Jordan Melnick

Jordan Melnick is <em>QSR</em>'s online exclusives reporter.
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Where’s the Money Now?

Many are seeing glimmers of recovery, or even making their own opportunities.

Credit flowed so freely before the recession that people in the restaurant industry often use hyperbole to describe how easy it was to get financing before the collapse.

“I could have gotten my dog a loan three years ago,” says Paul Steck, president of Saladworks.

“The perception was, anyone who can breathe can borrow,” says Mitch Jacobs, founder of On Deck Capital, a lending technology company that works extensively with restaurant operators.

Diners Don’t Know What They Want

When it comes to healthy foods, Americans’ tastes are confusing.

A study released last week finds a somewhat befuddling discrepancy between what consumers want restaurants to offer in the way of healthy items and what they want to order.

The 2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, released on November 8 by Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based food-industry consulting firm, finds that “nearly half of all consumers want healthier menu items, but only about a quarter of them actively consider nutrition when dining out.”

Consumers Pick KFC for Healthy Meals … Wait. What?

A new study by CFI Group uncovers the reasons why diners choose quick serves.

A recent study on the opinions of quick-serve consumers finds that price ranks surprisingly low in determining where they choose to eat, that convenience is king, and that KFC draws more health-conscious consumers than the average brand.

Conducted by CFI Group, a consultancy based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the study surveyed 1,200 consumers who had all eaten at a quick-service establishment in the past three days. The goal was to better understand how they made a basic decision: where to eat.

Restaurants Redefined

As the old saw goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and to put it mildly, the Great Recession bred a lot of necessity.

For the quick-service sector, the deprivation cut several ways. There was the “trading down” phenomenon, where some cash-strapped consumers chose fast-casual establishments instead of the full-service experience they might have opted for in better times. But more consumers overall were eating at home as their disposable income dwindled and their anxiety rose, and all segments of the restaurant industry took a hit.

The Bistro Solution

Several years ago, Marriott executives determined they were letting revenue walk out the front doors of their Courtyard hotels, which are tailored to frequent business travelers, or “FBTs.” At the time, Courtyard’s breakfast offering was the full-service buffet, familiar to almost anyone who has ever stayed in an American hotel, and their lunch and dinner offerings were negligible.

Cali’s Newest Rule May Catch On

A food safety bill passed by the State Senate could affect restaurant employees and potentially the rest of the country in the future.

The California Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would require all restaurant employees to be trained and certified in safe food-handling practices. If signed into law, the bill could eventually affect the restaurant industry nationwide. 

Washington May Not Have the Economy Pegged Just Yet

Timothy Geithner is “welcoming” Americans into the recovery, but restaurant operators aren’t feeling the hospitality.

On August 2, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote an op-ed in the New York Times with the title, “Welcome to the Recovery.” Despite the brash headline, Geithner was cautiously optimistic about the direction of the economy.

“Recoveries that follow financial crises are typically a hard climb,” he wrote. “That is reality. The process of repair means economic growth will come slower than we would like. But despite these challenges, there is good news to report.”