Astronomers must be mistaken when they say the moon was full last week, not this one. How else to explain the strange restaurant developments that had observers wondering if they were seeing clearly?
Here’s the proof that mysterious astrological forces were in play.
Subway customers’ lawyers get fat…
The settlement of a class-action lawsuit for shortchanging customers an inch or so of bread will reportedly cost the Subway sandwich chain about $525,000, but the 10 customers who filed the action will only pocket about $500 each. The other $520,000—about 99 percent of the payment—will be kept by their lawyers, underscoring who really benefits from class actions brought against restaurant chains.
And Jared packs on the pounds, too
A report from the federal prison in Englewood, Colo., where disgraced pitchman Jared Fogle is serving 15-plus years for having sex with a minor, says the former Subway spokesman has reversed the weight loss that initially brought him fame. The Indianan fan of Subway’s six-inch turkey sub has reportedly packed on 30 pounds during the three months he’s been incarcerated.
That could ironically be good news for Subway, since a fat Jared is not identified with the chain.
Aren’t you a burger chain?
Burger King turned more than a few competitors’ heads with the announcement that it would begin flame-broiling hot dogs along with its hamburgers. Apparently consumers have taken notice, too. The chain’s largest franchisee, Carrols Restaurant Group, said this week that each of its 705 stores are selling an average of 80 to 120 of the franks per day—without any advertising support other than some social media chatter.
Advertising is scheduled to begin this week.
Aren’t you a fast-casual chain?
The Habit fast-casual burger chain posted a fourth-quarter comp-store sales gain for company units of 3.3 percent, an indication it could become a power in the segment if it continues to expand. And it undoubtedly will, said CEO Russ Bendel—but maybe not in classic fast-casual form.
For one thing, some of the new stores will be outfitted with drive-thrus, a feature more closely associated with traditional quick-service brands. The sales channel worked well for the six restaurants that had one in place by the end of 2015, Bendel indicated. At least six of the 34 to 38 stores the chain plans to open this year will have that grab-and-go option, he said.
The chain’s other nontraditional feature will be a fleet of catering trucks. The brand plans to add five or six vehicles to the four that are already in operation, at a cost of about $300,000 each, said CFO Ira Fils.
Just don’t expect to see any of the deep discounting that’s typical of the quick-service market, the executives noted. They’re looking to build the concept’s check average, not undercut it for the sake of traffic.
Culprit behind chains’ China woes is honored
The company that dragged KFC and McDonald’s into a devastating food-safety scandal in China has apparently found redemption. OSI Group said this week that its CEO, Sheldon Lavin, was awarded the prestigious Global Visionary Award by the Vision World Academy in India.
Six employees of OSI were arrested in China after authorities discovered that a Chinese subsidiary of the United States-based company had been wholesaling expired meat to large buyers like the Chinese operations of KFC and McDonald’s. Earlier, a local TV station had filmed another Chinese OSI affiliate blatantly disregarding safety measures. Sales at Chinese branches of U.S. chains dropped like a rock, prompting KFC’s parent, Yum Brands, to announce it would spin off its Chinese operations into a separate company.
What’d you expect him to do?
The business media was packed with reports this week of Troy Alstead’s resignation as COO of Starbucks after taking an indefinite leave of absence. Never mind that he hadn’t shouldered his or any other job at the coffee chain for a year, and that his replacement was named 14 months ago, before the unpaid sabbatical even began. There were even indications at the start of his unpaid leave that he might not return.
The surprise was that neither Starbucks nor Alstead ended the mystery about what’s been dubbed a permanent coffee break. Alstead attributed his decision at the time he started his leave to a desire to spend more time with his family. Starbucks never chimed in.
Now his permanent departure is being called a resignation, not a retirement. What’s he going to do now that he couldn’t if he’d remained on his indefinite leave?