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Another Franchisee Group Sues Quizno's

Another group of Quizno's franchisees, this time from New Jersey, announced they will seek an unspecified amount in damages because of Quiznos' alleged deceptive franchisee recruitment practices and failure to deal in good faith.

Quizno's has recently had its hands full of law suits by franchisees. The Denver Business Journal writes of Quizno's previous law suits by Colorado and Arizona franchisees:

"Denver District Court judges tossed out two such suits -- one filed by Colorado franchisees and the other filed by franchisees in Arizona -- in August 2005. Plaintiffs in those cases accused Quiznos of allowing restaurants to encroach on each other, overcharging for food and supplies, and misusing advertising funds."

Benihana Dodges $16M Flying Shrimp Law Suit

In this era in which more and more people are taking law suit potshots at large franchise chains, here's one for the franchise chains. A jury yesterday decided against a widow who claimed that a flying sizzling shrimp tossed by a Benihana chef led to her husband's death.

No, we're not making this up. Here's what Restaurant News Resource summarizes.

Mr. Colaitis's widow, Jacqueline Colaitis, had filed a $16 million lawsuit against Benihana claiming that Mr. Colaitis injured his neck dodging a shrimp tossed by a chef emulating the Jackie Chan character in "Mr. Nice Guy."

Mr. Colaitis injured his neck, Mrs. Colaitis said, necessitating surgery, after which his health declined; he died from blood poisoning.

President Bush Praises Wendy's For HSA Leadership

Bush Praises Wendy's Leadership President Bush visited the headquarters of Wendy's in Dublin, Ohio Wednesday, praising their leadership in providing HSA's or health savings accounts to "employees". Fox News reported that some "9,000 employees have signed up for the accounts since the company began offering them last year."

McDonald's Sued for Blood Not Ketchup on Fries

Dow Jones Newswires (subscription $$) just released a story about how a woman is suing McDonald's for $10,000 after finding that the red stuff on the bottom of her bag of fries was human blood, not ketchup. And it wasn't hers.

Lora Davis, 42, said she was down to the last several french fries that came with her Happy Meal when she noticed the blood.

At first, I felt disbelief," she said. "Then fear."

Wow. Carl's Jr. Spot Begets Yet Another Movie Parody

There's a lot of free advertising that goes to a message that catches the imagination of the public. The Carl's Jr. ad of Paris Hilton eating a burger while washing a Bentley (she's rich you know) keeps living on. The latest is the Date Movie movie trailer on television that parodies Mendelsohn/Zien Advertising Carl's Jr. commercial with Ms. Hilton. Says the Ad Agency:

"It's nice to know that we created something iconic," said Mick DiMaria, associate creative director and part of the team on the Carl's Jr. spot with Paris Hilton in next to nothing hosing down a Bentley while eating a hamburger. "The spot must have been shown thousands of times by now, a lot of free advertising for what is still a local fast-food chain. It just keeps going."

McDonald's Nutrition Labeling Begins at Winter Olympics

McDonald's announced its nutrition labeling begins in Torino. 26 restaurants in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games host city in Italy are the first McDonald's restaurants in the world to benefit from nutritional information on fast-food packaging. Nutrition information on packaging, which was announced as a company initiative by Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner in October 2005, is among the first for large quick-service providers.

The new nutrition labels will be introduced later this month in the U.S..

According to Ohio's Beacon Journal, the labeling is in heiroglyphics to be used across languages.

Runaway Sloganeering

Join the band wagon or move to your own tune? That is the marketing question. Does McDonald's jingo "I'm lovin' it" work best or should it be "The World's Favorite Place to Eat"? The marketer in me finds the following comments from advertising guru Jack Trout fascinating.

The King Plans IPO

Events in the fast-food world have been heating up fast in the past few weeks, with things such as the hugely successful IPO of Chipotle by McDonalds or big plans that lay ahead. Not to be upstaged, Burger King is making some really big news this week - with an initial public offering announced and this Sunday's rare Superbowl ad. BK's parent company said Wednesday it plans to sell shares to the public for the first time in the fast-food chain's 52-year history. The Wall Street Journal ($$) adds:

Burger King's planned initial public offering is expected to raise at least $300 million and be one of the largest restaurant deals in recent years, as its private equity parents take advantage of strong recent demand for franchise food offerings.

Chipotle's IPO Sizzles Spicier than a Three-Alarm Hot Sauce!

The initial public offering of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s stock Thursday was spicier than a three-alarm hot sauce. Chipotle, which offers cafeteria-style made-to-order burritos (and a higher average ticket price than its competition) is owned by the McDonald's Corporation. The Denver-based quickservice restaurant chain's shares ended their first day of trading at $44 a share, up exactly twofold from its $22 price. It raised $173 million by offering 7.88 million shares priced above its $18-to-$20 price range. The Wall Street Journal ($$) euphorically writes about the event:

"This has probably been the happiest experiment McDonald's has ever tried," says Malcolm M. Knapp, president of New York restaurant consultant Malcolm M. Knapp Inc., of the burger chain's 1998 investment in Chipotle. 'I think it's a very strong restaurant concept, it's got good management, they understand food quality, and they are in touch with their consumer base.'"

Aye Chihuahua! Wall Street apparently sizzles over Chipotle's restaurant concept.

All is not euphoric though. There is also a word of caution.

Get Ready for a Quantum Leap in Drive-through

Drive-through service can represent a huge part of sales for a fast-food franchise -- 70 percent at a typical Burger King franchise. The largest franchise chains this year may finally be in a position to make major breakthroughs from the standard 3 minutes in drive-through time. The Associated Press reports that fast-food chains are positioned to make major improvements in pushing drive-through throughput by doing the following.

Companies are trimming bulky text from menus, using computer programs that guess upcoming orders, and routing order-taking duties to call centers. While speed remains a benchmark of success, the average service time hasn't been cut much below about three minutes for the last five years. That's why many chains are focusing instead on cutting down on the number of mistakes in orders and making ordering easier.