Chain Beverage Buzz: Oct. 17, 2011

If you think you have a winning beverage program, then make sure you enter the 2012 VIBE Vista Awards at The deadline for entries is TODAY, so act fast!

The Cheesecake FactoryMarket Force Information, a customer experience management firm, conducted a survey of consumers’ top casual-dining chain restaurants. More than 4,500 consumers voted for their favorite chain from a list of 51 concepts, with votes weighted against the number of restaurant locations per chain. The top chains include, in order from one to 10: The Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and LongHorn Steakhouse. For the complete list, click here.

HootersHooters executives are suing former Hooters Vice President and current Chief Operations Officer of La Cima Restaurants - the franchisee company of Twin Peaks - Joe Hummel for allegedly stealing trade secrets. Hummel left Hooters to help develop the Twin Peaks restaurant concept, which has a similar business model to Hooters. According to the lawsuit, in the weeks before Hummel’s departure, he allegedly downloaded and emailed to his personal account Hooters documents including management, recruitment and distribution and sales plans. Hummel’s departure coincided with the departure of many high-ranking Hooters executives who defected to Twin Peaks, including former Hooters Chief Executive Officer Coby Brooks. Twin Peaks Chief Executive Randy DeWitt calls the lawsuit filed by Hooters frivolous.

In August, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) was at its lowest level in 13 months, falling to 99.4, a 0.3% decrease from its July level; the second consecutive month the RPI has been below 100. According to NRA Senior Vice President Hudson Riehle, the industry’s resurgence will depend on creating jobs and bolstering consumer confidence.

Natonal Restaurant Association

HMSHost won a 10-year food and beverage extension from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. HMSHost will provide restaurant and beverage options for travelers at McCarran through 2028. Restaurants coming to McCarran’s new Terminal 3 and Terminal 1 in mid-2012 include: Pei Wei Asian Diner, Vegas ChopHouse, La Tapenade Mediterranean Café and more.

People Report and Black Box Intelligence announce the finalists for the 2011 Best Practice Awards. Presented Nov. 3 at the “People, Profits, Planet” summit, 12 companies will be recognized for their achievements in creating thriving workplaces while also making a difference, including California Pizza Kitchen, The Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Logan’s Roadhouse, Red Lobster, Monical’s Pizza, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse and more.

Wingstop Restaurants has plans to launch a new fast casual concept, Wingstop Sports, in Brownsville, Texas. Expected to open this Thanksgiving, the testing site will feature a larger seating area, a patio, a bar, an expandd menu and 10 high-definition TVs to watch sports. Wingstop Sports will offer beer, wine and wine-based Margaritas, and executives conclude that alcohol beverage sales will make up 6 to 7% of total sales, compared with 2% at traditional locations.

Dan SearbyDan Searby joins Elliot Associates, an executive search and strategic consulting company for the hospitality, foodservice, manufacturing and retail industries, as the new Senior Vice President. He will be responsible for conducting corporate executive searches for all segments, including retail and consumer.


John Wittig is joining Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., (Southern) as the Executive Vice President-General Manager of South Florida, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Wittig will report to Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida’s Executive Vice President-General Manager Steve Power. Amarinder Bhangoo-Acosta also joins Southern Wine & Spirits as the Director of Category Management.

Joen Choe has been named Marketing Director at The Cooper Spirits Co. Choe previously worked as the Senior Brand Manager at ABSOLUT at Pernod Ricard USA.

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