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    The 100 Biggest Stories of 2011

  • The top headlines, trends, and buy-outs in the restaurant industry this year.

    59. Mad Greens’ Life-Saving App

    Did you know that about 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, and that many of them are forced to tip-toe around your menu items? Denver-based salad concept Mad Greens did, and as a result, reached out to the special diners.

    The company launched a mobile app in the summer that lets customers explore the menu based on their food allergies and sensitivities. The app is available on all smartphone platforms.

    60. Aaron Person Named Chief Chicken Officer, KFC

    Aaron Person, a 25-year-veteran KFC cook from Orlando, holds the chain’s new position of chief chicken officer.

    He has created training videos to reinforce how to best prepare chicken the Colonel’s way, which he says will allow him to share his knowledge at 5,000 KFC restaurants nationwide. He’s also launching a new Cook Certification program to ensure quality and consistency throughout the system.

    61. YUM! Brands Extends Derby Sponsorship

    On the fifth anniversary of its sponsorship, YUM! Brands renewed with Churchill Downs Racetrack for a $2 million–guaranteed Kentucky Derby sponsorship through 2015. The derby is the historic Louisville track’s signature race and has been one of the country’s biggest sports and entertainment events for more than 100 years.

    “Our partnership with YUM! Brands has been positive for both companies and good for the Kentucky Derby,” says Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.

    62. “Some of our employees may, without our knowledge, be unauthorized workers.”Chipotle regulatory filing after an immigration probe found 450 out of 1,200 of its workers in Minnesota were not eligible to work in the U.S.

    Subways are Everywhere

    When Subway opened shop at the Chrysler manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio, it marked the chain’s 8,000th nontraditional location. Other bizarre places where Subway has found a home:

    63. True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York

    64. A high school in Detroit

    65. A cinema in Switzerland

    66. The construction site of the new World Trade Center

    67. An auto park in Germany

    68. Pie Five Pizza Co.

    Not only does this Pizza Inn spinoff earn high fives for its creative name, but also for its clever business strategy. It sets up shop in high-traffic, urban areas and offers customizable pizzas in five minutes or less. The first unit opened in June in Fort Worth, Texas, and the company aims for 15 more company-owned stores in the next two years, as well as franchised units.

    69. FroYo CUPS Overflows with Generosity

    Beach-themed CUPS Frozen Yogurt Your Way revealed its very own limited-edition itsy bitsy teeny weeny polka dot CUPS bikini to benefit breast cancer awareness. The summer event unveiled the inaugural bikini, modeled by Style Network’s “Jerseylicious” stars Briella Calafiore and Jacquelina Bianchi, at the CUPS’ Clifton, New Jersey, location. All proceeds from the sales of the designer triangle top swimwear were donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Jersey.

    70. Restaurant News, Right to Your Phone

    Food News Media, parent to QSR and sister publication, is making it easier for you to gain access to exclusive food news. This year, the company rolled out mobile sites for both publications, as well as an app for Rmgt that is available for iPhone and Android. Enjoy it on the go.

    71. Popeyes Partners with ProStart

    Hoping to inspire future restaurateurs and revitalize interest in the growing foodservice industry, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) ProStart program, which brings educational opportunities to more than 90,000 high school students across the country. Popeyes’ $100,000 donation will strengthen the two-year program that introduces students to the culinary and business aspects of the restaurant industry.

    72. New Drive Thru Benchmark Group

    The QSR Drive Thru Performance Study analyzed seven brands that were historically best-in-class in drive-thru operations. The group, which included Del Taco and gold-standard Chick-fil-A, proved they still were the best when stats like 96.5 percent accuracy in orders and 99.7 percent favorable exterior appearances, respectively, were reported in QSR.

    73. Kids LiveWell Launches

    In July, the National Restaurant Association launched a voluntary set of nutritional guidelines for kids’ meals. Nineteen inaugural chains initiated the program, including Burger King, ZPizza, and Au Bon Pain. Healthy Dining, which runs the website, serves as the third-party validator of the nutrition profile of menu items, and restaurants serving those dishes are listed on the site, making it easier for parents to identify restaurants with better menu choices for children.