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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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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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.”

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