francisco at restaurants such as In Situ and Navio, but Bay Area locals also are attracted to a ramen shop, a fast-casual Indian spot and the health-conscious True Food Kitchen.

With Arby's sales improving, operators add units

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-25 23:48

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. on Wednesday said that its same-store sales increased 3.8 percent in 2016, including 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, the Atlanta-based chain’s 25th straight quarter of increases.

Now, those improving sales are leading to growth of a different kind, in the form of new locations. Arby’s last year recorded the first increase in unit count last year since 2008. The chain now has 3,342 locations after adding 60 in 2016.

What’s more, the company’s pipeline for new locations is stronger now than it was a year ago, and so CEO Paul Brown said in an interview that the company expects even more growth in 2017.

“In this industry, you’ve got to get unit economics to a compelling point,” Brown said. “Then you get people excited about the brand and they start building.” 

Since 2010, Arby’s average unit volumes have increased 40 percent, to $1.1 million.

Thanks to the unit growth and the same-store sales growth, the company’s systemwide sales reached $3.6 billion, a record for the company.

Arby’s remarkable comeback has come thanks in part to a long series of product introductions that have included items like beef brisket and pork belly that aren’t often found in the quick-service restaurant category.

“Our positioning in the market has proven to be the right thing for the brand,” Brown said. “We’re bringing in a new product every month as an LTO. A lot of these products are products you’ve never been able to get in a QSR format.”

And many of these products have been even more popular than the company anticipated.

In September, Arby’s added a new pork belly sandwich. The company bought what it thought was enough supply for six or seven weeks.

“We ran out of it in 3.5 weeks,” Brown said.

Then there was the venison promotion. In a promotion aimed at hunters in October and November, Arby’s offered up a small number of $5 venison sandwiches at a handful of restaurants in hunting-friendly areas. Many of those restaurants ran out of supply in as little as 15 minutes.

Yet the attention Arby’s received for a sandwich that was offered for one day at just 17 locations proved invaluable.

“It’s a good example of how the team tries to work together and push the envelope,” Brown said. “We started with a strategy to find groups of individuals aligned with our target audience. Hunters certainly fit that description.” 

The team came up with the idea for venison steak sandwiches, and then worked with the supply chain to secure some venison for the sandwiches. “After a few months of scouring the world, we found a way to procure high quality venison, and had a great recipe for it,” Brown said.

“The amount of PR buzz and earned media we got from that was higher than the value we got from the entire Jon Stewart situation,” he added, referring Arby’s response to Jon Stewart’s jabs during his retirement in 2015 — a response for which Arby’s was lauded

The response to Arby’s sandwiches has helped the chain generate positive traffic at a time when the restaurant industry as a whole is in a slugfest for market share. Same-store sales have been weak and traffic even weaker. And yet the “vast majority” of Arby’s same-store sales in 2016 came from transaction growth, Brown said. 

“There is an appetite for new and different things,” Brown said. “It’s not just the foodies who live in New York, it’s all throughout the country. So we’re going to be doing more of that kind of stuff in 2017.”

Still, it could be difficult to top the venison sandwiches or the pork belly in 2017. And the longer the chain increases same-store sales, the more difficult it becomes to match its recent strength. On a two-year basis, for instance, same-store sales increased 11.8 percent in 2016.

The chain does have some growth levers to pull besides product innovation. It’s remodeling units, for one thing. And it just developed a mobile app that is now in testing. Arby’s plans to roll the app out systemwide this year, Brown said.

And Brown noted that, despite the growth over the years, Arby’s unit volumes remain behind many of its quick-service competitors. 

“There is nothing to suggest, looking at our business model, our competitors and what they do, that there’s not more headroom to grow,” Brown said. “We’re not getting to capacity within the operating/demand model. There’s nothing to suggest we aren’t going to continue to grow.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

Correction: Jan. 26, 2017 This story was changed to update Arby's fourth quarter same-store sales. The incorrect sales number had been provided to Nation's Restaurant News.


Chili’s reports ‘mixed bag’ in 2Q

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-25 23:24

Wyman Roberts, CEO of Chili’s Grill & Bar parent Brinker International Inc., dubbed the chain’s second quarter “a tale of three cities,” in a nod to the classic Charles Dickens novel.

Roberts cited “A Tale of Two Cities” in a call with analysts Wednesday to describe the Dallas-based casual-dining operator’s disappointing second-quarter earnings. 

Roberts and Tom Edwards, Brinker’s chief financial officer, said Chili’s “above-restaurant” management reorganization resulted in the elimination of 70 positions.

Brinker would take a pre-tax charge of about $6 million for the layoffs, Edwards said, as reflected in second-quarter results.

“We expect to generate savings of over $5 million in fiscal ’17, and annual savings of approximately $12 million,” he added. 

The restructuring would “reduce layers, enable faster decisions, simplify execution and get us closer to our guests,” Edwards said. 

“We basically reduced 70 head counts, basically equally mix in the field and in the restaurant support center,” he said. “We eliminated a level from our operational structure and extended out our area directors’ span of control (reducing some area directors).”

Roberts said the second quarter started with positive sales in October, a negative service incident on Veterans Day in November and industrywide challenges in December.

Brinker’s net income for the second quarter ended Dec. 28 fell 27.4 percent, to $34.6 million, or 69 cents per share, from $47.7 million, or 80 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue fell 0.9 percent, to $771 million, from $788.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

“The second quarter was really a mixed bag for us,” Roberts said. “We started off fairly strong. When we talked back in October, we were feeling pretty good. Then, the brand experienced a situation at one of our Chili’s restaurants on Veterans Day that played out extensively on social media, followed by a couple of very tough weeks.”

Chili’s came under fire on social media after a manager in a Cedar Hill, Texas, restaurant took away a free meal from an Army veteran after another lodged a complaint during a Veterans Day offer on Nov. 11.

The Veterans Day incident, which he said the company worked immediately to rectify, “took a little bit of the wind out of our sails,” Roberts said.

“While our second-quarter results are not where we want them to be, we are working to build share in the short term and ensure the long-term health of our brand,” he said.

Roberts said the casual-dining segment as a whole softened in December.

“We believe that’s because of the shift in holiday traffic to online, which is starting to impact how holiday-shopping patterns play out,” Roberts said, adding that fewer customers visited malls.

The shift away from brick-and-mortar shopping areas will require the brand to re-evaluate its marketing plan for December, when it usually takes a hiatus.

Chili's company-owned same-store sales in the second quarter declined 3.3 percent, while Maggiano's Little Italy same-store sales slipped 0.8 percent. Chili's franchise same-store sales decreased 3.5 percent, which included a 3-percent decline in the United States and a 4.2-percent decline at international restaurants. 

As of Dec. 28, Brinker had 1,658 restaurants, including 1,606 Chili’s units and 52 Maggiano’s Little Italy locations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Report: Lone Star, Texas Land & Cattle close units

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-25 22:24

Day Star Restaurant Group shuttered a number of Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Land & Cattle restaurants this month, continuing a string of closures from the fall, according to local media reports.

The closings reduced the Plano, Texas-based company’s holdings to about 30 casual-dining restaurants, down from the 105 when the brands were acquired in late 2013.

Representatives of Day Star Restaurant Group did not return phone messages Tuesday or Wednesday. A search Tuesday of bankruptcy filings via the Pacer court records database did not produce any results for Day Star, Lone Star or Texas Land & Cattle.

Day Star co-founder Scott Smith was named Tuesday as a brand president for Southlake, Texas-based Del Frisco Restaurant Group’s Sullivan’s division. A spokesperson for Smith on Thursday said, Smith “is no longer involved with Day Star Restaurant Group and has not been since March 2016 when he stepped down due to disagreements with his partners on the direction of the company.”

Local media over the past week reported Lone Star closures from California and Colorado to Michigan and South Dakota. The recent closings followed a number last year, including restaurants in Iowa and Pennsylvania.

Several Texas Land & Cattle Steak House locations closed on Jan. 20, including one in Killeen, Texas, and another restaurant in Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood. Employees at the Dallas location on that Friday afternoon told potential customers they had just been notified of the unit’s closing.

Lone Star Steakhouse’s website now lists 16 locations in nine states. The greatest concentration is four units, in both Illinois and North Carolina.

The Texas Land & Cattle website now lists 15 units in four states, with most of them in Texas.

Unit counts are down considerably from when Smith, who served as chairman and CEO of Day Star, and Tim Dungan, president and chief financial officer, formed Day Star and bought the two brands in December 2013 from private-equity firm Lone Star Funds.

At the time of that acquisition, Texas Land & Cattle had 27 restaurants in five states, and Lone Star Steakhouse operated 78 restaurants in 29 states.

For Nation’s Restaurant NewsTop 200 last year, Lone Star, with 64 units at the end of December 2015, had $131.2 million in estimated fiscal-year sales and Texas Land & Cattle, with 25 units at the end of December 2015, had an estimated $65.6 million in fiscal-year sales.

Day Star’s fiscal 2015 revenues were estimated at $196.7 million, down from an estimated $209.9 million in fiscal 2014.

Alan Liddle, NRN’s data and event content director, contributed to this report.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Bob Evans $565M sale highlights restaurant industry challenges

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2017-01-25 20:03

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

For at least three years, investors have pushed Bob Evans Farms Inc. to spin off BEF Foods, its packaged foods business.

Bob Evans has steadfastly resisted this idea. Not even a proxy fight, ignited by large shareholder Sandell Asset Management, could get the company to split its two businesses.

In March, Bob Evans CEO Saed Mohseni explained the company’s reluctance to sell: The packaged foods business gave the company a higher valuation.

“Bob Evans’ restaurant company is trading at a much higher multiple than most restaurants with declining [same-store] sales,” Mohseni said at the time.

In the end, the packaged foods business was simply too profitable to spin off. The restaurants were too big a challenge to continue as a public company. So, on Tuesday, Bob Evans elected to sell its restaurants to habitual big-chain buyer Golden Gate Capital for $565 million.

The multiple that Golden Gate will pay for the restaurant business is “a little north of 8x” cash flow. The 300 pieces of real estate included in the deal likely inflated the value of the business, however. 

Set to become a packaged-foods business, Bob Evans Inc. is purchasing Pineland Farms Potato Company for $115 million, while also selling its restaurants. Bob Evans will be owned by a private-equity group known for buying up dine-in restaurants, such as California Pizza Kitchen and Red Lobster. 

“The sale of Bob Evans Restaurants allows the company to concentrate on Bob Evans Foods, the fastest growing and more profitable segment of the business,” Mohseni said on a conference call Wednesday morning.

Think about it this way: In the third quarter ended Oct. 28, Bob Evans Restaurants generated $219.8 million in sales, down from $230.7 million a year ago. BEF Foods generated half that, $102.1 million, up from $99.5 million.

Yet BEF Foods generated $18.7 million in operating income, compared with $13.5 million for the restaurant division.

Which business would you rather have: the one with an operating profit margin of 18 percent and growing sales, or the one with an operating profit margin of 6 percent and falling sales?

The restaurant business is not easy. The decision by Bob Evans to focus on packaged foods illustrates this point. Bob Evans Restaurants has 28,000 workers. The food side employs about 1,000. The restaurant side accounted for “most” of the general and administrative spending for the combined company. 

The restaurant business is facing profit and sales challenges in the coming months. While the restaurant division has worked hard in order to reverse its same-store sales slide — simplifying the menu, focusing more on breakfast and customer service — consumer demand for chain restaurants, especially dine-in restaurants, remains weak.

Labor costs, meanwhile, are rising amid demand for low-skilled labor. The food cost deflation that restaurants have enjoyed the past two years is likely going to end in the near future. That will make for profit challenges — unless consumers suddenly start spending at chains again.

And the dine-in business is particularly bothersome. Traffic in the casual-dining sector, including family-dining restaurants like Bob Evans, has been down 21 of the past 22 months, according to MillerPulse. That includes an awful, 5.3-percent decline in December.

Meanwhile, packaged foods companies are simply more valuable than casual- and family-dining restaurants and, frankly, the difference is not particularly close.

In October, Sandell compiled a group of Bob Evans’ competitors. Their enterprise values averaged about 7.9 times cash flow, roughly equal to the sale price Bob Evans fetched. 

Packaged foods companies, meanwhile, averaged multiples of 13.2.

As if to illustrate this, investors wildly cheered news of the sale. The stock skyrocketed more than 25 percent on Wednesday, surpassing $60.

That was an all-time high for the stock.

Jonathan Maze, Nation’s Restaurant News senior financial editor, does not directly own stock or interest in a restaurant company. 

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

Krystal Offers Week-Long Root Beer Float Deal

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:56
Image Caption: Image Credit: Krystal is offering $0.99 root beer floats for national holiday.Exclusive Brief: 0

The Krystal Company, the brand famous for its iconic square hamburgers, is celebrating National Root Beer Day all week. From August 8 through August 12, Krystal will offer its Root Beer floats at a special price of $0.99 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in participating locations.

The Krystal Float is made with a blend of cold and frosty Barq's Root Beer, plus a scoop of creamy Blue Bunny vanilla bean ice cream.

Chains: Krystal

Wendy’s Brings Back Baconator Fries

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:45
Image Caption: Image Credit: PR NewswireWendy's is bringing back the Baconator fries for a limited time.Exclusive Brief: 0

For nine years Wendy's has offered the Baconator, featuring two quarter-pound patties of 100 percent pure fresh beef, six strips of thick-cut Applewood-smoked bacon, three slices of cheese, and a bakery-style bun.

Chains: Wendy's

Burger King Debuts Whopperito, Burger-Burrito Mash-Up

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:32
Image Caption: Image Credit: Burger KingBurger King extends the Whopperito nationwide for a limited time.Exclusive Brief: 0

Burger King restaurants are introducing a Tex-Mex twist on its famous Whopper sandwich nationwide with its new Whopperito burger-burrito mash-up. After a local market debut that sparked widespread demand from guests, Burger King restaurants is now taking its Whopperito national at participating restaurants beginning August 15.

Chains: Burger King

Cott Corporation To Acquire S&D Coffee

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:55
S&D Coffee & Tee will be acquired by Cott beverage producers.Exclusive Brief: 0

S&D Coffee Inc. has accepted an offer made by the Cott Corporation to be acquired.

Following the completion of the proposed transaction, S&D will be a subsidiary of Cott, still operating under the S&D Coffee & Tea name. Ron Hinson, at almost 38 years with the company, will remain president and CEO of S&D, and the management team will assume the same scope and responsibilities. Cott, a global, multi-beverage leader, will enable further development and acceleration of S&D’s business model.

Chains: S&D Coffee

Blaze Opens 150th Pizzeria at Disney World

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:28
Image Credit: Blaze PizzaBlaze opens its flagship location in Disney Springs.Exclusive Brief: 0

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, a leading fast-casual artisanal pizza chain, has opened its new flagship restaurant in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Known for its chef-driven recipes, the 150th Blaze restaurant debuts in an architecturally innovative structure that was designed specifically for this location.

Chains: Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza