Jordan Melnick

Jordan Melnick is <em>QSR</em>'s online exclusives reporter.
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Drive Incremental Sales with Drinks

McDonald’s signs boast about the incredible number of hamburgers—now many billions—it’s served over the years. But with the customer clamor for specialty beverages growing louder, the fast food icon may one day brag about the number of peppermint mochas sold.

When McDonald’s launched the McCafé line in 2009, it was both a warning signal to Starbucks and a resounding affirmation that specialty beverage menus would be a fixture at quick serves all over the country.

And signs are pointing to beverages becoming even more important to menus in coming years.

Fame, Fortune & Fries at McDonald's

Late last year, McDonald’s announced that it would launch in 645 California stores its own TV channel that broadcasts news, sports, and local-interest stories. The move resonated loudly across the industry, signaling that food alone might not be the future of quick-serve dining rooms.

Rather, customized digital and television content may be the new best way to get customers to hang around the dining room for longer than the time it takes to scarf down a burger and fries.

Restaurants Hit the Open Road

Brands eye roadside travel centers for growth opportunity.

With at least two mid-size restaurant chains planning to expand through highway travel centers in the coming year, other quick serves looking to grow may want to hit the open road.

Both Huddle House and Fazoli’s, which, respectively, have 430 locations and 230 locations nationwide, are in the process of opening new stores at roadside travel centers, according to the companies.

Huddle House is a diner concept based in Decatur, Georgia, and is planning to add six truck-stop locations to the 25 it already has through an agreement with travel-center operator Pilot Flying J.

Stop Rewarding Your Crew with Cash

To an outsider, rewarding employees for a job well done seems to be simple. You could give them a cash bonus, buy them a gift card, or, if they’ve done really well, send them on a much-deserved vacation.

But operators are finding that these incentives aren’t so easy to leverage for the benefit of their brands. Instead, many are turning to branded debit cards as a way of saying “thanks” to their best employees.

What to Do with Google+

Google+ Pages let brands on the new social network, but many are still figuring out how to make it work for them.

Google announced the launch of its Google+ Pages earlier this month as an opportunity for brands to get involved with the search giant’s new social network. 

And while a recent study shows that a majority of the world’s top 100 brands have already launched a Google+ Page, many are still trying to get their Pages off the ground.

The recent study by BrightEdge, an Internet consulting firm, shows that 61 percent of the world’s top 100 brands, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, created a Google+ Page within the first week of the technology launching on November 7. 

More than Minimum Wage

With 12.8 million workers, the restaurant industry is one of the largest employers in the country. Industry champions often boast of the distinction, and particularly now, with national unemployment at 9.1 percent, it appears as if the restaurant industry is playing a hefty role in the U.S. labor market.

Of course, people who have had their eye on the industry for a while remember a time, before the Great Recession, when it wasn’t easy to recruit quality employees or even a full staff.

Moms Want Clean Play Areas

The Kids Play Safe campaign is inspiring operators to properly sanitize children's areas.

On a daily basis, Don Elam, a Chick-fil-A owner-operator in Chandler, Arizona, does something unusual: He makes sure the playground outside his restaurant is spic and span.

“Every night we have a person that has a sanitize rag crawl through and wipe down everything,” Elam says. “Everything.”

Elam, who also hires a company to come out every two weeks and give the playground a full cleaning, says his devotion to his playground is “nothing out of the ordinary.” But an Arizona woman says most quick serves are not doing enough to make sure their play equipment is clean.

How He's Starting Over with Salsarita's

When Phil Friedman stepped down as CEO of McAlister’s Deli, a sandwich concept based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, that he grew from 30 to almost 300 locations during his 11-year tenure, many of his friends and colleagues assumed the 65-year-old industry veteran had retired.

“Most of the people were asking, ‘How’s retirement?’” Friedman says. “I’m not retired.”

Rethinking Gen Y

A recent study finds that Millennials may be more closely linked to their predecessors than previously believed.

As the vanguard of the Internet Age, Generation Y—the Millennial Generation—has been cast as a paradigm-busting demographic that requires businesses and marketing strategists to rethink everything.

But a recent study on Millennials finds that the demographic may be more similar to (and influenced by) its Gen X and Boomer counterparts than previously thought.

In fact, the study, “Culture of Millennials 2011,” challenges several widely held assumptions about Millennials, says Laurie Demeritt, president of Hartman Group, which released the study.

Double Dip? Bring It On

Having survived one debilitating recession, restaurants feel poised to withstand another.

With the housing market still depressed, food prices on the rise, and unemployment hovering above 9 percent, some economists now fear that the nation is on the verge of entering a second round of recession, if it hasn’t already.

While the prospect of a “double dip” into recession should have restaurant operators concerned, many say the Great Recession that began in 2008 adequately prepared them for the worst.

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