Most Clicked Restaurant SmartBrief Stories

1. Smashburger's Tom Ryan dishes on the future of fast casual

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 23, 2015

Fast casual is soaring in popularity because today's consumers "want a distinctive balance of quality, convenience, aesthetics and affordability," writes Smashburger founder Tom Ryan. He spells out the necessary ingredients for fast-casual success and predicts that the sector will continue to evolve. American City Business Journals (01/22)

2. French Laundry's pilfered wine found in N.C.

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 26, 2015

Officials have recovered most of the 76 bottles of pricey wine stolen from California's French Laundry on Christmas. The wines, valued at about $300,000, were found in Greensboro, N.C. CNBC (01/23)

3. What's keeping fast-casual operators up at night?

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 27, 2015

Fast casual is the restaurant industry bright spot, but operators will face challenges this year, writes Little Greek Restaurant President Nick Vojnovic. His top 10 list includes a tightening real estate market, a fast-changing social media scene and the up-and-down nature of commodity pricing. QSR Magazine (01/2015)

4. Steve Easterbrook replaces Don Thompson as CEO of McDonald's

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 29, 2015

McDonald's has announced that Steve Easterbrook, chief global brand officer, will replace Don Thompson as the company's CEO effective March 1. Shares of McDonald's rose on the news, and analysts praised Easterbrook's work in marketing, digital and menu overhauls. Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model), The (01/28) Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (01/28) USA Today (01/29)

5. Report: U.S. burger sales surged 3% last year

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 28, 2015

U.S. consumers ate 9 billion burgers in 2014, up 3% from the previous year, as quickserve chains added more choices and casual eateries put more burgers on the menu to offset the rising prices of other cuts of beef, according to NPD Group. Sandwich sales dipped 2% during the same period, and sales of grilled chicken sandwiches fell 9%. New York magazine (01/27) (01/27)

6. Chicken wings get bigger and pricier

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 23, 2015

Chicken producers have been raising bigger birds but smaller flocks, which will translate into Super Bowl Sunday wings that are both larger and more expensive than in years past. Buffalo Wild Wings raised prices 3% in November, three months sooner than it normally would have, to offset higher wing prices, said Chief Operating Officer Jim Schmidt. Bloomberg (01/22)

7. NRA: Restaurants to see strongest sales growth in 3 years

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 28, 2015

U.S. restaurant sales are on track to grow 3.8% to a record high of $709.2 billion in 2015, according to the NRA's Restaurant Industry Forecast. Employment at America's eateries will grow about 3.2% this year, the report said, and restaurants are seeing competition for employees heat up as the labor market strengthens. "With the economy slowly improving and national employment trending upward, signs are pointing in the right direction for restaurant industry growth," said Senior Vice President Hudson Riehle. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (01/27) Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (01/27)

8. Applebee's franchisee acquires Roy's Restaurants

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 28, 2015

Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (01/27)

9. Starbucks sees strong growth in mobile payment demand

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 26, 2015

Starbucks added a million mobile application users in the most recent quarter, bringing the total to 13 million, and mobile now accounts for 16% of the chain's transactions, said CEO Howard Schultz. The coffee giant aims to roll out mobile ordering at 600 West Coast stores soon and expand it nationwide later this year. Fast Company online (01/23)

10. Taco Bell parent takes a low-key approach to cutting salt

Restaurant SmartBrief | Jan 26, 2015

Taco Bell has quietly cut about 15% of the salt from its menu since 2009, without customers noticing any change in the taste, said Greg Creed, CEO of parent Yum Brands. By 2020, the company plans to ensure that 20% of the menu items at Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut conform to recommended limits on salt, fat and sugar. Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.) (tiered subscription model), The (01/23)

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