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 Wisconsin Gouda Garlic Burger shown below!


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McDonald’s Tests ‘Gourmet Breakfast’

Already testing all-day breakfast, McDonald’s Australia operation—which developed the Create Your Taste platform, McCafé and other ideas now in the U.S.—is testing an upscale “Gourmet Breakfast” menu in at least one market, BurgerBusiness.com has learned.

McDonalds Gourmet Breakfast in AustraliaAll-day breakfast, launched July 2 in the Illawarra region south of Sydney and since spread to the Gold Coast region on the east coast, is more limited than the U.S. trial. Just six items from the regular breakfast menu—Bacon & Egg McMuffin, Sausage & Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin, Hash Brown, Hotcakes and English Muffin (with honey, Vegemite or strawberry jam)—are being offered 24 hours a day. The U.S. test, which launched in April, includes nine breakfast items.

Gourmet Breakfast, testing in Annerley, a Brisbane suburb in Queensland, is a completely new morning menu, anchored by a “Café Breakfast” platter of toasted sourdough bread, bacon, two chipolata sausage (a small pork sausage) links, scrambled eggs, wilted spinach, grilled tomatoes, a hash brown patty and tomato relish.

McDonald's Gourmet Breakfast 2Also on the menu are Belgian waffles with yogurt and fruit; a corn fritter platter with avocado, grilled tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, tomato relish and spinach; a Bacon and Egg Roll (bacon, egg, spinach and tomato relish on a toasted brioche-style bun); and an Avocado Smash platter with toasted sourdough, mashed avocado, crumbled feta, spinach and sliced tomato.

Point-of-purchase merchandising says diners can customize Gourmet Breakfast items “at the kiosk,” presumably the same kiosk used for building Create Your Taste burgers.

McDonald’s Australia has long been interested in elevating perception of the brand through higher-end menu items. This has included an “M Selections” menu, tested in 2011, that included an Angus the Great and Grand Chicken burgers plus a NYC Benedict Bagel at breakfast, plus the Chicken Schnitzel & Citrus Mayo, Chicken Schnitzel & BBQ rolls and Angus & Egg Brekkie breakfast burger last year. Last December, McDonald’s opened The Corner, a healthy-foods café, in Sydney. Recent additions the The Corner’s menu have been a Mash & Lamb Winter Protein Box and a Lemon Lime & Bitters beverage.

Burger Chain Traffic Continues Decline

While overall foodservice customer traffic is at its highest level in six years thanks to breakfast popularity and spending is up, customer counts at QSR burger chain restaurants continue to slip, according to new data from The NPD Group.

McDonald's customers in EuropeFor the 12 months ended in May 2015, restaurant and foodservice visits were 61.1 billion, compared with 60.6 billion visits during the comparable period ended May 2010. However, customer traffic at QSR burger chain restaurants has declined by 3% over the past five years.

However, traffic at independent burger restaurants was actually up 1% for the year ended May 2015 and is up 3.5% since the 12 months ended in May 2011. Traffic has dipped 2% at independents overall (all menu types) in the past five years.

Total foodservice traffic rose 1% in the year ended May 2015; total QSR category saw traffic rise by 1%. Midscale/family-dining restaurants experienced a 3% decline over that period. Casual dining ended a long decline in traffic to remain flat.

A 3% increase in spending in the year ended May 2015 was driven by a higher average check average (itself driven by higher menu prices, no doubt).

Breakfast was the star daypart in the year ended May 2015, with customer traffic up 4%. QSRs accounted for most of the breakfast gains. Lunch and dinner were flat for the foodservice industry; afternoon snack traffic declined by 2%.

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
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