Wisconsin Cheese Adds Value

When you turn cheeseburgers into Wisconsin Cheeseburgers, you’re not just adding extra flavor, you’re adding the prestige of award-winning quality. Quality your customers will pay a premium for.
Click HERE to visit the Wisconsin Cheese Burger page and get the recipe for the Mediterranean Lamb Burger with Wisconsin Feta shown below!

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Want the recipe for the Cream Cheese Stuffed Garlic Burger shown above? Looking for burger recipes from Bobby Flay, Jamie Oliver, Umami Burger or Michael Symon’s B Spot? Visit BurgerBusiness.com’s Killer Burger Recipes vault. _________________

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Burger King, Tim Hortons Flex Muscles

Restaurant Brands International (RBI) reported Q2 sales so strong that it invites the question of when its $17 billion Burger King and $6 billion Tim Hortons brands will begin to cannibalize each other.

Burger King A.1. Cheeseburger

Burger King’s A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Bacon Cheeseburger

“Strength” was a word repeatedly used by RBI CEO Daniel Schwartz, and with good reason. Burger King’s 6.7% increase in global same-store sales was its best showing in nearly 10 years. That included a 7.9% rise in the U.S./Canada and a 5.1% jump in Europe/Middle East. RBI did not disclose how much of its same-store-sales growth was from price/check and how much from traffic gains. Schwartz pointed to the success of the A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Bacon Cheeseburger—noting that the A.1. Sauce was the only new ingredient in that build—Extra Long Pulled Pork Sandwich and Chicken Fries in explaining the sales gain.

Tim Hortons’ quarter was almost as impressive, with a 5.5% systemwide increase in same-store sales. Its U.S. stores performed better (+7%) than its Canadian unit (+5.4%). A new Dark Roast coffee and dessert items such as the Creamy Chocolate Chill were strong performers. But Tim also improved its lunch menu with items such as a beefy Philly Steak Panini.Tim Hortons Steak Panini

And that’s where the potential for sibling conflict arises. The more Tim Horton expands in the U.S., the more it competes with Burger King for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack dollars. RBI can happily concede the Canadian market to Tim Hortons, which has 3,819 stores there while Burger King has less than 300. But in the U.S., there are 892 Tim Hortons and RBI wants more. It recently opened its first store in St. Louis, so it’s no longer just hugging the U.S./Canadian border. The more it expands, the more customers will be asked to choose between a Whopper and a panini. For now, however, RBI and its shareholders are enjoying having two strong brands.

Monday Meeting: Line Extensions Rule

This is high season for QSR menu expansion. New beef, chicken and other burgers sprout on menus in the heat. Begin your week by catching up on these bits of burger news that you might have missed:

Wendy's Spicy Chicken

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken

Wendy’s today starts  a new campaign for its Spicy Chicken Sandwich, flavored with a mix of black pepper, chili pepper and mustard seed and topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Introduced in 1996, the burger has been popular since. Suggested price is $4.49.

Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s has busted the $5 price ceiling with the first extension of the All-Natural Burger introduced in spring. The Mushroom & Swiss All-Natural Burger tops the natural beef patty with “natural hand-picked sautéed mushrooms,” natural Swiss cheese, tomatoes, mayo, lettuce and red onion and serves it on a baked-in-house bun. The new burger is priced at $5.39, or as a double burger for $7.89. The original All-Natural Burger came out at $4.49. Rising beef prices showing? Click here to continue reading Monday Meeting: Line Extensions Rule

The Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers 7/24

I knew there was no way I’d be able to keep this list to the usual seven burgers. This has been a grand week for interesting burgers from all over the world. Represented below are burger bars in Lithuania, Italy, Canada, the UK and even Tasmania. I couldn’t even squeeze in the Asian burger from Burgerie in Berlin. The U.S. burgers look pretty darn good as well and there were many more I could have listed. It’s an amazing business.

The Rail, Canton, Ohio SPICY TORTILLA MELT An all-Ohio beef patty with sautéed onions, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh tortilla chips and house-made pepper-Jack cheese sauce on thick Texas Toast.

The Rail, Canton, Ohio
SPICY TORTILLA MELT
An all-Ohio beef patty with sautéed onions, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh tortilla chips and house-made pepper-Jack cheese sauce on thick Texas Toast.

Click here to continue reading The Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers 7/24

Is Menu Simplification Hurting McDonald’s?

McDonald’s Corp. President-CEO Steve Easterbrook boldly predicted the company’s now-seven-quarter-long string of down quarters globally will end in Q3. It came close in Q2: same-store sales were down just 0.7% in the quarter ended June 30, 2015. Certainly it helps to be lapping past declines, but the vow reflected his confidence that the turnaround he was brought in to engineer has begun. He cited several major markets showing sales and customer-traffic improvement.

Sirloin Third Pound burger sales didn't meet  expectations in Q2.

Sirloin Third Pound burger sales didn’t meet expectations in Q2.

But the U.S. business continues to lag other major markets. Domestic same-store sales were down 4% for Q2, but Easterbrook remains confident about an improvement. “I believe we’re making the right moves to stabilize the U.S. business,” he said. Those moves involve changes—more subtle than dramatic, he admitted—in value, service and menu. Toasting buns a few seconds more, changing how it sears and grills burger patties to improve juiciness: these are the menu improvements being made. Easterbrook reaffirmed that his plan is to improve core menu products and continue the menu-simplification initiative rather than return to a “frenzy” of new-product introductions. Is that the right strategy?

Canada saw new beef and chicken burgers, McLobster and poutine.

Canada saw new beef and chicken burgers, McLobster and poutine.

Easterbrook cited McDonald’s continuing success in the UK, Canada and Australia, and positive momentum in France and Germany. Since the beginning of the year, McDonald’s lone major addition has been the introduction of the there-item Sirloin Third Pound burger line. But the major markets that are recovering or improving have had more frequent and more varied product launches. Ironically, several of them are American-themed. Click here to continue reading Is Menu Simplification Hurting McDonald’s?

All-Day McBreakfast in October?

All-day breakfast at McDonald’s is an apparent success. According to an internal company memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s operators are being advised to prepare for a nationwide extension of the all-day breakfast platform as early as October.

McDonald's all-day breakfastMcDonald’s began testing the expanded morning meal past 10:30 a.m. in April at 94 San Diego stores. Even limiting the all-day menu to just nine items—Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin with Egg, Sausage Burrito, Sausage McMuffin, Hash Browns, Hotcakes, Hotcakes and Sausage, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait—some operators and industry analysts questioned whether this would disrupt kitchen operations. If it did, those problems either were overcome or the chain has decided to move ahead and remedy them in time for the rollout.

Last month, the test was expanded to a dozen locations in Greenville and Greenwood, Miss., and then 132 restaurants in Nashville, where biscuits have been prepared all day.

How important could a successful nationwide all-day breakfast launch be for McDonald’s? That will be more clear tomorrow when the company announces Q2 earnings and June sales.

Study Finds Low Appetite for Apps

If you’re struggling to develop a smartphone app for your restaurant, relax. New research from online-reservation service OpenTable finds that diners aren’t eager to download apps for their favorite restaurants. Instead they prefer to do an Internet search for your restaurant to get info. So invest in your website as well as an app.

OpenTable’s study, “Technology and Dining Out 2015,” is based on input from 6,000 diners, all of whom are 18 or older and who made at least one reservation via OpenTable in the previous 12 months.McDonald's customer in Germany with cellphone

Only 6% of respondents said they would be “very likely” to download an app for an individual restaurant or restaurant group. And 56% say they would be “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to do so. The most-often cited reason for avoiding apps? Lack of data space on the diners’ phones.

That doesn’t mean consumers don’t want to use technology to improve their dining experiences. They already heavily rely on the Internet: 88% “always/frequently” use the Internet to make reservations (remember, respondents are OpenTable users); 87% use it find a restaurant; 86% check menus (how good is your site’s photography, OpenTable asks). Click here to continue reading Study Finds Low Appetite for Apps

Cheeseburger Bobby’s Changing its Look

Eight years in, with 10 locations open and six more in development, Cheeseburger Bobby’s President Bob Stoll felt something more was needed.

“We want to be different in the [burger] space,” he says. “We want to make sure when you enter Cheeseburger Bobby’s it’s something you haven’t seen before. We’re not unique enough [now] to separate ourselves from the crowd.”Cheeseburger Bobby's prototype interior

As a result, the chain commissioned a larger, sleeker design for future stores, the first of which opens in the 4th quarter in Augusta, Ga. “We were trying to come up with a timeless décor that will make us stand out. It has a loft-industrial feel with earth tones, rustic ceiling beams, concrete floors and a stainless-steel counter. We think it’s something the millennials will gravitate to.” Click here to continue reading Cheeseburger Bobby’s Changing its Look

McDonald’s Operators: We Need Help

McDonald’s Corp.’s U.S. franchisees are losing faith that a turnaround in their business is coming, judging by comments from 29 operators (who own a total of 208 restaurants) compiled by Mark Kalinowski. The six-month outlook average of 1.69—on a scale where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent—is the lowest it has been in the 11+ years that Kalinowski has conducted the survey.

These operators say June same-store sales were down 2.3%. McDonald’s will announce June sales next week.

McDonald’s franchisees always complain about management and no doubt always will. But a tone of resignation in many operators comments should alarm the company. Several suggest that corporate ignores them and the problems caused by continual remodeling, high rent, new-equipment investments, and changing menus. That has left at least one operator feeling dizzy: “Create Your Taste, TasteCrafted, all Day Breakfast, etc. etc. We are going in so many directions at the same time. I guess that’s what a progressive brand does?”

McDonald's Creae Your Taste

Required investments in initiatives such as Create Your Taste anger some franchisees.

Says another franchisee: “The only thing saving many operators with the high rents that they have now would be the low interest rates. All the re-investments over the last five years with MRPs [major remodel projects], rebuilds and kitchen and lobby remodels—not to mention the McCafé and blended ice machine remodels—have absolutely killed the operator’s equity in their business.”

A McDonald’s Corp. spokesperson responded to the survey, “Approximately 3,100 franchisees own and operate McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S.  Less than 1% of them were surveyed for this report. We value the feedback from our franchisees and have a solid working relationship with them.”

Another operator said, “We need some relief in rents/service fees, yet McDonald’s continues to push new systems like Create Your Taste ($150,000 per store), breakfast all day, new drink systems ($600 per month) and still pushing MRPs that don’t come close to the numbers they promised.”

Another operators says, “McDonald’s has destroyed operator equity by forcing up into expensive rebuilds and relocations, and then penalizes us for having too much debt. They only care about shareholders, not the operators.”

One franchisee offered pointed criticism of corporate investment in technology, saying the company “has pretended that they are savvy in all things digital and now seeks to jump into this arena by hiring a bunch of smart people. They are looking at this as another profit center, where they can push the costs onto the operators in the form of more technology fees, and the cost is now approaching $100 million and there is nothing to show for it except the same old idle promises of ‘Wait ‘til you see what we have in the works for you.’ I’m afraid the emperor has no clothes.”

One operator’s simple conclusion: “Fix the food; building upgrades should come later.”