With competition fierce, every restaurant is looking for ways to inspire loyalty from its customers. Lawry's the Prime Rib—Chicago decided to start at the beginning. The company created the Junior Carver Program, a loyalty program that focuses on children.
Going “vegan” was once seen as an extreme choice of deprivation. What about chocolate? Eggs? Cheese? Bacon? How could a person really give up all those flavors?Veganism seemed to struggle for a long time to find its footing, but in recent years, the lifestyle choice has exploded in popularity.
Sours are funky beers that have been brewed with wild yeast and bacteria, raising the beer’s acidity level. Fruit is sometimes added to create a secondary fermentation or to introduce microbes. Traditionally, all beer has been somewhat sour due to brewing techniques involving porous barrels and open-air fermentation that allowed wild yeast and bacteria to permeate.
Fashion is an industry famous for its natural-selection style of doing business. One day you’re in, the next day you’re out, as Heidi Klum preaches during “Project Runway.” The notion isn’t all that different from the one facing restaurants, says Stacey Kinkaid, senior director of product development at US Foods.
Food writers often joke that we’d never open a restaurant, mainly because we know too much: the ceaseless hours, the slim margins, and even slimmer chance of success. But more intrepid multi-platform media companies are taking the plunge into restaurant ownership to build touchpoints with ravenous followers, unearth new fans, and, yes, capture some of that elusive revenue.
Fondue restaurant chain The Melting Pot lifted the lid on the next stage of its brand evolution, unveiling a fresh restaurant design tailored to reflect what’s most important to its guests. The new model will show in upcoming locations as well as those looking to relocate or remodel, the company said.
Darden might be the king of simplification, but CEO Gene Lee cautioned against boxing Olive Garden’s sales surge into a single corner. Since the casual leader’s former chief executive, Clarence Otis, announced July 2014 he would step down by year’s end, Darden’s shares have lifted more than 240 percent, which is skyscrapers above the industry standard.
The sparkling wine section of a menu can often read like it’s been spit out by a generator—the expensive Champagne, more affordable prosecco or cava, maybe a wild card of crémant or Franciacorta. The selections tend to feel the same—safe and predictable, consumed before dinner or with appetizers, and generally reserved for celebrations or special occasions.
In February, Huddle House changed hands for the second time in six years. Private-equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners dealt the 55-year-old chain to Elysium Management for an undisclosed sum. In that span, the family-dining icon retracted its total unit count by 44 units to 349 locations generating more than $240 million in annual systemwide sales.
Mario Batali’s Michelin-starred La Sirena is closing. The New York City restaurant is the first to shutter since the celebrity chef was accused of sexual misconduct last December. Batali took a leave of absence following reports of habitual sexual harassment, published in an Eater New York story.
The menu at Boston fast-casual spot Spyce Kitchen is rife with personal touches from head chef Sam Benson. The Lebanese chicken-and-lentil bowl reminds him of the smell of his mother toasting coriander to grind with cinnamon when he was a child.
Chief executive Sandy Cochran is concerned with Cracker Barrel’s traffic. The casual chain’s same-store sales declined 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, year-over-year, with average check up 3.1 percent.
Six months after Congress passed new legislation around tip pooling, restaurants across the country continue familiarizing themselves with the guidelines and running the numbers to assess what makes sense for their individual operations.
In February, just five months after declaring bankruptcy, Romano’s Macaroni Grill attempted to buy Bravo Brio. The operator of BRAVO! Cucina Italian and BRIO Tuscan Grille rejected the acquisition proposal and moved forward with its previously announced $100 million deal with Switzerland-based Spice Private Equity Ltd.
Over the past year, I have met more than 100 highly dedicated, thoughtful food safety leaders—and they are an anxious lot. You see, they know better than every executive, investor, regulator, and customer how broken the American food safety system is.