Firehouse Subs

FROM THE FLOOR: Fast Casual is Talk of the Town

Fast-casual exectuives discuss the booming category during a panel at the National Restaurant Association's annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

 

Fast casual continues to be the hottest segment of the restaurant industry, so there’s no surprise that it’s drawing plenty of attention during the National Restaurant Association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

Putting Some Pop in Soda

Soda sales aren’t exactly bubbling at restaurants these days. In fact, they’ve been declining for years. Despite that, there’s fizz remaining in carbonated beverages as operators look toward craft sodas, new technology, homemade beverages, and creative concoctions to put effervescence into their sparkling libations.

“We’re seeing a lot of craft soda products available in the market, although it’s still very small,” says Joe Pawlak, beverage expert and senior vice president at Chicago market research firm Technomic Inc.

Holiday Hiring Heats Up

Restaurant operators report an optimistic holiday hiring season.
Quick service restaurant brands hire more employees for Christmas shopping season.
Newk's brings in 5–10 percent more employees in three weeks after Black Friday than rest of the year.

Quick-service restaurants—along with retailers, hospitality firms, and other companies—are hiring more employees this holiday season than past holidays. Many restaurant operators are also paying those seasonal hires more than they did last year.

According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor jobs report, employers added 321,000 jobs in November, far surpassing estimates of 230,000. U.S. wages also rose an average of 9 cents per hour in November, 2.1 percent higher than a year ago.

Test Drive

While historians and quick-service industry veterans alike still hotly dispute the exact origin of the drive-thru window, one thing is certain: The rise of the auto industry revolutionized the fast-food business. Quick-service restaurants evolved in tandem with Americans’ growing use and purchase of the automobile—from the drive-in experience of the early ’20s and ’30s to the boom in the ’40s and ’50s of brands like
In-n-Out and Jack in the Box, which were specifically built around the drive-thru lane.

Firehouse Celebrates Anniversary with Fundraiser

Firehouse Subs is continuing its long-standing mission to save lives through support of our nation’s first responders with its largest fundraiser, Public Safety Month. Since 2010, this annual campaign has raised more than $1.3 million for Firehouse Subs’ non-profit, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. For its 2014 campaign, the nationwide chain announced a goal to raise $500,000 for the foundation, which to-date has donated more than $11 million in life-saving equipment to public safety organizations across the nation. 

The Great Divide

Everyone talks about Millennials, but real success lies in appealing equally to all generations.
Quick service restaurants attract Gen X, Baby Boomers, Millennials.
Papa Murphy's is reaching out to technologically savvy moms and families to appeal to multiple generations.

Limited-service brands today are increasingly trying to figure out how to effectively market to their older customers while continuing to attract Gen Y/Millennial (born between 1980 and 1994) and Gen Z (born after 1994) customers.

The Writing on the Wall

Change is afoot at the drive-thru window. While the principles of the drive thru have remained the same for decades, new technology and tighter operations are ensuring that menuboards and broader menu strategies will evolve as brands attempt to maximize the outdoor lane.

One important drive-thru innovation came roughly 25 years ago, when King-Casey, a retail consulting and design firm, worked with Burger King to place pre-selling signs along the path to purchase, where customers wait to get to the drive-thru ordering station, says Tom Cook, principal at King-Casey.

The Tipping Point

Operators debate whether a gratuity option at the point of sale is right for their brand.
Quick service chains consider adding tipping function to point of sale.
Jersey Mike's new point-of-sale terminal gives franchisees the option of adding a gratuity request to customers' orders.

While tipping has never been a customer expectation in the limited-service restaurant industry, some chains have implemented gratuity options with their new, higher-tech point-of-sale systems, like counter payment terminals or mobile apps. But not every brand is certain whether tipping is appropriate in the category.

New Study Reveals America’s Favorite Quick-Service Chains

Pizza segment rankings from Market Force Information survey. Market Force Information

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.

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