Disruptors: The long list

The game changers that could have been.

The process by which we chose the 10 “disruptors” for this month’s cover story could hardly be considered democratic. There were no ballots, no secret votes. Just a team of editors in a conference room with poster-size sheets of paper and a handful of markers. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard-fought. Everyone came in with their well-vetted candidates and pleaded each one’s case. The race was tight, with a field of more than 40 topics all vying for a spot on our first-ever list of industry pot-stirrers.

The 10 we chose trumped the also-rans for a number of reasons—most importantly, because of the swath of the industry they have the potential to affect and the likelihood that we still will be talking about them a decade from now. While meal-sharing services such as EatWith and Feastly are beginning to give some restaurants agita for luring tourists to home kitchens, for example, their reach largely is limited to New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. at the moment. Though 53 percent of consumers said that the harsh winter curbed their desire to go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant, according to Chicago research firm Technomic, nearly the same proportion (51 percent) said they anticipated dining in restaurants more often when spring sprung.

Still, the disruptors that didn’t make our list provide interesting commentary on the state of the restaurant industry and the factors poking their fingers into the mold. Here are a few more ideas we kicked around:


Adopting a $15 minimum wage solidified its spot as ground zero for one of the most divisive issues between restaurant owners and employees, and helped it surpass another controversial West Coast state on the list of contenders, California.


As Editorial Director Peter Romeo wrote in the June issue of Restaurant Business, investors’ vote to recalibrate what Chipotle pays its co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran could have game-changing reprecussions on head-honcho salaries across foodservice. And let’s not forget activist shareholders at Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel and Red Lobster wrangling to have a direct, sometimes heavy, hand in company operations and direction.

Dr. Thomas Frieden

As head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the former New York City health commissioner who spearheaded menu labeling and a soda tax has influence over everything from e-cigarette policies to paid sick leave.

We expect some detractors to our choice of disruptors. Even Time couldn’t please everyone with its decision to name the Pope as Person of the Year (there was that strong contingent lobbying for Miley Cyrus, don’t forget). We invite the discourse. Let us know who makes your list on Twitter @RB_magazine or by email at RestaurantBusiness@cspnet.com.


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