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.
Never before has innovation been as essential to running a successful quick-serve restaurant concept.
During what has turned out to be the most daunting recession in our nation’s history, innovation has been the driving force for the concepts that are beating the odds.
Often, the inspiration for innovation comes from the top, and that certainly holds true for the following leaders, who were selected from a wide-ranging list of successful operators.
When the recession hit in 2008, quick serves in the U.S. got a wake-up call: Even in the Western world, where drive thrus and combo meals were invented, quick serves are not immune to tight wallets and budget cuts.
While brands in the U.S. struggled, some had a saving grace: an international presence. Take Dairy Queen, for instance. Since the brand is still in expansion mode in China, the economic slowdown didn’t affect sales there the way it did in the U.S.