If there was a restaurant equivalent of spiking the football after a touchdown, the industry would have drawn a felony-level foul this week for unsportsmanlike conduct. Not since Muhammad Ali was in his prime have we seen such bragging, albeit it based on real achievement.
Here are a few of the utterances that could have been followed with, “…and that’s why I am the greatest!”
Red Lobster: ‘Gosh-darned good sales, Mrs. Z’
Better stop snickering at that dork of an uncle who spazzes through the Harlem Shuffle at weddings. Red Lobster came off as even more of a goober—a comb-over in a leisure suit, and possibly the whitest party on earth—when it balked at the marketing opportunity thrown its way early in the week by Beyonce. In case you missed it, Queen Bey revealed in a new song that she rewards her man for a toe-curling time in bed with dinner at Red Lobster. But she was a little more explicit in how she put it.
Red Lobster merely listened and blushed. But by week’s end, it was having its crab cake and eating it, too. Without having to reference a tune that pivots on the “F” word, the chain basked in a sales afterglow: a 33-percent year-over-year gain in revenues on the day of the Super Bowl, where Beyonce stole the halftime show.
In a move even Uncle High Pants would have termed bland, the chain repaid Mrs. Jay Z by temporarily renaming one of its signatures Chesapeake Bey Biscuits.
Burger King: ‘What up, Dogg?’
Lost in the news about Burger King’s addition of flame-broiled hot dogs was a head-spinning tidbit about who the chain tapped to introduce the product internally. Employees learned about the new options and how to prepare them from someone with undeniable street and celebrity cred, or exactly what you’d expect from a Canada-based corporation led by Wall Street types in suits: Snoop Dogg.
As if that wasn’t weird enough, the Dogg was helped in the rollout by another unlikely teacher, Charo, of cuchi-cuchi fame (kids, ask your parents).
Having that veritable Wu-Tang Clan behind it, BK felt cocky enough to boast that it would become the largest chain in the U.S. to sell flame-grilled hot dogs.
Taco Bell: ‘No dud here, dude’
Many observers expressed disappointment with Taco Bell’s big reveal during the Super Bowl. The chain had said with considerable swagger beforehand that it would unveil a new product that ranks somewhere between fire and the internal combustion engine in its impact on mankind. Yet the commercial announcing the Quesalupa during the big game was lackluster at best.
Still, Taco Bell has crowed in the days since, the hoopla leading up to the revelation convinced 67,000 consumers to pre-order one of the new quesadilla-Chalupa mashup before they knew what the mystery product would be. That’s roughly $200,000 in guaranteed sales for the Yum Brands holding before the product even hit the market.
Pizza Hut: ‘We killed. Peyton did okay, too.’
A Manning family gathering may not have been the only scene of some trash talking between siblings in the days after the Super Bowl. Pizza Hut could have silenced Taco Bell’s boasting about a few hundred grand in pre-game sales with a yo-mama put down about playing in a different league.
Yum Brands’ pizza concept said it snagged about $12 million in sales on Sunday just from phone and web orders, a 20 percent increase over the previous digital record. More than 60 percent of the total came from voiceless orders placed via smart devices, according to Pizza Hut.
Wendy’s: ‘We beat you. And you. And you.’
Being first-to-market has definite advantages in an industry of copycats, as Wendy’s not so subtly suggested in discussing its outstanding financial results for the fourth quarter of 2015. The 4.9-percent jump in franchisees’ same-store sales and the 3.7-percent rise in company-store comps were the highest increases the chain has seen in four years.
A major factor, according to management, was being the first brand in fast food to dangle the lure of packaged meals priced around $4, a deal now being offered with relatively slight variation by a number of rivals.
The novelty was apparently a more potent draw than how much consumers got for their $4. Wendy’s provides four items, including three proteins. Burger King promises five components, including a cookie for dessert. Yet analysts (and Wendy’s execs) say the advantage went to the pigtailed redhead.
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.