Chipotle

What Happened to Table Service?

In many cases, it’s a different consumer out there today deciding where to dine when the urge hits. Throughout the recession, full-service restaurants offered so many fire-sale bargains that those little affected by the economy could almost feel guilty for practically stealing meals when they would have just as willingly paid regular price.

Chipotle as Good as Gold for the Next Four Months

Chipotle Mexican Grill began celebrating the 18th anniversary of its focus on using high-quality ingredients by wrapping its burritos in gold. Beginning today, and continuing for four months, Chipotle will switch from its iconic silver foil to gold foil for its burritos. The company estimates that it will wrap as many as 35 million burritos in gold foil during that period.

The Fall of Pizza

What’s happened to pizza’s major players?

In 2000, the QSR 50 Report, this magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top quick-service brands, showed a robust American appetite for pizza, a category trailing only burger joints in representation. With pizza chains claiming four of the list’s top 15 slots and 12 of the top 50, the segment seemed poised to maintain its spot as a 21st century quick-service staple.

Yes Ron, There is a Fast Casual

Last October, I attended an industry conference and saw Panera’s founder Ron Shaich moderate a panel of great industry leaders. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I also had the chance to ask Ron a question about the development and future of the fast-casual industry. Ron answered by noting that there was no such thing as fast casual and that no consumer says, “I am going to go to a fast-casual restaurant.” Needless to say, this caused quite a buzz amongst those of us in the segment, and there has been a bit of a debate going on since then.

The Surprise in Chipotle’s Test Kitchen

Nate Appleman was working at A16 in San Francisco when, one day in early September, a man named Phil Petrilli decided to introduce himself to the chef.

Appleman was a Rising Star Chef from the James Beard Foundation and a Food & Wine Best New Chef. Petrilli was a regional director for Chipotle who admired Appleman’s work.

But Petrilli couldn’t have prepared himself for what the chef would say when he told him he was a fan.

Results Are In for Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill reported financial results for its fourth quarter and full year ending December 31, 2010, including a 24.5 percent revenue increase from 2009, bringing revenue to $482.5 million.

The growth in revenue was the result of new restaurants not in the comparable base and a 12.6% increase in comparable restaurant sales. Comparable restaurant sales growth was primarily driven by increased traffic in the quarter.

Trickle-Down Theory

There was a time when the only place you could find Black Angus beef on a menu was at some of the nation’s finest steakhouses. But these days, Angus burgers are served at McDonald’s, Back Yard Burgers, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, and Smashburger and are just one of many fine-dining menu items, ingredients, and techniques that were adopted by quick-service and fast-casual restaurants over the last decade.

Insider Fast-Casual Favorites

I am often asked what I think are the hottest or best fast-casual concepts. I think it’s important to tackle that question from the consumer perspective first. Like many others in the industry, I love checking out the competition. Over the last several years, many colleagues and I have made a point to visit as many concepts as possible whenever we’re together. Out of these 50 or more concepts, here are the ones that stand out the most. This list is based entirely on the quality of the experience and not buzz in the press or industry.

The New Kids’ Meals

Kids’ menus have come a long way from the days when they were little more than sandwiches, soft drinks, and small fries for the small fries.

As parents increasingly seek out food that is healthful and nutritious for their children, particularly in light of America’s growing childhood-obesity crisis, restaurants have sought to provide menu items that are not only good for kids, but also taste great.

Pages