Chain News & Profiles

Chain News & Profiles includes news on chain restaurants, operations, profiles, trend pieces and new concepts.

Berlin Named Executive Chef of Twin Peaks

Whataburger Promotes Atkinson to CEO

Dobson to remain chairman of the board of directors

Chain Innovators: Energy Kitchen

Energy Kitchen is proof that Americans are getting more serious about their health. Every item on the seven-year-old chain's menu is less than 500 calories. All of its dishes are grilled, baked or steamed. Yes, there are salads, but also burgers, wraps and robust breakfast items.

Chain Innovators: Menchies

A dual focus on product innovation and delivering a customer service experience that leaves guests smiling is fast putting Menchie's on the map — the entire map. From just three units in 2008, the company expects to pass the 200-store mark this year. By early 2012 the self-serve, pay-by-weight fro-yo concept will have a presence in every U.S. state, as well as in five international markets.

Chain Innovators: Wing Stop

Wing Stop is flying high with a concept that does 75 percent to 80 percent of its sales in takeout and 92 percent from three items — wings, fries and beverages — out of kitchens that measure 600 sq. ft.

25 Chain Innovators

Circle the wagons, slash prices and hold on tight? Not these chains. Coming off of the toughest operating environment in recent memory, companies now solidly in positive territory and positioned to prosper as the turnaround takes hold are those that spent the past couple of years innovating, shaking up their menus and concepts, and making strategic moves to create new opportunities for growth.

Chain Innovators: Einstein Bros. Bagels

Fresh-baked bagels and "darn good" coffee may be what brought Einstein Bros. to the top of its niche, but the company's focus on product innovation is helping to keep it there. Einstein has positioned its traditional bagel bakery concept as much more than bagels, building a menu of on-trend breakfast, lunch and specialty beverage options that satisfy consumers' lifestyle and nutrition demands.

McDonald’s Makeover

As part of McDonald's $1 billion makeover, yellow and neutral tones will replace the famed red roofs, vinyl-covered chairs and wooden tables will replace the steel and fiberglass, and earth tones with splashes of red and yellow throughout will replace the once super bright, almost neon color scheme.

Chain Innovators: UFood Grill

When a chain restaurant with a healthy concept seeks out non-traditional locations, the result is a win-win. At least this is the case with Newton, Mass.-based UFood Grill, which has four company-owned locations and four franchised sites.

Chain Innovators: Tilted Kilt

A good idea should not go to waste; instead it should be franchised. This was the impetus behind the growth of Tempe, Ariz.-based Tilted Kilt, which has grown from one location to 53 in the six years since Ron Lynch joined the company as operating franchise president.

Chain Innovators: McAlister’s Deli

Upgrades are the name of the game in 2011 for Ridgeland, Miss.-based McAlister's Deli. The 304-unit chain is revamping its equipment package to maximize efficiency and speed of service and ingredients to focus on providing a more upscale product.