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The brilliance of All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes at IHOP

The restaurant businesses has been doing this for some time, that is super sizing menus with carb and low cost items. But what perfect timing for the International House of Pancakes. At the beginning of the year in which many have made New Year's resolutions to stay away from restaurants, exercise more, and lay off fat, sugar and carbs, IHOP has announced all you can eat pancakes until February 19 to fill its restaurants. It is a maneuvre of pure marketing brilliance.

Technology Trends: Blackberry fast food finder

Here's news on breaking technology to help consumers find the nearest quick-service restaurant from our friends at Fast Food News. A new Blackberry application called Fast Food Finder will find the closest fast food chain. One Blackberry blog wrote they were able to "query for any of 33,000 fast food locations and get a map, address, and directions." There is also a locator software called "caffeine finder" that helps customers find the closest coffee house for their daily caffeine fix.

Every little bit of marketing, particularly when it is free, helps. So, my next question is how do I make sure that my store is registered so that my customers are finding me? I had to call the company to find out the answer. The company that provides this service, Greystripe, said that if your shop is not on the listing and you want to be on it, send an email with the brand name, location and phone number to


An All-Burger Diet for Wendy's?

It's not just McDonald's anymore. Now it's Wendy's. The competitive burger chains are one by one being asked by shareholders to focus on the core business. Major shareholder Pershing Square (of recent McDonald's fame) asked first but then recanted when satisfied with a Tim Horton's IPO. Pesky Wendy's shareholder and billionaire, Nelson Peltz, known in financial circles for his association with Snapple and Arby's, added his voice in asking to drop all non-Wendy's brands. Both investors claim that Wendy's core restaurants have consistenly underperformed relative to their competitors. Peltz wants Wendy's to say ciao to Tim Hortons, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Cafe Express and also arrivederci to Pasta Pomodoro.

Motley Fool online magazine states, "Wendy's claimed it wasn't trying to silence its critics when it announced it was selling 15% to 18% of Tim Hortons in an initial public offering with an expected value of $600 million. The spinoff will use IPO funds plus a term loan to repay debt owed to Wendy's. That would add some cash to Wendy's coffers: Wendy's has a net debt (total debt minus cash) of $458.4 million."

Quizno's at Cutting Block. Bidders Hungry.

Quizno’s has been put on the cutting block and will be auctioned off by the Goldman Sach’s Group. And what’s the expected special price of the sandwich chain? The word on the street is more than $2 billion.

The Wall Street Journal ($$) has some interesting facts about Quizno’s and Subway. It’s one of the fastest growing fast-food franchises. According to market-research company Technomic, Quizno’s doubled its units in the United States from 1,490 in 2002 to 3,055 restaurants in 2004. In contrast, Subway’s developed from 14,521 units in 2002 to 17,900 or roughly 23% growth. And who generates more money per store? The WSJ says:

2005's Best Quick Service Restaurants

Other industries in franchising, take note. This year's best quick service restaurants has just been released by QSR magazine. It is an example from franchising's largest sector to the rest of us. 2005 is a year of "new trends in food menu introductions, training programs, and store prototypes". Here are some of the best quick service categories and a few winners under sub-categories:

Will McDonald's let the revolution pass it by?

William Ackman, founder and managing partner of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has recently campaigned to better use McDonald’s assets by spinning off its existing corporate restaurants, borrow against its high value real estate holdings, and use the cash to buy back its shares.

McDonald’s is the epitome of global capitalism and THE pioneer of global franchising. So, it is no wonder that its top brass were savvy enough to meet privately with Mr. Ackman to explore the proposal. It is estimated that his plan would lift McDonald’s share prices by some 50% (WSJ: subscription needed), quite a boon for McDonald’s shareholders.

A Modern American Tale of Nudity, Violence and McDonald's

"Having eyes, they saw not"

There are times in which we become trapped, blinded by our need for stability and our laziness to sometimes think. We march to what our institutes call for. We follow the operation manuals to a tee without understanding what the instruction was placed there for. And in the laziest of cases, we don’t even take time to know the procedures, allowing others to do the thinking and ordering for us – to tell us to do bad things to our fellow man, or in this case woman. It is a story of our need to follow authority, whether it is a manager or a policeman. Let me retell a real life story, an American tale. It is a story that has just happened of a franchise manager, her fiance and the victim, who all believed everything they were told on the phone -- of a so-called policeman, of strip searches and molestation in the name of the law.

Fat times for fast food

Forget the talk about eating healthy food. Americans are back in a big way to chowing down on fast food. And they are not just eating more deep fried chicken and burgers, but more donuts, larger burgers, and much more snacks of every kind! I remember when the burritos of my youth evolved to grande burritos and now they are wonderful el macho grande burritos. I'm waiting for the six pound burrito. We could call it the Supreme Macho Grande Muy Gordo Burrito. Hamburger outlets served over 500 million more customers in 2004 than in the previous year. Doughnut shops served about 150 million more people last year than in 2003 We are eating out more at fast-food restaurants too.

Fast-food going self-service?

automated orderingThe fast-food chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Subway are field-testing machines that allow consumers to order and pay for their meals without any human contact (registration needed). Although no company has announced a systemwide launch, word on the street is that they are looking mighty hard. Growing use of self-service at the grocer and the gas pump has chains thinking more seriously of joining the do-it-yourself generation. It seems fast-food chains are always looking for temporary high-school workers. This is one way to reduce such challenges and overhead. Now, I'd like to see some bright marketing guru at corporate figure out a way to convince customers to cook their own burgers too. And while we are at it, how about bringing their own grills.

KFC clean bird commercials waiting in the wings

It seems KFC has taken a lesson from the Boy Scouts -- "Be Prepared". The Wall Street Journal (subscription needed) reports that KFC is now preparing stand-by commercials to reassure we Americans that their chicken is safe to eat should there be an outbreak of bird flu. The commercial will be released should there be an outbreak to help quell customer fear. With any luck, they won't need to use the television spots.