Margarette Burnette

Morning Jolt

Chick-fil-A joined the breakfast innovation bandwagon with a renewed commitment to offering better coffee. And the chicken chain took the initiative one step further by partnering with a network of specialty coffee farmers in Central America known as THRIVE.

Power Up

The rise of wireless phone chargers in quick-service establishments could turn the casual consumer into a loyal, repeat customer. These sleek mats are either placed on or built into a table and provide guests with the convenience of charging their mobile devices by simply placing the phone in a special charging case on top of magnetic induction technology.

Planting the Seed

Saving for retirement and other financial milestones is an important objective for most people, including employees in the quick-serve industry.

The biggest coffee chain in the U.S. is making it easier for its workers to reach those monetary goals. In 1991, after Seattle-based Starbucks extended comprehensive health coverage for eligible part- and full-time workers, the coffee chain began offering another generous incentive: access to its Bean Stock investment program, where workers receive an equity award in the form of restricted stock units.

Getting to the Meat of Marketing

Sustainability continues to shape the future of the quick-serve industry, and many concepts are marketing their food as sustainable by highlighting locally sourced, in-season produce from nearby farms. But while limited-service restaurants design their marketing push around vegetables and plant-based products, they’re still trying to figure out how to work sustainably raised meat into the brand conversation.

Outside the Spoon

The buzz behind frozen yogurt may be waning, but Red Mango Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies is one brand that won’t be limited by its category. The Dallas-based chain began testing a café concept at several Houston and Long Island, New York, area franchises.

The concept, called Red Mango Café, features an expanded menu of healthy flatbreads, salads, and wraps, says Jim Notarnicola, the company’s vice president of marketing and franchising.

Fostering the Health Push

Fast casual Freshii launches business accelerator to support health-minded companies.

Freshii founder Matthew Corrin supporting upstart companies with incubator.
Freshii founder Matthew Corrin wants to help other health-focused companies get their start through a new business accelerator. Jimmy Fishbein

Healthy fast-casual concept Freshii has expanded rapidly since Matthew Corrin founded the company in 2005. Now Corrin hopes to fuel the growth of likeminded food entrepreneurs by launching a business accelerator, the Fresh Startups program, in partnership with consulting company Kinetic Café.

“There is an increasing amount of interest and energy being spent in the healthy fast-casual arena,” Corrin says.

Fine to Fast

Dennis Friedman joins growing list of fine-dining chefs entering the fast-casual space.

Executive chef Dennis Friedman is a classically trained culinary artist and owner of Newton’s Table, a popular fine-dining restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. Later this summer, he’ll open a new restaurant dedicated to his restaurant’s most popular dish, the noodle-inspired Fuzu, in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle.

But Newton’s Noodles will be a little different than its sister concept: The restaurant will feed the masses in a fast-casual format.

Summer’s New Twist

Pretzel bread takes off as customers look for premium choices.

Wendy's new pretzel bacon cheeseburger is a successful fast food menu option.
Wendy's earned nationwide buzz with its new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Wendy's

One of the most common questions in foodservice—White or wheat?—has grown to include a new option: pretzel. Quick-service restaurants across the country are capitalizing on a new pretzel-bread trend, taking one of the most popular summer snacks and working it into innovative new menu options.