February 7, 2013
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Joe's Crab Shack parent to pay $55M for Macaroni Grill
Ignite Restaurant Group will acquire Romano's Macaroni Grill from equity firm Golden Gate Capital for about $55 million, the companies said Wednesday. Houston-based Ignite operates 129 Joe's Crab Shack restaurants and 15 Brick House Tavern & Taps. Macaroni Grill was founded in 1988 and today operates 186 company-owned eateries, five domestic franchises and 19 international units. Houston Chronicle (subscription required) (2/6), Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (2/6)
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Restaurant News
Quickservice chains show the love
Caviar, champagne and high-priced plates aren't the only ways to a loved one's heart on Valentine's Day. White Castle and Waffle House are taking reservations for their annual Valentine's Day specials, Krispy Kreme is hawking heart-shaped doughnuts, and Papa Murphy's is selling a heart-shaped take-and-bake pizza for couples to share at home. The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) (2/6)
Survey: Consumers to make a weekend of Valentine's Day:
Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday this year, which is likely to drive higher restaurant traffic throughout the weekend, according to a survey from OpenTable. While about half of the respondents said they plan to dine out on the day, another 36% said they'll celebrate with a restaurant meal on Friday or Saturday. MediaPost Communications (2/6), ChainStoreAge.com (2/4)
Other News
Your Take
Does your restaurant use daily deals or a loyalty program to boost business?
No, we do not use either of these  27.27%
Yes, we offer daily deals  26.14%
Yes, we have a loyalty program  24.43%
Yes, we use both of these strategies to boost business  22.16%
Leading Voices
'Breastaurants' shift focus to what's on the plate
Scantily clad servers aren't going away, but the so-called "breastaurant" chains including Tilted Kilt and Hooters say they're focusing more on improved food quality and other offerings to broaden their appeal. Quality is key to longevity, according to restaurant consultant Dennis Lombardi. "Gimmicks don't tend to sustain a business." The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) (free registration) (2/6)
Diners are hungry for mobile apps
Restaurants are the leading subject for the more than half of mobile users who have looked up location information on their devices. And a number of apps are leading the way, with consumers downloading those that can help them find restaurants in a number of categories. B2C Marketing Insider (2/5)
Quiznos global president has recipe for growth
Denver-based sandwich chain Quiznos operates 700 international units in 30 countries, which have thrived even as the chain's domestic eateries struggled with falling sales. Former restaurateur Ken Cutshaw has led the international division since last September. In this lengthy interview, he talks about the importance of putting the right team in place, developing menus to please local palates and the challenges of opening in tough markets like China. QSR Magazine (2/2013)
Culinary Spotlight
Restaurants cater to demand for smaller plates
A growing number of restaurant chains are cutting portion sizes and offering customers lighter fare in response to demand for healthier menus and rules that will soon require them to post calorie counts. The moves are paying off at Sbarro, where a new lower-calorie slice is outselling nearly all other varieties, and Baja Pizzafish, where grilled fish and brown rice dishes are proving popular. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/7), Advertising Age (tiered subscription model) (2/7)
Cost, customization drive some to smaller fare:
Not every dish downsizing is done with healthier dining as the main goal. Pizza Hut's new Pizza Sliders help the chain control costs amid rising commodity prices while providing a way to customize pizza for the whole group, said spokesman Doug Terfehr. Bloomberg Businessweek (2/6)
Movers & Shakers
Food for Thought
Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.
Thomas Szasz,
Hungarian psychiatrist and academic

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Publisher, Food & Beverage:  Chris Warne
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