Chain Beverage Buzz: April 16, 2012

Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin’ Brands Inc. — the parent company to brands such as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's OutbackItalian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar — intends to raise $300 million in its initial public offering (IPO). The company, which owns and operates 1,248 restaurants around the world, plans to use the IPO to pay off $248 million in debt; additional funds will be used for working capital and general use. According to filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the company's profits nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011, earning $52.9 million (50 cents per share) on revenue of $3.63 billion in 2010 and then upping that to $100 million (94 cents per share) on revenue of $3.84 billion. The company has credited menu innovations and more dining options for its recent success.

Technomic Inc.'s Adult Beverage Resource Group released its list of top 250 spirits brands, with Smirnoff, Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniel’s and ABSOLUT topping the list. The fastest-growing brands were Skinnygirl Cocktails (388% growth), Familia Camarena Tequila (233% growth), Malibu Prepared Cocktails, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Rökk Vodka, all noting triple-digit increases. The top 250 brands grew 3.1% in total volume in 2011 — a rate slightly lower than the total market's 3.5% increase. The top 250 brands account for 89% of total 2011 retail spirits sales.

The National Restaurant Association recently announced that restaurants have added more than 560,000 new jobs in the past 24 months — 200,000 of which were added in just the past six months. Restaurants have led the way in job creation nationally, adding 37,000 positions in March, the same as manufacturing. NRA data shows that restaurant employment growth has outpaced national job growth for more than a decade.

Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings awarded Heineken USA its 2012 Emerging Partner Award, which is given to a company that has shown exceptional abilities as a partner and has helped drive overall business in their specific category asHeineken well as in other categories through out-of-the-box initiatives and ideas. In 2011, Heineken added nine key account managers for Buffalo Wild Wings and added local on-premise managers to support individual locations throughout the country. Heineken provides “in-depth social-media and consumer insights to help us identify emerging trends and better position our import brands for growth, and they are proactive in helping us educate our staffs and improve our guest’s draught beer experience,” says Patrick Kirk, Director of Beverage for Buffalo Wild Wings and its 830 locations around the United States. “Heineken USA’s approach has been to find the best solution for BWW and then figure out how their brands can fit. It’s that mentality and attitude that makes them a true business partner.”

Last year, more than 5,500 restaurants raised a total of $2.4 million as part of Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Program. The program encourages chain and independent restaurants to run in-house promotions for a week in September, from which a percentage of sales are donated to Dine Out for No Kid Hungry. The $2.4 million raised is almost $1 million more than the amount raised in 2010.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. will acquire Miami-based Lime Fresh Mexican Grill for $24 million in an attempt to grow the Ruby TuesdayMarysville, Tenn.-based company after disappointing third quarter results. Ruby Tuesday saw a 71% drop in profit the third quarter because of impairment charges from the planned closure of more than 25 Ruby Tuesday restaurants in Q4. Lime Fresh currently has 15 locations, but Ruby Tuesday executives said they plan to add another 20 in 2013 and 30 more in 2014. Ruby Tuesday also is growing its Marlin & Ray’s brand, which now has eight locations; the company says they plan to open two more before the end of the fiscal year and 10 more in 2013.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kona Grill Inc. recently promoted Chris Moran to vice president of food and beverage and JennyKona Elkins to vice president of operations for the 23-unit chain. Moran, who helped drive 8.8% same-store sales growth in 2011, started with Kona Grill in December 2010 as senior director of culinary and purchasing. In his new role, he will be responsible for all food and beverage aspects of restaurant operations. Elkins joined Kona Grill in May 2002; her most recent post was senior director of training. In her new role, she will oversee day-to-day restaurant operations, including training, marketing and recruiting.

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