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Foodservice News

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Blog Network

jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

California Dreamin’: Looking Back on The NAFEM Show

Nothing brings out the best in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry quite like The NAFEM Show. For three days it seems everyone is in the best possible mood while hobnobbing beneath NAFEM’s biennial big top. The burdens of business challenges seem to fade to the background as various new applications of stainless steel, melamine and even china have everyone forgetting the past, even for a moment — because, to paraphrase one-hit wonder Timbuk3: their future’s so bright they’ve gotta wear shades.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Give Me Labor Economics or Give Me Death!

Labor costs usually represent the highest, or second highest, expense as a percent of sales for a restaurant. As such, proper labor management plays a critical role in driving better unit economics for a foodservice concept. If you buy into this principle, continue to read, and if you don’t then it is more important for you to continue to read on.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Casual Dining Sales Slow Down, the Sysco/US Foods Merger Continues to Draw Fire and More

Sales among casual restaurant chains slowed in March according to Knapp-Track. Job openings hit a 14-year high in February. Some states go on record opposing the Sysco/US Foods merger. An Oakland, Calif. minimum wage increase leaves some businesses unhappy. These stories and more in This Week in Foodservice.

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Moe’s Southwest Grill

Despite a tough year in terms of both real estate and franchisee financing, Moe's ended 2010 with revenues up 8 percent, 30 new units opened and comp-store sales ahead by 5.4 percent. Significantly bigger gains in both sales and units are expected this year, says president Paul Damico, thanks to a combination of menu innovation, ongoing promotions and a major new positioning campaign.

Moe's Southwest GrillMoe's added one of its most successful limited time offers ever — rice bowls — to its permanent menu last year and brought back its popular buffalo chicken quesadilla/taco/salad LTO, both of which helped drive comp-store sales, which Damico estimates will jump again by 6 percent this year.

But the big news is its positioning campaign, which touts Moe's mission to serve the highest quality, natural ingredients. Redesigned menu boards feature a new food mission wheel that "steers" guests to healthy choices. Those include more than 20 gluten-free ingredients; vegetarian choices, including cheese and sour cream that are free of gelatin and animal rennet, as well as grilled items prepared on separate equipment from meats; and low-calorie options, including meals that weigh in at less than 450 calories.

The wheel also appears on Moe's website and social media sites and as wall art in the restaurants. Highlights from it are reiterated at different touch points throughout the dining experience — even on the napkins. "Healthy has long been a Moe's cornerstone, but we never were prepared to talk about it globally because not all of our ingredients were at the standard we now have 100 percent of the time in 100 percent of the restaurants," Damico says. "They are now, so we're shouting it from the rooftops."

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 2000
  • Headquarters: Atlanta
  • Menu specialties: Fresh, made-to-order southwestern fare
  • Service model: Fast-casual
  • Ownership: FOCUS Brands
  • Units: 429 (4 company owned) domestic and international
  • 2010 sales: $347 million
  • 2010 growth: Revenue grew by 8 percent and the number of units increased by 3 percent
  • Projected 2011 growth: 13.4 increase in revenue and units are expected to increase by 12.7 percent
  • Key expansion markets: Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois
  • Typical location: High visibility, strong anchor centers; end cap preferred
  • Average unit size: 2,200–2,800 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 40 percent of total square footage
  • Average covers per day: 300
  • Average check: $9.75
  • Total unit cost: $450,000–$769,000
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $81,000–$92,000

Key Players

  • President: Paul Damico
  • Vice President of Marketing: Joel Bulger
  • Vice President of Operations: Scott Shotter
  • Vice President of Restaurant Development: Steve Parker
  • Sr. Director of Supply Chain: Kevin Vandiver
  • Design: Lauren Taliaferro, restaurant design managers (FOCUS Brands)
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