Chain Beverage Buzz: October 1, 2012

Shanken: Diageo Reportedly Seeking 25% Stake in USL for Around $800 Million
Diageo’s talks with Indian spirits giant United Spirits Ltd. are aimed toward taking a 25% stake in the company for a price in the area of $800 million, according to new reports. The talks, which Diageo and USL confirmed in a joint statement earlier this week, could see Diageo buy a 15% stake in USL from current controlling shareholder Vijay Mallya (who owns around 28% of USL), and add another 10% from other shareholders, Reuters reported today quoting unnamed sources. The report added that if Diageo were to succeed in securing that deal, it would be required to launch a mandatory open offer for at least an additional 26% of USL, raising its stake above 50%. MORE>>

T.G.I. Friday's® New Line-Up: Decadent New Dishes & Scratch-Made Cocktails
T.G.I. Friday's is adding nine new craveable dishes and four new hand-crafted cocktails to its menu, giving guests exciting, indulgent options to enjoy as they celebrate that Always Friday feeling. The new menu items offer decadent flavor combinations, like the Steakhouse Bleu Cheese Burger with applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, maison butter and creamy bleu cheese atop a perfectly grilled Black Angus burger and the crispy BBQ Chicken Flatbread appetizer combining a smoky chipotle barbecue sauce with juicy pulled chicken. MORE>>

Reuters: PF Chang’s and other U.S. Restaurants Look to Canada for Growth
P.F. Chang's China Bistro, one of the most popular casual dining chains in the United States, opened its first Canadian restaurant in an upscale Toronto mall this summer, at least two years after its international debuts in Mexico and Kuwait. Business is already exceeding expectations, the chain says, raising the question of why it waited so long to enter a neighboring market that would seem a natural fit. After all, many border-hopping Canadians are familiar with the brand. Canada already has a few U.S. full-service restaurant chains - Darden Restaurants Inc's Red Lobster is an obvious example. MORE>>

NRN: Consumer Demand for Beverages Rises
Renewed and intensified interest in beverages represents a big growth opportunity for restaurants, industry research firms have found, and many chains are eager to cater to this new demand. While NPD recently found that beverage-only traffic rose for the 12 months ended this past June, Technomic also recently reported that specialty drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, held much of the potential for further growth. MORE>>

Beer Distributors Unite to Support Sale of Chesbay Distributing to Reyes Holdings, Oppose Online Alcohol Sales
With recent attacks on the alcohol regulatory structure in the United States and widespread reports of minors purchasing alcohol on the Internet, the Beer Industry of Florida, Inc. issued a statement of support today for two beer distributors, Reyes Holdings, which owns Florida Distributing Company in Orlando, Florida, and Chesbay Distributing of Virginia.  The two beer distributors are locked in a fight with MillerCoors to preserve America's alcohol regulatory regime, known as the "three-tier system" and the nation's long-standing state franchise laws. MORE>>

NABCA: August, 2012, Control State Results
During August, nine-liter spirits case sales in the control states were up 9.4% compared to same month last year sales. Rolling-twelve month volumes grew 4.4%, up from July’s 4.1%. Alabama, Idaho, Montgomery County Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia reported growth rates at, or exceeding, their twelve month trends. MORE>>

VooDoo BBQ & Grill Begins Construction on First Florida Location
VooDoo BBQ & Grill, the nation’s fastest-growing barbecue franchise, is introducing its Cajun-Creole BBQ  fusion menu to South Florida with the planned opening of its first Florida franchise in Pembroke Pines in mid-November. Construction is underway on the 2,220-square foot restaurant that will seat 60 people indoors and 30 outdoors.  It’s located in the Pembroke Square Shopping Plaza at 151 N. Hiatus Road.  New Orleans-based Voodoo BBQ and Grill has been recognized as one of the fastest growing fast casual restaurant franchises in the industry, with locations opening and under development in more than 56 cities and five states.  It opened its first restaurant on Mardi Gras Day 2002 right on the parade route in New Orleans.  MORE>>

NRN: Hard Rock Café, Jersey Mike’s Reveal Social Media Success Tips
Trying to calculate a straight return on investment for social media based on traffic and sales following a Facebook or Twitter campaign misses the point and could neglect meaningful measurement of engagement metrics, restaurant marketers said. Jersey Mike’s Subs and Hard Rock Café, two brands that recently grew their bases of social media followers and, more importantly, increased engagement with them, discussed results from recent social media campaigns with Nation’s Restaurant News. MORE>>

Just-Drinks: US: Premium Growth to Outstrip Beer Market
Premium beer production in the US is to increase at twice the rate of the overall industry over the next four years, according to a new just-drinks report. US beer production is expected to reach 241m hectolitres in 2016, a 5% increase on last year, according to the report that was released this week. Premium beer, however, should hit 63m hectolitres in the same year, up 10% from last year, the report said. MORE>>

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