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    The 100 Biggest Stories of 2011

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

    93. NetWaiter Jumps On Google Train

    How NetWaiter and Google+ can boost a quick serve’s Google Search content:

    1. Company uses NetWaiter for online ordering function.
    2. Company installs Google+ icon on NetWaiter page.
    3. Customer clicks on icon, establishing that restaurant as one of their interests on Google+ and boosting the restaurant’s Google Search content.

    94. The Fancy Fast Food Blog

    Fast food, especially the deep-fried fare, is notorious for appearing tragically unhealthy and, sometimes, for even coming across as unappetizing. Along comes Fancy Fast Food, a blog dedicated to ordering meals from quick serves then steaming, scrambling, and slashing their individual ingredients into more appetizing alternatives.

    McDonald’s famous fries are chopped into rice-like pieces and steamed while KFC’s grilled chicken is deboned, thrown into a food processor, and converted into a paté.

    As if that wasn’t enough, there was even a book of the same name published this fall.

    95. Moe’s Southwest Grill’s Approach to … the Southwest

    You may be surprised to find out that Moe’s Southwest Grill does not have much of a presence in the Southwest. But that will change in the coming years.

    The Atlanta-based brand is planning for an unusual approach to entering new markets: licensing. Moe’s inked a deal this year with BJ’s Wholesale Club that will carry 17 Moe’s-branded products into 190 BJ’s stores.

    “As we start to grow with other license channels, in the supermarket chains and other club chains, we’re going to start to see our products move west,” says brand president Paul Damico.

    96. Corner Bakery’s Twitter Promo

    When Corner Bakery rolled out its new Smoked Turkey Cobb sandwich in February, it played up the release with a Twitter promotion that handed out freebies. Followers just needed to keep an eye on the @CornerBakery handle, where three questions a day were posted for several days. The first five to reply with the correct answer scored a coupon for a free Smoked Turkey Cobb sandwich.

    97. Northern European Cuisine is the “It” Food

    Foods from Northern European countries, particularly Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, are resonating with consumers, according to the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and market research publisher Packaged Facts.

    Americans are discovering pairings such as beer with bratwurst, smoked fish with dark hearty breads, and schnitzel with spaetzle.

    98. Freestyle Appears Outside Test Kitchens

    Whispers of a soda fountain that offers more than 100 options to restaurant diners have been growing since Coke created its Freestyle machine in 2009. But not until this year have the fountains been in regular rotation across the country. Companies including Firehouse Subs, Five Guys, and Chick-fil-A all have the space-age fountains in their units. Could your stores be next?

    99. Epic Meal Time Gets Gross

    In his YouTube cooking show, Harley Morenstein cruises to fast food joints in pursuit of combinations that cause maximum bodily harm.

    In April, “Epic Meal Time” debuted one of its most popular episodes, Fast Food Lasagna. Nearly 10 million viewers have watched as Morenstein layers 15 Wendy’s Baconators, 15 McDonald’s Big Macs, and 15 A&W Teen Burgers with bacon strips, Jack Daniel’s meat sauce, cheese, and onion rings, bakes it, and consumes.

    100. Food Trucks Head to … the Ballpark?

    Food trucks may be a thing of the streets, but ARAMARK decided it wanted to carry the trend into Major League Baseball stadiums, too. Starting in July with Wok in the Park in Denver’s Coors Field, and then in August with Just Loaf’N Po’Boys and The Mobile Marlay in Atlanta’s Turner Field, ARAMARK parked trucks on ballpark concourses to much fanfare. No word on what kind of parking violations ballparks might enforce.