Sonya Chudgar

The Grass is Always Greener

When customers stroll into Raj Pannu’s Subway store in LaPlace, Louisiana, they’re excited to find the lights react to motion sensors. They love the chairs and tables made from refurbished material, and they’re even impressed by the water-saving toilets.

A Subway franchisee for 18 years, Pannu ensured her sixth store was certified green by the U.S. Green Building Council. She crunched the numbers before going for the LEED certification, and her efforts paid off: She now saves $300–$400 in electricity and $70–$80 in water each month.

Can Square Change POS Forever?

Tech mogul Jack Dorsey thinks so, and he’s making a push for quick serves.

Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey is innovativing the POS space with Square.
Square cofounder Jack Dorsey is helping quick serves like Little Muenster streamline their POS system. Sonya Chudgar

Jack Dorsey, who cofounded Twitter and Square, was raised by parents in the quick-service industry. His father owned a pizza restaurant, and his mother ran a coffee shop.

It’s little surprise, then, that Dorsey’s latest initiative with Square is to broaden its use within quick serves.

Chipotle’s Margarita Makeover

Beverage program moves from margarita mix to Patron.

Chipotle is improving the ingredients in its margarita beverage menu offering.
A bartender mixes Chipotle's new margarita recipe at the brand's NYC launch event.

Move over, rice and salsa; Chipotle will soon have agave nectar, lemon-lime juice, and Patron Silver tequila on its assembly line. The brand plans to bring premium margaritas to all locations with a liquor license—about 900 of them—beginning April 29.

QSR got a sneak peak at the new margaritas last week during Chipotle’s launch party at its New York City test kitchen, where servers mixed margaritas for two hours as the restaurant’s chefs whipped up fancy finger food.

Wingstop Takes Flight

Wingstop’s executive chairman of the board, Jim Flynn, isn’t shy about comparing his brand to McDonald’s.

“I want to say we’re going to be the McDonald’s of the wing industry, and basically, we are at this point,” he says. “Because there’s nobody else this big.”

“They’re one of the best-kept secrets in [quick service],” says Gary Stibel, who has consulted for companies from McDonald’s to Yum! and is now CEO of the New England Consulting Group. “In new markets, they can define the way the game is played.”

The 75-Year Roller Coaster

It seems so simple.

Seventy-five years ago, Krispy Kreme created a product people loved. It was nothing more than a deep-fried ball of dough with a hole in the middle, but since the time when Franklin D. Roosevelt reigned in the Oval Office, Krispy Kreme has reigned over the oval offering.

Ask Krispy Kreme CEO Jim Morgan how the company stays solvent by focusing on a product as straightforward as the doughnut, and he gives a small laugh. “No one’s ever asked that question before,” he says. “That is interesting.”

QSR 50 Contenders

Want to know which 15 brands are knocking on the QSR 50's door? Some are old favorites, others are new to the list, but they're all trying their hardest to climb their way into the Top 50 ranks.

51 McAlister’s Deli rank last year: 52

Craft Soda Steps Up to Bat

Artisanal soda is winning out against a number of mass soft drinks. 

Hotlips markets a line of made-in-house sodas to draw in customers.
Hotlips markets a line of made-in-house sodas to draw in customers.

Owners who stake their restaurant brands on natural ingredients are now matching their beverages with their mission statements.

Built on values such as sustainability and local sourcing, craft soda—the nonalcoholic sibling of craft beer—has stepped up in recent years as an alternative to mass-marketed soda. Owners say these sodas convey a positive message to guests about their restaurants’ responsible yet adventurous personality.

Who Needs a Supply Chain?

Foodservice producers open their own quick-serve concepts.

Dannon's Yogurt Culture Company offers prepackaged yogurt products.
Dannon's Yogurt Culture Company offers prepackaged yogurt products.

Two foodservice producers ditched the supply-chain middleman and opened their own quick-serve concepts earlier this month.

Smithfield Foods, synonymous with Virginia ham and pork, and yogurt company Dannon defied the traditional supply chain and started carting product from their manufacturing facilities to proprietary quick-service storefronts. Taste of Smithfield opened in the company’s hometown of Smithfield, Virginia, while Dannon unveiled the Yogurt Culture Company on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

What’s Next for Health Care?

Industry scrambles to understand health care after Supreme Court upholds law.

Lion's Choice employees enjoy a range of health benefits.
Lion's Choice employees enjoy a range of health benefits.

The dust has settled on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and operators have had time to digest the upholding of President Obama’s health care reform. Many of them, though, are still trying to figure out what happens next and how the new health care model will affect their businesses.

While the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and a number of state restaurant associations oppose the law and are working toward a full repeal, some say a forward-looking approach is necessary.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Sbarro

Sbarro will use new pizza recipe and fast-casual rebranding to fight back from bankruptcy.

Sbarro updated its pizza recipe to appeal to modern restaurants visitors.
Sbarro updated its pizza recipe to appeal to modern restaurants visitors.

One hundred days. That’s how long Jim Greco gave himself to right the sinking ship that was Sbarro when he took over as president and CEO in February.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2011 and emerged from it in November, having shed $200 million in debt and 25 underperforming sites. But jiggering liabilities on a balance sheet had not addressed the limitations—which ranged from a subpar pizza recipe to an overreliance on mall traffic—that had caused Sbarro to drown.