Eatery Pulse Streem Script

Fresh, focused, future-forward news for the restaurant industry

Eatery Pulse Streem: Wild Wild West of disruption, restaurant giving back, executive appointments

Thank you for joining us for another segment of Eatery Pulse Streem – restaurant industry news delivered to where you are. Fresh. Focused. Future-Forward. In this segment, we talk about more goings on in the industry as fall approaches, including Dunkin’s call for fall treats, leadership appointments and the industry giving back.

Before we get started, we know the health crisis has caused challenges for the industry, but it’s also accelerating disruption. We’ll see that take shape in the digital realm, ghost kitchen and virtual concept space, real estate and finance. It’s a Wild Wild West for larger players in the technology and hospitality sectors.

Take for instance, the recent acquisition of Johnny Rockets by Fat Brands, which has amassed a beef-and-burger centric empire with sales totaling over $700M by its corporate and franchise concepts. It will add Johnny Rockets to a chain that already includes Elevation Burger, Fatburger, Ponderosa and more.

With a new season just around the corner, Dunkin’ announced unveiling its fall pumpkin and snack selections by August 19th. Nationwide, limited-time offerings (LTOs) include a new formulation of the coffee chain’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, a selection of Pumpkin Flavored Coffees, and a new Chai Latte. Plus, the coffee chain is readying an Apple Cider Donut, Apple Cider Donut Munchkins, a Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich, Pumpkin Donut, Pumpkin Munchkins, and a Pumpkin Muffin.

New snack items also arrive: Stuffed Bagel Minis, Steak and Cheese Rollups and Maple Sugar Seasoned Snackin’ Bacon. As fall gets closer,expect many other fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains to follow suit. Seasonal LTOs, new and nostalgic flavors are great ways to get customers excited about trying something new or newly returned. So LTOs will be a big part of industry headlines over the coming month.

A post-pandemic world approaches and chains are strengthening their teams as we move forward in a challenging environment. Buffalo Wild Wings tapped Rita Patel as the chain’s new CMO. She oversees brand marketing at the Target Corporation and will move into her new position in mid-September. Chicken Salad Chick promoted 5 new executives to reinforce its confidence in its leadership team, coming off an impressive 2019 with double-digit unit growth and its acquisition by Brentwood Associates. The fast casual promoted Jim Thompson as COO, Terry McKee as chief development officer, and Tom Carr as chief marketing officer, in addition to Mary Lou Atkins as VP of Human Resources and Carrie Evans as VP of Franchise Development.

At Lawry’s Restaurants, Ryan O’Melveney Wilson was promoted to chief executive officer, reported NRN. He’s a member of the founding family and formerly served as CMO. Lawry’s is the parent of , SideDoor, the Tam O’Shanter, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Five Crowns and Lawry’s Carvery.

At Bojangles, it’s Bo Time! The chicken-and-biscuit chain, which is nicknamed Bo, is entering the fall season with a different kind of shakeup. The QSR has refreshed its logo, dropping the apostrophe at the end of its name, and revamped marketing, emphasizing its Southern Hospitality and scratch preparations. It’s also released new ad spots with retiring NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

In a time of need, restaurants continue to support their teams and community. KFC US is donating 1 million pieces of chicken to teachers and administrators across the country. Its franchisees will be able to feed our educators as they return virtually or in-person to their classrooms.

Papa John’s is supporting its team members with an enhanced educational program in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and University of Maryland Global Campus. These schools will be added to the Dough & Degrees program, which already offers programs at Purdue University Global. The program benefits team members, corporate staff and their immediate families by providing reduced-cost tuition programs. It’s a class-A college education without the hefty price tag, as most programs only cost around $2,500 per semester. Papa John’s is also in the process of hiring another 10,000 team members as we enter the fall season.

That’s it for this segment of Eatery Pulse Streem. To obtain a copy of this transcript, navigate to To keep up with all our restaurant news, sign up at and check us out at

Eatery Pulse Streem August

Thank you for joining us for another segment of Eatery Pulse Streem – restaurant industry news delivered to where you are. Fresh. Focused. Future-Forward. In this segment, we talk about recent menu launches and some financial news making its way around the industry..

Spring and summer have seen a lot of creativity from operators as they work to recover sales amid a pandemic. From launching family meals to the introduction of new dishes and products, restaurant operators are finding ways to create excitement on their menus. And multi-unit operators are turning up the heat on the volume of new and limited-time offerings.

El Pollo [POHYOH] Loco added a vegan reformulation of its Chickenless Tacos and Burritos. and Sarpino’s Pizzeria added new vegan options to its menu. Sarpino’s introduced a Vegan Margarita Pizza and Vegan Italiano, using Beyond Meat and Daiya cheese.

Del Taco added Crispy Chicken to its menu. Tacos for $1, a $4 Crispy chicken Tender Box and the Epic Crispy Chicken & Fresh Guac Burrito for $5 are all value-based new menu introductions. Kahala Brands’ PInkberry concept debuted a new Watermelon Lime frozen yogurt – just perfect for the season, and Smashburger brought back the Colorado Burger nationwide for the month of August. It pays tribute to the fast casual’s hometown, and is part of its 13th anniversary.

What’s more, Sonic debuted a Toasted S’mores Shake harking back to summer campfire days.

Now, let’s take a look at some headlines and financial results:

  • As Restaurant Brands International released its second quarter financial results, Popeyes continued its Cinderella story, posting comp sales increases of 24.8% and adjusted EBITDA [ee-bit-duh] growth of $10 million from $41 million in 3029 to $51million this year — quite impressive. The Fried Chicken Sandwich and a new BOX promotion has continued to impact the top line at Popeyes. Average unit volumes at the Louisiana-inspired QSR are now $1.7M. Tim Hortons continued to drag down the company and comp sales that decreased 29.3%. Burger King’s comp sales decrease of 13.4% in the quarter showed a fair amount of resilience and by the end of the quarter and the beginning of the new quarter comp sales turned flat. Burger King’s extensive network of 6,500 restaurants with drive-thrus made it a convenient stop for the pandemic consumer. A total of 6,100 Burger King locations now offer delivery. Promotions like the 5 for 4 meal and Dollar Nuggets have also helped.
  • Jack in the Box comp sales in its fiscal third quarter were within earshot of 2019 sales levels. Total system wide comp sales in the quarter decreased 4.2 percent while diluted earnings per share were 59 cents, down from 96 cents last year. The restaurant company credited an increased check size due to group orders and premium items, including the Homestyle Chicken Sandwich and Classic Buttery Jack for its ongoing comeback. Having breakfast items available all day has helped satisfy consumers shifting visit occasions to the afternoon. Also, Jack in the Box delivery and mobile app sales have doubleD.
  • Papa John’s financials results were Shaq-i-fied. Second quarter comp sales increased 28 percent in North America and preliminary July comp sales results are north of 30%! Adjusted Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were 48 cents, up from 16 cents in the same period last year. The Shaq-a-Roni Pizza helped raise $2M in charitable contributions and sell just as many pizzas. Shaq O’Neal, a Papa John’s board member and franchise owner, provided inspiration for the extra large pizza offering. Menu innovations along the lines of Garlic Parmesan Crust, toasted handheld Papadias and Jalapeno Popper Rolls have certainly propelled sales. Mobile orders continue to grow at the once-beleaguered pizza chain and now account for 70% of orders. We’ve also come up on the one-year mark that Rob Lynch, a veteran restaurant executive with deep marketing prowess, has been with Papa John’s and the pizza chain’s results keep rising.

That’s it for this segment of Eatery Pulse Streem. To obtain a copy of this transcript, navigate to To keep up with all our restaurant news, sign up at

July-August Eatery Pulse Streem

Thank you for joining us for another segment of Eatery Pulse Streem – restaurant industry news delivered to where you are. Fresh. Focused. Future-Forward. In this segment, we talk about the new menu launches and some financial news around making their way around the industry..

Although larger restaurant chains are experiencing a return to last year’s sales levels, based on recent quarterly earning results, many independent restaurants continue to struggle as volumes drop 30 percent, 40 percent or more. It’s a dire situation, in particular, for restaurants that cannot ramp up a robust off-premises business.

Let’s take a look at ome headlines and financial results:

  • Starbucks’ comp sales dropped 40 % during its second quarter in the US,, but as it finished the quarter, the coffee chain turned its sales positive. In July, month-to-date comp sales reflected a 2% comp increase. Reward members, digital sales and curbside deployment have helped the chain regain its footing.
  • Dunkin’ US posted a 18.7 % drop in comp sales during its fiscal second quarter, but June reflected only a 9% decrease. In July, company executives indicated the coffee chain is running low positive comps. New menu introductions, including Refreshers, Croissant Stuffers, Matcha Latte and Snacking Bacon help boost the afternoon business, as the morning daypart suffered. The deployment of curbside at 1,400 stores and an increase in Next Gen concept stores to 700 units also boosted the recovery. Next Gen is primarily designed for order-ahead pickup and drive-thru orders. A revamped real estate strategy will lead to the closing of 800 stores in the US and 350 abroad
  • The Cheesecake Factory’s comp sales decreased 56.9 percent. Remarkably, stores that had reopened for the full month of June and were at 50-percent capacity were only 13 percent down in comp sales. In July, restaurants have been trending in a better direction. What’s more impressive is that off-premises sales have escalated to $4.2M on average per store during the pandemic. At restaurants that have reopened, executives say there is still an incredible amount of demand as wait times for on-premises dining are quite lengthy
  • Is Wingstop the new darling of the industry? The fast-casual chicken-wing chain, which has not reopened dining rooms, has earned much praise and attention as comp sales increased 31.9% amid the pandemic. In takeout mode only, the chicken-wing chain certainly was impressive. Executives said its offering is quite unique albeit in a crowded category. Wings are made to order and the quality is quite high, with chicken thighs sourced in sizes larger than most competitors use – jumbo size wings – noted the management team. Net income was $0.39 per diluted share in the quarter compared to $0.17 in last year’s same quarter. On the heels of National Chicken Wing Day, in which Wingstop offered a BOGO promotion and virtual summer DJ music festival to celebrate the day, the QSR looks to buck the performance trend of many other operators.

And Ghost kitchens continued to make headlines:

Ghost kitchen provider Zuul raised $9M to expand its ghost-kitchen operations in New York, with plans to expand to all boroughs. It will expand head-to-head with Kitchen United in the city. sbe continues to launch virtual restaurants and plans to leverage real estate with Acoor and Simon Properties to create virtual and actual food halls. Butler Hospitality already has a foothold in ghost kitchen deployment using under-utilized hotel kitchens, having raised $15M in a “Series A” funding round in July

How will the pandemic impact restaurant design? To learn more, navigate to to read our summer Restaurant C-Suite Magazine issue. In addition, we’ll be diving deeper into the challenges facing restaurateurs across the country and their stories in our fall issue, and how technology will help propel some savvy restaurant operators.

That’s it for this segment. To read a copy of this transcript, navigate to To keep up with all our news updates, sign up at

June Eatery Pulse Streem

This is Bryce Shemer with Eatery Pulse Streem—news delivered to wherever you are. We’re part of the Eatery Pulse Network, a fresh, focused, inspired news source across six information and support services brands. In this segment, we discuss restaurant reopenings, acquisitions and the state of off-premises.

Earl Enterprises has bought the Brio Tuscan Grille and Bravo Italian Kitchen. It’s a deal worth about $29.55 million dollars, according to NRN. $25 million will offset debt owed to the buyer by FoodFirst, the seller; the rest is paid via $50,000 in cash and the buyer assumes another $4.5M worth of debt. This will allow many of the 4,000 workers who were previously laid off to come back, but not all closed stores are part of the deal.

Restaurant delivery is facing disruption and change on many fronts. In a deal worth $7.3 billion dollars, according to Fortune, Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway made a bid to acquire Chicago-based Grubhub. The acquisition will bolster Grubhub as it’s challenged to take market share from DoorDash and Uber Eats. DoorDash is the #1 third-party delivery service by market share. Restaurant delivery is not profitable for these third-party app companies and many of the orders delivered for their independent restaurant clients, which pay up to 30% in commissions for the service, are not profitable either!

According to foodservice consultancy Technomic, amid the pandemic,76% of restaurant operators say they want a flat commission fee from third-party app service providers, which have been much in the headlines as of late. The exorbitant fees that cut against the grain and vitality of restaurant economics are a liability as we look at the survival of third-party providers over the next 18 months. San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. have implemented commission caps on fees. It’s not surprising since 71% of restaurants operators say third party fees should be capped by law. And use of third-party delivery services is down in the most recent weeks of May, according to a Technomic COVID-19 business update.

Artificial Intelligence may be powering more of consumers’ drive-thru experiences. Two acquisitions in 2019 led to McDonald’s getting a jump on this technology, but now KFC is getting into the picture, according to the consulting firm’s new Foodservice technology whitepaper. For large restaurant companies, AI is a worthwhile investment but one that has to be handled with care and managed with privacy issues in mind.

Virtual restaurants, including those from hospitality management company sbe, which is setting up its own virtual brands, including Plant Nation, are popping up around the country. Plant Nation is the 3rd delivery-only restaurant launched by sbe. Saladworks and Fat Brands, the parent of Fatburger, are also launching ghost-kitchen-powered locations – these will be serviced by third-party delivery providers.

As nearly half of diners continue to avoid eating out, and many states still mandate restrictions, restaurants are fighting for survival. There are success stories, as well as closures that have become all too common. Among casual-dining brands, Applebee’s, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s had taken on off-premises dining aggressively as they returned within earshot of last year’s sales levels. In fact, Outback and Carrabba’s are now within 15 percentage-points of 2019 sales at locations that have reopened dining rooms.

On the subject of maximizing real estate, coffee giant Starbucks is doubling down on its Pickup Store format, as it closes 400 traditional restaurants and reevaluates properties, leaving behind many low-traffic mall locations, as well. This plan will lead to a net loss of about 100 stores by the end of this year in its Americas market. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of Starbucks’ orders were for takeout.

Thanks for tuning into this Eatery Pulse Streem news segment. What will bring customers back? We’ll have some of those insights in our next Restaurant C-Suite Magazine issue. Catch more news briefs, data driven insights and original-source articles at and through the Eatery Pulse Network. For a transcript of this news update, navigate to or sign up at

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