Chain Beverage Buzz: October 29, 2012

Despite September Dropoff, Spirits Enjoying Solid Growth in Control States in 2012
Despite a disappointing 6.7% decline in September, year-to-date spirits sales volume in control states was up by 3.6% through the first nine months of 2012, according to NABCA. Irish whiskey (+12.6%) was the only major spirits category to register an increase in September, but all types were up year-to-date except for gin and prepared cocktails. Utah (+6.6%) and Idaho (+0.9%) were the only states among the 19 control jurisdictions to post gains in September, while Michigan (-20.7%) and Iowa (-10.5%) suffered double-digit losses. MORE>>

Chili's Campaign Raises More Than $5 Million for Children Fighting Life-Threatening Diseases
Chili's Grill & Bar is known for making people feel special, and last month, guests and team members alike carried out the brand's passion by helping raise more than $5 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital during the ninth annual Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign. A reflection of the generosity and support of guests and restaurant team members nationwide and in Puerto Rico, contributions from this year brings the campaign's total to more than $46 million, an arm's reach from the brand's $50 million, 10-year commitment. Once completed, it will be the largest donation from a single-partner campaign in St. Jude history. MORE>>

Smokey Bones Looks to Menu to Spur Growth
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill is in the midst of changes that its chief executive hopes will spur growth for the Orlando-based brand. “Let’s face it,” said Christopher J. Artinian, Smokey Bones’ chief executive, “one of the reasons that I was brought into Smokey Bones was to create a platform for growth.” Before joining Smokey Bones in June, Artinian had served as president and chief executive of Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. Smokey Bones, he said, hasn’t opened any new restaurants during the past couple of years. In 2013, the company hopes to open four to six new restaurants. That’s due, in part, to some core changes to the menu, events marketing, and restaurant design, he said. MORE>>

Hot Restaurant Menu Trends for 2013
Toasted bread samplers, contemporary Latin dishes, snacks for less than $5 and high-end takeout are among the hot restaurant trends coming next year, a San Francisco hospitality consulting group predicted Tuesday. In the fifth annual trend-spotting webinar by public relations and marketing firm Andrew Freeman & Co., principal Andrew Freeman said 2013 will be a year of evolution that will force restaurants to look for opportunities for revolution. “With the economy upswing not swung all the way back, we’re encouraging people to revolt, to break some rules, be brave and stay ahead of the competition,” Freeman said. MORE>>

The Cheesecake Factory's 3Q Traffic Growth Bucks Casual-dining Trends
The Cheesecake Factory Inc. reported a 32-percent increase in profit on Wednesday, citing traffic growth that has defied casual-dining trends. Brands such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili’s and Maggiano’s have reported negative traffic trends or warned of cautious consumers in reporting late summer results so far. But Cheesecake Factory officials boasted of meaningful gains in traffic for their namesake brand, noting that sales have increased during off-peak shoulder periods of mid-afternoon and late night. MORE>>

The Plot to Destroy America's Beer
Brian Rinfret likes imported beer from Germany. He sometimes buys Spaten. He enjoys an occasional Bitburger. When he was 25 years old, he discovered Beck’s, a pilsner brewed in the city of Bremen in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516. It said so right on the label. After that, Rinfret was hooked. One Friday night in January, Rinfret, who is now 52, stopped on the way home from work at his local liquor store in Monroe, N.J., and purchased a 12-pack of Beck’s. When he got home, he opened a bottle. “I was like, what the hell?” he recalls. “It tasted light. It tasted weak. Just, you know, night and day. Bubbly, real fizzy. To me, it wasn’t German beer. It tasted like a Budweiser with flavoring.” MORE>>

First Watch Buys 2 Atlanta-based Restaurants
First Watch Restaurants Inc. has acquired the two company-owned locations of Atlanta-based J. Christopher's Restaurants LLC, the first acquisition in the local chain's 30-year history. Initially, only the pair of corporate-owned J. Christopher's will be converted. Another 19 franchise restaurants may in time become First Watch eateries. The company bought the rights to purchase all 19 licensing agreements. Buying J. Christopher's also will allow First Watch to connect geographically restaurants it owns in Florida with eateries in Tennessee and Indiana, said Chris Tomasso, a First Watch spokesman. MORE>>

Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. Announces Third Quarter Earnings Per Share of $0.57
Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 23, 2012. Sally Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We're pleased with our strong top-line growth of nearly 25% in the third quarter. We focused on operational excellence at the restaurant level and our teams delivered strong same-store sales. In addition, we leveraged on labor, operating, and occupancy expenses. High cost of sales and incremental preopening expenses moderated our bottom-line expansion, producing earnings per diluted share of $0.57 compared to $0.61 in 2011." MORE>>

Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc. Reports Third Quarter & Year-to-Date 2012 Financial Results
Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc. owner and operator of the BRAVO! Cucina Italiana and BRIO Tuscan Grille restaurant concepts, today reported financial results for the thirteen and thirty-nine week periods ended September 23, 2012, updated its fiscal 2012 outlook, as well as provided a preliminary view of fiscal 2013. The Company has also announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a $20 million share repurchase program. MORE>>

Brinker International Reports Increases In First Quarter Fiscal 2013 EPS And Comparable Restaurant Sales
Brinker International, Inc. announced results for the fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 26, 2012. "Brinker delivered 23 percent EPS growth during the quarter by increasing operational efficiencies and growing top line sales that outpaced the industry," said Doug Brooks, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our long term strategies continue to strengthen our business model, help us drive more predictable and sustainable growth, and give us confidence we'll deliver on our long term promise to double EPS to $2.75 to $2.80." MORE>>

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