The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index  looked good in March. C-Store operators anticipate a profitable travel season. MOD Pizza is the fastest growing restaurant chain. In-N-Out Burger ranks number one customer loyalty. These stories and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index edged up 0.7 percent to a reading of 101.8 in March. (Any reading that exceeds 100 indicates increasing activity.)

The Current Situation Index hit 101.4, an increase of 1.0 percent. Factors driving this growth include increasing same-store sales and traffic counts — welcome news for operators and suppliers alike.

The other component of the RPI, the Expectations index, hit 102.2, an increase of 0.4 percent. More operators are bullish on future sales than in February. On the negative side, operators’ outlook for the general economy retreated from previous levels.

Operators willingness to spend money improved in the March survey with 61 percent stating they made a capital expenditure in the last 3 months for equipment, expansion and/or remodeling. This is an increase from 57 percent who reported they had done so in the February report. And, operators say they plan to keep investing, with 63 percent planning on making a capital expenditure in the next 6 months, up from 59 percent reporting similarly in February.

It appears that operators are experiencing reasonable performance so far this year.

Economic News This Week

Foodservice News This Week

  • More than three quarters of C-store operators expect sales to increase during the summer travel season according to a survey by NACS. Sandwiches and salads will drive the sales, according to the study.
  • MOD Pizza is the fastest growing restaurant chain in the country, per Kalinowski Equity Research. The second fastest growing chain is Blaze Pizza followed in order by Shake Shack, First Watch and Coopers Hawk.
  • In still another ranking article, market force information reports consumers rank In-N-Out Burger as the No.1 fast-food chain based on company loyalty. Chick-fil-A was the second ranked chain, followed by Culver’s, Raising Cane’s, Chipotle and Wawa.
  • McDonald’s had a strong first quarter. Global comparable sales increased 5.5 percent while global comparable guest traffic increased 0.8 percent. U.S. comparable store sales increased 2.9 percent, beating many analysts’ forecasts. The company also reported strong performance in China and Italy.
  • Starbucks changes its approach to drive-thru windows. The iconic brand was founded on the idea of being a place where customers could interact with the baristas, watch their drink being made and stay for a while. Times change and now 80 percent of all new Starbucks locations will have drive-up windows.
  • Tim Hortons will spend $900 million (Canadian dollars) revamping the chain’s Canadian stores. The changes will focus on technology and on expanding the lunch menu. The company hopes to have most stores done by 2021.
  • Growth Chains: World of Beer opened 6 locations in 2017 and plans to open 12 in 2018. Peco Pit Bar-B-Que Restaurants plans to open 20 units in the U.S. before going global. The Tommy Bahama chain with open its 18th Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar & Grill in the company’s Palm Springs, Calif., clothing store. Subway plans to open more than 1,000 locations outside the U.S., including in the United Kingdom, Germany and South Korea. The chain will also close 500 units in the U.S. Katsuya & Umami Burger intend to open more than 40 restaurants in Mexico, the first of 60 locations set to open globally in the future.
  • Comparable Store Sales Reports: Baskin Robins down 1.0 percent, Bloomin’ Brands (all brands up 2.8 percent, Outback up 4.3 percent, Carrabba’s up 0.9 percent, Bonefish Grill down 0.1 percent and Flemming’s up 2.9 percent), Burger King up 3.8 percent, Cheesecake Factory up 2.1 percent, Chipotle Mexican Grill up 2.2 percent, Domino’s Pizza (U.S. system-wide up 8.3 percent, company owned up 6.4 percent and franchised up 8.4 percent), Dunkin’ Donuts down 0.5 percent, Luby’s (all concepts down 3.7 percent, Luby’s Cafeteria down 1.8 percent, Fuddrucker’s down 6.4 percent, Cheeseburger In Paradise down 13.9 percent and Combo Units down 5.4 percent), Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen up 3.2 percent and Tim Hortons down 3.2 percent.

For details and same-store sales of other chains, please click here for the Green Sheet.