Chain Beverage Buzz: Feb. 22, 2011

Darden logoDarden Restaurants is enforcing a tip sharing policy at its Olive Garden and Red Lobster locations. Darden is requiring servers to share a specific percentage of their tips with bartenders and busboys under the new policy, as part of the larger plan to trim labor costs, in the hopes of saving $30 million to $40 million this year.

T.G.I. Friday'sFleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar introduces it’s new 99-calorie Tickled Pink cocktail, made with vodka, orange juice raspberries and Prosecco as part of its new happy hour. T.G.I. Friday’s and Applebee’s also are tapping into the skinny drink trend, offering under 120-calorie libations such as Friday’s Skinny Margarita and Applebee’s SkinnyBee cocktail.

Keeping with the healthier alcohol drinks trend, Hard Rock Café is incorporating super fruits like açaí, blackberry and blueberries into its cocktail menus, creating drinks such as the Blackberry Smash (Malibu coconut rum, fresh blackberries, muddled and shaken with fresh coconut water) and the Fountain of Youth (ABSOLUT Berri Açaí, coconut water and basil leaves).

P.F. Chang'sP.F. Chang's China Bistro is introducing its new daily happy hour menu. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., guests can enjoy the specialty Mandarin Champagne cocktail, as well as all signature cocktails (Asian Pear Mojito and Chinese 88 Martini) for $6. Beer, sake and wine range in price from $3 to $6. Dim Sum and Street Fare food including Kogi Asian Tacos will also be available.

F. Lane CardwellIn other P.F. Chang's news, F. Lane Cardwell has been named President. Cardwell was previously the Chief Executive at Boston Market. In his new position, he will work on the concept’s long-term business strategy while also serving on P.F. Chang’s board of directors. 

Anita PhillipsT.G.I. Friday's named Anita Phillips as President and Chief Operating Officer; she's been serving as the interm COO and President since Novermber 2010. In her new position, she'll be responsble for leading and executing strategy for the 300 Friday's restaurants. She'll work alongside President of Friday's franchise, Lee Sanders, and report to Nick Shepherd, President and Chief Executive of T.G.I. Friday's parent company Carlson Restaurants.

Republic National Distributing Company appoints Mike Young as Vice President of Marketing. Young previously was the Vice President of Sales Operations at Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc. Young will be the key liaison between RNDC and Beam Global and responsible for growing the Beam Global portfolio in Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, NDC Georgia and Washington D.C.

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