February 18, 2013
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On the Front Burner
Burger King pledges to emphasize value menu in advertising
Burger King called business conditions for the first quarter "modestly negative" and vowed to become "more aggressive on value" with advertising pushing lower-priced menu items. Burger King ended 2012 with annual revenue down 16% to $1.97 billion, after pursuing a "barbell" strategy of low-end and high-end items. But Barclays Capital analyst Jeffrey Bernstein sees a better future nonetheless, characterizing BK's business as "favorable, with positives more than offsetting negatives. We believe the brand is in the early stages of a turnaround." The Miami Herald (free registration) (2/15), The Wall Street Journal/Corporate Intelligence blog (2/15)
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Restaurant News
Panera Bread bakes its values into a social-media campaign
Panera Bread is running a "Food Chain Reaction" campaign on Facebook in which it promises to donate a bowl of soup to someone in need for every group of five friends that registers with the campaign. The aim is to highlight Panera's views on its place in society, said creative director Lisa Lorenz. "Instead of talking about what we do, the campaign talks about the how and why behind our practices," she explained. MediaPost Communications/Marketing Daily (2/15)
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Waffle House adds security fee to the tab
A 24-hour Waffle House restaurant in a busy, high-crime area of Atlanta now adds a 20% fee to the bill to pay for a security guard. The Augusta Chronicle (Ga.)/The Associated Press (2/16)
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Other News
Leading Voices
Women chefs work toward more leadership roles
Women are still a distinct minority when it comes running restaurant kitchens, with many citing the long, grueling hours that make it tough to balance work and life. "People want to break the stereotype of the glass ceiling in the restaurant chef world, just like it's been a battle for women in business and law and banking," said James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro. NorthJersey.com (Hackensack, N.J.) (free registration) (2/17)
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The changing face of Pittsburgh's restaurant scene
White tablecloths are out and fast-casual and casual eateries are in in Pittsburgh, Pa., where restaurateurs are finding success with less-expensive, more flexible business models that cater to consumers' changing tastes and newly frugal ways. Some are finding success specializing in specific items, like hot dog shop Franktuary, which launched in 2010 as a food truck and recently opened its third brick-and-mortar location. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2/17)
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How Marco's Pizza plans to become No. 4
Marco's Pizza has an ambitious plan to grow through franchising that borrows a strategy from Subway's playbook, said CEO Jack Butorac. The Ohio-based company's team of 55 representatives actively seek out franchisees around the country. Last year franchisees opened 61 new locations, and 104 are planned so far for 2013, and the company's goal is to become the country's fourth-largest pizza chain. PizzaMarketplace.com (2/15)
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Restaurants explore options to avoid price hikes
Restaurants are increasingly squeezed as gas prices rise and last year's drought pushes food prices 4% higher this year, but many restaurateurs say they'll try everything else before they raise menu prices this year. "You always look at stuff, but you don’t want to change your prices all the time," said Clint Case, whose Mugshots Bar & Grill hasn't raised prices in two years. The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.) (2/16)
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Culinary Spotlight
British chefs are hot for smoky flavor
From smoking guns to aerated boxes and cans, British chefs are employing many tools to add a subtle smoky flavor to everything from butter and broth to vegetables and fudge. "We never picked up our cultural identity after the Second World War, when smoking food was massive, although in those days it was mainly used as a preservative," said David Wykes, chef-owner of Verveine. "It wasn't realized there's more to it than that -- smoked food tastes so much more alive, less one-dimensional. It has more edge." The Independent (London) (2/14)
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Hot Topics
Food for Thought
Paradise is here or nowhere: you must take your joy with you or you will never find it.
Orison Swett Marden,
American author

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