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This week, the Align Public Strategies team is joined by Mike Whatley, vice president of state and local affairs for the...
01/10/2020
Working Lunch: National Restaurant Association executive on what’s ahead in 2020

This week, the Align Public Strategies team is joined by Mike Whatley, vice president of state and local affairs for the National Restaurant Association. He shares how his team is approaching 2020 and the legislative and regulatory challenges coming to the restaurant industry this year.

Also, the week’s updates on wage and benefit initiatives

As a fast-casual burger chain, the restaurant is already set apart from Yum’s current quick-service brands, Taco Bell, P...
01/10/2020
Five things to know about Yum Brands’ newest acquisition, The Habit Burger Grill

As a fast-casual burger chain, the restaurant is already set apart from Yum’s current quick-service brands, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC. The Habit Burger Grill, which currently has 271 units and has recently placed an emphasis on convenience and value, will now have access to Yum’s quick-service expertise.

Learn about the history of the fast-casual burger restaurant

BBQ Holdings Inc., formerly Famous Dave’s of America Inc., has named Jim Gilbertson as its new chief financial officer, ...
01/10/2020
BBQ Holdings names Jim Gilbertson CFO

BBQ Holdings Inc., formerly Famous Dave’s of America Inc., has named Jim Gilbertson as its new chief financial officer, the company said Thursday. The Minnetonka, Minn.-based brand, which took on the new corporate name last September, said Gilbertson most recently served as CFO of Bluespire Inc., a digital marketing agency in Minneapolis. http://ow.ly/iPfF50xSpZJ

Famous Dave’s parent hires former Granite City financial chief

Subway is downsizing its corporate executive team, confirming Thursday that it was getting rid of its chief brand and in...
01/09/2020
Subway downsizes corporate team

Subway is downsizing its corporate executive team, confirming Thursday that it was getting rid of its chief brand and innovation officer position. http://ow.ly/rmOX50xRF5d

Len Van Popering is leaving this month as global brand and innovation officer, and sandwich brand will eliminate position

Restaurant same-store sales were down 2.1% year over year in December, the worst result the industry has seen in more th...
01/09/2020
Poor December restaurant sales set up an uncertain start to 2020

Restaurant same-store sales were down 2.1% year over year in December, the worst result the industry has seen in more than two years.

Expect modest growth, declining traffic and rising turnover to persist in the new year, Black Box Intelligence says

Today, Dunkin’ announced it would start offering oat milk lattes. Does this story sound familiar? It might. Earlier this...
01/09/2020
Dunkin’ announces oat milk lattes days after Starbucks

Today, Dunkin’ announced it would start offering oat milk lattes. Does this story sound familiar? It might. Earlier this week, coffee competitor Starbucks announced a lineup of coffee drinks with vegan milks, like almond, coconut, and yes, oat milk.
http://ow.ly/PIKS50xRl3s

Chain embraces non-dairy milk, one of the hottest trends in food

Zume Inc., which first gained attention for their robot pizza operation, is planning significant layoffs, according to a...
01/08/2020
What do Zume’s layoffs and Grubhub’s sale rumors have to do with SoftBank?

Zume Inc., which first gained attention for their robot pizza operation, is planning significant layoffs, according to a report from Business Insider this week. Meanwhile Grubhub, once the leader in third-party delivery, is rumored to be considering a sale, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal today.

With its $100B Vision Fund, holding company SoftBank has its sights on the restaurant industry

The last quarter of 2019 was a big one for chefs getting new jobs, so we split our roundup into two parts. Here's the fi...
01/08/2020
Chefs on the Move: New culinary positions at restaurants and hotels in the United States

The last quarter of 2019 was a big one for chefs getting new jobs, so we split our roundup into two parts. Here's the first group of chefs who moved to new positions. http://ow.ly/52nv50xQaju

Executive chefs named at Boulud Sud, Clever Rabbit, South City Kitchen Avalon, Pabu Boston, Bottino, The Original El Taco, Montage Kapalua Bay, 26 Tapas and Sushi, The Lawrence, Kōyō, Bookstore Bar & Café, Lutie’s Garden Restaurant and Mary Eddy’s Kitchen & Lounge, plus new pastry che...

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has ousted Guy Constant, left, as chief operating officer after a year in the role, and t...
01/08/2020
Red Robin ousts Guy Constant as COO

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has ousted Guy Constant, left, as chief operating officer after a year in the role, and the chief people officer will take on the interim duties, the company said Tuesday.

Casual-dining brand names Michael Buckmeier as interim operations chief

More restaurant brands are connecting with their customers through digital platforms, especially restaurant-branded smar...
01/07/2020
The influence – and limits – of restaurant smartphone apps

More restaurant brands are connecting with their customers through digital platforms, especially restaurant-branded smartphone apps, but they continue to wrestle with loyalty even while being in the consumers’ pockets, a new survey has found. http://ow.ly/2mNJ50xPjLv

Market Force survey finds increasing adoption of digital platforms but mixed impact on loyalty

Burger King is teaming up with Impossible Foods again to test the manufacturer’s latest product, Impossible Sausage. Sim...
01/07/2020
Burger King to test Impossible Sausage item in select restaurants

Burger King is teaming up with Impossible Foods again to test the manufacturer’s latest product, Impossible Sausage. Similar to the Impossible Burger, which Burger King uses in the Impossible Whopper that the Miami-based quick-service chain rolled out nationwide last year, Impossible Sausage is a meatless product meant to resemble meat, but with much lower environmental impact. http://ow.ly/J7Nt50xPgzP

Impossible Croissan'wich made from new products introduced at consumer electronics show CES

Yum Brands Inc. has dominated the quick-service world with brands that sell some of America’s most popular foods: tacos,...
01/06/2020
Why Yum Brands bought fast-casual chain The Habit Burger for $375M

Yum Brands Inc. has dominated the quick-service world with brands that sell some of America’s most popular foods: tacos, pizza and fried chicken.

Now, it’s back in the burger business with the acquisition of Southern California-based fast-casual brand Habit Burger Grill.
http://ow.ly/xGFW50xOuSX

CEO David Gibbs: ‘It was not part of some master plan to be in the burger category’

Contract management giant Aramark has announced that Thomas Ondrof is joining the company as executive vice president an...
01/06/2020
Aramark adds former Performance Food Group CFO Tom Ordrof as executive vice president/CFO

Contract management giant Aramark has announced that Thomas Ondrof is joining the company as executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective Jan. 7, 2020. Ondrof, formerly CFO of $23 billion foodservice distribution firm Performance Food Group (PFG), succeeds Steve Bramlage, who will remain with Aramark until April 3, 2020, as executive advisor to assist the transition. http://ow.ly/sNB650xOokc

Contract management firm Aramark has announced that Thomas Ondrof, former CFO of foodservice distribution firm Performance Food Group, as executive vice president and chief financial officer, succeeding Steve Bramlage.

Adam Price, the CEO of struggling third-party delivery operator Waitr, has resigned and is being replaced by former iPay...
01/03/2020
Delivery company Waitr names Carl Grimstad as new CEO

Adam Price, the CEO of struggling third-party delivery operator Waitr, has resigned and is being replaced by former iPayment CEO Carl Grimstad.

CEO Adam Price has resigned amid staggering company losses; Grimstad is third CEO in two years for the delivery operator

After a lengthy struggle between the hospitality industry, employees, and the New York State government, governor Andrew...
01/03/2020
New York State eliminates tip credit for some; but keeps it legal for restaurant workers

After a lengthy struggle between the hospitality industry, employees, and the New York State government, governor Andrew Cuomo has eliminated the subminimum wage – also known as the tip credit, which allows the hospitality industry to make up for part of the minimum wage with presumed gratuity — for all miscellaneous workers, though restaurants appear to be off the hook. http://ow.ly/8FWh50xMNY2

New York governor Andrew Cuomo eliminates the subminimum wage for “miscellaneous” workers

Cameron Mitchell talks about passing the baton in his restaurant group and how he’s focused on strategy and stewardship ...
01/03/2020
Cameron Mitchell writes playbook for his ‘fourth quarter’

Cameron Mitchell talks about passing the baton in his restaurant group and how he’s focused on strategy and stewardship in this Extra Serving podcast. http://ow.ly/d3pT50xMMKg

The Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant group founder and CEO talks about handing the baton in his restaurant group and how he’s focused on strategy and stewardship in this Extra Serving podcast

Chick-fil-A is removing six items from menus in two markets to test how the downsized menu impacts food quality and serv...
01/03/2020
Chick-fil-A menu test scraps 6 items including Chick-n-Strips

Chick-fil-A is removing six items from menus in two markets to test how the downsized menu impacts food quality and service. The chain is also reducing size options for items including coffee while expanding its pilot of spicy chicken strips in Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona. http://ow.ly/SeNH50xMLyD

Chain is also reducing size options for items including coffee while expanding its pilot of spicy chicken strips in Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona

Paul Twohig, president of MOD Super-Fast Pizza Holdings LLC, retired from the MOD Pizza parent at the end of 2019 and th...
01/03/2020
Paul Twohig retires as MOD Pizza president

Paul Twohig, president of MOD Super-Fast Pizza Holdings LLC, retired from the MOD Pizza parent at the end of 2019 and the company expects to name John Maguire, currently chief operating officer, to succeed him, the company co-founder said Friday. http://ow.ly/YVJ150xMKwE

Brand plans to name COO John Maguire to succeed industry veteran, co-founder Scott Svenson says

Southwest Cuisine pioneer Stephan Pyles closed his fine-dining Flora Street Café in Dallas on Thursday along with the re...
01/02/2020
Chef Stephan Pyles closes Flora Street Café, Fauna in Dallas

Southwest Cuisine pioneer Stephan Pyles closed his fine-dining Flora Street Café in Dallas on Thursday along with the restaurant-within-a-restaurant Fauna, and said he would be retiring from restaurant ownership, according to his public relations firm. http://ow.ly/nMjl50xLWTU

Southwest Cuisine pioneer to focus on consulting, licensing and culinary tours

Are gig workers employees or contractors? A California law known as Assembly Bill 5 or AB5, seeks to answer this questio...
01/02/2020
Uber and Postmates lawsuit says California gig worker law is unconstitutional

Are gig workers employees or contractors? A California law known as Assembly Bill 5 or AB5, seeks to answer this question. The law would make it harder for companies like Uber and Postmates to classify drivers and couriers as independent contractors. Now, both companies have filed suit, stating AB5 is unconstitutional.

Experts predict AB5 law could make restaurant delivery more expensive

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