Daniel P. Smith

Daniel P. Smith is a regular contributor to <i>QSR.</i>
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Scaling Food Safety

It could happen to any restaurant.

Business is strong, with sales and unit counts growing quickly. Optimism abounds for a healthy future.

And then it happens. Contaminated food supplies filter into the system. Hundreds of customers get sick. Traffic and sales plunge as consumers worry over the food’s safety, and the brand’s reputation seems forever tarnished.

What Ever Happened to Food Trucks?

Red-hot just a few years ago, food trucks are entering a new maturity phase.

Food trucks evolve quick service restaurant industry with innovative trends.
Cofounder Natasha Case has turned her popular food truck Coolhaus into a major food and retail player.

When QSR last checked in with Coolhaus as part of “America’s Top 20 Food Trucks,” in February 2011, business partners Natasha Case and Freya Estreller had just launched their second food truck, adding a roving kitchen in Austin, Texas, to their existing mobile unit in Los Angeles.

The Future of Franchising

How the franchise model is adapting to today’s marketplace.

Fast food brands change franchising model to succeed in economic climate.
Corner Bakery is preparing for aggressive growth through experienced, multiunit franchisees.

Anthony Pigliacampo is like few of his predecessors in the quick-service game.

Pigliacampo is the founder of Modmarket, a Colorado-based concept that continues to earn rave reviews for its modern environment and high-quality food, and which had six stores open at the end of 2013. By the end of this year, Modmarket’s unit count will jump to 13 and then to at least 24 by the end of 2015.

What makes Pigliacampo different from his peers is that all of that growth will be through company-owned stores.

Standout Store: Goodfood Truck

Considering how many food trucks have hit the streets across the U.S., Kim Baxter has plenty to brag about. Last summer, Baxter and her upstart Orlando-based food truck, Goodfood, bested food trucks from around the country and captured $5,000 as winner of the inaugural Progressive Insurance Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest.

The Growth 40

The best large, medium, and small markets for your unit expansion.

Large US cities like Miami offer fast food operators promising growth potential.
Miami has recovered from the Great Recession and now offers quick-serve operators plenty of growth potential. istockphoto.com / wsfurlan

If this year’s Growth 40 report is any indication, plenty of quick-service brands will soon be following in the footsteps of basketball superstar LeBron James and taking their talents to South Beach.

Miami tops QSR’s fourth annual Growth 40 report, claiming the first spot among the nation’s largest markets, while Austin, Texas, and Palm Springs, California, earn top honors among medium and small markets, respectively.

Standout Store: Marcona

Amid the glitz and glam of Hollywood’s boutiques and TV studios, Collier Ulrich’s upstart eatery, Marcona, is making a name for itself with turkey and ham. The New York native’s almost-two-year-old gourmet sandwich shop serves up classic East Coast deli fare enhanced by Mediterranean influences and a West Coast approach.

Local Legends

Stop a local in the Chicago area, inquire about the closest Portillo’s restaurant, and you’re almost certain to get directions to the Chicago-based chain’s nearest location (alongside some ordering suggestions). With its signature Vienna beef hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, Portillo’s is a Windy City icon, a beloved local favorite that many current and ex-Chicagoans speak about with reverence for its quality food, efficient service, and lively atmosphere.

Sustainability 2.0

When Arianne Bennett opened the Amsterdam Falafelshop in Washington, D.C., in 2004, she had some ambitious sustainability aims: green products, solar power, composting, community dumpsters. She had a vision of creating her own eco-friendly utopia in a world only then beginning to ride the sustainability wave, an adventure then entwined with environmental stewardship.

“We wanted to be as lean as possible … and we were careful about everything from the packaging we chose to the number of napkins we distributed,” Bennett says.

Standout Store: Dogmatic

Handcrafted, grilled-to-order, European-style hot dogs highlight the ambitious menu at New York City’s Dogmatic. Fresh-baked bread carries sausages that are made from sustainable, farm-raised meat and are topped with homemade gourmet sauces such as Cheddar Jalapeño and Chimichurri. One food critic called Dogmatic’s $5.65 signature item “a far more sophisticated pig in a blanket, and much more delicious.”

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