With new limited-service brands emerging at a rapid pace, consumers have more dining choices than ever, and their preferences are proving that established national concepts could learn a thing or two from these smaller, younger chains. According to a nationwide study on consumers’ favorite quick-service chains from Market Force Information, brands like Firehouse Subs, Qdoba, and Papa Murphy’s rank better for customer satisfaction compared to more established category players like Subway, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
Pork was promoted for years as “the other white meat” to boost its exposure and dispel consumer perception that it’s too fatty. These days, pork is anything but “other” at many limited-service restaurants, though it’s often under the guise of specific ingredients: Menus mention items like sausage at breakfast, pepperoni for pizzas, and ham on sandwiches. And of course there’s bacon, a foodservice staple made from pork bellies.
Pork is increasingly finding a home on quick-serve menus due to consumers’ evolving tastes and the product’s flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
Chipotle Mexican Grill will host a special promotion in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, offering a buy-one, get-one menu item for educators and school staff. On Tuesday, May 6, all teachers, faculty, and staff will be eligible to receive a free burrito, burrito bowl, salad, or order of tacos with the purchase of another menu item when they present a valid school ID at the register. The promotion is valid in all U.S. Chipotle locations from 4 p.m. to closing time.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, in partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS), today announced that Chipotle will be the Official Fast-Casual Mexican Restaurant of MLS and 12 MLS Clubs. The sponsorship will be Chipotle’s largest single sports partnership and will feature promotional programs with 12 teams, individual players, and programs across the entire league.
Chipotle Mexican Grill debuted its original comedy series, “Farmed and Dangerous,” on Hulu and Hulu Plus. The four-episode series marks Chipotle’s first foray into long-format, unbranded content. Produced in conjunction with Piro, a New York—based studio, the series stars Ray Wise (“24,” “Mad Men,” “Twin Peaks”) and Eric Pierpoint (“Parks and Recreation,” “Big Love”), and provides a satirical look at the lengths the agriculture industry goes to manage perceptions about its practices.
Q: What does it take for a quick-service brand to become a great brand?
A: I get this question all the time. Many people look at superstar brands like Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Nike and mistakenly conclude those companies achieved their successes as a result of good timing, great advertising, or just plain luck. But I’ve found that these companies have employed specific, somewhat surprising, techniques that have turned them into industry icons.
In the fast-food breakfast world, the carrier has long been king. From McMuffins to Croissan’wiches, burritos to breakfast wraps, flatbreads to breakfast paninis, and now—thank you, Dunkin’ Donuts—even breakfast sandwiches served on a glazed doughnut, fast-food chains have dedicated an inordinate amount of ingenuity to finding tasty, portable, hand-held ways to deliver the day’s most important meal to us with a minimum of fuss and mess.
Chipotle Mexican Grill partnered with restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson to launch a fast-causal pizza concept called Pizzeria Locale. The first restaurant is located in Denver and is based on a full-service pizzeria by the same name located in Boulder, Colorado. Pizzeria Locale opened its first fast casual location in partnership with Chipotle in May and is exploring options for second and third locations in Denver.
Chipotle is tapping into new consumer occasions with the recent national rollout of its catering program. The added operation allows the brand to compete in a different space with fast-casual concepts like Panera and Qdoba Mexican Grill that have established catering options.
Chipotle tested catering in select regional markets, including Colorado, earlier this year before implementing the program nationally in November, says Danielle Winslow, a Chipotle spokeswoman.
My year-end top brand stories recap was well received last year, and I decided to do it again. I’ll break from my usual Q&A format to recap this year’s most important brand developments in fast food.