Alex Dixon

Sweet Success

Dessert could be a missed opportunity for limited-service restaurants.
Quick service restaurants find sales potential in dessert menu options.
A Baker's Tale, based in Chicago, offers a range of innovative and adventurous dessert items.

For many quick-service operators, rolling out a successful dessert platform is a matter of taking a big risk. Dessert isn’t always top of mind for customers who are in and out of a restaurant, while pressure is on for flavors to be innovative but also compliment the menu.

The risk involved may be why, according to a new Food Genius report, quick-service restaurants are the most underrepresented market in desserts.

Starbucks Makes the Grade

Coffee quick serve invests in higher education for employees.
Starbucks employees can now complete online degree coursework through Arizona State University thanks to the brand's new benefit program. Starbucks

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Starbucks made headlines on June 15 with the announcement of its partnership with Arizona State University to provide free online college education to its employees, without requiring that they remain with the company. The initiative, which extends to full-time and part-time employees who may choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs, is unique in the quick-serve industry, and it represents the move towards greater consideration of what an employer can do to empower and retain its workers.

Ethnic Cuisines Take Root

From Thai and Korean to Peruvian and Nordic, global foods are going mainstream in limited-service industry.
Fast food restaurants serve ethnic food options to curious customers.
Viva Chicken in Charlotte, North Carolina, serves up Peruvian cuisine in a fast-casual setting. Viva Chicken

After visiting numerous Peruvian rotisserie chicken places with his wife, a Peru native, Randy Garcia had an idea: He wanted to combine the feel of the restaurants he’d seen throughout Peru with a modern, fast-casual format. That idea came to fruition when he opened Viva Chicken in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2013.

“Since I’ve been with my wife, she’s taken me to all these places, but I’ve never seen one done in the way we did it,” Garcia says. “We’ve done a really contemporary look as opposed to most of the places I’ve been to, [which] have been very ethnic.”

Creative Containers

Chipotle’s new packaging initiative covers cups, bags with creative content.
Fast food restaurant Chipotle labels packaging with creative content.
Chipotle's new "Cultivating Thought" initiative prints creative content from several different authors and artists on the brand's cups and bags.

Michael Lewis’s thoughts on managing time. A George Saunders note to the future. Barn raising with Malcolm Gladwell. These aren’t part of a short story anthology or panels at a literary conference; they’re what is now plastered on the side of a Chipotle cup.

What started as an idea from writer Jonathan Safran Foer has turned into Chipotle’s newest food packaging initiative, “Cultivating Thought,” which is leveraging creative content to catch customers’ attention.