CKE Restaurants, Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, launched its Happy Star Rewards loyalty program yesterday. Happy Star Rewards is a GPS-enabled loyalty program that rewards users for checking in at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s locations across the U.S. The application, available for iPhone and Android smart phones, combines location-based check-in technology with rewards, making it the first of its kind for the quick-service industry.
Restaurant operators have spent 2010 in wait-and-see mode. The economy seems to have survived the financial collapse of 2008—survived being used quite literally here, as in, not died—and is even slowly growing. But consumers are still pinching pennies, and staying afloat in the restaurant industry remains about as difficult as ever.
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Reporting by Blair Chancey, Sam Oches, Daniel P. Smith, Robin Van Tan, Barney Wolf & Lori Zanteson
1. BK Sold to Brazilian Investors
Becoming the decade’s biggest restaurant buyout, No. 3 burger chain Burger King Corp. was acquired by 3G Capital, a New York firm backed by Brazilian investors, for $3.3 billion in September. —BC
2. The Food Truck Obsession
There’s Abita Purple Haze and Magic Hat #9, Anchor Steam and Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury, Sam Adams Winterfest and Troegs Dreamweaver.
These and hundreds of other craft and seasonal brews are being downed by Americans at an increasing pace, a trend noticed by more owners of pubs and restaurants.
In fact, the continuing growth of microbreweries and craft beers across the U.S. provides restaurant operators with greater opportunities to use suds to differentiate their businesses from competitors.
Coffee and a doughnut is a legitimate fast-breaker at 6 a.m., but as celebrated chef Thomas Keller saw clearly when he introduced his own version at the French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley about 16 years ago, it’s also a viable crossover treat.