Chain Beverage Buzz: April 30, 2012

Following six months of positive comparable sales growth, restaurants saw a 0.2% loss in comparable sales growth in March, as well as a 3.4% decrease in guest traffic, according to Black Box Intelligence’s Restaurant Industry Snapshot. “While February comps were driven in many regions by a favorable weather rollover, it appears the reverse effect impacted the Northeast and Midwest during record-breaking warm weather in March,” says BBI chairman Wallace Doolin. Additionally, Doolin said high gas prices are affecting consumers’ restaurant spending. Read the full report.

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that employers throughout the state must make meal and rest breaks available during shifts, but they do not need to make sure workers actually take mandated breaks. The court’s ruling is viewed as a victory for Dallas-based Brinker International, which operates or franchises more than 1,500 restaurants under the Chili’s Grill and Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy brands; in 2004, five Chili’s employees charged that the company illegally denied them breaks. The complaint later became a class-action lawsuit that included up to 63,000 current and former employees.

Leadership at California Pizza Kitchen said the Los Angeles-based brand will unveil a new prototype this year to represent the brand’s renewal efforts. The restaurant will be located in Florida and is the only new location scheduled to open in the United States this year; 16 locations are planned to open in 2012. The brand currently has more than 260 units. Other plans for California Pizza Kitchen include a new digital- and social-media-focused loyalty program, sustainability initiatives and a management partner program.

Columbus, Ohio-based Brio Tuscan Grille has rolled out a new spring menu at its more than 95 locations. The new menu includes $5 weekday drink specials on select wines, housemade Sangria and cocktails. Select wines are Tavolo Matto Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Rosso, while Sangria options are Sangria Rosa and White Peach Sangria. Specialty cocktails are the Martini Classico, Cosmo Classico, Pomegranate Cosmo, Black Raspberry Cosmo, Mojito Classico, Mango Mojito and Strawberry Mojito. The company also updated its Tuscan Tasters bar bites menu.


Brio Tuscan Grille has rolled out a new spring menu, including new specialty cocktail options, at its more than 95 locations.

Following the announcement in February that Fidelity National Inc. would acquire O’Charley’s Inc., O’Charley’s submitted written notice of its O'Charley'sintention to voluntarily delist from the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The company, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., intends to file a Form 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission today to delist its common stock on May 10. Fidelity intends to complete its acquisition of O’Charley’s by effecting a short-term merger on May 9, after which time O’Charley’s will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Fidelity.

Tony Roma’s, which has nearly 200 restaurants around the world, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Throughout the year, there will be select anniversary campaigns featuring new, limited-time items. Then, during Retro Week (Sept. 9-15), each day will feature a Tony Roma’s Signature item with a lower price, including a $1.75 glass of wine and $3 “Romaritas.”

FlemingsThis Mother’s Day, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will honor moms who visit one of the company’s 64 restaurants nationwide by offering a brunch cocktail, the Blood Orange Fizz (Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Stolichnaya vodka, fresh lemon juice and a splash of club soda) for $6.95. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based brand also will offer a three-course Mother’s Day brunch menu for $34.95 and give mothers a complimentary $25 dining card for use on a future visit.

Tempe, Ariz.-based Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, with more than 60 locations, recently announced it will sponsor former “Tilted Kilt Girl” Corry Weller in the Lucas Oil Pro 4 Truck Off Road Short Course Race Series. Sponsorship includes logos prominently placed on Weller’s vehicle, national television coverage (CBS, SPEED, NBC Sports Network and MavTV) on the LOORRS Pro 4 Truck Off Road Racing Series and local pub appearances to meet Tilted Kilt patrons and fans.

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