Mary Avant

The Seafood Startup

In just five years, Luke’s Lobster has carved out an industry niche despite—or perhaps because of—its elevated price point and premium characteristics.
Limited service restaurant chain Luke's Lobster serves premium food at high price point.
Luke's Lobster, whose menu is built around a premium, higher-priced lobster roll, is expanding up and down the I-95 corridor.

For many brands, the startup years are full of operational struggles, sourcing issues, and slow, if any, growth. But that hasn’t been the case for New York–based Luke’s Lobster, a concept that’s cornered its own niche within the fast-casual industry in five short years.

In the last half decade, Luke’s has paired an entertaining narrative—fresh Maine seafood with roots in a father-son team’s entrenchment in the lobster industry—with a high-quality product in a market where the core menu item, the lobster roll, does not exist in a large-scale fashion.

It’s Bo Time

Charlotte, North Carolina–based Bojangles’ may fall into the chicken quick-service category, but as any executive, operator, employee, or loyal fan will tell you, it’s all about the biscuit.

And for good reason: The item is included or featured in nearly 80 of the brand’s menu items, a fact that explains how more than 3 billion biscuits have been served at Bojangles’ since its inception in 1977, says senior vice president of marketing Randy Poindexter.

It's Hiring Time

Summer hiring outlook strong for quick-service operators.

Quick service restaurants hire summer workers for popular seasonal job.
Fast casual Slim Chickens sees a lot of transition in its employee base in the summer, as many of its workers are college students.

On the heels of the latest jobs report, which revealed that restaurants added more than 30,000 jobs in March—the 49th consecutive month of growth for the industry—limited-service operators are well positioned for the incoming summer season.

Mobile Goes Mainstream

McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all experimenting with mobile payments.

Quick service restaurants roll out smart phone app payment options for customers
Wendy's is expanding its mobile payment options to more U.S. markets throughout 2014.

In the post-recession economy, major quick-service players are still struggling to find new ways to drive traffic and capture the attention and loyalty of the all-important Millennial consumer.

Now some of the biggest brands in the business, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, think they’ve found the way to do it: mobile payments.

The Cost of Higher Wages

Proposed minimum wage increases have operators worried about labor costs.

Proposed minimum wage increases have operators worried about labor costs.
Proposed minimum wage increases could mean lower employee turnover but also lower job creation. CKE

Brands and operators in the quick-service industry are not looking forward to proposed minimum wage increases that are being seriously considered by states, local municipalities, and the federal government, especially following President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address.

After encouraging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 in 2013, the President expressed interest in increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10, though some cities and states are being pressured to increase to as much as $15.

Feeding the Frenzy

Sophisticated palates and a demand for local goods change the game for live-event foodservice providers.

Fast food options at sports stadiums like MetLife feature innovative menu items.
Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New York City will feature innovative foodservice options, like this noodle and dumpling stand.

With chicken wings, nachos, and pizza at the ready, more than 100 million fans will be piling into homes, restaurants, and bars across the country to watch the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks battle it out in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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