Jordan Melnick

Jordan Melnick is <em>QSR</em>'s online exclusives reporter.
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Local Heroes Top Golden Arches

In a recent survey, local brands, fast casuals, and (of course) Chick-fil-A rank at the top of consumer satisfaction list.

Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, and Panera Bread rank among the best quick serves in the country in customer satisfaction, according to a study J.D. Power and Associates released on Tuesday.

The 2010 U.S. Restaurant Satisfaction Study evaluated consumer responses to an online survey that measured four aspects of customer satisfaction: price, environment (ambiance, cleanliness, convenience of location/hours), meal (quality/taste of food, meal presentation, portion size), and service (speed, wait staff courtesy/friendliness). 

Is the Health Trend Dying? 

Despite cries for healthy menu items, consumers seem to be equally interested in items like KFC’s Double Down.

Perhaps the biggest splash so far this year in the quick-service sector came in April when KFC’s Double Down, a breadless “sandwich” that features melted cheese, bacon, and sauce between two chicken filets, made its national debut.  

Generation Now!

Look out quick serves: Generation Y, aka the Millennial Generation, is coming on strong. From third-graders to grownups pushing 30, they want it their way from Burger King and every other industry player. The smart restaurants will make sure to comply, because the Millennials number 92 million, making them the largest generation in the country. And they aren’t the grin-and-bear-it type.

“Like most people, those of the Millennial Generation value an operation that takes responsibility for its products and services, is honest in the way it conducts its business, and makes customers feel like they matter,” says Lee Igel, assistant professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. “But their feelings about all of this, and the way they react to good or poor products and services, are more intense than those of prior generations.”

The Man with a Plan

Seventy-six million. That’s how many Americans each year get sick from something they eat. Of the 76 million, 350,000 end up in the hospital and 5,000 end up dead.

Seventy-six million people. Roughly one fourth of the total U.S. population, it seems a rather high figure, particularly when we’ve figured out how to swap, replace, and reconstruct human organs. One would think figuring out how to make a safe hamburger would be a cinch.

From Bail Outs to Burgers

One unlikely result of the recent financial crisis is a swell of ex-bankers trying their hands at running quick serves.

Amid the global financial crisis, with the world’s largest banks reporting losses in the billions of dollars, Duane Clark, a 24-year veteran of the commercial banking industry, did something he never expected to do: He opened a smoothie shop.

“I always swore I would never go into the restaurant business,” Clark says. “I always called it the beast. You live it, you drink it, you eat it—that’s your life.”

The Allergy Issue

When Matt Mitchell was four years old, his parents took him out one night to McDonald’s for a hamburger. But when he bit into it, he tasted cheese. For most people, getting the wrong order is, at worst, a nuisance. But as far as restaurant patrons go, Mitchell isn’t most people. Not long after taking that first bite, his body rebelled.

“I started vomiting, I was covered in hives, it was difficult to breathe,” Mitchell, now 20, says.

Could a Salt Mandate Be Next?

Restaurants are doing all they can to stop federal regulations of salt from becoming a reality. But is it working?

With the release of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report recommending the government regulate the amount of sodium in the nation’s food supply, the restaurant industry says it wants to take action—on its own.

“The industry supports a voluntary, incremental approach to reducing sodium levels in menu items, and would have concerns about any potential government mandate that creates a one-size-fits-all rule to ingredient standards,” the National Restaurant Association said in an April 20 statement, released the same day as the IOM report.

Take Time to Smell the Burgers

White Castle’s latest antic is a burger-scented candle, and it’s flying off the shelves.

If you walk through your front door in the near future and your house is filled with the aroma of steam-grilled hamburger and onions, try not to get too excited. You might be having a salad for dinner.

That’s because White Castle, the Columbus, Ohio–based chain known for its square-patty sliders, introduced a beef-scented candle. Part of its promotion efforts for National Hamburger Month (inaugurated in 1992 by … White Castle), the delectable and potentially deceiving candles sell for $10 each, with proceeds going to science and advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

Grow Town

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It is not uncommon for someone to liken the economic situation in Detroit to the aftermath of a natural disaster.

“To me, it’s like Katrina,” says Jeffery Elsworth, an associate professor at the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. In Louisiana, “they lost over 200,000 people, too.”

Elsworth is referring to the problem of emigration in Michigan, which saw 278,000 people flee its borders between 2006 and 2009, many of them young and well-educated.

FDA Overhaul Postponed

The FDA Modernization Act would give the administration the power to recall tainted foods, but it’s been pushed down the legislative agenda.

With Congress set to tackle financial reform, the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, an attempt to overhaul the nation’s food-safety system after recent outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella, and other pathogens, has once again been pushed down the legislative agenda.

In amending the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, the Modernization Act would increase the FDA’s ability to monitor the nation’s food supply and to take stronger action when safety issues arise.

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