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Log In / Register | Jul 16, 2018

Sick Chicks, Mad Cows, Scared Folks, O My!

Restaurant and fast food franchise chains have been hit from the left and now from the right. First there was a possible bird flu outbreak that threatened to stifle chicken sales. Restaurant franchise chains managed largely to stay on top of it, thanks to no actual human outbreak in North America.

Now comes the beef scare. A cow in Alabama tested positive for mad cow disease Monday. It was the third U.S. case of the brain-wasting ailment. The cow did not enter the food supply for people or animals, officials said. The animal, unable to walk, was killed by a local veterinarian and buried on the farm.

It’s Time to Cheer Up, Folks!

Here is good news for calorie counting, self acclaimed health freaks like us who frequent convenient store franchises. Coke is planning to introduce a healthier low or no calorie diet versions to North American consumers. They are planning to launch a new black tea energy drink for the coming spring. Though ice tea with peach flavor is my all time favorite, I am waiting for Coke’s health and wellness offerings. Other rival companies like Pepsi have already introduced new categories in energy drinks, tea and coffee and they are leading the market, but it is not too late to join the energy game. Keep it up, Coke! Better late than never.

Ice Dispensers Returning to the Back of the Counter?

Remember the story on Blue MauMau about fecal matter found on ice dispensers? Well, faster than you can say "dirtier than toilet water", fast-food stores are now posting up these signs.

When asked about this sign, an employee of this fast-food franchise told me that the dispenser was dirty.

Any one out there have a workable solution if bacteria are coming from dirty customer hands and not employees'? Are we looking at dispensers returning to the back of the counter?

IHOP Chain Raises Over $300,000 for Charity

IHOP has this press release about the results of their day of free pancakes for charity on February 28th.

"In the biggest one-day event in its 48-year history, IHOP gave away nearly one million buttermilk pancakes to unite guests and raise over $300,000 in support of worthy causes at more than 1,200 restaurants nationwide."

Domino's Founder Claims 'Misconceptions' Over Catholic Town

Founder of Domino's Pizza, Tom Monaghan backtracked Friday from earlier comments that he'd like to establish a new township by Naples, Florida governed by strict Roman Catholic principles, denying access to birth control and pornography. (See ABC's video interview.) Those remarks sparked considerable controversy.

Forbes quoted Monaghan's clarification of his earlier statements.

Fast Food Fashion

Fast Food fashion is about to take a quantum leap. Here's an NPR interview with fashion designer Jay McCarroll and news about McDonald's giving its workers a makeover in spicing up its uniforms. Says NPR:

"Goodbye polo shirts and visors, hello Ralph Lauren, Russell Simmons and Giorgio Armani. Will the Golden Arches become the new black?"

Gotta Pay Taxes on Royalties, Shucks

South Dakota ruled Thursday that a Subway restaurant area developer must pay sales tax on its royalty fees that it charges to the owners of 53 Subway restaurants in the state. South Dakota's Rapid City Journal adds:

The decision upholds the state Revenue Department's 2001 ruling that found Doctor's Associates, owner of the Subway franchise, owed $270,661 in sales taxes on the royalty fees.

Fast Food Order Taking Now Goes Automatic

Automatic ordering kiosks as originally reported about in Blue MauMau are now out and have been spotted.

Abir Majumdar, who took the photo, says: "I went to one of those Taco Bell/KFC hybrids in Morrisville, NC and all the ordering was done through the gigantic touchscreens."

One of the headaches of running a fast-food franchise are always being fully staffed. This might help smooth out staff transitioning. It also helps during customer spikes.

Photo by maju6406.

Fast Food and Convenience Store Franchisees, Clean The Ice Dispensers!

The story of how toilet water is cleaner than ice dispensers at fast food and convenience chains is gaining traction. It started with a Florida schoolgirl who won top prize with a science project proving toilet water is cleaner than ice in fast food restaurants. She collected ice from soda fountains and asked for cups of ice at drive thru windows, testing the samples at a lab. She found that 70% of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurant's contain more E. Coli bacteria than their toilet water.

Now the story is spreading to convenience stores. CNN today has a video that shows Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King and now 7-Eleven in various U.S. cities testing positive for fecal matter in their ice. (Some employees obviously are not washing their hands thoroughly when they go to the bathroom).

According to CNN, experts are saying the most common causes of ice contamination are poor handling and storage. The problem isn't necessarily getting worse but it is hitting the television and media circuit, and it is creating buzz. It's a story that is going to grow in the public's mind, with consumers possibly drinking less from the soda fountains, a traditional source of higher margins.

Here's what can be done. Franchisees and company stores can frequently clean up their ice dispensers. Train employees to wear gloves when handling ice and cleaning dispensers and storage bins. And corporate field operation managers should be checking dispensers when they visit and evaluate individual stores.

How About Noodles-To-Go As A Fast Food Concept?

Noodles-in-a-bagWe are a highly mobile burger and sandwich eating culture. But there are times I wish there were foods other than sandwiches, particularly ethnic that could be prepared and eaten while I'm walking.

Here's a concept from Hong Kong. There is a refrigerated counter filled with different types of noodles in bags. (Yes, there are many kinds of noodles, just like there are different types of bread.) Order the noodles you want, then pick from a large range of toppings. The shop then hands the bag over and you eat as you continue to shop. As you can see, it's popular.

So, is there a franchisor brave enough to do this in say California, Hawaii or Washington?

Hong Kong over the past few decades has probably had more styrofoam cups of noodles per capita than here. You see white bags full of styrofoam bowls of won ton soup or Nanking noodles being taken to offices of busy business people. But you can't eat from a styrofoam bowl on the run like you can these bags. No food or sandwich stuffing sloshing out onto the street.