Kevin Hardy

Just What the Doctor Ordered

It might seem like quick-serve concepts and hospitals are headed for an epic breakup, as some brands have come under fire for their presence in places meant to heal. The American Hospital Association labeled unhealthy foods “environmental inconsistencies,” whether they’re served out of vending machines, cafeterias, or franchised units in hospital food courts.

Holding It Together

Grab-and-go items, once a staple of nontraditional spaces like college campuses and airports, have gone mainstream.

Today, operations ranging from convenience stores to standalone quick-service restaurants are adding prepackaged items like fresh carrots with ranch dip, pre-made chicken wraps, or yogurt parfaits. And they’re doing so for a good reason: Every day, 28 million Americans eat a grab-and-go snack, according to data from consumer market research firm The NPD Group.

Out of the Ashes

While bankruptcy has its pitfalls, restaurant companies are increasingly finding that it also provides an opportunity for a fresh start.
Quick service chains file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to save brand legacy.
Friendly's CEO John Maguire says the company has streamlined the menu, initiated store upgrades, and rolled out an employee training program since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.

Once slandered as the “B word,” bankruptcy is finding new life as an opportunity for new beginnings. Blue-chip brands like Eddie Bauer, Delta Air Lines, and the Chicago Cubs are among the list of house-hold business names that have filed for bankruptcy in modern times, times in which even city governments—the most notable being Detroit—have looked to bankruptcy to solve fiscal woes. Those once-bankrupt American institutions, along with more than 1 million personal bankruptcies each year, suggest that the “B word” may have has lost at least some of its bite.

Public Domain

In the last few years, Wall Street has shown an increased appetite for restaurant companies as a whole, and it’s fast-casual brands in particular that increasingly grab investors’ attention.

That was perhaps no more evident than in 2013, when enthusiasm for fast-casual restaurant concepts reached new heights with gangbuster initial public offerings (IPO) from Potbelly and Noodles & Company. The IPOs raised about $100 million each, and stock prices of both companies more than doubled on their opening days of trading.

Final Piece of the Puzzle

The best drive thrus run like machines. Simple goals are met over and over: Orders go out quickly, the food is delivered fresh, and the right orders get to the right cars. But in the drive thru, pressure can run high and the smallest mistakes can prove catastrophic, backing up lines and spelling disaster for both customers and the restaurant’s bottom line.

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