10 Trends for 2013

The menu items, promotional tools, and business strategies that will affect quick serves this year.

Menu items like Wendy's Berry Almond Chicken Salad use popular buzzwords.
Wendy's used the popular buzzword "fresh" to promote its Berry Almond Chicken Salad. Wendy's

What would the start of another year be without predictions? Whether analyzing politics, the silver screen, or stock markets, experts try to offer a peek at the trends we can expect in the coming year.

The restaurant industry is no different. Throughout 2012’s fourth quarter, various consultants, chefs, and operators gazed into their crystal balls and forecasted the hot restaurant ideas and issues of 2013.

The following 10 trends, according to those experts, seem most likely to impact quick-service and fast-casual restaurants this year.

Sonic Names New Below-the-Line Agency Partner

Sonic Corp, franchisor of the nation's largest chain of drive-in restaurants, announced the selection of Sullivan, Higdon & Sink (SHS), Kansas City, as its new below-the-line agency partner.

SHS's responsibilities will include working with Sonic on menuboard, on-lot and in-store communications, merchandising, and field and local-store marketing efforts.

Sonic Offers Scary Good Corn Dog Halloween Deal

Ghouls, goblins, and ballerinas alike are all invited to Sonic Drive-In this Wednesday, October 31, for an all-day treat that’s no trick: 50-cent Corn Dogs. The deal is available all day on Halloween at participating Sonic Drive-Ins and offers an affordable meal or snack before trick-or-treating in the neighborhood or attending Halloween parties.

Sonic Sees Net Income Jump 25% in Q4

Sonic Corp., the nation's largest chain of drive-in restaurants, announced results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended August 31, 2012.

The company's net income per diluted share increased 25 percent to $0.25, compared with net income per diluted share of $0.20 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.

System-wide same-store sales increased 2.3 percent during the fourth quarter, with an increase of 4.3 percent at company drive-ins and 2.1 percent at franchise drive-ins.

Sonic Rings In Back-to-School Season with LTO Menu

With back-to-school season in full swing and new starts in store for both students and parents, Sonic Drive-In is declaring Tuesday, September 4, National Back-to-School Day and offering its entire lineup of breakfast burritos for half price all day.

Sonic is also introducing new Flatmelt Sandwiches and Breakfast Burrito varieties to its menu for a limited time.

Sonic to End Pig Confinement by 2022

Joining the hot-button conversation about pig confinement crates, Sonic announced plans to phase in a pork supply chain free of gestation crates. The controversial crates are use to confine breeding pigs and have come under fire in recent years due to animal welfare concerns.

Sonic plans to eliminate the crates from its pork supply by 2022, although it is working toward 2017, the timeline a number of large pork producers have set to fully transition to group housing.

Sonic Turns to 1010data for Business Analytics

SONIC has embraced 1010data’s Internet-based Big Data Warehouse to analyze billions of records to enable critical business decisions ranging from operations to marketing.

A passionate focus on data analytics is one of the reasons why the fast growing chain, with more than 3,500 locations, has been able to improve operational consistency and product management.

Sonic Fills Marketing, Franchising VP Roles

SONIC welcomes two new members to its Oklahoma City corporate leadership team as part of a continued effort to build upon positive momentum for the brand: Mike Gallagher, vice president of market planning and franchising, and Todd Smith, vice president of marketing.

“These two new members of the executive team bring top-tier experience and leadership to SONIC and fill vital roles,” says Clifford Hudson, chairman of the board and chief executive officer for Sonic Corp. “We continue to invest in talent that brings new insights and will positively impact the momentum of the brand.”

Order-Matic Partners with Quail Digital

Order-Matic, provider of sales, marketing, and communications products to the quick-service restaurant sector, is collaborating with U.K. wireless communications specialist Quail Digital. 

Order-Matic will offer a comprehensive wireless communications system including Quail Digital’s new, Q-Pro5 lightweight wireless headset, plus lane timers, speaker posts, menuboards, and more.

The streamlined Q-Pro5 all-in-one, drive-thru system weighs just 3.5 ounces (30 percent less than its nearest competitor), giving comfort and ease to users.

A Bright Idea

America is sweet on citrus—even the sour varieties.

Restaurant operators and chefs are increasingly using
oranges, lemons, limes, and other citrus items to liven up their menus with a fresh taste.

If there’s one word that seems to sum up citrus’ taste profile, it’s bright.

“Citrus is incredibly popular because it is so aromatic and has those bright and fresh notes,” says Kevan Vetter, executive chef and manager of culinary product development for seasoning giant McCormick & Co. “It really gives you a pop.”