Special Report | August 2011 | By Sam Oches
The 2011 QSR 50
Many things changed at Boston Market in 2010, not the least of which was its CEO. Even by the time George Michel replaced industry veteran Lane Cardwell as Boston Market’s head honcho in October, many upgrades and changes were shifting operations across the system’s roughly 500 units.
Aside from adding a new lunch menu, Boston Market also upgraded disposable plates and cutlery to real plates and stainless ware, added carving stations, and hired extra staff to improve hospitality.
2010 was business as usual for Jason’s Deli, which, for this Beaumont, Texas–based fast casual, is good news. Store count and systemwide sales were both up, as was its AUV—a number that puts it at third-best in the QSR 50, behind Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s. The company also maintained its status as a popular destination for health-conscious diners and landed at the top spot on Parents magazine’s list of best family restaurants.
Once a major player in the quick-serve pizza category, Sbarro now looks like a shadow of its former self. The losses in 2010 and throughout the recession—a period that hit malls, one of Sbarro’s favorite locations, particularly hard—paved the way to the chain’s filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2011. But 2010 wasn’t a complete waste for Sbarro. The company announced two major international franchise deals, one for 1,250 stores in Japan and another for 1,000 stores in Brazil.
A new store prototype helped give Qdoba a little more Mexican authenticity in 2010, but its Craft 2 menu was what really spurred innovation last year. Director of strategic product development Ted Stoner says the new menu, which lets customers pair smaller portions of two menu items together, has given customers the green light to try new things—which, he says, gives him the green light to test outside-the-box new menu items, like the new Mini Street Tacos that debuted in March.
The iconic California-based burger chain made a splash late in 2010 when it announced that it would enter the Dallas market—the first time in its 63-year history that the company would move that far eastward.
The company swears that the Dallas expansion—complete with a major distribution center, just the second for In-N-Out—does not signal any kind of all-out East Coast takeover strategy. Nor, they say, is it a response to the West Coast growth of rival Five Guys. Of course, when the doors opened to the first Dallas unit in early 2011 to five-hour lines, execs at the family owned company probably thought twice about its slow-and-steady growth.
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