Turnaround report: Try the McLobster...

mclobster mcdonalds

McDonald’s told investors yesterday that its turnaround program, an initiative with more facets than a drag queen’s diamond, is catching hold.

Executives explained at the franchisor’s annual Investor Day that sales were better than expected in September, before the rollout of all-day breakfast delivered what will undoubtedly be a significant lift to comps.

They also cited encouraging results from the upscaling of McDonald’s customization program. Originally called Create Your Taste, the latest iteration operates under the name Chef Crafted, and promises more of a culinary approach, the chain has said.

In addition to airing some significant financial initiatives and decisions, the company gave the analysts and stock pickers in attendance a sneak peak at some menu innovations. Already scheduled for a rollout is a value-priced snack item consisting of three mozzarella sticks and a container of marinara sauce for dipping, priced at $1.

At the other end of the spectrum, according to The New York Post, is a lobster roll that McDonald’s has offered seasonally for years in New England and more recently in Canada, and tossed-to-order salads. Both of those products are currently being tested, the paper reported.

…And put those restaurants out of their misery

A number of restaurant chains caught in a traffic downturn are betting they can lighten the struggle by lopping off stores that drag on the brands’ rebound.

In a matter of about a week, Noodles & Company disclosed plans to jettison 11 stores, Joe’s Crab Shack revealed it had shuttered seven, and Ruby Tuesday pulled the plug on 11 Lime Fresh Mexican Grills, a secondary concept that remains in business through eight franchised stores.

McDonald’s has already closed hundreds of restaurants as part of its turnaround drive.

Although every sizeable chain sheds underperforming units as a standard operating procedure, the recent closings have been more severe than a routine pruning. The curtains being drawn by Noodles & Company, for instance, amount to a complete withdrawal from the Austin, Texas, market and a significant downgrade of its presence in Washington, D.C.

Ruby’s closure of 11 Lime Fresh units, accompanied by the sale of eight others to the Rubio’s fish-taco chain, amounts to a near-retreat from the fast-casual market. It remains a franchisor of the brand, but acknowledged that it is weighing strategic alternatives. 

The flurry of closings comes as even healthy concepts contend with a recent down draft in traffic and same-store sales. Casual dining chains in particular have been stung by declining guest counts.


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