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Hakkasan Group names Nick McCabe CEO

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 19:00

Global restaurant and nightclub operator Hakkasan Group has promoted Nick McCabe to CEO, replacing Neil Moffitt, who resigned on Monday after five years at the helm, the company said. 

McCabe has served as president and chief operating officer for the group since 2013, following its acquisition of Angel Management Group.

He plans to continue Hakkasan’s growth trajectory and will lead the group through its proposed merger with Los Angeles-based hospitality company SBE. When completed, the deal will create one of the largest nightlife, hotel and restaurant groups in the world. 

Moffitt, meanwhile, has decided to liquidate his interests in Hakkasan prior to the deal’s closure, the company said, saying it felt like the right moment to “step off the train and refocus on my own future and family.” 

Over the past few years, Hakkasan, which operates about 60 venues around the world, has also acquired Enlightened Hospitality Group, H.Wood Group and The Light Group. 

Before joining Hakkasan, McCabe was an entrepreneur in Miami, where he launched the nightlife and lifestyle website He also served as partner and chief creative officer of Track Entertainment and created a series of music festivals for Bacardi, which lead to him joining Angel Management Group.

Khalifa Bin Butti, Hakkasan Group’s chairman, said in a statement that McCabe was the natural choice. 

“As CEO, he brings an in-depth knowledge of the hospitality industry, extensive experience of being at the cutting edge of new technological developments and an international vision. In his previous role with the company, Nick was an invaluable asset and played an integral role in transforming Hakkasan Group into the next exciting chapter of its prestigious history,” Bin Butti said.

With U.S. operations based in Las Vegas, Hakkasan is owned by Abu Dhabi-based investment company Alliance International Investments LLC.

Hakkasan’s restaurant portfolio includes 11 locations of the namesake Hakkasan brand, as well as Ling, Yauatcha, HKK, Sake no Hana, Herringbone, Searsucker and Ivory on Sunset. Nightclubs include Hakkasan Nightclub, Wet Republic, Omnia and Jewel. 

Contact Lisa Jennings at

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

6 tips for incorporating applied analytics into business decisions

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 18:16

Alexander Cairns is an econometrician in research and development for Revenue Management Solutions. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Nation’s Restaurant News.

The adoption of more advanced POS systems in restaurants has led to data becoming more accessible than ever before. In today’s data-driven world, restaurants frequently want to capitalize on this by incorporating analytics into their decision-making.

When done correctly, analytics can be leveraged to generate actionable recommendations and guide strategic decisions, like deciding whether you should run a sales promotion again, or whether a certain item should stay on the menu.

The challenge faced by most operators is that their expertise lies in the complexities of daily operations, not necessarily in analytics. This confusion can be exacerbated when operators do their own research, as most analytical approaches (such as machine learning or econometrics) have typically been used by academics, and a lot of online resources can be difficult to decipher.

Understanding the common challenges that arise can be advantageous, as it allows operators to either better validate external analyses or perform simple analytics themselves. Below is a brief overview of a few key things to keep in mind when evaluating or performing analytics yourself:

Clean data is essential for successful recommendations. In my experience, one of the most common mistakes that novice researchers make is that they focus too much on algorithms, and not enough on the data. 

Real-world data is often incomplete, contains errors or is in a format that is not immediately usable. To avoid these issues, the researcher must aggregate and compile the data set used in the analysis, which often requires assumptions. This is frequently referred to as “cleaning the data.” Visualizing data can help identify outliers and missing values. As an example, plotting guest counts over time can illustrate missing days and other issues with your data points.

Cleaning data can be a thankless and difficult task, but it’s instrumental to the success of the subsequent steps. If the data is poorly organized or not aggregated correctly, this will likely adversely affect the analytics.

More data is better. Make sure your data represents what’s happening in your restaurant. The more data you have, the more representative it is of your business. One question that often comes up is, “How much data do I need?” More data means more information, which means you can be confident in your results. When dealing with small data sets, an individual observation has more weight on the results, which can skew your results if there are extreme values. Increasing the amount of data can help you avoid this. 

Viewing analytics as a toolbox means using the right tool for the right job. You wouldn’t hire a contractor who builds houses with only a hammer. So why answer every question with the same analytical approach? Creating insightful analytics requires using the right tool for the right job, and, in part, the right tool depends on the question you are trying to answer.

If you are looking to answer cause-and-effect type questions, test-and-control experiments or regression modeling are commonly used. For example, a regression model would be advantageous when evaluating the effect of renovating on guest counts, while allowing you to control for other factors affecting guest counts, such as weather. 

On the other hand, machine learning approaches, such as tree-based approaches or step-wise regression, are common when attempting to predict an outcome. As an example, these approaches to making predictions can be used to assess which site characteristics are the best predictors of a location’s annual unit volume, helping you choose your next location.

Models should accurately reflect customer behavior. It’s not necessarily what you’re asking, but how you ask it. When creating a model, keep in mind that the model should be a simple representation of the way your business operates. It’s important to include explanatory variables in a way that reflects how you believe your customers make decisions.

For example, if your business is affected by rain, do guest counts fall by an increasing amount as it rains more? Or do guest counts fall if any amount of rain falls at all? In this case, how you would account for rain depends on which assumption you believe to be the most representative. 

The result should be actions that help your business. It is important to keep in mind that for many, the point of analytics is to generate insights that allow you to improve the performance of your business. Be careful not to waste time by pursuing approaches that cannot be leveraged to answer the business question at hand. Always ask yourself if the output of a model can be used to generate recommended actions that could improve your business.  

For example, telling an ice cream shop that sales are higher in the summer than in the winter is not useful, but identifying why the sales were higher this summer than last summer is. When setting up your analysis or choosing potential questions, always ask yourself if the results will be interesting and more importantly, applicable.

Experts are your allies. For more complex analyses, it’s important to work with an expert who understands that quality analysis isn’t necessarily easy or simple. We know that some companies shy away from a detailed, flexible, analytical approach because it isn’t convenient, which can be a mistake.

Often, the people doing the analysis make key mistakes early in the analytical process, either by using incomplete data or by using the wrong analytical method to answer the question at hand. Such a mistake can be costly, because recommendations obtained from poorly done analytics can lead to misinformation, and could potentially lead you to make a disastrous decision in your business.

As you think about how analysis can help you get to the answers of your questions, know that there is no one-size-fits-all way to use analytics. Keeping these points in mind can help you ask the right questions and ensure that the analytics presented to you are representative of your business and useful.

Make sure you have enough data, that your approach matches the question and that the output of the analysis can be applied, and is actionable.

Alexander Cairns, econometrician in research and development for Revenue Management Solutions, holds a MSc. in food, agricultural and resource economics from the University of Guelph. Since joining RMS in 2013, he has developed a variety of business models and performed advanced analytics for restaurant clients.

Starbucks targets social-media set with Unicorn Frappuccino

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 16:04

Here’s the thing about Starbucks’ latest drink: If you don’t like the color or flavor, just give it a stir.

The Seattle-based coffeehouse giant will sell its new Unicorn Frappuccino blended drink tomorrow through Sunday, or as long as supplies last.

The drink starts off as purple, with a bit of blue swirls. At first, it tastes sweet and fruity.

Give it a stir, however, and the drink’s color changes to pink. The flavor also changes, to tangy and tart. The more you stir, the more the flavor and the color change.

The Unicorn Frappuccino is clearly aimed at the social-media set. Restaurants have been offering buzzy items aimed at consumers who are likely to post a picture of it on Instagram or Facebook, which earns them free advertising.

“The elusive unicorn from medieval legend has been making a comeback,” the company said in an announcement. “Once only found in enchanted forests, unicorns have been popping up in social media with shimmering unicorn-themed food and drinks.” 

The Unicorn Frappuccino is made with a sweet dusting of pink powder blended into a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a “pleasantly sour” blue drizzle. It is finished with a vanilla whipped cream and a sprinkle of sweet pink and sour blue powder topping.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

PetSmart to strengthen e-commerce with Chewy

Store Front Talk Back - Tue, 2017-04-18 16:00
PetSmart to strengthen e-commerce with Chewy jacquelinerose55 Tue, 04/18/2017 - 16:00

Kitchens pinched for labor

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 15:58

In this ongoing in-depth investigation, NRN looks at how the current political environment could affect immigration and what it means for restaurant operators.

The challenge of filling back-of-the house restaurant positions and keeping workers in them has become increasingly intense in today’s tight labor market, experts and operators say.

More line cook, busser, dishwasher and prep chef positions — many taken by immigrants, both legal and undocumented — go unfilled as managers and owners wrestle with the labor market.

And worker poaching has grown more common.

“Operators are finding it very difficult to keep workers in the back of the house,” said David Denney, a Dallas lawyer focused on the restaurant industry. “A worker will take the trash out the back and somebody will offer them a quarter more an hour to work next door. This is happening to people.”

The tight back-of-house market poses problems for operators, making planning for growth every bit as difficult as planning next week’s schedule, Denney said.

“There’s a big aura of uncertainty around the attrition rate of your back-of-house employees,” he said. 

Successfully meeting the hiring challenges for the kitchen has never been more crucial, said Michael Martensen, operating partner of the recently opened Q Tacos at Machos Cantina and co-owner of Proof + Pantry, both in Dallas.

When positions go unfilled, it puts more stress on the chef.

“The No. 1 thing chefs are is hard-working,” Martensen said.

“They are not going to let people know they have a hole in their system. I see chefs sweating it out. If they don’t find anyone to fill a position, it falls on them. They have to work that shift until they fill that void. As an owner, you don’t want to see that happen.”

Martensen’s executive chef, Nick Hurry, said the back-of-the house hiring challenges have never been harder, not only in filling positions, but also developing and cross-training skills for employees without a lot of experience.

“Once I train these guys, they spend about a year, and then their second job will offer them much more than I can to work double shifts. So they quit. It’s tough to train someone up and then have them bail,” Hurry said.

Back-of-the-house employment statistics back up the growing number of anecdotes.

“Getting enough candidates is worse at the back of the house,” said Victor Fernandez, TDn2K’s executive director of insights and knowledge. 

Fernandez said preliminary results from the People Report 2017 Recruiting and Turnover Survey found that, on average, restaurants get twice as many candidates per front-of-the-house open position than for the back of the house.

And about two out of every three restaurants reported that the number of applicants they get per open position has not increased over the past year, Fernandez said.

“On average it takes 40 percent longer to fill an open back-of-the-house position than a front-of-the-house one,” he said.

Fernandez said more than 70 percent of companies in the survey said they had to provide additional incentives, such as sign-on bonuses or higher base pay to attract candidates.

“We’re so reliant on immigrant labor,” said Harsh Ghai, whose family operates well over 100 Burger King and Taco Bell restaurants in Northern California through their company Ghai Management Services. “It is so difficult to find employees.”

While Ghai called low unemployment “a good problem to have,” he said that the lack of available labor is forcing many operators to raise wages well beyond California’s high minimum wage.

Law-abiding restaurant operators will do their legal duty and due diligence in vetting immigrants, getting the correct paperwork and running Social Security numbers through programs like E-Verify, Denney said. E-Verify is the Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification form I-9 to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.

“Once people have been presented with documents that establish, at least on the surface, that an employee is legal, the inquiry will stop there until there’s some sort of red flag,” Denney said. Red flags include a worker who comes to the employer with new documentation, he said.

Immigration doesn’t necessarily tie in to whether the labor market is tight, Denney said.

But the Pew Research Center has found eating and drinking places lag only the construction industry in rankings of industries hiring the highest percentages of unauthorized immigrant workers.

About 16 percent of all unauthorized immigrant workers are in construction, followed closely by eating and drinking places, with 14 percent of unauthorized immigrant workers. Administrative and support services came in third, at 9 percent, the Pew analysis found.

The nation’s restaurants already employ nearly 2.3 million foreign-born workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.

That represented more than 8 percent of the 28.1 million foreign-born workers in the U.S
labor force, according to research by the National Restaurant Association.

Restaurants also have a higher concentration of foreign-born workers than the overall economy, the NRA analysis of trends found. “More than 23 percent of individuals employed at restaurants are foreign-born, versus 19 percent for the overall economy,” the NRA said.

And in the back of the house, percentages can go higher, with the NRA estimating that 45 percent of restaurant chefs are foreign-born. That compares to about 24 percent or restaurant managers who are foreign-born, the analysis found.

As the economy inches toward full employment, employers across all industries are finding an evaporating pool of talent available to fill positions.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, end-of-month job openings in the economy averaged 5.6 million during 2016, up from 5.3 million during 2015 and the highest level since this data collection began in 2000.

Jonathan Maze, Nation’s Restaurant News’ finance editor, contributed to this report.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Must-see videos: Starbucks hires 10,000 veterans and military spouses

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 15:38

Starbucks reaffirmed its commitment to supporting service members and military spouses by increasing its hiring commitment to 25,000 total hires by 2025. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store teamed up with Country Music Artist Lauren Alaina and Portland’s Youth Music Project for a special in-store music education experience. McDonald's is now serving 100-percent sustainably sourced espresso in 14,000 locations. Pizza Hut says that new employees can "unbox their future." Chipotle thinks the world could use more real.

Starbucks hires 10,000 veterans and military spouses

Cracker Barrel supports Youth Music Project

McDonald's touts sustainably sourced espresso

Pizza Hut calls for new hires

Chipotle releases ‘As Real As It Gets’ campaign

Retail Roundup—Raley's new concept, Rue21 closing 400 stores

Store Front Talk Back - Tue, 2017-04-18 13:55
Retail Roundup—Raley's new concept, Rue21 closing 400 stores jacquelinerose55 Tue, 04/18/2017 - 13:55

Steady As She Goes

Hotel Interactive - Tue, 2017-04-18 12:48
Positive Data For Hotel Industry Unveiled At AAHOA Conference

Wingstop tests delivery in Las Vegas

Nation's Restaurant News - Tue, 2017-04-18 10:45

Wingstop Restaurants Inc. has launched a delivery test at nine units in the Las Vegas, Nev., market, the company said Monday.

The Dallas-based fast-casual wing chain said it will be evaluating the test to see how it works and if it can maintain the quality of its food through the delivery process.

Wingstop is using “multiple third-party service providers” in the test, said Charlie Morrison, the company CEO and president, in answer Monday to emailed questions. He said the company was not disclosing which delivery partners it was testing.

Wingstop started the test April 3 and expanded it on Monday.

“We're testing with nine units in the Las Vegas market, five of which are company owned and four which are franchised-owned locations,” Morrison said.

“We chose Las Vegas because of the presence of company stores, the controllable number of restaurants in the market (nine), and this market also allowed us to test media application for potential future rollout,” he added.

The company is supporting the Las Vegas delivery with radio, digital and social-media promotions.

Morrison added that it was too early to assess results. “The early anecdotal feedback has been positive,” he said. “Media launched on Monday, April 17, so we'll really start to see the impact over the next few weeks as guests become more aware of this new offering.”

The company will share early impressions of the test in its first-quarter earnings call, which is scheduled for May 4, he said.

One consideration was making sure the quality of the food was maintained throughout the delivery process, Morrison noted. 

In speaking about delivery during Wingstop’s fourth-quarter earnings call March 2, Morrison had told analysts: “I think the only thing that holds us back at the end of the day has been the idea of product quality.” 

Morrison said Wingstop, for example, hand cuts its potatoes for fries in the stores every day, “so we want to be very diligent about who controls that product and not every delivery company — third-party delivery company — allows for such control.”

Morrison noted that markets in the upper Midwest and the Northeast showed a strong demand for delivery. He also noted that Wingstop guests were “historically very comfortable” picking up their orders. 

Wingstop has more than 1,000 restaurants in the United States as well as Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

If the F&B industry is slowing down in the UAE, why is rental cost still high? - Tue, 2017-04-18 06:00
Consultants should be able to give proper advice to landlords and owners to stop rental cost escalation. If not, be on the lookout for many closings and even more openings that will end in closure.

Broadvine Announces New VP, Product Development

Hotel Interactive - Tue, 2017-04-18 05:49
RALEIGH, NC—-Broadvine, a leader in Business Intelligence and Analytics software for the hospitality industry, announced today the addition of Josh Anderson ...

Home2 Suites By Hilton Opens In Rapid City

Hotel Interactive - Tue, 2017-04-18 05:33
BOX ELDER, SD––Home2 Suites by Hilton, part of Hilton's (NYSE: HLT) All Suites portfolio, announced today its newest property, Home2 Suites ...

Alliance Hospitality Opens Delta By Marriott Chicago North Shore

Hotel Interactive - Tue, 2017-04-18 05:20
GLENVIEW, IL–-Alliance Hospitality has officially opened the Delta by Marriott Chicago North Shore hotel, located in Glenview, IL. The property is ...

NewcrestImage Names Kevin Ruhman As Vice President, Sales & Marketing

Hotel Interactive - Tue, 2017-04-18 05:07
NewcrestImage continues its plans for growth with the addition of hospitality veteran Kevin Ruhman as Vice President of Sales and Marketing ...

VW aims to meet tough China green car quotas with big EV push

AutoNews - Tue, 2017-04-18 04:32
VW Group aims to meet tough quotas in China for selling more green cars on its own and will not resort to purchasing credits from competitors.
Categories: Latest News

Restaurant sales slow again in March

Nation's Restaurant News - Mon, 2017-04-17 20:42

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

Restaurant sales rose 2.8 percent in March, according to federal data, slowing for the second straight month as the industry faces its weakest environment in more than three years.

The result was a slowdown from the 3.7 percent growth in February, and was the lowest since December. Yet, outside of a 6-percent growth rate during the weather-aided month of January, sales since December have been at their lowest rates since 2013.

That was the year the federal government ended a two-year reduced Social Security tax rate. And gas prices were still near record highs.

This is federal data. It is not to be confused with sales indexes, like Black Box and MillerPulse, that track same-store sales — which measures sales changes at existing locations. Thus, the 2.8 percent figure represents total industry growth, including new locations. 

And 2.8 percent is historically low. Since 2009, restaurants averaged 4.8 percent sales growth. But take out the ugly 2009 recession year, and that average increases to 5.5 percent. 

Before December, when restaurant sales grew at a paltry 2.5 percent, industry sales grew lower than 2.8 percent only five months.

The numbers are the clearest suggestion of a slowdown in the restaurant industry, as consumers shift their spending toward other areas.

Overall retail sales increased 5.5 percent. While consumers have slowed their spending at traditional retailers like Kohl’s and Target, they’re spending more at online merchants. 

The bigger question is whether this is a temporary blip, or a long-term trend. In general, industry sales go through cycles, as issues such as the economy, tax policy, inflation, weather and gas prices influence consumer decisions.

Restaurant industry same-store sales have been weak for the past year, and total industry sales growth has been weakening in the process.

Some of that blame, as we’ve written here before, goes to grocery stores. Lower grocery prices appear to be taking some demand away from restaurants. Grocers’ prices fell by 0.9 percent in March, while restaurant prices increased 2.4 percent, according to federal data. 

Overall, grocery store sales increased 3.4 percent in March.

At the same time, however, it’s possible the industry has hit a saturation point, making growth more difficult to come by. By all accounts, the economy should be pointing toward more growth in the restaurant industry, and not less.

But years of aggressive development and new concept creation and the entry of new competitors have filled the industry with locations — faster, it appears, than consumers are willing to fill those locations with their business. 

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 at @jonathanmaze

Successful wine lists focus on the customer

Nation's Restaurant News - Mon, 2017-04-17 20:33

David Flaherty has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry and is the marketing director for the Washington State Wine Commission. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Nation’s Restaurant News.

Beverage sales are one of the most lucrative revenue-generators for any restaurant.

A well-managed wine program in particular can mean the difference between financial success and failure. Like driving a fine-tuned Ferrari, mastering the wine list is a skill that takes years to develop and decades to master. For those who can present a wine selection that is accessible, adjusts to guests’ desires, mirrors what the chef is doing on the plate and meets financial goals, success means job stability.

Many wine programs may seem esoteric or daunting at first glance, but good ones offer value to patrons and excitement for the staff, and create a consistent and reliable revenue source

“In general terms, 30 percent of the business could, and should, come from alcohol. The high margins can generate significant bottom-line dollars,” said Colin Thoreen, wine director at Ai Fiori in New York City. “If you consider larger wine programs that draw over $1 million a year, and that have a cost of 30 percent, they are dropping $700,000 to the bottom line.”

Thoreen has been running the wine program with nearly 1,500 selections for five years. His advice? “Once you have a solid idea of the mission statement, stick with it and find wines that fit your goals instead of allowing distributors to push their agenda on you.”

Understanding your clientele is essential. Are they locals? Tourists? Business people dining on expense accounts? That information, along with your goals, need to be rolled up in offerings that also pair beautifully with the food.

“If your list does not fit your cuisine, or is managed by someone who doesn't have insight into what people want to drink in that particular establishment, you’re losing opportunities to sell,” said Amanda Reed, beverage director at Heartwood Provisions in Seattle.

Reed diligently watches which wines sell and what type of selections her guests are asking for, and that informs her buying.

“I've observed wine directors and sommeliers that create lists that reflect their personal tastes, but not necessarily their guests’ tastes,” Reed said. “It's important to keep the list well rounded, so there is something for everyone. And I’m fortunate to work in a place that is a little more experimental as far as food and concept go, so people come in craving an adventure. That gives me some flexibility when it comes to off-the-beaten-path selections.”

Smart wine pricing is both a science and an art.

“The industry, in general, has a three-time markup on wines,” Thoreen said. “But additionally, I make sure there are ‘Easter eggs’ in every single section of the wine list that are just above cost, as this rewards the wine-savvy who appreciate and/or understand wine. And for a bottle of wine meant to impress, I may price those at an even higher markup.

“For wines or regions that I personally love, those are some of my lowest markups, as I want people to take a chance on them,” he added.

For the by-the-glass offerings, where much of the volume happens, great care needs to be taken with pricing.

“Most wines by the glass are priced in line with the bottle cost,” Reed said. “So a $10 bottle at cost will be offered for $10 a glass.”

However, if a wine Reed wants to sell by the glass costs more than $20, she’ll decrease the markup percentage to help it move.

Thoreen agreed that operators need to pay attention to the math when offering wines by the glass.

“This category should make up at least 20 percent of your overall wines sales and run a cost of or below 23 percent,” he said. “You will not have a successful program, and ultimately business, if you can’t achieve this.”

Negotiating with distributors is also a needed skill, for there are often deals to be had by buying in larger quantity or guaranteeing the wine will be featured on the by-the-glass list for a set period of time. 

Reed has found the most success on her by-the-glass wine sales by listing the grape variety next to the wine to help customers understand their options.

Thoreen said it’s important to remember that the wine list is not about you. 

“I think the biggest surprise for most, and one that is often overlooked, is the need to get out of your own way,” he said. “It’s not about your personal preferences; it’s about what the clients are demanding, and the sustainability of the business.” 

Reed agreed.

“Don't splurge on wines that don't move,” she said. “Even if they are iconic and fun to represent on your list, they don't always have a place in your restaurant.”

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a successful wine director will ensure their staff is well versed in the layout of the list and its focus.

“Train, train, train,” Thoreen said. “Training your staff is the lynchpin of a successful program, and getting them excited is so important. Clients appreciate staff that are confident in what they are selling, so I encourage monthly classes that give them a foundation of wine and spirits to pull from.”

David Flaherty has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry. He is a certified cicerone and a former operations manager and beer and spirits director for Hearth restaurant and the Terroir wine bars in New York City. He is currently marketing director for the Washington State Wine Commission and writes about wine, beer and spirits in his blog, Grapes and Grains

NRF releases new ads shooting down border adjustment tax

Store Front Talk Back - Mon, 2017-04-17 19:35
NRF releases new ads shooting down border adjustment tax jacquelinerose55 Mon, 04/17/2017 - 19:35

Shoney’s reports credit card breach at 37 locations

Nation's Restaurant News - Mon, 2017-04-17 19:17

Shoney’s has been hit with a credit card breach involving 37 restaurants since December, the company acknowledged late last week. 

In a release, Best American Hospitality Corp., the Atlanta-based company that operates Shoney’s, said the data breach started in December and was contained in March. The security blog Krebs on Security first reported the incident.

Shoney’s did not respond to a request for comment. 

The 37 affected locations are across the South, many of them in Tennessee, with a few in South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Missouri, Florida and Arkansas. All of the affected locations are corporate locations.

The incident is only the latest in a string of security breaches involving restaurants, which appear to be a popular target for credit card hackers. Wendy’s and Arby’s were also recently victims of data breaches. 

“Many restaurant owners set up firewall as a basic security measure and believe their networks will be sufficiently protected,” John Christly, global chief information security officer for security services provider Netsurion, said in a statement.

Shoney’s said it launched an investigation after receiving a report that some payment card numbers that were used at restaurants it operates had been stolen. The company contacted Kroll Cyber Security LLC, a cyber security investigation firm.

Kroll found that malware was installed remotely on the point-of-sale equipment that processed payment cards. The malware searched for data, including the cardholder name, card number, expiration date and internal verification code, read from the magnetic stripe of the card as it was being routed through the infected computer. 

The initial data breach occurred on Dec. 27, and the malware was contained on March 6.

A list of the infected websites can be found on the company’s website

Shoney’s operated 143 total locations as of the end of 2015, according to the company’s 2016 franchise disclosure document. Shoney’s restaurants have an average $1.3 million in annual sales.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

KFC launches Zinger chicken sandwich in U.S.

Nation's Restaurant News - Mon, 2017-04-17 19:03

KFC is launching its Zinger sandwich, popular in more than 120 countries, to its more than 4,300 U.S. locations, starting April 24.

First introduced in Trinidad & Tobago in 1984, the sandwich is made with a marinated chicken breast double-breaded in the chain’s Extra Crispy Breading with a proprietary spice blend that includes cayenne pepper and other chiles. It will be available as a “$5 Fill Up” with potato wedges, a cookie and a drink. 

Corporate chef Bob Das indicated it would be the first of other sandwiches likely to be introduced following the “re-colonelization” of the brand which started three years ago that included $80 million in kitchen upgrades that would allow for rapid sandwich production.

“Our biggest challenge was making sure our back-of-house restaurants were situated right,” Das said, adding that the recolonelization also involved focusing on founder Colonel Sanders’ philosophy of “doing it the hard way.”

“That was his way of making sure: You do it the right way, do it the hard way,” Das said.

The sandwich had been tested in various U.S. markets, including Norfolk, Va.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Cincinnati.

The new sandwich was announced at a food truck parked near Union Square in New York City, where free sandwiches were handed out to the public, by staff wearing T-shirts that said “70+ years of nothing but chicken.”

KFC’s newly appointed president and chief concept officer Kevin Hochman said the T-shirts were just made for the event and wouldn’t be part of the extensive marketing initiative that will accompany the launch, including a new colonel tied to the Zinger who will be named on Friday.

“I’m guessing it’ll be the most recognized colonel,” Hochman said. “The people internally that we talk about it to, they light up, like, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’s…’” he said without revealing the new colonel’s identity.

He did say, however, that the colonel would be launched with a “crazy” publicity stunt.

“I’ve been doing marketing for over 20 years. I’ve never been a part of … how big this thing could be,” he said.

Hochman added that the Zinger was a step up, quality-wise, form previous “freezer-to-fryer” chicken sandwiches like KFC’s Doublicious.

“That was not our most proud offering,” he said. “We’re at our best when we’re hand-breading chicken with our back-of-the-house cooks like we do with our Original Recipe and Extra Crispy and our chicken tenders. We know that will be a superior value and superior taste,” he said.

He added that KFC needed to enter the chicken sandwich market, which he said now accounts for 40 percent of all chicken servings in the country, compared to on-the-bone chicken, which is 18 percent. He noted that the big burger chains sell nearly two billion sandwiches each year in the United States.

Those chains have continued to up their offerings.

In March, Burger King replaced its Tendercrisp chicken sandwich with the new Crispy Chicken sandwich that it says is juicier and crispier than its previous offering.

This month Wendy’s introduced a limited-time grilled chicken sandwich topped with fresh mozzarella, balsamic-marinated diced tomatoes, basil pesto and spring mix on a garlic brioche bun for $5.29, and Krystal on Monday introduced a Country-Fried Chick — a batter-fried chicken patty topped with country gravy on a slider. It’s $1.39.

At the higher end, The Habit Burger Grill made its Golden Fried Chicken Sandwich, originally introduced as a limited-time offer in October, a permanent addition to the menu. The sandwich is made with breast in seasoned flour and buttermilk topped with spicy red pepper sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a soft toasted bun for $6.50

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