6 stories you probably missed this week

Peter Romeo

Director of Digital Content

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Birthday business is down, at least for one of the traditional big-time beneficiaries, Chuck E. Cheese’s. Management cited an 11 percent drop in party bookings as the primary reason for a 2.1 percent drop in same store sales for the third quarter. A big part of the problem, said CEO Mike Magusiak, was competition from the silver screen. Parents spent 65 percent more on theater-run movies aimed at kids than they did during the comparable period of 2012, he explained to investors.  Chuck plans to fight back by airing commercials touting its birthday deals.

Two of the hottest costumes this Halloween were Paula Deen and Guy Fieri get-ups, according to Eater.com and other foodie-centric website that track such things.

Brennan’s might be killed before it’s reborn. Several creditors are trying to force the now-shuttered restaurant into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would almost certainly mean a liquidation of the landmark and all of its interior elements. Ralph Brennan, a highly successful restaurateur from another branch of the famous New Orleans culinary family, has indicated that he’s taken over the site with intentions of re-launching a restaurant there.

Kona Grill is testing a Sunday happy hour to build check averages.

San Franciscans would vote yea or nay on a soda tax if two local lawmakers have their way. Both have proposed a ballot initiative for a two-cent-an-ounce levy on sugared drinks. The proceeds would be used to fight obesity and otherwise promote health.

Wal-Mart has pledged to promote 25,000 employees into higher paying jobs during the fourth quarter. No, that news isn’t about restaurants, but that’s the point. Countless stories in recent days have portrayed foodservice as an industry where the convention is to under-pay and otherwise exploit the working poor. McDonald’s, the business’ counterpart to Wal-Mart, was slammed for directing employees to public assistance programs if their wages don’t cover the essentials of life. Wal-Mart was once portrayed as the Darth Vader of employers. Now it’s coming off like retailing’s Jimmy Stewart.
 

Today's top stories

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1. Keep a “cemetery portfolio.” Just because an idea doesn’t wow you the first time doesn’t mean it needs to die. One R&D chef mentioned that he compiles what he calls a “cemetery portfolio,” a...
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Shares of burger chain Shake Shack Inc. SHAK, +1.47% hit a record of $89.55 early Thursday, after a report that the company is mulling opening a "chicken shack". CNBC reported that a unit of the...
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What CMO doesn't have millennial burnout? Tailoring the perfect marketing messages to today's young adults seems like it's been the marketing holy grail for years. The good news is that brands can...
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The Frisch’s family restaurant chain said it has agreed to be acquired by the private-equity fund NRD Partners I for $175 million, or $34 per share. Frisch’s operates 95 restaurants and has...
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The Culinary Institute of America has named Fernando Salazar managing director of the school’s San Antonio campus, effective June 1. Salazar, formerly vice president of food and beverage for Wyndham...
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The Restaurant Opportunities Center said it has filed a resolution as a shareholder of McDonald’s that would force the franchisor to stop paying dues and providing any lobbying support to the...
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Menu insight of the day, powered by Food Genius , provides daily restaurant menu data to help restaurant operators build better menus. Food Genius is a restaurant menu insight provider that collects...
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Don’t take our word that you missed a chance to get much smarter about the restaurant business if you sat out this year’s National Restaurant Association Show. Here are some head-turning utterances...
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McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) shareholders on Thursday approved a proposal that would make it easier to nominate directors to the board of the fast-food chain, which is in turnaround mode after losing...
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Olive Garden got a scathing lecture from shareholder Starboard Value last year on the restaurant chain’s failings, including its bloated menu and a lack of salt in pasta water. Now it’s time for...