They’re made with just flour and water, but mixing these simple ingredients has created one of the world’s most popular foods. Noodles, from Italian pasta to all-American macaroni and cheese, and from Asian wheat or rice flour versions to those used for chicken noodle soup, are on the menus at about half of American limited-service restaurants.
Barney Wolf is an Ohio-based freelancer for <em>QSR</em> magazine.
After outperforming Wall Street the past few years, the stock prices of restaurant companies with quick-service concepts finished a bit worse than the overall market in 2014.
Slightly more than half of limited-service dining companies’ stocks were bested by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index last year. A dozen companies, including quick-service giants McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, saw their equity prices decline during the period. The S&P 500 gained 11.4 percent, but its restaurant sector index rose just 4.3 percent.
Every time a new year gets under way, there’s a combination of promise and anxiety, a very real hope that better days are ahead mixed with uneasiness about what issues or problems may be lying in wait.
That’s why predictions seem to be as much a part of a New Year’s celebration as champagne and the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. For the restaurant industry, getting a peek into likely trends for 2015 provides some insight into the type of menu items that could give them smash successes in the year ahead—or a glimpse of the staggering challenges they’re left to overcome.
Soda sales aren’t exactly bubbling at restaurants these days. In fact, they’ve been declining for years. Despite that, there’s fizz remaining in carbonated beverages as operators look toward craft sodas, new technology, homemade beverages, and creative concoctions to put effervescence into their sparkling libations.
“We’re seeing a lot of craft soda products available in the market, although it’s still very small,” says Joe Pawlak, beverage expert and senior vice president at Chicago market research firm Technomic Inc.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Although the concept of consumers using their smartphones to pay for food at limited-service restaurants is nothing new, the mobile payment industry is expected to get a huge boost with last month’s launch of Apple Pay.