Chain Beverage Buzz: December 10, 2012

Economist's Notebook: Restaurant job growth set to double overall economy in 2012
The restaurant industry added jobs for the 22nd consecutive month in November, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Eating and drinking places – the primary component of the restaurant industry, which accounts for roughly three-fourths of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce – added a net 8,600 jobs in November on a seasonally-adjusted basis.  Through the first 11 months of 2012, restaurants added nearly 236,000 jobs. MORE>>

Cracking into Craveability: Restaurant Foods and Beverages
It is a well-known fact that cravings play an important role in driving foodservice purchases. In fact, Technomic’s Menu Positioning & Occasion Driver Consumer Trend Report found that half of all food consumers purchase away from home is driven by cravings. But what is craveable, and what triggers consumers’ cravings? While they can be triggered in a variety of ways, the vast majority of consumers (73 percent) say simply thinking about an item they previously enjoyed prompted a craving to eat it again. MORE>>

Top 5 Lessons For Chain Restaurants In 2012
It's that time of year when chain restaurants report their year-end earnings and industry rags scramble to report and explain all that went right and wrong for the industry over the past 12 months. People in boardrooms ponder these lessons, and sit around trying to think up ways to gain our business in the coming year. It's easy to be smug at this time of year, to sit back and think, "yeah, no shit that dumb promotion of yours didn't work." But it's also a little depressing -- who would have thought a Dorito shell could be such a lifesaver for Taco Bell? So here are the 5 lessons learned from 2012's chain restaurant successes and failures. MORE>>

Ruby Tuesday and Cultivate Wines Give $50,000 to Memphis-Based Non-Profit, The Morning Center
Ruby Tuesday and Cultivate Wines are joining together to celebrate and present a $50,000 check to The Morning Center in Memphis, Tenn. The presentation will take place on Dec. 10, 2012, at the Ruby Tuesday on Sycamore View Road at 3:00 p.m.  “Through partnerships with companies like Cultivate and our own Ruby Tuesday Give Back program, we have an opportunity to positively impact every local community that we serve and become a force for good wherever we go.” The Morning Center participated in Cultivate’s third quarter voting campaign and came in first place to win this grant. MORE>>

Chili’s begins soft rollout of new menu items
Chili’s Grill & Bar this week began a soft rollout of a new menu that features three new steak items with two sides for under $12, a restaurant analyst reported Friday. he new steaks and several other new menu items take advantage of Chili’s kitchen retrofit that has now been completed in all of the Dallas-based Brinker International Inc. division’s company-owned stores and nearly a quarter of the franchised units, wrote analyst Christopher O’Cull of KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. in a report. MORE>>

How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service
The next frontier for social media and smartphones may well be the restaurant table. Consumers want to see the new technology they use integrated into their dining experience, a new study from Technomic on consumer-facing technology shows, especially if it will speed up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill. Just over half of respondents to the survey said it’s important for restaurants to start using these technologies, and that they expect to use technology more often in the coming year to order food. MORE>>

National Restaurant Association Research Shows Onsite Barrel-Aging, Food and Spirits Pairings, and Culinary Cocktails As Top Drink Menu Trends for 2013
The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) inaugural “What’s Hot in 2013 - Alcohol” survey of nearly 200 professional bartenders – members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) – shows that onsite barrel-aged drinks, food-liquor pairings, and culinary cocktails will be the hottest trends on restaurant drink menus. Already a strong trend on restaurant menus, local sourcing will also play a big role in mixology next year. The bartenders also said that dining at the bar is becoming more popular, and that social media will play a big role in attracting bar patrons in 2013. MORE>>

Upstart Gin Brands Boost Category, Alter Market’s Landscape
The U.S. gin market has endured lackluster results for the past few years. However, a few standout brands—including E.&J. Gallo’s New Amsterdam and William Grant & Sons USA’s Hendrick’s—have given the category a much-needed boost, providing dynamism and enhancing gin’s premium credentials. “The market for standard gin remains fairly static, so the increase in global gin consumption is absolutely a result of the rise in popularity of super-premium gins,” notes Alison Hunter, global marketing manager for Hendrick’s at William Grant & Sons. MORE>>

Beam Acquires Thriving 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
Beam Inc. has acquired Irish whiskey newcomer 2 Gingers for an undisclosed sum. Launched in January 2012 by Minnesota-based entrepreneur Kieran Folliard, 2 Gingers is a twice-distilled offering produced by Beam’s Kilbeggan Distilling Co. in County Westmeath, Ireland. Priced at $19.99 a 750-ml., the brand has emerged as the fastest-growing and second-largest Irish whiskey in the state of Minnesota, and is expected to exceed 20,000 cases across 2,100 accounts for 2012, according to Beam, which would make it the fifth-largest Irish whiskey brand in the U.S. market. MORE>>

Melting Pot Spotlights New Menu On Reality Show
Fondue restaurant chain The Melting Pot will be the featured company on the Dec. 9 episode of “Be the Boss,” a new A&E reality-competition show. For the chain, the exposure on the one-hour program will provide a prime opportunity to get the word out about its revamped menu, which is to launch officially in all of its restaurants by February 2013, reports Sandy D'Elosua, national director of marketing and communications for Front Burner Brands, the restaurant management company for The Melting Pot. MORE>>

Renewable Fuel Standard Costs Chain Restaurants $0.5 billion to $3.2 billion annually – Price Waterhouse Cooper
A new study conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) for the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) estimates the impact of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on the chain restaurant industry. PwC used the following research strategy. First, PwC examined 11 public and private sector studies estimating the extent to which the RFS increases ethanol utilization beyond what would occur in a free market. Estimates range from an additional 1.0 billion gallons per year at the low end to an additional 6.0 billion gallons per year at the high end. MORE>>

Bashing Obamacare Hurts Restaurant Chains
Remember how the owners of Papa John's and Applebees said they would have to raise prices because of Obamacare? That didn't work out so well for them. YouGov says the perceptions of both restaurant chains among consumers suffered mightily in the wake of those comments. The head of Denny's also said they would raise prices in the wake of Obamacare, but the perception of that chain was already low and did fall as dramatically as the other two. MORE>>

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