November 24, 2021
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On the Front Burner
Cracker Barrel expands its virtual brands
(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Cracker Barrel grew its first two virtual brands, Chicken 'n Biscuits and Pancake Kitchen, to 500 and 100 locations, respectively, in the quarter ending Oct. 29. Takeout and delivery orders accounted for 20% of the quarter's total sales, and off-premises sales for the chain have held steady even as customers return to on-premises dining.
Full Story: Restaurant Business (11/23),  Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (11/23) 
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Improved Air Quality can drive hotel bookings
Air quality is a major concern for hospitality patrons, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, 52% of consumers said they would pay more to stay at a hotel with better indoor air quality. Read more here.
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Restaurant News
A new Florida law could lead to fines of as much as $50,000 for restaurants and other private-sector employers that terminate employees who fail to comply with the pending federal vaccine mandate. The law bars companies from requiring employees to have COVID-19 vaccines unless they also offer an expanded array of exemptions, including for employees who choose to wear face masks and other protective gear instead of getting vaccinated.
Full Story: Restaurant Business (11/23) 
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Hi, I’m New Here.
For 75 years I've been a trusted household name. Now you can serve customers my Johnsonville quality and delicious versatility in your restaurant. From brats to breakfast, we're excited to provide new menu solutions with attention to quality and safety at every level. Welcome to Johnsonville.
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Leading Voices
Casual-dining chains have fared relatively well during the pandemic and showed signs of a strong recovery this year, garnering positive customer reviews as they have fed pent-up demand, according to a report from Merchant Centric. "We believe that sustained growth is going to be had by those brands who find ways to deliver higher levels of customer service in spite of staffing and supply constraints," said Ryan Zink, CEO of 41-unit Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, which reported a 7% increase in September same-store sales over September 2019.
Full Story: Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (11/22) 
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Standard employee retention efforts like pay and well-being programs are insufficient approaches to high turnover when we know that many employees quit because they don't feel valued, S. Chris Edmonds says in this blog post and video. "First, embrace this mantra: Employees of all generations desire and deserve workplaces where they are respected and validated for their ideas, efforts and contributions, every day," Edmonds says.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (11/23) 
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Culinary Spotlight
Four Indigenous chefs share recipes that highlight ingredients native to North America, such as hominy, squash and maple syrup. Chef Sean Sherman, who educates others about Indigenous foodways at his training center, The Indigenous Food Lab, suggests an alternative to modern cranberry sauce called wojapi, a compote often made with foraged chokecherries by the Dakota and Lakota nations.
Full Story: Atlas Obscura (11/19) 
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Editor's Note
SmartBrief will not publish Thursday, Friday
In observance of Thanksgiving in the US, SmartBrief will not publish Thursday and Friday. Publication will resume Monday.
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We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
Cynthia Ozick,
writer
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