First Watch

Chipotle outlines new marketing, tech, sourcing strategies

Coming off a double-digit sales gain that nonetheless disappointed Wall Street, the chain is eying a number of new initiatives, from the Apple Watch to stepped-up advertising.

Operations

3 trends gaining ground in November

As the weather turns colder, chains are tapping into diners’ desire for piping-hot comfort foods, while still keeping an eye on health.

The next time you're out on the dining room floor, watch as guests are handed your menu. Do they glance down at the cover? Open it right up to find something to order?

First, it was Web sites and email marketing. Now, it’s all about mobile phones, smart coupons that know your location and sites and services that hook straight into local communities. Restaurants aren’t just places to grab some grub anymore. They are active participants in the social conversation with legions of tech-savvy customers.

When it comes to buzz specifically, it’s about innovation and differentiation, says Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer of First Watch Restaurants and a board member of the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group (MEG).

Acquisitions have made KBP Foods one of the largest and fastest-growing franchises in the restaurant business. But the key to absorbing the expansion has been a notion that harkens back to the earliest days of KFC.

Often the recorder of lunch-time business plans, cute girls' phone numbers and Warhol-worthy doodles, the cocktail napkins can take on additional duties as a service tool.

Start a seafood lover talking about fish and invariably the conversation will alight on some seminal experience in his or her life that started the whole affair. For a close friend of mine who is a marine biologist, it was the Jersey Shore in the early seventies (when the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden” played often on the radio). For him, Cape May still has a magic all its own.

Restaurants and bakers can’t get as much as they need.

Many consumers say they want to eat healthier, but what’s really on their minds?

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