Jason's Deli

The Customer Service Five

It’s mid-September and Thom Crosby is on the road again. Every six months, Crosby, the CEO of Pal’s Sudden Service, a 26-unit chain with stores across Tennessee and Virginia, joins Pal’s founder Fred Barger for a road trip. The pair visit all 26 stores, leading quality and system audits at each stop.

“Everything from speed of service to friendliness at the window,” Crosby says.

Jason's Deli Finds Success with Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Foodservice operators may remain divided on whether gluten free is a passing trend, but those that have committed to serving the gluten-sensitive customer have found a new, loyal base of dining guests. Jason’s Deli, the Texas-based fast casual, is one of those brands, and it’s gluten-free chicken nuggets have helped capture an even bigger portion of this market.

Vegging Out

Beef, pork, poultry, and seafood may be the staples of the limited-service restaurant industry, but non-meat items aren’t taking a back seat on the menu these days. Although vegetarians make up a small percentage of the American dining population, an increasing number of consumers are deciding to eat less meat.

“Ten years ago, it might have seemed like a fad, with just a small population, but it’s been constantly increasing,” says Jesse Gideon, corporate chef and chief operating officer for Fresh To Order, a 10-unit fast-casual chain based in Atlanta.

Next-Level Feedback

It wasn’t long ago when quick-serve guests were asked to fill out paper comment cards to help brands gather both positive and negative feedback.

However, with advancements in technology and customers’ growing reliance on cell phones and tablets, traditional guest-satisfaction surveys are quickly becoming a thing of the past, replaced by digital versions that can often monitor comments and concerns in real time.

Clearing The Air

Renowned restaurateur Joe Bastianich wants to help the foodservice industry quit smoking.

A recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the food and hospitality industry is the second-highest occupation group in the U.S. hampered by smoking. But Joe Bastianich, renowned restaurateur and judge on FOX’s hit show “Master Chef,” has made it his mission to help foodservice professionals quit the habit.

The Trust Factor

Now that social media has become a ubiquitous part of society, a simple click of a button from an unhappy customer can tarnish the reputation of any business.

The same is just as true for a displeased or untrustworthy employee. As such, ensuring employee satisfaction, security, and training has never been more important.

Fast Casual Strengthens, Led by Panera, Five Guys

Fast-casual chains strengthened their gains on the overall restaurant industry, with the top 150 fast-casual chains growing 8.4 percent to $21.5 billion in 2011, a faster rate than in 2010 (6.6 percent). In comparison, 2011 sales growth for the Top 500 U.S. chains was 3.5 percent.

The Tennessee Titan

National franchises are growing their sales by millions after visiting one regional burger chain.

Most businessmen study the leaders of their industry to gather tips on growth strategies. But many national quick-service chains are seeking advice from a regional burger chain populating rural towns in East Tennessee.

And the advice they’re getting seems to be working.

Pal’s Sudden Service has become something of a legend in the quick-serve arena, and for the last decade has shared its strategies with nonprofit organizations and businesses—including other quick serves—through its Pal’s Business Excellence Institute.

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