Burger King said Wednesday it will begin buying eggs only from cage-free producers, and it expects to be buying only cage-free eggs at all 7,200 of its U.S. restaurants at the end of five years. The move makes Burger King the first U.S. quickservice chain to commit to going completely cage-free; the company also said it has committed to sourcing pork only from pigs raised without the use of gestation crates.
Stylish trends and fabric innovations are increasingly helping chefs and restaurant workers adopt a cooler look that also helps keep them from overheating in the kitchen. New materials that wick away moisture keep bodies cool, while new color choices and improved tailoring help staffers stay stylish.
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Olive Garden has developed branded salad dressings and cheeses that will be sold exclusively at Sam's Club locations for one year. The launches "extend the brand beyond the four walls of the restaurant," said Rich Jeffers, spokesman for parent company Darden, which has not yet determined if it will expand retail business for Olive Garden.
Panera Bread reported a 7.5% rise in first-quarter same-store sales and stronger-than-expected earnings growth that spurred the company to raise its full-year earnings outlook. Co-CEOs Ron Shaich and Bill Moreton shared plans for further boosting sales this year with new products, earlier summer promotions and the addition of 80 drive-thru windows at new and existing stores.
The Melting Pot fondue-restaurant chain won 25,000 new email-list subscribers in just 13 hours with a campaign tied to National Cheese Fondue Day. The chain offered free fondue to all new subscribers, and launched a broad-based social-media campaign promoting the offer. "It certainly exceeded expectations," communications chief Sandy D'Elosua said.
Red Robin executive chef David Woolley's "little bit of Greek heritage" sparked the creation of the chain's Mt. Olympus burger with feta in 2010 and his adventures in backyard barbecuing were the inspiration for the Big Melt Bacon Burger. Woolley's life experiences, as well as those of his R&D team, are all fodder for creating new and limited-time burgers, he says.
Carmel Cafe, poised to open its fourth Tampa-area location under the leadership of Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan, has created an iPad ordering system that's proving popular. Carmel created the system with an Australian software developer, and plans to begin licensing it to restaurants around the country next month.
Big Red Rooster, which manages brands for several quickservice restaurants, is setting its sights on revamping the drive-thru experience. Walk-up windows, ability to pre-order on smartphones and incorporating video into the ordering system to increase face-to-face contact are just a few of the firm's innovative ideas.
"Although fast food drive-thrus improved operational efficiency over the last four decades, the impersonal, drive-around-back experience remained relatively the same," said executive vice president Dan Stanek. "Big Red Rooster sees the drive-thru as an incredible opportunity to innovate."
While sweet and salty flavors ranked highest in a survey from the Culinary Visions Panel, people who say they are adventurous eaters prefer the less-popular sour, umami and bitter flavors. "Sweet and salty flavors are sure to please mainstream consumers looking for dining comfort and satisfaction," said executive director Sharon Olson. "If you want to challenge your customers a bit more, take a cue from what foodies prefer and introduce a bitter or sour note into a favorite menu item like chocolate for dessert."
Spring is usually the time chefs and foragers are giddy about collecting the year's crop of morels, but the unseasonably warm winter and spring weather has made the coveted mushrooms extremely hard to find. The lack of morels is pushing other exotic mushrooms into the spotlight, and varieties such as chanterelles and black trumpets are being added to everything from sandwiches and soups to polenta and pasta dishes.