Robin Van Tan

Robin Van Tan is a contributor to <em>QSR</em>'s online exclusives.
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The iProblem

Send Paul Damico an e-mail between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and chances are he’ll respond within minutes, no matter where he is.

The CEO of Moe’s Southwest Grill prides himself on his responsiveness and keeps his inbox as empty as possible—a task that’s been a lot easier since the 16-gigabyte iPad was delivered to his office April 3, the day it hit the market. Now the device never leaves his side.

Rich Get a Taste for Fast Food

Wealthy consumers are checking their income levels at the fast food door and flocking to quick serves.

According to a recent study by American Express Business Insights, ultra-affluent consumers increased quick-serve spending by 24 percent in the second quarter of 2010, as compared to the same quarter last year. Ultra-affluent customers are defined as those who charge more than $7,000 per month on their cards.

Grab Lunch, Love at Just Salad

Customers were finding dates so often at the brand’s New York City stores, the company launched its own dating website.

“A salad bar on the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street doesn’t seem like the most obvious place for youthful romance, but on a sunny day, there’s a mob of post-collegiate suits lining up at Just Salad for takeout of leafy green veggies—and each other.”

New York Magazine printed the line in 2006, when Just Salad was only a one-year-old concept.

Creativity Required

It turns out the No. 1 trait for chief-exec success in the next five years won’t be dedication, influence, or integrity. According to a recent study by IBM, which consisted of more than 1,500 one-on-one interviews with CEOs worldwide, creativity will be the most important leadership quality in the coming years.

“Creativity is what allows CEOs to really understand what their customer’s lifestyle is and how they want the concept to be a part of that lifestyle,” says Kevin Higar, director of research and consulting services for Technomic Inc.

Your Top 40 Hiring Questions

Between tracking food costs, trying to bring in more cash-strapped customers, and abiding by the new health care requirements, proper hiring practices can fall by the wayside on the list of day-to-day tasks operators face. But one wrong hire can have devastating consequences. Best-case scenario: They quit in a week, wasting your time and money. Worst-case scenario: They mistreat a customer and damage your brand’s reputation.

Field of Beans

Mike Tattersfield was living in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005 and working as vice president of store operations at Limited Brands, an apparel company, when he first visited a Caribou Coffee. The brand immediately piqued Tattersfield’s interest.

“It had outstanding coffee,” he says. But even though he came to visit at least three times a week and his family made Caribou coffee at home as well, something was always missing.

5 Tips from Shake Shack

Wanting to expand but worried your concept will take on a corporate feel? Find out how the booming Shake Shack chain is combating quick-service growing pains.

One of the most important rules of expansion might not be something operators learn on the job or in any kind of training. It might just be something most of them picked up long ago—usually in grade school during arts and crafts.

The Midnight Mistake

Late-night menus are all the rage, but don’t underestimate your night-time diners. They’re looking for value, too.

When Greg Van Winkle walked into a McDonald’s in Manhattan, he just wanted to order two cheeseburgers off the $1 menu. But when he tried to, he couldn’t—it was past midnight.

“As soon as 12 o’clock hits, the $1 menu is no more until 4 o’clock breakfast starts,” says the manager at the store.

She says that during that four-hour period, any of the 14 entrée options that can be ordered as value meals are available.

That Manhattan store isn’t the only McDonald’s that limits its offerings for late-night customers.

Bankruptcy Guide

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The length of time companies filing for bankruptcy are allotted to develop a plan of reorganization is 120 days. One false move during that period or the months leading up to it can drastically reduce the chances of making it through the ordeal.