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    2010 in Review

  • It’s been a heck of a year, from Burger King’s buyout to BP’s oil spill. We deliver the stories that rocked our industry.

    The Industry Gives Back

    Quick-service restaurants—and their customers— displayed a giving spirit in 2010.

    31. Little Caesars ’ “Cell Phones for Soldiers” campaign offered postage-paid packages for mailing in a retired cell phone. Each cell phone resulted in a 60-minute calling card given to U.S. troops.

    32. KFC went pink in 2010 to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, including painting a Louisville KFC pink and ditching the Colonel’s traditional white suit for a pink ensemble. Restaurants also swapped KFC’s traditional red buckets for pink containers carrying the names of breast cancer patients. Fifty cents from the sale of each bucket went to Komen, resulting in a record-setting $4.2 million donation.

    33. On Valentine ’s Day, 11 Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area began a month-long campaign to fight children’s cancer. Donating 25 cents from each regular sub sold and 50 cents from each giant sub, operators handed $50,000 to Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer.

    34. On June 2, more than 3,500 Tim Hortons restaurants donated coffee sales to the Tim Hortons Children ’s Foundation. The $9.3 million Camp Day initiative allowed 14,000 children to attend one of the Foundation’s six adventure camps in 2010.

    35. White Castle and home fragrance guru Laura Slatkin teamed up to release a scented candle recreating the restaurant ’s signature steamed hamburger. Held in a ceramic holder reproducing the hamburger’s packaging, the candle’s net proceeds went to Autism Speaks.

    36. In honor of Bruegger ’s “Neighborhood Heroes” program, employees at each of Bruegger’s 293 units selected up to three local civic or nonprofit organizations and delivered free bagel platters as a sign of thanks. —DS

    37. McDonald’s Teaches Managers English

    The Migration Policy Institute honored the industry’s leading brand in May for its English Under the Arches program. As part of its second annual E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant-integration initiatives, the MPI recognized McDonald’s program to provide shift managers who speak other languages with English instruction. Working with nationally recognized experts, McDonald’s developed a work-based English curriculum that helps immigrant workers gain on-the-job knowledge, skills, and confidence. Leveraging relationships with community colleges known for their expertise in teaching adults English, McDonald’s created a low-cost, high-impact model of workplace instruction that could even be adapted by other brands. —BC

    38. PeopleMatter Hire

    Released in September, PeopleMatter’s Hire tool helps companies look for talent, allows interested applicants to apply for jobs, matches specific personality and loyalty traits in potential hires to a brand, completes background checks, and processes available tax credits, among other things. —SO

    President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev share a Ray’s Hell Burger menu during a ride to the restaurant on June 24.

    39. Ray’s Hell Burger Gets Presidential Treatment

    As a long-time staple of the Washington, D.C., restaurant scene, quick-service concept Ray’s Hell Burger is no stranger to hosting the political elite when they crave the food that epitomizes American culture— a juicy burger. But a special guest dropped by this summer. Along with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Barack Obama and two English-Russian translators sat down for a messy meal of cheeseburgers, fries, and international diplomacy. The meal stood in stark contrast to the white-tablecloth meals that are traditionally expected of presidents and was a signal of the nation’s weak econonimc state and consumers’ continued frugality. The media frenzy that quickly followed put Ray’s Hell Burger in headlines across the nation the next day. —LZ

    40. Popeyes’ Service with Speed

    Speed and convenience remain the central calling cards of drive-thru business, and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen worked to improve both. In early 2010, Popeyes completed the roll out of its Service with Speed initiative, which included new store equipment, concentrated training, and employee-recognition incentives aimed at reversing the brand’s struggling drive-thru service. —DS

    41. The Breakfast Battle

    Subway launched a breakfast menu this year in a bid to carve out a share of the daypart dominated by McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts. The new menu includes Western Egg & Cheese and Steak, Egg & Cheese sandwiches. Wendy’s also is testing a return to breakfast. —BW

    42. Capriotti’s “Marry A Bobbie” Campaign

    “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” The once-popular children’s insult became one chain’s marketing campaign this year. Las Vegas–based Capriotti’s invited customers to “marry” its signature sandwich, The Bobbie, at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas on July 21. The wedding blessing was part of a Las Vegas advertising campaign, “VoCAPulary,” that created a new Capriotti’s lexicon—including the unusual term Holy ‘Cap’-rimony. —SO

    43. Otarian Embraced by the Stars

    Hollywood celebrities gave a hefty stamp of approval with a minimal carbon footprint at the opening of the fast-casual concept Otarian in New York City. Celebrity guests Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Vanessa Williams, Mark Indelicato of Ugly Betty fame, and Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock graced the scene of the boutique fast-casual chain with an eco-friendly philosophy. Driven by the principles of vegetarianism and sustainability, Otarian (now five units, including one in London) is the first U.S. restaurant to track the carbon footprint of every menu item. —LZ