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

1
First impressions count. And for many of your potential customers, especially millennials, those initial impressions of your operation will be formed via a glimpse at your website. So, how can you...
2
For several years, trend forecasters have been predicting that Native American would emerge as the next hot cuisine . But it’s taken a while for the supply chain and dining public to get the message...
3
Unable to find a buyer, the parent company of the Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical quick-service chains has appointed a new CEO, fine-dining veteran Rich Stockinger, and revised its board in a renewed...
4
McDonald’s is cutting drink prices in its latest bid for bargain-hunting customers. The chain plans to offer $1 sodas and $2 McCafe specialty drinks for a limited time beginning in April. The deals...
5
A delay in mailing federal income tax refunds has put a crimp in consumers’ restaurant spending, adding to a traffic downturn from bad weather in many areas of the country, chain executives told...
6
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has called on the city to adopt a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on sugared soft drinks as a way of simultaneously discouraging consumption and raising money for education. The surcharge...
7
Last-minute shift changes would require restaurants to pay affected employees for at least four hours, whether the time was worked or not, under bills likely to be heard next week in the Oregon...
8
Starbucks is pulling the plug on another of its secondary restaurant concepts, this time the Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juice chain. The coffee giant intends to shut the two remaining Evolution...
9
One thing I’ve loved about writing this column over the past seven (!) years is that by using real reader-submitted questions, I am always learning new things, due to the complexity of running a...
10
Chipotle has finished rolling out its new “Smarter Pick Up Times” platform to all of its locations that offer digital ordering. Through “Smarter Pick Up Times,” the chain says it’s able to monitor...