Chain Beverage Buzz: January 21, 2013

Start the Year with a Resolution You Can Keep -- Enjoy Some Cracker Barrel® Country Goodness, Every Day
Just a walk through the door at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®is all it takes to enter a world of country goodness, every day. Today through March 17, Cracker Barrel’s new winter menu features flavorful, value-packed offerings while the country store brims with hard-to-resist, easy-to-afford décor, accessories and apparel at every turn. “At Cracker Barrel, ‘Country Goodness’ is a hand-crafted combination of quality, flavor and fun that makes each visit a great experience and value,” says Cracker Barrel Senior Vice President of Marketing Chris Ciavarra. “A fresh new year brings new flavors like our exciting winter special, Pacific Salmon Patties Country Dinner Plate. It’s just one of over 10 Cracker Barrel Country Dinner Plate entrees paired with two of over 15 sides, along with made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins that is an affordable option at $7.69.” MORE>>

Moe's: The Face of Growth
Fifty-four units opened; 165 franchises sold; more than 350 development agreements in the pipeline. That’s just a glimpse into the picture of growth Moe’s Southwest Grill has been painting over the past year. Growing at a rate of 20 percent each year—and opening a new unit every five to six days—the Southwestern fast casual is taking the limited-service industry by storm, sitting at No. 3 in Technomic’s list of top Mexican chains. And with plans to open its 500th location in Q1 of 2013, Moe’s doesn’t see a slowdown in its path. MORE>>

New Survey Finds Restaurant Chains Backing Off on Menu Price Hikes
Chain restaurants, battered by value-hungry customers and rising commodity prices, are showing little appetite for significant menu price increases, according to a new survey of industry executives conducted by SpenDifference, a supply chain co-op that helps restaurants save money. In fact, menu price increases last year were, on average, slightly lower than 2011. MORE>>

Pennsylvania Liquor Board CEO To Step Down In February
The chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has announced plans to step down after six years in the position. A statement Saturday says Joe Conti will retire Feb. 2 “to pursue future opportunities in higher education and the private sector.” Conti was appointed to the position in December 2006. During his tenure, the statement said, the agency reorganized, launched a major rebranding initiative, upgraded business technology systems and instituted professional development opportunities for staff to assist wine and spirit consumers. MORE>>

The economic impact of alcohol - Voters weigh in on local option elections; Danville prospered from sales
In the last decade, local option elections have taken place in nearly every corner of the state with communities voting, more often than not, to allow or expand alcohol sales rather than to limit or prohibit them entirely. The driving force behind the trend is economic. Most proponents of allowing alcohol sales view the move as a way to make their community more attractive to new and old businesses while helping to create what economists call a positive “balance of payments,” meaning more dollars are spent in the community than outside it. MORE>>

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar Tempts Diners with an Exceptional Valentine's Celebration Menu
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will celebrate the romance of Valentine's Day with four evenings of decadent specials and a unique Valentine gift for couples dining on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, February 14th through the 17th. To enrich the occasion, Executive Chef Russell Skall has created two enticing entrees, perfect for Valentine's dinner that will be available in addition to Fleming's popular a la carte menu.

Food & Beverage - Labor Cost Control Tips
In my contract feeding career, I came in contact with many old school general managers with green columnar paper drawing manning charts for a bid response. The goal of the manning chart was to forecast labor cost at incremental population levels. Our contracts required a price chart based on the number of residents in the construction camp. For example, the increments would be 0-100, 101 to 2001, 201 to 300, etc. Our RFP response teams spent hours crunching numbers on their charts. The hourly wages needed to be increased by burden factors. Significant labor cost is included in the employer's share of pension investments, unemployment insurance, vacation and holiday pay, mandatory training, union dues and health care premiums. The burden expenses can raise the base pay labor expense by 20% or more. MORE>>

Warming Up: Chain Restaurants in the US Industry Market Research Report from IBISWorld has Been Updated
The Chain Restaurants industry experienced a major slowdown during the recession due to reduced consumer spending. In the battle for consumers' shrinking budgets, restaurants increasingly lost out to home-cooked meals or fast-food restaurants. On average, “consumers cut spending on small luxuries like eating out, and when they did eat out, they opted for less-expensive items,” says IBISWorld analyst Nima Samadi. “Over the past five years, consumers have also become increasingly health conscious.” While major restaurants have responded by expanding the number of nutritious options on their menus, the general trend toward better eating has hurt many of the less-healthy chain restaurants. As a result, IBISWorld estimates that industry revenue has fallen at an average annual rate of 0.1% to $54.6 billion over the five years to 2012. MORE>>

Technomic names inaugural Chain Restaurant Consumers’ Choice award-winners
Technomic Inc. has presented its first ever Chain Restaurant Consumers’ Choice Award winners. Selected by consumers themselves, the winners were recognized yesterday at the Consumer Trends & Directions Conference in Newport Beach, CA. As part of its comprehensive Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics program, Technomic asks consumers to rate 115 leading restaurant chains on more than 60 different attributes. The attributes capture the consumer experience from every angle, from the quality of the food to the overall brand reputation. The ongoing study records 80,000 consumer visits annually. MORE>>

Georgia-Based Restaurant Chain Data Breach Impacts 100 Locations
A fast food restaurant chain known for its spicy buffalo wings and hand-breaded chicken fingers has announced a data security breach affecting at least 100 of the company's locations.  Zaxby's Franchising, Inc. said it found malware on the systems of many of its restaurants after it was notified of potential fraudulent activity at dozens of its restaurant locations. In a statement issued Tuesday, the company said it has notified law enforcement and believes the attacks originated from outside the restaurant chain. MORE>>


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