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Fast-food chains embrace delivery to survive in competitive climate

Topix - Fri, 2017-05-26 07:18

Delivery, once the domain of pizzerias, is now fresh terrain for fast food as it strives to meet changing demands of its customers. Just this month, Wendy's launched began testing delivery service with partner DoorDash in Columbus and Dallas, while McDonald's chose central Ohio as one the first markets to offer delivery service, through UberEats.

Categories: Today's Food News

EVs seen as cheaper than gasoline models within a decade

AutoNews - Fri, 2017-05-26 07:12
Electric cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, new research shows. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, a Bloomberg study says.
Categories: Latest News

Trump blasts German automakers' U.S. sales and threatens barriers

AutoNews - Fri, 2017-05-26 06:37
President Trump criticized German automakers for selling too many vehicles in the U.S. in a meeting with EU officials, Der Spiegel said. "We're going to stop that," he was quoted as saying by the magazine.
Categories: Latest News

Going Against the Conventional Wisdom

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2017-05-26 06:30

I hate hate hate the old “there’s no ‘I’ in team” adage. It’s not that I’m not a team player. It’s just that the phrase went from lame to tired to trite to maddening and back to lame, and it just will not go away!

Anyway, one day my wife came home from work talking about a team-building exercise they’d done in a meeting and this idea popped into my head.

It’s not like you can get revenge on an idiom, but I’d like to think that if it was possible, this cartoon might help.

This article, "Going Against the Conventional Wisdom" was first published on Small Business Trends

Aloft Perth Hotel Opens, Marking The Debut Of Marriott International's Different-By-Design Brand In Australia

Hotel Interactive - Fri, 2017-05-26 05:19
PERTH, AUSTRALIA–-Marriott International today announced the official opening of the design-led Aloft Perth Hotel, the first Aloft to open in Australia. ...

Want to Go Into Business as a Travel Blogger? Follow These Pro Startup Tips

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2017-05-26 05:00

Getting paid to travel is a dream for many, but a reality for few.

At least two people have figured out a winning combination: They make their living traveling the world and dishing out trip advice — and here they spill their secrets.

You don’t have to go as far as quitting your job, but if you’ve ever wanted to do your own globetrotting, their tips can help put your travel dreams within reach.

Money Saving Tips from Travel Bloggers From Day Job to Dream Job

See one of them on a flight, and they’ll look like any other passenger. But to their loyal online fans, Matt Kepnes and Kate McCulley — best known by their screen names, Nomadic Matt and Adventurous Kate — aren’t your average travelers.

McCulley, 32, is a full-time travel blogger who lives in New York. She once worked a more typical job in search engine marketing before leaving her office behind in pursuit of a six-month trip to Southeast Asia.

“I saved like crazy and I ended up quitting my job on September 14, 2010,” McCulley says. “A little over a month later, I flew to Bangkok. It felt amazing.”

McCulley has been to over 60 countries. She has enough stories to fill the pages of her own adventure novel, from the time she stayed in a dorm in Barcelona to the time she was shipwrecked in Indonesia.

She runs a popular blog now and is active on social media (over 54,000 people like her Facebook page, and over 98,000 follow her on Instagram). She makes money through a combination of affiliate marketing, display advertising and campaigns for brands.

Kepnes has a similar story. The 36-year-old from Boston quit his administrative job to become a writer (he’s the author of “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day”). Now living in New York, Kepnes splits his time between traveling and writing. He estimates he’s been to 90 countries.

“In 2005 I went to Thailand, met a couple backpackers and was like, ‘Oh wow, this is really great,’” Kepnes says. “I loved the freedom that backpacking seemed to have and got really inspired to follow in their footsteps. I came home, quit my job, and in 2006 I went away for a year, which turned into 18 months.”

When he returned in 2008, he started his blog. Over 190,000 people like his Facebook page, and upwards of 76,000 follow him on Instagram.

So what do their stories mean for you? Besides reading up on their adventures and adding them to your social feeds, you can implement some of their habits.

Set Goals — and Work Toward Them

McCulley and Kepnes knew they wanted to travel and took the necessary steps to make it happen. As they discovered, it’s important to first decide where, when and why you want to go.

Having a reason will keep you motivated. “That’s probably my biggest motivation in traveling the world — just trying to learn as much about as many different things as possible,” McCulley says.

Then it’s time to set financial goals, which makes it easier to track your progress. Kepnes recommends breaking a large financial target into small, manageable goals with deadlines.

Say you want to save $1,500 for a trip and need the funds in five months. That’s $300 a month, or $10 a day. “Most people will say, ‘Well I can probably save $10 a day if I tried,’” he says.

The lesson: Set a goal for yourself and develop a plan to make it happen. For instance, if your budget has enough leeway, automatically route a portion of each paycheck to a savings account.

Save Up for the First Journey

One of the biggest hurdles these bloggers faced was saving the money.

McCulley says she “lived like a miser” to finance her first trip — quitting the gym, getting rid of her Netflix account and missing out on dinners and drinks. “I basically did an audit of my finances and figured out how much I could save on each twice-a-month paycheck,” she says.

Kepnes made similar sacrifices. He says he worked for years to save up $20,000 for his first round-the-world trip, plus $10,000 extra to live on when he returned. His “pauper” lifestyle included working overtime and moving back home for a period.

Both travelers have eased up on their budgeting since then, but their initial scrimping is relatable and reassuring — they didn’t have it easier than anyone else.

The lesson: Making short-term cuts can help free up money, but be realistic. It’s feasible to slim down your discretionary spending for a limited time if you have a goal in mind; budgeting that’s incredibly confining may not be sustainable for too long.

Learn the Lay of the Land

Once you’ve saved up enough money to go, look for ways to cut costs during the trip.

After spanning time and continents, McCulley and Kepnes have become proficient at affordable travel. Most notably, they’ve discovered that living like a local can save a lot. Here’s how:

Check out of hotels. Both McCulley and Kepnes have stayed in hostels while abroad. These are dormitory-style accommodations that can prove more affordable than traditional hotel rooms.

Check in to tourism offices. Kepnes thinks tourism offices are one of the most underutilized travel resources. They’re chock-full of special offers, transportation passes and more, so it’s worth paying them a visit once you arrive at your destination.

Check on the locals. Don’t assume you have to live like a traveler when you travel. “I think a lot of people make the assumption that when you travel, you have to spend money,” Kepnes says. “I always tell people just travel like you live. Do whatever it is you like to do at home, except in a foreign place.”

The lesson: The way you travel determines how expensive your trip will be. When operating on a budget, pick the most important element of your vacation (the destination, the lodging, the food, etc.) and be willing to sacrifice on the rest.

You may not be able to make a living out of traveling the world, but you can realistically make travel a part of your life.

“Even if it takes you two years to save up for a trip, think about how you’re spending, think about your priorities and think about ways to say yes, not ways to say no,” Kepnes says.

Travel Blogger Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Want to Go Into Business as a Travel Blogger? Follow These Pro Startup Tips" was first published on Small Business Trends

Artisan Accessory Designers Introduce Original "Luxury for...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-05-26 03:30

Beyomene debuts today with 100 percent full grain premium leather, eco-friendly high-fashion belts sourced from world-renowned Argentinean tanneries and aged with vegetable tanning, featuring a...

(PRWeb May 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Service Team of Professionals Franchise Announces New Company...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-05-26 03:30

Brian B. Clark Assumes Position of President For Growing Restoration Franchise Headquartered In Bloomington, Indiana

(PRWeb May 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Food review: Tasty burgers and interesting beer at The Arbor House, Ipswich

Topix - Fri, 2017-05-26 02:46

We really liked the look of the menu at this place. It's filled with nibbly bits that you can share, plus loads of burgers, and even homemade pork pies.

Categories: Today's Food News

Transient arrested after reportedly robbing Victorville In-N-Out at gunpoint early Thursday morning

Topix - Thu, 2017-05-25 22:35

Authorities apprehended a 25-year-old man early Thursday morning after he reportedly robbed a local fast food restaurant at gunpoint. Just after 1 a.m., San Bernardino County Sheriff's Victorville Station deputies responded to a call of an armed robbery call at the In-N-Out at 15290 Civic Drive in Victorville.

Categories: Today's Food News

What does a McDonald’s comeback mean for competitors?

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 20:35

Investors are betting that McDonald’s Corp. will regain the customers it has lost since 2012, which could be bad for the rest of the restaurant industry.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain’s stock has risen 23 percent so far this year, and hit an all-time high of $149.99 per share this week. Investors are buying into the idea that McDonald’s will show strong sales as the year goes on, thanks to efforts to improve both the food and the experience in its restaurants.

But a reinvigorated McDonald’s could have a significant impact on the rest of the industry, and especially on quick-service restaurants, simply because of its immense size.

“It could be negative for the other players in the industry,” said Carla Norfleet Taylor, restaurant analyst for Fitch Ratings.

With 14,000 restaurants and average unit volumes in excess of $2.5 million, McDonald’s is by far the largest restaurant chain in the country. Despite losing 500 million transactions since 2012, the company remains more than twice the size of its next largest competitor in terms of system sales.

To put it another way, McDonald’s business is roughly the size of Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell, combined. 

Even in the quick-service burger category, one of the largest and most established segments in the restaurant industry, McDonald’s market share is immense. It accounts for more than 46 percent of the share of the country’s largest burger chains, according to NRN Top 100 data.

McDonald’s has lost some share in recent years amid sales struggles, while competitors gained ground. Earlier this year, McDonald’s executives said much of the 500 million transactions it lost were to its more immediate competitors in the quick-service burger segment.

The company has worked feverishly to regain those transactions, and has generated some momentum under CEO Steve Easterbrook.

McDonald’s U.S. same-store sales grew 1.7 percent in the first three months of the year, an increase that surprised analysts who expected a pullback due to difficult comparisons from the previous year. Instead, McDonald’s was the strongest performer among limited-service burger chains during a difficult market.

What’s more, there’s a sense that the company can continue its momentum as the year goes on, thanks to easier comparisons and various strategies the chain is using to get customers in the door.

McDonald’s introduced its Signature Crafted line of sandwiches last month, to great fanfare. The company has gained some traffic by offering $1 drinks nationwide.

The company is rapidly expanding delivery, now offered in more than 1,000 locations, and plans to add mobile order and pay — as well as curbside service — in the remainder of the year. 

In the coming years, McDonald’s expects to add kiosks at restaurants across the country in what it calls the “Experience of the Future,” and next year it will start making Quarter Pounder burgers with fresh beef, made to order. The chain also wants to bolster its McCafé line. 

In a report on consumer business sectors on Thursday, Fitch Ratings said it views McDonald’s efforts positively. But the service also said it expects volatility in the chain’s same-store sales due to heightened competition. 

Still, Norfleet Taylor suggested that McDonald’s could boost its market share as Walmart is doing in the retail world — by flexing its considerable financial muscle.


“Conventional wisdom in the industry says that if you have a big share of the market, you’re bound to lose some share,” Norfleet Taylor said. “Yet Walmart is gaining share. They’re leveraging their financial strength by reducing prices to make themselves more attractive to consumers. McDonald’s has a lot of the same ability to do that.” 

Other analysts certainly appear to be on board. According to Nasdaq, 14 analysts have “Strong Buy” ratings on McDonald’s stock, and one has a “Buy” rating. By comparison, eight analysts have a “Hold” rating on McDonald’s stock, and none suggest that investors should sell the stock.

Sara Senatore, an analyst with Bernstein Research, is bullish on McDonald’s stock, and has a price target on it of $170 per share. She suggested that another McDonald’s strategy, an expected launch of a loyalty program in 2018, could generate further sales momentum by improving customer frequency.

“McDonald’s higher average frequency and lower average check make it better suited to loyalty than many other concepts,” Senatore wrote in a note this week.

To be sure, not everyone said McDonald’s success will result in poor results everywhere. That includes Wall Street. For instance, Wendy’s stock has risen 22 percent this year. And stock in Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International Inc. — which swallowed the chicken chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen this year — has increased 28 percent.

In an earnings call earlier this month, Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor dismissed suggestions that McDonald’s fresh beef move next year will hurt the chain’s sales. In fact, he expects it to help Wendy’s sales.

“It does create more awareness,” Penegor said. “It adds some credibility to what we’ve been saying for almost 40 years.”

To be sure, McDonald’s has a long way to go to improve consumer views of its brand. The company is intent on changing that perception. It removed artificial ingredients from its Chicken McNuggets last year, and did the same with its ice cream this year, while also shifting to cage-free eggs.

But McDonald’s remains near the bottom of many consumer rankings of restaurant chains. To regain share, the company needs to strengthen its brand image with younger consumers, Norfleet Taylor said.

“That still hasn’t occurred,” she said. “And McDonald’s may have a more difficult shot at that. It’s more difficult for McDonald’s to do that than it is for Walmart.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

5 reasons independent restaurants are winning

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 20:29

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

Traffic at restaurant chains has been increasingly problematic in recent years, and has fallen at least 4.2 percent on a two-year basis in four of the past five months, according to MillerPulse. 

One reason for the decline is that consumers are broadening their spending, especially at dine-in concepts where prices are higher.

The beneficiary of this is the independent restaurant. As my colleague Lisa Jennings reported last week, independents are expected to gain market share in the coming years, and will grow at a higher rate.

To be sure, it’s difficult to truly get a handle on shifts in the independent market, and there’s some disagreement among experts as to whether independents are really gaining market share. 

But there are five reasons why I think independents can get a leg up on chains for the first time in many years:

1. Younger people like local. This cannot be emphasized enough. Large chains can tout their local ingredients all they want, but they will have only so much credibility with consumers. Independents have no such problem. “Millennials are the largest customer base out there,” small business advocate Rhonda Abrams said at the NRA Show, “and they like to shop local.”

2. Chain profit pressures. If chains are losing share, a lot of it is their own doing. Over the past decade, many chains have relied on discounts and lower-cost items to get customers in the door. But they’ve also faced higher food and labor costs in the process. So what to they do? Cut food quality, portion sizes or service. And the worst ones delay maintenance on buildings. Consumers notice these issues over time, and they opt to go elsewhere.

3. Television. I have a confession: My family loves watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on Food Network, so much so that we will routinely seek out restaurants in Minnesota that the show features. There are countless other shows on Food Network, Cooking Channel and other channels highlighting interesting local restaurants. Much like HGTV has impacted the way consumers buy houses, Food Network has impacted the way diners pick restaurants.

4. Delivery. Consumers clearly want food to be delivered directly to them. It’s the biggest single trend in the industry, and every decent executive in the business is at least studying the issue. But I still say that delivery favors the independent restaurant. Diners have demonstrated a willingness to pay higher prices for local cuisine. And delivery wipes out the convenience advantage that many chains enjoy, particularly in the casual-dining segment.

5. Social media. Ratings services and social media word-of-mouth advertising are erasing the messaging advantage that chains have historically boasted. Reviews on Google and Yelp remove the risk factor associated with picking an unknown local restaurant. Social media spreads the word about these restaurants more efficiently. Abrams highlighted a number of strategies innovative local concepts have used to get nearby customers to come to in their doors using Facebook.

None of this is to say that chains can’t gain market share. They can, as Olive Garden, Dave & Buster's and Texas Roadhouse can attest. But general trends suggest that independents have advantages in the battle over the consumer dollar that they haven’t had since, well, ever.

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

Restaurant CEO pay rises with stocks

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 19:44

With stock prices on the upswing, restaurant companies were feeling generous last year.

The typical restaurant industry CEO received a pay increase of 2.5 percent in 2016, according to a Nation’s Restaurant News analysis of pay packages for CEOs at publicly traded companies. 

Restaurant stocks finished up 2.8 percent in 2016, and the companies whose CEOs we analyzed for this story had a median increase of 6.8 percent.

Read more: How much did restaurant CEOs make last year?

But pay hikes in the corner office varied greatly — a reflection, perhaps, of a great divide in industry performance. Indeed, CEOs of the largest companies seemed to benefit the most last year.

Consider this: Yum! Brands Inc. CEO Greg Creed and McDonald’s Corp. CEO Steve Easterbrook received the two largest pay increases among CEOs in the job at least two years.

Creed’s pay more than doubled, to $15.4 million from $7.5 million. Easterbrook’s pay jumped more than 94 percent, to $15.4 million in 2016 from $7.9 million the year before — though Easterbrook was not CEO for the full year in 2015. 

The higher pay, especially for executives with the largest chains, followed overall business trends. Median pay for the executives at the 104 largest U.S. companies increased 6.8 percent last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This NRN list analyzes the pay packages of CEOs at 36 restaurant companies that did not make a change in the middle of the year in 2016, which factors out partial year pay packages.

So the list does not include a number of chains that struggled and made CEO changes, like Noodles & Co., Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc., and Famous Dave’s of America Inc. 

And this analysis does not include The Wendy’s Co. CEO Todd Penegor, who received more than $5.1 million, but was not the CEO for the full year. In addition, pay for the CEOs of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Panera Bread Co were not available, because the companies have been purchased.

The average pay package for the 36 CEOs with their companies for at least two years was $5.6 million, up from $5.2 million a year ago.

Twenty of the 36 CEOs received raises. But the highest paid CEOs received the largest pay bumps. The 15 CEOs who received packages worth $5 million or more received an average pay increase of 21 percent.  For those who received less than $5 million, pay declined an average of 6 percent.

Salary makes up a small part of a typical CEO’s pay package — less than $900,000 of the $5.6 million was in the form of salary, on average. 

The rest of that $5.6 million comes in the form of stock, stock options and bonus and incentive pay. Only $1.3 million of Easterbrook’s $15.4 million package, is in the form of salary, for instance.

Five CEOs received total pay packages of $15 million or more, including both CEOs at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Steve Ells and Monty Moran, who received more than $15 million apiece. Ells’ pay jumped 13 percent in 2016, while Moran’s pay increased 14 percent — even though Chipotle’s stock price fell by 21.5 percent in 2016. 

The highest paid CEO in the restaurant industry, once again, was Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz, whose pay increased 8.6 percent to $21.8 million in his final year overseeing day-to-day operations at the coffee giant.

Not included in the ranking, however, is Sardar Biglari, the CEO of Biglari Holdings and owner of Steak ‘n Shake. Biglari receives a $900,000 salary as CEO, but his private-equity firm, Biglari Capital, received a $31.6 million incentive from the company — a $32.5 million total package that would make Biglari the highest paid CEO in the industry.

We opted not to include Biglari, given that his company operates more like a private-equity group, and because of the complexities of his pay package.

On the other end are pay decreases for CEOs of struggling companies that have since made changes at the corner office.

That includes DineEquity Inc., the owner of Applebee’s and IHOP. Julia Stewart saw pay fall by 22 percent last year to $4.5 million, Ruby Tuesday Inc. CEO JJ Buettgen, meanwhile, received $2.3 million in the company’s 2016 fiscal year, down 40 percent from the year before. Buettgen has since left the company, which is up for sale.

Papa Murphy’s Holdings, meanwhile, let go of its CEO, Ken Calwell at the end of a difficult 2016 in which the chain’s sales had fallen steeply. His pay package fell by 23 percent.

To be sure, sometimes pay packages change for one-time reasons. At Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc., CEO Michael O’Donnell in 2015 received one-time awards that he did not receive in 2016, and so his pay fell by 61.25 percent to $2.8 million. His pay in 2016 was more indicative of his historic pay package, than the $7.7 million he received in 2015. 

And Shake Shack Inc. CEO Randy Garutti’s pay package fell by 82 percent to $1.2 million. Garutti received $5.9 million in option awards in 2015 that he did not receive in 2016.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

'Fight For $15' Leader Claims He's Not Paid To Protest -...

Topix - Thu, 2017-05-25 18:02

The lead organizer for the "Fight for $15" movement isn't an underpaid fast food worker, but rather a well-paid labor union activist. "No I'm not," Kendall Fells said when asked by researchers with conservative nonprofit America Rising Squared if he was paid to attend the " March on McDonald's " he organized this week in Chicago.

Categories: Today's Food News

Nutella spreads its reach with new café

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 17:54

Ferrero USA Inc. will open its first Nutella Café, highlighting its chocolate-hazelnut spread, on May 31, in Chicago.

The Parsippany, N.J.-based company, whose products also include Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Tic Tac mints, said the new Nutella Café will offer coffee, lunch items and a number of to-go options.

Ferrero has had a Nutella Bar for several years in Chicago’s Eataly food and restaurant market, but this is the company’s first standalone café.

“We wanted to create a world of Nutella for our fans that could truly capture the essence of the brand — not just in the dishes that will be served, but in the full experience from the moment you step into the space." said Noah Szporn, head of marketing for Nutella North America, in a statement.


Even the entryway that faces Chicago’s Michigan Avenue features architectural outlines and lighting shaped like the signature, squat Nutella jar and its round lid. The new café is a block from the city’s Millennium Park. 

Ferrero said the menu will include exclusive items such as grilled baguettes with Nutella, freshly roasted hazelnut and blueberry granola with yogurt and Nutella, and Italian specialties like "panzanella" fruit salad and gelato affogato topped with Nutella.

The company said a number of menu items will be available without Nutella, such as panini and salads.


"The Nutella Cafe offers something for everybody, and we encourage everyone to come in and try a dish or snack,” Szporn said. “We hope Nutella enthusiasts, Chicagoans and visitors enjoy the café as much as we enjoyed creating it."

The café will officially open on Wednesday, with an event including chef Rocco DiSpirito.

Nutella was created in Italy and debuted in the United States in 1983. The spread is available in about 160 countries. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

New delivery monitoring system automatically files customer claims

Store Front Talk Back - Thu, 2017-05-25 17:50
Paribus, a service that helps consumers save money by price-checking online purchases, has taken aim at another online shopping frustration: delivery guarantees that don't deliver. Paribus launched a delivery monitoring system that automatically detects when items from select retailers are delivered later than promised and secures compensation for the delay. FierceRetail talked to Paribus CEO Eric Glyman about the technology.

Chefs celebrate berry season with strawberry shortcake

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 17:32

A sure sign that summer is imminent is the proliferation of strawberry shortcake on menus. This year, chefs are celebrating the arrival of berry season with familiar and innovative versions of this classic dessert.

“With desserts, people want something that’s a little bit different,” said Anthony Alberin, executive pastry chef at Coffeemania, a Euro-Russian eatery in New York City. “For me, traditional ideas are boring. I want to see something more.”

Alberin’s “something more” is called Love Me, Love Me Not, an intricate take on classic strawberry shortcake. The dessert, which is evocative of a flower, is made with wild strawberry mousse with a mixed berry gel inside, on top of a shortcake base. It’s finished with a white chocolate and cocoa butter spray to give the exterior a velvety look.

“When you look at the display, it definitely stands out,” said Alberin of his bestselling dessert. “It’s strawberries — everybody loves strawberries.”

Also looking to make a strawberry standout is DaVee Harned, pastry chef at Pawpaw in Charleston, S.C. Harned’s creation features a lemon poppy seed bundt cake for the shortcake and first-of-the-season strawberries macerated with brown sugar, served with a side of basil ice cream. 

“It's just super light and fresh,” Harned said. “It also just puts a different twist on something that is very traditional. I wanted to have something that you can't get everywhere else."


At Halifax in Hoboken, N.J., pastry chef Stuart Marx adds height and an unexpected crunch to the summer favorite. His strawberry shortcake is made with three layers of vanilla spongecake, each brushed with a strawberry sauce that also contains lemon and sugar, then coated with graham cracker crumbs and topped with fresh and pureed strawberries and pistachios. It’s served with vanilla whipped cream and a scoop of roasted pistachio ice cream.

“My style is classic with a twist, so I knew I wanted to do a version of strawberry shortcake,” Marx said. “Plus, strawberry and pistachios is one of my favorite combinations since childhood. The flavors go perfectly together.”

And at the Tuck Room Tavern in Westwood, Calif., chef Sherry Yard serves a deconstructed strawberry shortcake: She places Harry’s Gaviota strawberries, Scottish shortbread and Bellwether Farms whipped cream in a decorative glass.

Chains are serving up strawberry shortcake, too. From June 19 to the end of August, Buffalo Wings & Rings, the 55-unit, family-friendly sports bar chain, will serve a cookie shortcake base dusted in powdered sugar and topped with vanilla ice cream, strawberries that will be locally sourced by each franchisee, and whipped cream.

Shortcake is resonating so strongly that some pastry chefs, like Amy Beeman of The Rieger in Kansas City, are finding creative ways to menu it even before strawberries comes into season near them.

“Shortcakes are kind of everywhere now,” Beeman said. “I love nostalgic desserts, things that remind you of your childhood. Strawberry shortcake is that for me.”

Despite fresh strawberries not yet being available near Kansas City, Beeman is whipping up a spin on the nostalgic dessert that has a similar taste and texture but takes advantage of another in-season favorite: rhubarb.

Beeman’s rhubarb shortcake is made with buckwheat shortcakes that are split open and filled with rhubarb puree. That’s topped with orange blossom pastry cream and finished with fleur spice (a mixture of pink peppercorn, hibiscus, rose petals and mint), and served with a side of poached rhubarb. The combination of the ingredients makes “everything pink and springy,” Beeman said. 

Retail Roundup—Albertsons invests in e-commerce, CE retailers' sales up 1.5%

Store Front Talk Back - Thu, 2017-05-25 17:18
Albertsons hires two new digital executives, consumer electronics retailers saw sales grow in 2016, Sprouts' private label accounts for 12% of sales, plus more need-to-know news from the world of retail.

Cicis names Billie Jo Waara CMO

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-05-25 16:47

Cici Enterprises LP, parent to the Cicis buffet pizza chain, has named Billie Jo Waara as chief marketing officer, the company said Wednesday. 

Waara, who most recently served as CMO of Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Taco John’s, succeeds Sarah McAloon, who left Cicis in March to join Del Frisco’s Grille.

“Billie Jo has an outstanding track record of working with transforming brands, and we are confident in her ability to keep the Cicis success story moving forward,” said Darin Harris, CEO of Irving, Texas-based Cicis, in a statement.

Waara is credited with digital initiatives and culinary innovation at 400-unit Taco John’s.

“Cicis is alive and relevant again, and it’s a dynamic time to join the company,” Waara said in a news release. “I am becoming part of an incredible team and look forward to working with them to build upon their success and continue growing our brand.”

In the upcoming Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 census, Cicis booked an estimated $449.7 million in sales for the fiscal year ended December 2016, rising from $440.1 million in fiscal 2015.

Cicis, founded in 1983, has about 430 restaurants in 32 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Consumer Coalition Calls on In-N-Out Burger to Fulfill Promise to Reduce Antibiotics Use in Beef

Topix - Thu, 2017-05-25 15:44

Public interest, environmental, food safety and consumer groups representing millions of consumers sent a letter today calling on In-N-Out Burger, California's iconic hamburger restaurant chain, to make good on its promise to stop selling beef produced with routine antibiotics. The groups delivered a letter to the company's corporate headquarters urging In-N-Out to publicly release an update on its progress as well as a timeline for meeting its public commitment, made 15 months ago, to implement a strong antibiotics policy.

Categories: Today's Food News