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!


Visit the Killer Burger Recipe Vault

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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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.”

McDonald’s Opens ‘Restaurant M’ in Japan

McDonald’s hopes to boost its image in Japan with a one-day pop-up restaurant. On July 27 in one Tokyo restaurant, the chain will feature its new Fresh Mac LTO line at a white-tablecloth sit-down meal for 20 people. The venue is being called “Restaurant M.”

As reported by Kotaku (source of the photo below) and ASCII, the elegant five-course meal begins with “Vichyssoise Mac fries” accompanied by a salad: vegetables used on the Fresh Mac (lettuce, tomato, cabbage among them) encased in gelatin. Since you’re likely still hungry, toothpicked wedges of the beef, chicken and fish patties available in the Fresh Mac line follow. These are accompanied by a variety of McDonald’s dipping sauces. Next course is a full-size Fresh Mac burger in any of the three protein varieties. Tea accompanies. Dessert is an Oreo McFlurry with berries, served in an elegant bowl, of course. Coffee will be served.

McDonald's Japan Fresh Mac meal

The one-day event promotes the new Fresh Macs but also figures into the chain’s efforts to polish a tarnished image. McDonald’s Corp.’s Japanese unit last year posted its first operating loss ($57 million) since it went public in 2001. A series of miscues, including a Chinese supplier of chicken found to have violated food-safety standards and reports of Japanese consumers finding foreign objects (in one case a tooth) in food, has seriously damaged McDonald’s reputation and sales. January 2015 sales were down 39% from the previous year. To combat the negative press, McDonald’s has created the “Mom’s Eye Project,” a focus group for mothers, and series of “open kitchen” tours to reassure consumers about cleanliness and quality.

Bastille Day Burger Tips from the French

Bastille Day is celebrated in France on July 14, commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison on this day in 1789. Since BurgerBusiness celebrates the revolution that freed burgers from their unexciting past, it seems proper on this day to learn a few actionable lessons from menus of some of the great French burger bars, of which there are many.

Big Fernand Burger Bar, Paris

Big Fernand, Paris

 #1: Know your cheeses. The French know a great deal about cheese and it shows on their burgers. I’ve never tasted, nor had I heard of “fromage Laguiole,” a cow’s milk cheese from Simmental cattle. But L’Atelier du Burger in Toulouse puts it on its Chef’s Burger (along with bacon, caramelized onion, a cooked egg, lettuce, tomato and house burger sauce). It uses Emmental, Morbier, Fourme D’Ambert (blue) and shaved Parmesan on other burgers. The West burger at Blend in Paris has four kinds of cheese. The “You Really Got Me” burger at Burger’N-Co. in Toulouse tops beef, chorizo and roasted peppers with melted Spanish Manchego cheese and finishes with a Spanish-style sauce. When Cheddar is used it’s not uncommon for the menu to say how long it has been aged. Goat cheese (often with honey) is a staple. And their good cheeses are usually cut thick, so you can taste and enjoy them, not cellophane-wrapped-cheese thin. Click here to continue reading Bastille Day Burger Tips from the French

The Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers 7/10

The creativity that drives the burger business seemingly is bottomless. The variety of ingredients included in this week’s seven intriguing burgers is striking: beer glaze, shaved fennel salad, chutney, summer squash, jalapeňo relish and more. It’s a continuing delight to cover this business.

French Connection Burger

Døgnvill Bar & Burger, Oslo, Norway
A burger topped with Brie, mango chutney and cucumber

Click here to continue reading The Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers 7/10

How Dangerous is Starbucks?

When Starbucks’ food menu was scones and muffins it easily could be dismissed as a competitive threat to quick-service and fast-casual chains. But the appearance of beef on its summer menu reaffirms just how much Starbucks has become a foodservice force with which burger and sandwich chains—and independents—must reckon.

Starbucks BBQ Brisket on Sourdough

Starbucks BBQ Brisket on Sourdough

In addition to several new snack items, Starbucks says it is adding “unique lunch and dinner options,” and its mention of dinner should set off alarms in every restaurant that caters to that daypart. Saying it is accommodating customers “who have requested a heartier sandwich,” Starbucks’ summer menu includes a BBQ Beef Brisket on Sourdough, a meaty sandwich with a fast-casual pedigree.

“The recipe was inspired by our product development team’s West Coast roots,” said Ellie Halevy, Starbucks VP- Food., in a release announcing the menu. “This sandwich was crafted with high-quality ingredients including iconic San Francisco-Style sourdough, roasted onions braised in Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock Beer and Sonoma Jack cheese, both from Northern California.” Click here to continue reading How Dangerous is Starbucks?

Dine-in Restaurant Visits Rise

Consumers increasingly are taking a seat and eating meals in restaurants rather than picking up takeout or drive-thru meals to eat elsewhere, according to new data from The NPD Group.

NPD Dine-In ChartOn-premises dining has increased for three consecutive years and continues to grow while off-premises dining has been flat or down. For the 12 months ended in May 2015, dine-in visits were up 1% and takeout/drive-thru visits remained unchanged. For calendar year 2014, dine-in traffic was up 2% and off-premises visits declined by 1%. Sit-down dining represented $223.4 billion in restaurant sales last year; takeout/drive-thru sales were $200.3 billion or 47.3% of the total, NPD reports.

Quick-service restaurants have driven the shift in favor of in-restaurant dining: on-premises meals were up 5% at QSRs in 2015 and are up 3% for the 12 months ended in May. Takeout/drive-thru visits were flat for that period. This tilt in favor of sit-down dining may be the result of the continued growth of fast-casual concepts.

On-premises diners spend more than takeout/drive-thru diners, NPD says, but they are not necessarily loyal to their chosen restaurants. Just 34% of in-restaurant diners call themselves loyal, while 24% say they aren’t loyal at all and 42% are in the middle (somewhat loyal). But dine-in customers are in your restaurant: Give them reasons to return.

Burger of the Month Specials for July 2015

Kooper's Tavern BBQ burger

Kooper’s Tavern’s BBQ Burger is served with Tanner’s pickles.

Burger joints increasingly are identifying their food by brand names in order to further distinguish themselves from competitors. For example, many restaurants serve Angus beef, but 5 Napkin Burger wants its customers to know that its Burger of the Month special for July, the Stay Local, is “Angus beef from Greenane Farms in Meredith, N.Y.”

Kuma's Too CORAX burger

Kuma’s Too welcomes a new neighbor.

More than a dozen of this month’s Burger of the Month specials include brand names in menu descriptions. Buckeye Beer Engine’s kielbasa for its Old Country Kielbasa Burger is from State Road Meats; Burger Revolution uses mustard made with Church Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale on its Swiss Guard burger; and Kooper’s Tavern’s burger patty is Black Angus beef from Creekstone Farms and the pickle on the side is a Tanner’s pickle. Milwaukee Burger Company’s Picnic Burger is topped with slices of Klement’s bratwurst.

In a post last week I suggested burger joints not in direct competition collaborate with each other. Kuma’s Too in Chicago is going one better, welcoming and collaborating with a new restaurant in its neighborhood—Nando’s—even though both fight for the same dining dollar. Nando’s specialty is grilled chicken flavored with peri-peri chili sauce so Kuma’s Too is featuring a July BOTM with peri-peri aïoli, a peri-peri-marinated chicken breast, mango chutney an cilantro.

This month’s list has 56 Burger of the Month specials from around the world. That includes the Nedal′nij East burger at Corner Burger in Moscow. See them all here. There’s bound to be an idea you can use.

Dugg Burger Moves Ahead in Reverse

Dugg_Logo2Dugg Burger, which opened in February 2015 in Dallas, is a different process, not just a new brand. Reversing the standard build of piling toppings on the burger patty, Dugg Burger digs out the crown of the bun and puts chosen toppings there. Meanwhile, the burger patty finishes grilling and is topped with choice of cheese before the parts come together. BurgerBusiness.com spoke with Scott Spence, who has held marketing roles at Church’s Chicken, Taco Bell and Taco Bueno and is one of four restaurant-industry veterans (with Jeff Braunstein, Martin Hennessy and Jeremy Samson) who created the concept.

Dugg Burger sounds like it could have been one of those ideas born on a napkin at a bar where friends say, “Hey, you know what we could do…”
You know, that’s not far from what happened. There are four of us and we were all corporate guys who can’t help ourselves: We talk business all the time. We’d talk about what we’d do if we had our own place. We realized we had an idea of what we’d want to do. There came a time when two of us were in-between jobs and decided it was time to move on this idea we’d been doodling on.Dugg Burger burger

It was time to give it a shot. It was an iterative process over lunches and drinks over the years.

Did people tell you your idea wouldn’t fly or that the burger category is oversaturated?
We did hear some concerns that we might be coming into the category late. Some questioned our specializing in just one thing. But there are restaurants out there that do one thing well and have thrived.

And the burger category is by far the biggest, so we feel confident about specializing in a category this big.

Because you’re different, how do you educate customers about the process? Is it signage?
We have little signage, actually. Our whole concept is built around simplicity. Our mantra is “Simple Done Exceptional.” So we barely have a menu board. One of the four of us was in the restaurant at all times to help when it opened and now we’re at the point where a lot of customers are repeat diners.

We’ve trained our team members to explain how the concept works and, really, once customers go though the line once, they’ve got it. Click here to continue reading Dugg Burger Moves Ahead in Reverse