Panda Restaurant Group is applying the auto industry’s concept-car theory to innovate in the American-Chinese fast-casual landscape. In July, the company introduced the Innovation Kitchen store in Pasadena, California, to test new menu items that, given positive customer reception, may claim a spot on the mainstream Panda Express menu.
When Arby’s Hungry for Happiness mobile tour pulls into town, people notice. It’s hard to miss the fire-engine red semi truck and trailer emblazoned with a beaming young girl enchanted by a bite of giant watermelon.
But the rolling outfit, on the streets in partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, isn’t just a roving billboard for the Arby’s brand; it also represents relief for millions of children across the country, helping to feed them while they are out of school.
Food courts present an array of choices and flavors in quick-service and grab-and-go formats, and consumers have come to expect competitive variety in spaces like malls, airports, and transportation centers. But experts say brands positioned in food courts won’t attract attention simply by having the real estate. Just as with standalone units, brands must market what differentiates them, seek spaces that align with their offerings, and meet the expectations of diners seeking convenient service.
At first glance, a nonprofit subdivision developer and a sandwich restaurant seem a far-fetched choice for partnership—ham and cheese and mortgages have seemingly little in common. But nonprofit executive Bobby Calvillo and Blimpie area developer Alan Crites found their visions for a community impact could intersect in a powerful way. The two teamed up to establish a Blimpie unit in southern Texas that channels funds to Calvillo’s affordable housing organization.
Marketing departments spend months planning major promotional events, but when a natural disaster strikes, taking action is all that matters. Time becomes an enemy when moments mean the difference between lives saved and lost, and some quick-serve restaurants have found ways to make an immediate impact in the time of crisis.
Forget the age-old stereotype of teens being more interested in schlep than success. Auntie Anne’s corporate executives and franchise partners have seen first-hand that there is promising business potential in today’s high-school students.
Fifty teens at the brand’s Leaders & Entrepreneurs Forum held in early November at Disney World embraced a hands-on, learning-rich experience, digging deep to understand concrete concepts such as labor laws, OSHA standards, and whether franchises can be purchased by store or territories.
Building a reliable workforce is essential to success in the quick-serve business, as is connecting with the local community through socially conscious means.
At least one franchisee is killing those two birds with one stone by integrating his hiring process with his charitable work. A Wisconsin-based Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is employing interns through a nearby program that gives students with intellectual disabilities (ID) hands-on work experience.
Though not new, secret and hidden menus have taken hold in recent years as social media–savvy diners share off-the-menu experiences with potentially viral audiences.
And today, more quick-service brands are finding that a secret menu can offer guests a fun and unique experience worth coming back for.
Chipotle’s commitment to organic cotton might not be apparent to diners, but every employee wears the evidence—literally.
One hundred percent of Chipotle’s employees wear uniforms from Loomstate, a company dedicated to offering sustainable, organic, and quality clothing. The initiative kicked off in 2010, and the restaurant recently began offering a public line of Chipotle-branded, 100 percent organic cotton Loomstate apparel through its Web store.
Not long after it announced its French Revolution brand reimage program, casual-dining chain Mimi’s Cafe thinks it’s found the key ingredient to brand expansion.
The new store-within-a-store concept—where guests can opt for a grab-and-go experience, a French bakery with gourmet coffees, a bistro, or a full-service, Parisian-themed dining area—allows the brand to reach quick-service customers, as well as its loyal full-service following.