McDonald's

The Midnight Mistake

Late-night menus are all the rage, but don’t underestimate your night-time diners. They’re looking for value, too.

When Greg Van Winkle walked into a McDonald’s in Manhattan, he just wanted to order two cheeseburgers off the $1 menu. But when he tried to, he couldn’t—it was past midnight.

“As soon as 12 o’clock hits, the $1 menu is no more until 4 o’clock breakfast starts,” says the manager at the store.

She says that during that four-hour period, any of the 14 entrée options that can be ordered as value meals are available.

That Manhattan store isn’t the only McDonald’s that limits its offerings for late-night customers.

Take Time to Smell the Burgers

White Castle’s latest antic is a burger-scented candle, and it’s flying off the shelves.

If you walk through your front door in the near future and your house is filled with the aroma of steam-grilled hamburger and onions, try not to get too excited. You might be having a salad for dinner.

That’s because White Castle, the Columbus, Ohio–based chain known for its square-patty sliders, introduced a beef-scented candle. Part of its promotion efforts for National Hamburger Month (inaugurated in 1992 by … White Castle), the delectable and potentially deceiving candles sell for $10 each, with proceeds going to science and advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

How Jim Skinner Beat the Recession

There are five P’s at the basis of McDonald’s recent success, and the company’s CEO says it’s not rocket science to figure out how to make a profit in this industry.

When a poster of McDonald’s Plan to Win was taken off a wall in corporate headquarters for a freshening-up, chief executive Jim Skinner personally intervened to get the strategy statement back in place ASAP.

“I told people, never, ever take the Plan to Win down and leave it down—do whatever it takes to replace it,” Skinner says. “People might see that and think, ‘Oh, Plan to Win’s down. There must be a change strategically.’”

The 10 Most Innovative People

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.

Don’t Be Short Sighted

Promotional strategies are the lifeblood of any retail business—quick serves are no exception. Promotions create news that attracts consumer attention, and that attention usually drives sales and traffic. But promotions also shape brand perceptions, and those perceptions are equally important.

One on One with Jim Skinner

Since taking over the burger giant, which now has 32,000 restaurants worldwide, CEO Jim Skinner has restructured McDonald’s, redesigned the restaurants, and revolutionized the menu. Aside from the addition of premium coffee offerings, McDonald’s menu also features healthier choices such as Fruit & Walnut Salads and Chicken Wraps. Skinner also earns high marks for offering better value and improved marketing.

His winning strategy, christened the Plan to Win, focused all team members’ attention on improving service, food, and ambience and not necessarily on opening new stores.

The Renovation Rush

Four years ago, the winds of change moved Scott Gittrich, an experience that the Toppers Pizza CEO is appreciative for these days as his Wisconsin-based pizza chain pushes into a new decade with promise and purpose.

While working with an advertising agency, Gittrich and his Toppers leadership team noted their success with teens and twentysomethings, a revelation that sparked a multiyear plan to renovate existing restaurants and build new outlets with a more casual, youthful edge.

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