chew on this

Sip on a Bottle of Dom Perignon at Denny's Newest Location

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 29, 2014 03:08 PM

Denny’s, the restaurant chain not exactly known for its glitz and glamour, has been undergoing a bit of a brand overhaul lately as "America's Diner" gives itself a much-needed update, including redesigning its current outposts and opening new ones.

Today, the first-ever Denny's in Manhattan opened in the financial district across from City Hall, but that's just the start of it. The Wall Street outpost isn't your typical Denny's. In fact, the fancy restaurant features a craft cocktail menu and a $300 Grand Slam brunch for two that comes with a bottle of Dom Perignon.

The restaurant, which is located on the ground floor of an upscale apartment building, has Prosecco on tap and features copper-stamped ceilings and leather couches—but for the most part, still features affordable, Denny's prices.Continue reading...

branding together

Burger King Puts Canadians at Ease While Buffett Helps Buy Tim Hortons

Posted by Dale Buss on August 26, 2014 04:36 PM

The $11.4 billion acquisition of Tim Hortons by Burger King has added twists and turns as its shape has become more apparent over the last day or so.

Among the most interesting: Burger King has promised not to mess with Tim Hortons' beloved place as a national treasure in Canada; it really wants to press the potential advantages of a multi-brand fast-food holding company a la Yum! Brands; and Mr. Everywhere, Warren Buffett, directly injected himself and his money into Burger King's purchase of Tim Hortons. There's also the live wire of the tax-inversion issue in the US.

It's interesting that billionaire extraordinaire Buffett kicked in $3 billion through his company, Berkshire Hathaway, to help finance the deal, amounting to about 25 percent of the required funds. Shareholders of both companies have welcomed that news because of Buffett's renowned Midas touch.

That certainly could be helpful as the combined company faces headwinds including a sluggish global fast-food environment, Burger King's struggles in making significant headway against McDonald's, and Tim Hortons' own challenges in establishing a significant presence in thde US market and abroad—even though it makes more money than Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts combined.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Burger King, Tim Hortons Deal Has Big Brand Implications Beyond Taxes

Posted by Dale Buss on August 25, 2014 02:26 PM

Burger King finally may have found a way to put meaningful pressure on McDonald's at exactly a time when the fast-food leader is faltering: Burger King is looking north of the border.

McDonald's perceived weakness may be one reason the No. 2 US fast-food chain is talking with Canada's biggest home-grown chain, Tim Hortons, about a whopper of a deal: an acquisition by BK of the Canadian chain, a transaction that would (if approved) create the third-largest quick-serve restaurant company in the world, with about $22 billion in total sales and more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries worldwide.

A tie-up with Burger King also might help Canada's iconic coffee-and-doughnuts purveyor achieve its own goals to expand more internationally, which have seen slow going even in the United States.Continue reading...

executive decision

McDonald's Pins Turnaround Hopes on New US Operations President

Posted by Dale Buss on August 22, 2014 06:41 PM

When you're one of the most iconic brands in the world but sales are in a prolonged slump, you don't have any new hit products, not much you're doing seems to be working and even the government of Russia is doing you no favors, it might be time to throw up the white flag. But you're McDonald's, and you've got to keep going.

In that spirit, McDonald's has apparently nudged out its US president, Jeff Stratton, in favor of bringing in an ex-McDonald's executive who most recently was CEO of the Logan's Roadhouse chain, Mike Andres. The new president of McDonald's USA had success earlier in his career as president of McDonald's central division from 2010 to 2012 and, before that, as CEO of Boston Market, which then was a McDonald's subsidiary.

It's not too much of a reach to think that Andres, who will report directly to McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, could be positioned as his successor. If Thompson, in charge since mid-2012, can't turn things around, and Andres succeeds in jump-starting results at the chain's important but troubled domestic division, the switch could be obvious.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Searches for a New Positive with More Menu Options

Posted by Dale Buss on August 20, 2014 04:41 PM

Everything seems to be sticking to McDonald's these days. There was the food-safety scandal in China last month, and now the chain's very ubiquity has hurt it as the local, franchisee-owned McDonald's at the epicenter of the racial strife in Ferguson, Mo., has become unwitting headquarters for much of the back-and-forth in the building drama there.

Maybe that particular problem for McDonald's will pass quickly, but the beleaguered chain is continuing to battle its long-term challenges, ranging from the junk-food image of its menus to flagging sales growth to still-growing competition.

At least McDonald's is trying some new tactics as CEO Don Thompson tries to pull the world's iconic fast-food chain out of its deepening slump, with moves involving digital leadership, new forms of influencing thought leaders, new menu items and new attempts to leverage the strengths that it does have.Continue reading...

sip on this

Starbucks Goes Four-Wheeling to Bring Brew to College Campuses

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on August 20, 2014 11:54 AM

Some college students heading back to campus in the coming weeks will be greeted by a new classmate—Starbucks. 

The cult coffee purveyor is rolling out three brew-serving food trucks at James Madison University in Virgina, Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, and Arizona State University, which previously partnered with the brand on its education efforts. The trucks will be operated by Aramark, whose recent survey of college students showed Starbucks to be the No. 1 preferred brand for coffee, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

While the three selected campuses already have permanent Starbucks locations, the trucks, which will offer up a similar menu of food and beverages, are meant to move to various locations on campus as the day goes on and in some cases may be open later than a campus dining hall.Continue reading...

bc q&a

Dishing Up Success: 5 Questions with Rachel Phillips-Luther of Zoës Kitchen

Posted by Taylor Goddu on August 12, 2014 04:54 PM

Rooted in Mediterranean tradition and southern hospitality, Zoës Kitchen, a fast-casual chain founded in Texas in 1995, has a four-year plan to double the brand's footprint, which currently encompasses 124 restaurants across 15 states. 

Haven't heard of them? Well you may soon. With a market value of $525 million, impressive unit volumes tracking close to Panera and Chipotle and a 2013 average customer spend of $9.57, Zoës is hard to ignore—even if “y’all” isn’t part of your vocabulary. 

Beyond their commitment to family-inspired Greek eats (Zoë being the founder’s grandmother), Zoës storefronts are purposefully infused with trends from the fashion arena and other high-energy spaces to create a positive and fun brand experience for its diners, 70 percent of which are women and their families. The brand also actively taps social media for its ongoing #ShareGoodness campaign, which encourages patrons to share inspirational messages (and delicious recipes). 

branchannel chatted with Rachel Phillips-Luther, VP of Marketing for Zoës, who told us more about the brand's voice, persona and how it creates an emotional connection with consumers.Continue reading...

chew on this

With US Taco Co. Test, Taco Bell Takes a Swing at Fast-Casual

Posted by Dale Buss on August 6, 2014 06:42 PM

All the while, QSR analysts have been thinking that Taco Bell's Cantina menu was meant to be the brand's answer to Chipotle, but that may not be the case.  

On Monday, the Yum! Brands-owned chain is scheduled to open a concept store in Huntington Beach, Calif. called US Taco Co. after a half-million-dollar investment in the prototype over the last year. The idea is to appeal to educated foodies with disposable income who have been attracted to the unprocessed ingredients and authentic feel of Chipotle and many of whom would never frequent a Taco Bell.

"Taco Bell is Mexican-inspired; US Taco is American-inspired," Greg Creed, Taco Bell's CEO, told Nation's Restaurant News.Continue reading...

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