One good indicator that the economy has improved is that consumers are not as concerned with discounts when choosing their restaurant meals. According to research by the NPD Group, people aren’t putting value menus over every other consideration when it comes to dining out now. In fact, for the 12 months ending in August of 2012, non-deal restaurant traffic actually increased 1 percent. For the…
Last week’s Jobs Report, issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, echoed news we’ve all grown accustomed to hearing — U.S. job growth is weak.
But is that the whole story?
If you take a moment to study the recent news, there is a silver lining — at least for the restaurant industry. In the month of August, 96,000 jobs were added on a net basis across the nation and more than 28,000 of those jobs were in the restaurant industry. In other words, more than…
As I’ve probably mentioned lately, I’ve recently worked with several clients on debt-raise projects. Based on that experience, as well as others over the years, I’ve begun to identify a malaise among credit providers which I’ll refer to as Lake Wobegon Syndrome.
There are only three ways to increase food & beverage sales.
The economy and unfavorable weather has robbed resort, restaurant, and F&B executives of the simplest method to improve sales. Luckily, two remaining methods still offer opportunity, yet one single F&B Core-Competency Focused Strategy is best for Profit Increases.
There’s good news and bad news regarding the prospects for an economic recovery. This should not be a surprise, especially since the news has to do with the findings of economists, perhaps the only subspecies of humans needing a third hand to settle arguments. (You know the old joke: arguments which often include the phrases 'on the one hand...' and 'On the other hand.....’).…
Every so often, I listen to the podcasts produced by NPR’s Planet Money team, focusing on economic and financial topics in the US and around the world. On their podcast #225, dated 11/2/2010, their guest was Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics and a frequent TV and radio commentator on things economic.…
Two years ago, the Restaurant Finance Conference fell (choice verb?) just after the capital market cataclysm of September 2008. As I’ve noted before, the mood was so unsettled that man suggested Zombie costumes be issued. Last year, their was still considerable uncertainty -- and accompanying gallows humor -- but as one reader noted at the time, “we’re still here”; there was at least a general…
The Fed’s Ben Bernanke and many other market watchers say that the recession has bottomed out. There are small positive signs appearing here and there. I agree with predictions that strong signs of recovery will manifest over the next couple of months. There will still be problems here and there, but in my opinion, the bottom line is that the whole economic climate begins to change when a retail consumer sees the item that they have been looking at for many months, picks it up and buys… Continue
Having just seen (again) Steve Martin’s classic sketch regarding Christmas wishes from an old Saturday Night Live, I’m tempted to follow suit, but will try to resist. Still, if I were granted just one wish this Christmas, ...
I’d wish for confidence. There are hazards remaining between us and a robust recovery, including the still-unresolved issue of commercial real estate defaults across lenders’ (and investors’) portfolios. Still, most economists and analysts believe… Continue
A recent open letter from the National Restaurant Association in Nation's Restaurant News seeks to rally the industry around a proposed campaign to "debate the notions currently going unchallenged in the public forum" - notions suggesting consumers can save significant sums by eating at home.
While it's true that the mass media - TV, talk show hosts, etc. - has promoted this theory, it's not clear how well their message has resonated with consumers. According to NRA, research shows… Continue
As I mentioned in a prior column, I just spoke at the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference, an annual event put forth by the Restaurant Finance Monitor and Franchise Times. As always, it was a quality event; John Hamburger and Mary Jo Larson have done a terrific job of making this a valuable information forum for operators, investors, and lenders, as well as an opportunity for many of us to gather with current, past, and prospective clients and renew a few… Continue
The ‘literati’ amongst you will instantly recognize that I shamelessly ripped off the title of this blog post from two truly epic novels by renowned author Ken Follett and if you’ve read them both, by the time you are finished reading this, you will completely understand why I chose the title I did.
What is ironic to me is that gathering the information and material for this posting was actually easier than figuring out what to title it.
I'd like to share a few articles I read this week that address the changing climate of the restaurant industry and changes in the demographics and habits of diners. Each of these pieces touched on a common theme - that restaurants are going to have work harder to be relevant among a changing -and less loyal- demographic; one that is causing the market to become more competitive and more driven than ever by exceptional customer service.
First, a report released this week from the… Continue
This is not all bad news. The sales drop is (surprisingly for me) is linked to households with children, who cut back their visits to all segments of restaurants. Parties including children, which represent a third of industry traffic, and adults from households with children, have been cutting back on restaurant visits for the last three quarters. Over half of the industry’s decline this past quarter traced to fewer…Continue
On a flight last week, I was sitting next to a boy and a girl who were both in their mid twenties. The girl noticed the “start-up magazine” in my bag, pointed to it and said to the boy, “Hey, have you heard of this magazine?” It was an obvious and awkward moment where I knew she wanted me to ask, “Do you have a start-up? If so, what do you do?” So.. I asked, she enthusiastically said, “YES!“ and then, blushing, said “OK. Here’s my spiel.” Her “partner” winked and gave… Continue
Wahlburgers has signed a franchise agreement with Hingham Associates, LLC that will bring five Wahlburgers to the metropolitan Philadelphia area over the next several years. The franchise group is actively looking at sites and is targeting a late 2014-early 2015 opening for its first restaurant.
Luna Grill, the San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, is welcoming retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team. Thorburn has been brought on board to fill the newly created position of Vice-President of Real Estate.
Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.
If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.
Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.
Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."
Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)
The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.