Barney Wolf

Barney Wolf is an Ohio-based freelancer for <em>QSR</em> magazine.

All Access: KFC

Headquarters tour shows brand hard at work on quality, consistency.
Quick service restaurant icon KFC is improving menu options while focusing on consistency.
KFC opened a new store prototype in its hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

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Images of the late Col. Harlan Sanders are everywhere as you walk through the Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters of KFC and its parent, Yum! Brands. Not only are there plenty of photos and videos of the company founder and creator of the world’s most popular fried chicken recipe, but there are also statues of him both standing and sitting, as well as an animatronic version in the onsite Col. Sanders Museum.

2014’s Top 9 Stories

The stories that made this year one of the most eventful in industry history.
Quick service brands make impact on restaurant industry with big news events.
Taco Bell made a splash in 2014 with its breakfast menu, which included the Waffle Taco. Taco Bell

It’s fair to say that 2014 has been as eventful a year for quick-service restaurants as the industry has seen in quite a while. Changing demographics and sharper competition have sparked a variety of innovations, but also exposed some weaknesses. And the unrelenting march of technology is changing the restaurant business landscape, particularly when it comes to mobile phones.

Sweet Success

Ah, chocolate. It’s an indulgence that’s impossible to ignore as a stand-alone food or ingredient. And, not surprisingly, chocolate proves to be sweet for consumers and restaurant operators alike. Even though it’s already part of menus at most limited-service eateries, more dining places continue to add chocolate items in new and innovative ways.

Pizza Hut Gets a Reboot

Largest pizza chain rolls out menu, marketing refresh.
Biggest fast food pizza brand innovates menu to appeal to Millennials.
Pizza Hut introduced 10 new crust-edge flavors, five new signature sauces, four drizzles, and five new ingredients. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut rolled out a major brand reboot this week, a move that many see as an appeal to the Millennial generation and a response to the booming fast-casual industry.

The world’s largest pizza chain, a division of Yum! Brands, is adding a wave of new ingredients, some lower-calorie alternatives, reworked digital ordering, and even a new, circular logo, hoping that the changes will boost lagging sales.

Grabbing a Bite

Evolving eating habits and generational dynamics are changing the way we look at snacking. There’s no traditional time when Americans are looking for snacks—say, the middle of the afternoon. It’s the late morning, early evening, and late night, too. It’s as if there are as many dayparts for snacking as there are for full meals, if not more.

Top of Mind

Over the past century, Americans have developed a special craving for certain foods, both at home and in restaurants—items like burgers and fries, sandwiches and fried chicken.

And then there’s pizza. One of the nation’s most beloved meals, pizza is the sum of varied parts: crust, sauce, cheese, meat or other proteins, vegetables, and the baking style. All are important, but the toppings are the real ingredient that gives customers and operators alike room to play around with new flavors.

Fresh Bread

Bread may be the staff of life, but it’s really pretty basic: flour, water, yeast, and salt, or some sort of substitute for the latter two. However, the way these items are combined, as well as other ingredients that are added, can make a huge difference in taste and texture, as quick-service operators are increasingly discovering.

Boom Town

North Dakota’s economic growth a unique opportunity for quick-serve brands.
Quick service companies expand to North Dakota to capitalize on growth.
North Dakota's 7.6 percent population jump since 2010 has been fueled by hydrautic fracturing.

Economic booms are nothing new to regional American economies. From the Gold Rush in California to the post–Industrial Age coal fields of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, history shows that workers and businesses have long rushed to parts of the country where valuable resources were discovered.

Now it’s North Dakota’s turn. The identification of a major oil field in the western part of the state led to a boom that’s created thousands of new jobs in the past five years. And businesses, including quick-service restaurant operators, are cashing in.

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