Enough of the frothing about who’ll be selected on Nov. 8. We need to talk about the head-turning choices that were made this very week, people. The restaurant industry hasn’t seen this sort of blithe decision-making since a woman in a horse getup confidently informed Monty, “I’ll take Door No. 2.”
The big question: Did the choices leave restaurateurs with 3,000 cases of squid meat, or with a new Impala?
Here’s our review of the eyebrow-raising selections and the possible payoffs to the business.
Pot pick: Jack in the Box
Voters will decide on Election Day if marijuana is legalized for recreational use in five states, possibly spreading the euphoria restaurateurs in Colorado and Washington say they’re enjoying from legalization’s economic boom.
No operator will have quite the same high as Jack in the Box, according to a 110-page economic study recently released by the financial services firm Cowen and Co. The report notes that Jack in the Box has 52% of its units in the states that will include a legalization referendum on the Nov. ballot (California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine).
Another 10% of the system is located in the states that have already permitted recreational weed consumption.
Jack in the Box already has a reputation as a veritable haven for stoners with a case of the munchies. In two separate ad flights, it featured customers who seemed, well, elevated. That includes the drive-thru patron who thinks he’s ordering 99 tacos for 2 cents, instead of two for 99 cents. In a more recent commercial, a woman wonders aloud if it’d be better to have spoon hands or elbows in place of ears.
Howard Schultz’s favorite fast-food chains
A radio interview of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz revealed he may indulge in a juicy, indulgent burger from time to time. Asked by host Alec Baldwin to name some companies he admired, the king of coffee named In-N-Out, the cult favorite on the West Coast, and Shake Shack, the retro concept that’s quickly spreading from its New York roots.
He told the audience of WNYC’s Here’s the Thing that he admires the cleanliness of In-N-Out’s bathrooms in particular.
Schultz also revealed that his charge was spending upward of $300 million annually on employee health insurance before the Affordable Care Act, or more than it spends on coffee beans.
The native New Yorker said he’s also an admirer of Disney, Nike and Apple.
Chicken captures delivery customers’ hearts
A broadening of delivery options has significantly changed what Americans are ordering in, according to a study that was released this week by Eater.com. Pizza and Chinese food are still favorites, but the top choice in 12 states is now chicken, the website found.
That preference was particularly strong in mid-Atlantic states, finishing first in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. It also was the most-requested delivery item on GrubHub, the source of Eater’s data, in Ohio and Florida.
Eater noted that sushi was the other big gainer in delivery currency.
Trump becomes ROC’s new pinata
Good news! Restaurant Opportunities Centers United—the labor advocacy group that insists it’s not a union, despite being funded by and acting like one—might hate another party even more than it despises the restaurant industry as a whole.
This week the organization issued a damnation of Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump for allegedly firing female employees of his resorts and clubs for not being sufficiently pretty.
“We are appalled,” declared Saru Jayaraman, the Harvard-educated lawyer who professes to speak for the industry’s hourly workers.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t struck speechless. The statement went on to bash restaurants in general about the treatment of women. Separately, it released a study on what the group coined as “nightcare,” focusing on the difficulties working parents have in finding someone affordable to watch their children while they’re on a night shift.
Restaurants rock real estate
Who knew the restaurant industry had no one to blame for galloping occupancy costs but itself?
A new study finds that retailers’ sales woes are even grimmer than restaurants’ recent downturn. That’s prompted landlords to view restaurants more favorably as tenants, but not to the point of giving them a break on leases. And they’re finding no shortage of eateries looking to move in, even at a nosebleed price. One in four siting deals in the Philadelphia area now involves a restaurant, and that volume is typical of the nation as a whole, according to a local news report.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.