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Ahold Delhaize provides update on combined strategy

Posted: December 7, 2016, 9:43 pm
Merged company will be ‘Better Together,’ execs say
Ahold Delhaize laid out ways in which the new company will be greater than the sum of its parts in a strategy called “Better Together."

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Fresco Y Mas comes to 5 new sites

Posted: December 7, 2016, 2:42 pm
CEO: Winn-Dixie conversions signal ‘authenticity’ to Hispanic community
CEO: Winn-Dixie conversions signal ‘authenticity’ to Hispanic community

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Stern: Amazon Go may change the game

Posted: December 6, 2016, 10:19 pm
Amazon Go could be a game changer for food retailers, but whether it should be keeping them up at night will come down to how quickly Amazon can deploy it, according to Neil Stern, senior partner at McMillanDoolittle, Chicago.

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Fiesta buys 3 Houston-area stores

Posted: December 6, 2016, 8:59 pm
Fiesta Mart announced the acquisition of another three stores Tuesday, this time in the Houston market.

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2016 Disruptors: Key Food

Posted: December 6, 2016, 8:51 pm
The Key Food Stores Co-operative CEO has made aggressive moves to position the sprawling co-op as a consolidator in a large, fragmented and still-splintering New York City grocery market.

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Nation's Restaurant News - News

News and information covering onsite foodservice, including education, healthcare, nontraditional restaurant locations and contractors. Additional news provided by NRN sister publication Food-Management.com.

Trending this week: Restaurant stocks stumble in 2017; Macaroni Grill files for bankruptcy protection

Posted: October 19, 2017, 4:36 pm

See what's trending on NRN.com this week

Restaurant stocks stumble in 2017

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Restaurant stocks stumble in 2017

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Weak overall sales and casual-dining worries weigh on the sector, though big players fare better than most.
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Taco Bell, Forever 21 launch joint fashion line

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Taco Bell, Forever 21 launch joint fashion line

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The collaboration brings the restaurant to the runway.
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Macaroni Grill files for bankruptcy protection

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Macaroni Grill files for bankruptcy protection

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The casual-dining chain closed 37 locations amid lawsuits.
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Menu Tracker: New items from Denny's, Mod Pizza, Quiznos

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Menu Tracker: New items from Denny's, Mod Pizza, Quiznos

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1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, Arby's, Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt, Biscuitville, Blaze Pizza, Bob Evans Restaurants, Burger 21, California Tortilla, Chuck E. Cheese's, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, Green Leaf's Beyond Great Salads, Hard Rock Cafe, Houlihan's, McAlister's Deli, Mrs. Fields' Cookies, Num Pang, Potbelly Sandwich Shops and Wendy's also introduce new items.
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5 reasons Ruby Tuesday had to be sold

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5 reasons Ruby Tuesday had to be sold

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Falling sales, declining units and a tough segment make comebacks difficult.
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Survey: Some McDonald’s franchisees being pushed out by remodel costs

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Survey: Some McDonald’s franchisees being pushed out by remodel costs

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An Instinet survey suggests mounting capital projects are forcing older and smaller operators to sell.
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NRD Capital buys struggling Ruby Tuesday

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NRD Capital buys struggling Ruby Tuesday

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The casual-dining chain will be taken private in a $335 million deal.
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Sabato Sagaria named president of Bartaco chain

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Sabato Sagaria named president of Bartaco chain

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The former Union Square Hospitality Group executive moves to growing the Barteca Restaurant Group.
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Roark Capital buys stake in Culver’s

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Roark Capital buys stake in Culver’s

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The private equity firm acquires minority interest in the QSR chain from Culver family.
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Sonic 4Q results dampened by Hurricane Harvey, traffic slowdown

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Sonic 4Q results dampened by Hurricane Harvey, traffic slowdown

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Weather and ‘softer’ movie promotions dented drive-in sales.
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Macaroni Grill files for bankruptcy protection

Posted: October 18, 2017, 10:23 pm

Casual-dining chain closed 37 locations amid lawsuits

Romano’s Macaroni Grill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday amid store closures and a restructuring of the casual-dining chain's operations.

 

The Denver-based chain recently closed 37 locations, prompting lawsuits by some of the company’s landlords.

According to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, many of the company’s landlords are “seeking to recover damages far in excess of anything they would be entitled to under bankruptcy.”

Macaroni Grill has 93 company-owned locations and franchises another 23 units.

The company said in its filing that it has $23 million in secured debt and had negative earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $12 million on revenues of $230 million.

Arizona-based RedRock Partners LLC owns Macaroni Grill, which it acquired from Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. in 2015 for $8 million.

In its filing, Macaroni Grill cited a decrease in sales and an increase in labor and commodity costs, which hurt profits.

Nishant Machado, the company’s acting CEO, blamed the chain’s problems on “an overall downturn for the casual dining industry,” including a preference of customers toward “cheaper, faster alternatives.”

He also cited “a trend among younger customers to spend their disposable income at non-chain ‘experience-driven’ restaurants.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

Northern California’s restaurant community rallies to feed fire victims

Posted: October 13, 2017, 9:50 pm

As wildfires rage, hospitality industry comes together to helping those in need

With the death toll continuing to climb Friday as firefighters struggled to gain control of Northern California’s wildfires, restaurateurs across the state rallied to feed first responders and displaced residents, and raise funds for what is expected to be a long recovery.

As of Friday morning, the fires had claimed at least 31 lives, and more than 212,000 acres had burned across several counties, including the wine-country towns of Calistoga and Santa Rosa. Some residents around Napa were allowed to return home on Friday, though the region still had power outages, downed power lines and hazardous debris. 

Meanwhile, the restaurant community jumped into action, joining forces to feed people and offer comfort. Many restaurants throughout the area remained closed Friday as staff members dealt with evacuations and property damages.

The boutique inn, restaurant and farm SingleThread in Healdsburg was out of the fire zone, but remained closed for service over the past week to allow staff members to focus on their own safety. Those who were available, however, cooked for local shelters, at one point harvesting tomatoes from the farm to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, said spokesperson Kristine Arambulo Keefer.

Chef and restaurateur Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco organized a massive effort, delivering more than 1,000 sandwiches to fire victims on Wednesday. 

“It is just the start,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “We have so much work to do. Please stay tuned for fundraisers that will help all of those family displaced.” 

Crenn also urged rental property landlords to help with lower-than-market rent. “No time for greed, it is about humanity and give back.”

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who has a home in Santa Rosa, also arrived in the area Thursday to cook for evacuees through the weekend. Fieri told local TV stations in Sacramento that his home survived, though he and his family had to evacuate at 2 a.m., and a nearby park was decimated. 

“This is the least we can do,” he told a local station. “We’re so sorry for friends who have lost homes. There’s a lot of really good people coming together.”

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, including restaurant operators in San Francisco, organized what it called a week-long Chefsgiving from Nov. 13-19. The association was collecting donations and organizing volunteers to cook for relief centers throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. 

Employees at the high-end restaurant Saison in San Francisco put together a collection, and a group led by wine director Mark Bright and director of operations Bevan Bunch rented trucks to distribute blankets, pillows, towels and other necessities to those in evacuation centers.

The Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus in St. Helena was scheduled to reopen Tuesday after being closed as a result of the fires last week. Both the campus and affiliated restaurant CIA at Copia in Napa remained out of the line of fire.

Over the weekend, the restaurant planned a free open house to give community members a place to go for a few hours to "give their minds some relief from everything that's been happening," said spokesman Jeff Levine. At the event, the CIA planned to collect donations for the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. 

Other restaurants served as donation collection points. 

Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, for example, through Friday collected toiletries, pet food, diapers, blankets, clothing and more to bring to shelters. The restaurant’s chef and crew also prepared food for evacuees, according to its Facebook page.

Pacific Catch restaurant in Corte Madera Town Center offered free food and drink to first responders on Friday.

Fundraisers were expected at many restaurants throughout the San Francisco Bay area — and beyond — through the weekend.

The Los Angeles-based Coolhaus Ice Cream shops and trucks, for example, are donating $1 to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund for every purchase of Dirty Mint Chip ice cream in any form or for every photo of a Dirty Mint Chip sammie or pint posted on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #coolcommunity. 

Meanwhile, the lauded Michelin Guide on Thursday indefinitely postponed its planned announcement of this year’s star recipients in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We have followed the crisis unfolding in Napa, Sonoma and other counties near San Francisco with grave concern and heavy hearts. Recognizing the turmoil and tragedy of the fires that are still burning, we understand this is a time for grief and recovery, not celebration. We extend our condolences to all who have been affected,” said Claire Dorland-Clauzel, Michelin’s executive vice president of brands, in a statement.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

Restaurants must wait and see on Trump’s health care moves: legal expert

Posted: October 13, 2017, 9:27 pm

Employee-benefits attorney urges operators to ‘pay attention’ in wake of president’s ACA directives

President Donald Trump’s health insurance directives on Thursday may impact restaurant owners and operators, but the extent and timing remain clouded, one employee benefits expert says.

“There is nothing to do in the short term but to pay attention,” said Jeff Smith (left), partner in the Cleveland, Ohio, employee benefits practice of the Fisher Phillips law firm in an interview Friday, after Trump on Thursday issued the directives aimed at unraveling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In two separate moves, Trump halted $7 billion in subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage that help insurers reduce their out-of-pocket costs for lower-income customers, and earlier in the day signed an executive order that sets the stage for cheaper individual insurance plans with reduced coverage, expanding the use of short-term coverage and allowing industry-association plans.

“The executive order on the association health plan piece said that within 60 days, the secretary of labor should consider proposing regulations,” Smith said. “It doesn’t say do it within 60 days; it says consider it.” The same timeframe was ordered for short-term, limited duration insurance, he said, and expanded availability of health reimbursement accounts was given a 120-day timeframe for “considering proposing regulations.”

“While this may look like a lot of action, it is, in my mind, a lot of suggestions for things that might come later,” Smith said.

Dawn Sweeney, the National Restaurant Association president and CEO who attended Trump’s Thursday signing of the executive order, welcomed the president’s endorsement of association health plans.

“Association Health Plans are a critical tool that will significantly expand affordable, employer-sponsored health insurance,” Sweeney (left) said in a statement following the ceremony.

“By allowing small businesses and individuals to join together to access health insurance through their association memberships,” she said, “President Trump’s executive order provides more opportunity for Americans to purchase affordable health care coverage for themselves and their families.”

The NRA in March had urged Congress to allow trade associations — from farmers to restaurants and other small businesses — to create buying pools.

Smith said association plans could help small restaurant owners, those with 50 or fewer employees. “They might want to look at a national association plan or a more regional one to see if they could get better rates,” he said. “There is strength in numbers with other operators.”

Larger restaurants or chains “probably are getting better rates than the smaller operators already,” he said, adding that guidance is unlikely to affect employer plans already negotiated for 2018.

“What the executive order is doing is making it easier for employers to join association health plans,” said Smith, adding that Trump’s other decision to withhold subsidy payments to insurance companies could also impact restaurant operators.

Trump’s decision to withhold insurance subsidies drew criticism Friday from patient advocates, state governors and Congress. Attorneys general in California and New York said they would sue to stop the administration’s action.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who leads the minority Democrats in the Senate, called Trump’s action a “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America.”

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the White House announcement “preserves a monumental affirmation of Congress's authority and the separation of powers.”

“Obamacare has proven itself to be a fatally flawed law,” Ryan said in a statement, “and the House will continue to work with Trump administration to provide the American people a better system.”

Restaurant workers and operators will no doubt feel the effects of the subsidy decision.

“The subsidy issue does affect restaurant employers,” Smith said. “The subsidies do help lower income workers pay for their health benefits. Without those subsidies, they can’t pay for the benefits through the insurance exchange.”

Those employees will likely come back to the employers and ask if they are eligible for benefits through work, Smith added. “You may see some folks who traditionally didn’t have coverage or only got it through the exchange going to their employers and trying to join those plans.”

Smith advised restaurant owners and operators to expect those questions as workers’ private insurers react to the Trump administration’s subsidy decision.

Contact Ron Ruggless at Ronald.Ruggless@Penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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Trending this week: Restaurants damaged as fires rage; Potbelly adds new director to board

Posted: October 12, 2017, 5:49 pm

See what's trending on NRN this week

Convenience trend forces restaurants to disrupt before being disrupted

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Convenience trend forces restaurants to disrupt before being disrupted

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Meal kits, delivery, grocery and c-stores are threatening restaurants as traffic and growth rates decline.

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Hot Concepts 2017: Bubba’s 33

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Hot Concepts 2017: Bubba’s 33

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The sports restaurant creates an immersive entertainment experience.

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Micky Pant to step down as Yum China CEO

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Micky Pant to step down as Yum China CEO

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Pant will become vice chairman and senior advisor as Joey Wat takes over next March.

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Pizza Hut new pouch will deliver pies 15 degrees hotter

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Pizza Hut new pouch will deliver pies 15 degrees hotter

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The brand is rolling out a triple-insulated pouch.

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Restaurants damaged as fires rage in Northern California

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Restaurants damaged as fires rage in Northern California

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Hotels have been destroyed and wineries damaged in the ongoing blaze. 

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Arby's doubles down on venison

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Arby's doubles down on venison

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The quick-service chain will also offer elk at three locations.

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Tropical Smoothie Cafe overhauls executive staff

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Tropical Smoothie Cafe overhauls executive staff

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The chain has named Paul Marsden CFO and Rob Collins CMO.

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Menu Tracker: New items from Del Taco, Frisch's Big Boy, Lemonade

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Menu Tracker: New items from Del Taco, Frisch's Big Boy, Lemonade

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Restaurant chains introduced new entrees, desserts and more.

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Under pressure, Potbelly adds new director to board

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Under pressure, Potbelly adds new director to board

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The chain has agreed to appoint an investor who is critical of the company.

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McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce promotion backfires

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McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce promotion backfires

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The company is promising more after 'Rick and Morty' fans protested limited supplies.

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