February 8, 2013
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Restaurant SmartBrief

On the Front Burner
Report: Restaurants return to more robust hiring
Restaurants created new jobs at the fastest pace in 17 years in 2012, and they're on track to see similar growth this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. The industry now employs about 441,000 more people than it did in the peak pre-recession years, while the overall economy is still about 3.2 million jobs behind. QSRMagazine.com (2/7)
Restaurant News
Study: Chains boost sales by cutting calories
U.S. restaurant chains that sold more low-calorie dishes boosted their overall same-store sales 5.5% between 2006 and 2011, while those that didn't saw a 5.5% decline, according to a study funded by the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation. The study, which looked at 21 quickservice, fast-casual and casual chains, defined low-cal dishes as those under 500 calories. Advertising Age (tiered subscription model) (2/7)
Utah lawmakers consider bill to boost liquor licenses
Restaurant chains would be able to hold a single master liquor license for all of their Utah locations under a bill that received unanimous approval in a legislative committee and headed to consideration by the full state Senate this week. Current laws requiring a separate license for each location have resulted in shortages. Last year, Buffalo Wild Wings put construction of some new locations on hold when it couldn't obtain licenses. The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) (2/7)
Other News
Happy Hour
Leading Voices
Burger 21 aims to build on less-beefy menu
Burger 21 serves enough red meat to live up to its name, but the growing Tampa, Fla.-based chain devotes half the menu to non-beef sandwiches, a practice that allows the eatery to win over the veto vote, said VP Dan Stone. "With so much variety, Burger 21’s offerings appeal to all audiences and ages, particularly females, who often cast the veto vote when selecting a restaurant." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Food & Beverage (2/8)
Chefs and restaurateurs dread Valentine's Day
While couples anticipate a fun night out on Valentine's Day, restaurant owners cringe at the thought of lost revenue -- mainly due to an abundance of tables for two instead of larger parties. Some European eateries are switching things up to try to salvage sales on the romantic night. "The last two years, we have had a band and encourage large tables to break up the tables for two," says Rowley Leigh, chef-proprietor of Le Café Anglais in London. "It has been a lot of fun, and financially, too, it has been very jolly." The Wall Street Journal (2/7)
Culinary Spotlight
Quickserve eateries experiment with high-tech cooking methods
Small, casual chains are experimenting with molecular gastronomy to entice patrons, including Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt which instantly freezes its ice cream right in front of customers using liquid nitrogen. "We had to make something that was very different, so people would come to us instead of the competition," said founder and CEO Jerry Hancock. Some high-tech methods, such as sous vide, are already considered ordinary in some chain restaurant kitchens. QSR Magazine (2/2013)
Restaurateur out to win more fans for herring
Herring is an often-overlooked fish that's low in toxins and high in protein, vitamins and omega-3 oils. It also has great flavor, according to Sausalito, Calif., restaurateur Kenny Belov, who has been on a 9-year mission to win more fans for the locally caught fish. "It's our duty as restaurant people to educate our customers by giving them something they're not used to seeing." San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration) (2/6)
Editor's Note
An item in Wednesday's Restaurant SmartBrief incorrectly stated that alcohol mixed with a diet drink is more potent than alcohol mixed with a sugar-sweetened drink because the sugar absorbs some of the alcohol. The sugar in regular soda does not absorb the alcohol but rather slows the rate of alcohol absorption. SmartBrief regrets the error.
Food for Thought
After you've done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over.
Alfred E. Perlman,
American businessman

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Lead Editor:  Patricia Smith
Publisher, Food & Beverage:  Chris Warne
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