Casual chains feel the winds of change | The Counter to open fast-casual eatery | McDonald's to put calories on packaging in UAE
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March 5, 2013
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Casual chains feel the winds of change
The economic downturn has driven more consumers from casual chains toward lower-priced, fast-casual eateries and the occasional higher-priced splurge. U.S. consumers made about 600 million fewer visits to casual eateries last year compared to 2008. "We know casual dining is not the bright, shining star that it used to be," Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts said. Orlando Sentinel (Fla.) (3/2)
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What happens when you combine a mild, nutty, deliciously meltable Fontina with the bold, Parmesan-esque flavor of Asiago? Fontiago, of course: a cheese hybrid that's creamy, tangy and aromatic, all at the same time. Add to a heavenly mixture of pastrami, caramelized onions and hot, piquanté peppers and bake, for a cheesesteak that's beyond compare.
Get the recipe.
Restaurant News
The Counter to open fast-casual eatery
The Counter will launch Built Custom Burgers by The Counter, a fast-casual chain that lets guests design their own burgers as they move down a service line, similar to the setup at Chipotle. The chain plans to open the first Built unit in southern California later this month. Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (3/4)
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McDonald's to put calories on packaging in UAE
McDonald's will add calorie counts and other nutritional information to packaging at its restaurants throughout the Middle East, an executive said Monday. The National (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) (3/5)
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Other News
Your Take
Would you try sustainable-food software at your restaurant? 
VoteNot now, but most likely in the future.
VoteNo, we don't pay much attention to sustainable food trends.
Leading Voices
AgLocal aims to connect chefs and farmers
Startup AgLocal promises to connect chefs and restaurateurs with vetted sources of sustainable, humanely-raised meat through its software. "Fifteen years from now, when people say, 'Wow, America really went back to its roots' and technology, ironically enough, took us back to our roots," CEO Nait Jones said. "I want AgLocal to be a part of that story." FastCoCreate (3/4)
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Coach builder makes business out of custom mobile eateries
Virginia-based East Coast Custom Coaches has turned out about 200 custom-built food trucks in the past few years, most of them outfitted with input from the chef, owner Lee Campbell said. "That is how we design our trucks to the chef. They are made for the chef," he said. "Are you right-handed or left-handed, are you real tall..." Voice of America (3/4)
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Can your restaurant do without debt?
Firehouse Subs, which booked $385 million in revenue last year, has been debt-free since 2001, says co-founder Robin Sorensen, who, along with brother Chris, drew minimal salaries and no profit distributions for the first decade of operation. "Investing in the infrastructure and building the business yielded zero debt. We didn't focus on it; it happened organically," Sorensen said. QSR Magazine (3/2013)
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Culinary Spotlight
Zinburger pairs wines with upscale burgers
Upscale burger eatery Zinburger's menu includes wine suggestions with each burger, a concept that's catching on at the chain's three East Coast locations despite the double-digit burger prices, says Brad Honigfeld, CEO of licensee Briad Group. "We grind our meat fresh two or three times a day in the walk-in. Our bread is delivered twice a day. The fries, the shakes, everything is fresh and top quality. Today the consumer with money wants a top-quality product and is willing to pay for that," Honigfeld said. (3/4)
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Chefs serve tobacco-tasting dinner at Cigar Festival
At the 15th annual Cigar Festival in Havana, Cuba, a group of Croatian chefs infused an entire meal -- from the bread basket to the ice cream dessert -- with the flavor of Cuban cigar leaves. "It's about variety," said chef Grgur Baksic. "We are a little bit crazy. Our company are gastro-explorers, so we are always looking for what ... is not normal for other people." Daily News (New York)/The Associated Press (3/1)
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Food for Thought
It is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn."
-- Robert Southey,
British poet
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