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 Juicy Lucy Sliders with Wisconsin Provolone and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto shown below!


Better Bacon Means Better Burgers

Go to the JONES FARM RECIPE PAGE to get the Bacon Stuffed Cheeseburger recipe for April.

Visit the Killer Burger Recipe Vault

Want the recipe for the Double Cheese Poutine 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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All-Day But Not Full-Menu Breakfast

McDonald’s will begin testing all-day breakfast in San Diego beginning next Monday, April 20, but it won’t be offering its full breakfast menu.

Just nine food items (plus McCafé beverages) will be on the post-10:30 a.m. menu, according to the San Diego McDonald’s co-op. The iconic Egg McMuffin is there, of course, along with Sausage McMuffin with Egg, Sausage Burrito, Sausage McMuffin, Hash Browns, Hotcakes, Hotcakes and Sausage, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait.

McDonald's all-day breakfast menuParticipating stores won’t be making biscuits all day and won’t be preparing McGriddles past the usual 10:30 a.m. breakfast close. They won’t be baking mini Cinnamon Coffee Cake or Double Chocolate bundt cakes all day, either. And if you’re a fan of the Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel you’ll need to find a different choice for lunch or dinner.

The nine test items are essentially the same breakfast foods included in the “McDonald’s After Midnight”  menu, a mix of breakfast and lunch/dinner items (Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Double Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets and a few others) offered between midnight and 4 a.m. (after which the kitchen shifts to all-breakfast).

The point is that McDonald’s already knows it can cook the San Diego all-day items alongside burgers, at least for a while. The all-day marriage is what’s in test.

The problem of making sausage and eggs at the same time in the same space as burgers and chicken has kept McDonald’s from extending breakfast hours before. It was two years ago that Atlanta operator J.M. Owens told BurgerBusiness.com, “We only have so much toaster space and so much grill space. Unlike a lot of breakfast QSRs, we still cook our product on a grill. Many of the pretenders are doing a ton of prep in microwaves. For instance, go into a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Starbucks, who are chasing breakfast, and you don’t find a grill or oven or fryer. We prefer to be a restaurant rather than processing everything through a microwave.”

McDonald’s first attempt at expanding breakfast in 2012, called “Breakfast After Midnight,” tested a limited breakfast menu (similar to the San Diego test) from midnight to 5 a.m. Later that became the “McDonald’s After Midnight” menu.

Members of the San Diego market’s My McCafé Club loyalty group are being invited to a special preview of the all-day breakfast menu tomorrow (April 18). One attendee will win breakfast sandwiches for a year.

McDonald’s Owners Doubt ‘Create Your Taste’

Steve Easterbrook has replaced Don Thompson as CEO but McDonald’s franchisees’ dissatisfaction with management has not been replaced with optimism. Janney Montgomery’s Scott analyst Mark Kalinowski’s latest survey of McDonald’s owners—32, representing 215 stores—finds them even less optimistic than they were a year or even a one month ago. One says the brand “has jumped the shark,” meaning it has run out of ideas.

McD_Aussie_CreateYourTaste_ Ad.400When owners were asked to rate their six-month outlook for their business on a scale of 1 to a high of 5, March’s 1.48 average was the lowest in the 11 years that Kalinowski has conducted the survey. Three months ago, the average was 1.67.

One reason for the gloom may be still-declining sales. The aggregate prediction from these 32 operators was that McDonald’s March sales were down 3.7% (and -4.6% in the East). Said one operator, “McDonald’s system is broken. They talk menu reduction to help our people, simplify our menu for customers, but add products t help sales and it doe not work. We will continue to fall and fail.”

Another operator’s assessment of what’s wrong: “Customer concerns, McDonald’s leadership, customers want different tastes.”

McDonald’s held a “Turnaround Summit” with operators earlier this year. Most were not impressed with the ideas presented—especially the Create Your Taste customization platform being tested—or with management’s ability to engineer a turnaround. Said one, “The Turnaround Summit was a farce. The ideas presented—such as Create Your Taste—DO NOT fit our business model. McDonald’s Corp. has panicked and jumped the shark. The problem is an unwieldy menu—too big—and trying to be all things to all people.”

“Create Your Taste will cost approximately $125,000 per restaurant,” said another owner. “It sounds like, initially, sales with this new concept are very slow taking off.” One owner complained, “I came away from the summit confused. McDonald’s management does not know what want to be. Expensive—and slow—custom burgers in the same restaurant where we sell the Dollar Menu?”

One operator said simply, “Pie in the sky,” which may be the latest item on McDonald’s menu.

Last Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers

The burger business is truly international as this edition of “The Most Intriguing Burgers” evidences. There are interesting burger builds and ideas available around the world. Start this week with a look at just a few of the interesting burgers that surfaced last week.

Byron, multiple UK locations: Byronissimo Our brand new Italian-inspired special arrives at Byron on April 14 for a limited-time run. There’s fontina cheese, crispy pancetta and tomato relish on a Byron burger

Byron, multiple UK locations: Byronissimo
The Italian-inspired special arrives at Byron on April 14 for a limited-time run. There’s fontina cheese, crispy pancetta and tomato relish on a Byron burger


Die Burgermacher, Vienna: Osterlamperl Burger (Easter Lamb Cake): A special Easter Pinzen bun with a tender lamb patty, house-made mustard, arugula, fresh figs, balsamic-fig chutney, house-made mayo and sage

Die Burgermacher, Vienna: Osterlamperl (Easter Lamb Cake) Burger:
A special Easter Pinzen bun with a tender lamb patty, house-made mustard, arugula, fresh figs, balsamic-fig chutney, house-made mayo and sage











Click here to continue reading Last Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers

Heat Wave: Burger Chains Get Super-Spicy

Wendy’s next week introduces nationally the Jalapeňo Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich and its sidekick, Ghost Pepper Fries. These are the burger world’s latest attempt to see just how fiery a sandwich can be. Diners say, “Bring it on.”

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco burgerWendy’s packs heat: the new chicken sandwich features an all-white-meat chicken breast topped with fresh, diced jalapeños and a proprietary ghost pepper sauce. It all goes on a freshly toasted red jalapeño bun. Menu is $4.99 (interesting because Wendy’s reportedly tested the sandwich at $5.49). The Ghost Pepper Fries are covered with cheese sauce and then topped with diced, fresh jalapeños, shredded Cheddar cheese and a ghost pepper sauce. They’ll be $1.99.

Wendy’s Jalapeňo Fresco Spicy Chicken comes on the heels of Carl’s Jr. And sibling Hardee’s introducing the $5.49 El Diablo, a third-pound or half-pound Black Angus burger with jalapeňo peppers, pepper-Jack cheese, habanero sauce, sliced jalapeňos, bacon. How spicy is this burger? Advertising gives this warning: “This Lava Bomb Will Melt Your Face Off.”

“Spicy” certainly isn’t new, but the kinds of ultra-spicy products coming on the market do reflect a shift in how much heat diners can stomach. Jalapeňos are giving way to habaneros and ghost peppers.

CarlsJr. El Diablo“When it comes to spicy food, a lot of the consumer research being done on the topic today clearly shows that the public’s desire for heat just keeps growing and growing every year,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, in announcing the burger. “We’ve witnessed that phenomenon in our own restaurants, where potential menu items that used to be rated as ‘too spicy’ in our market tests just a few years ago are now just right.”

Earlier this week, Burgerville, the Pacific Northwest regional chain that tends more to organic ingredients than spice, joined the trend with a Spicy Pickled Pepper Cheeseburger, topped with pickled peppers and chipotle mayo.

Jack in the Box's Spicy Sriracha Burger

Jack in the Box’s Spicy Sriracha Burger

Spicy burgers and chicken sandwiches have been piling up on chain menus. Ghost Pepper sauce is on the Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken on Jack in the Box’s menu, which also includes a Spicy Sriracha Burger. Burger King recently ran a Spicy BLT Whopper LTO and earlier offered a Spicy Big Fish for Lent. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has a Fiery Ghost Tavern Double burger with ghost pepper sauce, pepper-Jack cheese and jalapenos.

The Spicy Houston burger is a current LTO at Johnny Rockets. In addition to spicy jalapeňos, the build has pepper-Jack cheese, leaf lettuce, tomato and house Smokin’ Chipotle Ranch Sauce.

Wendy’s has had several version of spicy chicken sandwiches and nuggets. A Spicy Chipotle burger and chicken sandwich were LTOs. Smashburger tried a Spicy Buffalo Chicken sandwich.

McDonald’s isn’t riding the heat wave. Its new slimmed down menu–it ditched the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder in the streamlining–doesn’t offer many spicy options. other than a Jalapeno Double.  The new Sirloin Third Pound burgers don’t have a spicy entry either. It’s one more area for the Arches to look at as it rethinks the brand.

McDonald’s McCafé Campaign Blends Ads/TV

McDonald’s is running an interesting campaign in the UK for McCafé that is both gentle branding effort and women-targeted marketing together in one clever media buy.

McD_UK_McCafeMoments2“McCafé Moments” are 30-second commercials that air during Channel 4 programming. Each features a small group of real people, most often women, who discuss events in the show the commercial interrupts. For example, in the most recent spot, airing during “The Island with Bear Grylls,” Daniela, Lauren and Genevieve discuss what they would do if they encountered a snake on an island, the predicament just featured in the program before the commercial break.

Spots begin and end with “McCafé Moment” signs and the women are clearly drinking from McCafé cups but the brand connection is no harder. The campaign is the joint work of creative shop The Outfit, media planner/buyer OMD UK and Channel 4, which provided the agency with advance access to programming content in order to point discussions in the proper directions. One spot features three male tree surgeons talking in a truck but the others have all-female casts, including several featuring a pair of twins, Hayley and Jenny, chatting on topics such as their dream homes over coffee in a McDonald’s.

“This ground-breaking partnership between McDonald’s, Channel 4 and OMD UK uses a format people know and love, weaving ‘McCafé Moments’ into the fabric of television,” Jess Roberts, OMD UK managing partner told Britain’s Lunch Business magazine.

Campaign says the campaign owes a debt to Gogglebox, a Channel 4 show in which real people in their homes watch and comment on other TV programs. But it also recalls “Girlfriends at Wendy’s Eating Salad and Talking About Stuff,” a video series that ran last year for Wendy’s Canada, created by agency MacLaren McCann. It was a little like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” but with salads. The videos featured two women casually talking about what to wear, who to date and more while enjoying Wendy’s salads. In both the U.S. and Canada, the chain now is letting spokeswoman “Red” promote the salad line.

Look for McDonald’s to launch women-focused McCafé marketing here as the sub-brand expands. Muffins are now available in Chicago and spreading through other markets. Mini cinnamon and chocolate Bundt cakes are in Los Angeles and the chain will be expanding its pastry lineup later this year.

McCafé – Twins on their dream homes from The Outfit on Vimeo

A&W Gets Meaty with Deli Burger

A&W Restaurants will bring a little attitude to its menu when it unveils a new Deli Burger that’s topped with sliced pastrami, mushrooms, onion and Swiss cheese on a double burger. The chain says the burger arrives on April 13.

A&W Deli BurgerA TV spot labels this creation, “The greatest thing since sliced meat.” The brand’s advertising is handled by Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions in Lexington, Ky., where A&W moved after it was spun off to franchisees by Louisville-based Yum! Brands in 2011. The chain has roughly 700 locations, many of which are co-branded with former Yum! Siblings KFC and/or Long John Silver’s. A&W Canada has been a separate entity since 1972.

A&W’s signature item remains its root beer. A&W root beer has been around since 1919 and is named for founding partners Roy Allen and Frank Wright. The beverage is made in-house at A&W restaurants, sweetened with cane sugar.

The Deli Burger joins a solidly traditional menu at A&W. The third-pound double-patty Papa Burger is the featured burger. Chicken, tenders, strips and sandwiches also are on the menu. But every year or so the chain shows a bit of flash. In 2013 it was a BBQ Bacon Crunch Burger. Last year it was the Hand-Breaded Chicken Tender Texas Toast Sandwich, promoted with an even longer, 304-character hashtag: (#supertastylargeandinchargetexastoasttwohandwichmadewithdeliciousonehundredpercentwhitemeathandbreaded

Breakfast All Day? McDonald’s Operators Can Figure It Out

Few people understand McDonald’s Corp. as well as Barry Klein, who served as its director of advertising from 1969 to 1974 and is credited with creating Ronald McDonald and leading the iconic “You deserve a break today” ad campaign. After many years in advertising he now is a principal at Klein & Co., which creates consumer communications, concepts and new products for restaurants, retailers and consumer package goods companies. Barry Klein’s essay about all-day breakfast initially appeared on LinkedIn. Contact him at bkleinco@comcast.net.

To this former company guy and franchisee who still believes in the strength of an iconic brand and its operations expertise, the challenge of breakfast all day at McDonald’s should definitely be met. Why? Because consumers want it, and because it is the type of food offering change that could bring back visits the brand is losing to competition. Breakfast all day is not something that Five Guys or Smashburger or the other fast casual burger players are going to offer, and an Egg McMuffin for lunch could make McDonald’s the choice for that meal.

McD_Can_EggCookerHow to do it is the primary issue. As we’ve been told time and again, equipment capacity in McDonald’s kitchens…the fact that eggs cook at a different temperature than burgers…toasters wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand…and lots more operational stumbling blocks are in the way. But some of those problems have existed almost every time the company wanted to introduce something drastically new. Quarter Pounders took longer to cook…Filet-O-Fish sandwiches couldn’t be cooked in the french fry vats…McCafé drinks required totally new equipment. BUT THEY FIGURED IT OUT!

Sometimes it was the engineers, chefs or operations people at headquarters that developed the equipment or production methods; sometimes the operators or their store managers developed the process. An operator in Pittsburgh not only created the Big Mac, but he added scrambled eggs, sausage and pancakes to fill out the breakfast menu. That was after Ray Kroc and the Santa Barbara operator created the Egg McMuffin. With all the resources at McDonald’s command, it’s hard to believe that they won’t be able to FIGURE IT OUT.

If the company’s systems and development people are stymied, the thought here is to find a few operators who are enthusiastic about the idea of breakfast all day, and have those people introduce and work on it. It may require some menu modifications… changes in the way some items are prepared…even new or revised equipment. But consumers, for the most part, are happier with the breakfast food than the rest of the menu. And even if the concept does not provide substantial positive results, a lot will be learned from the testing.

This is one customer who will be stopping at McDonald’s more often to get a bacon and egg biscuit at 7 p.m. FIGURE IT OUT…PLEASE!

McDonald’s to Add Sirloin Third Pound Burgers

Responding to suggestions from consumers and analysts that it add something bold to its menu, McDonald’s announced it will bring back third-pound burgers. This time, however, the line is called Sirloin Third Pound burgers and the chain says it will be in stores later this month (nationwide by May 11) and available until the end of June. The NYTriState co-op isn’t waiting: it tweeted the burger’s arrival on menus this morning.

MCD12960_Sirloin_Group.tifJanney Montgomery Scott analyst Mark Kalinowski tipped the sirloin burger’s imminent launch yesterday. He suggested the build might be a Mushroom Cheddar and one of the three burgers in the line, the Steakhouse, has sautéed mushrooms (used on the Angus line) and white Cheddar along with grilled onions, a new creamy peppercorn sauce and beef seasoning.

The other two varieties are the Bacon & Cheese Sirloin Third Pound with bacon, red onion , white Cheddar, pickles, mustard, ketchup and beef seasoning, and the Lettuce & Tomato Sirloin Third Pound dressed simply with leaf lettuce, tomato, red onion, white Cheddar, pickles mayo, mustard and beef seasoning. The bun is the same that was used with Angus Third Pounders.

The new LTO burgers are priced at $4.99, putting them at the top of its pricing mix and just shy of the longstanding $5 ceiling for quick-service burgers. As reported yesterday, Wendy’s is testing a Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken sandwich at a price as high as $5.49.

Angus Third Pounder burgers had a four-year run at McDonald’s, ending in May 2013. Since then, McDonald’s has had a Double Quarter Pounders but no other big-appetite burgers.

Like McCafé, Create Your Taste customization and other ideas, sirloin was tried first and recently at McDonald’s in Australia Last October it launched a line of salads and wraps with sirloin, called rump steak in Australia. Jack in the Box offered Mini Sirloin Burgers from 2009 to 2011, but otherwise U.S. burger chains haven’t tried sirloin as a burger choice, perhaps because it is so lean.

In Spain, France and Italy, McDonald’s has been using local beef breeds–such as Extremadura, Charolais , Piedmontese and Chianina–for limited-time special burgers that accentuate the chain’s local sourcing commitment. The company says the beef for the Sirloin Third Pounders is 100% North American sourced.