Retail Refugees

Test Restaurant Locations
September 30, 2010, 10:47 am
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Restaurants try out new menu items all of the time, but for diners who want to try the latest hamburger, latte or whatever new concoction that is being sold at their favorite place, finding a restaurant test location can be like going on a treasure hunt.

Many fast-food restaurants often change the locations where they’re testing new products in order to keep the item a secret or target customers from a specific demographic, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry consultancy. Restaurant chains also try to find out what consumers would be willing to pay for the new items. There are 14 tiers of pricing in the industry, says Tristano, and companies may want to test a product in all of them — from the priciest market in New York City to the least pricey in Salt Lake City.

Finding New Products Near You

To determine whether a restaurant near you is testing a new product, keep your eyes open for “specials” and other signs that new products are available. Here are some current market tests:

  • Coca-Cola started testing the Freestyle 100-drink soda bar, a touchscreen soda fountain offering ten times as many drink offerings as your typical soda fountain, in Orange County, California in 2009. There are now machines in Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Utah. Check out the Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Facebook page to see where the company will be rolling the machines out next.
  • Starbucks is currently testing Refreshers (cold drinks made from green coffee) in San Diego for a limited time. Also, its Starbucks Reserve coffee, made from “single-origin” coffee beans, is being sold in test markets in metro areas across the country.
  • P.F. Chang’s is testing a new happy hour menu in Kansas City, Mo. If all goes well, the Yum Cha Menu, which includes sushi-style rolls and flatbreads, will also be tested in Scottsdale, Ariz. and other locations.
  • If you’ve seen fish tacos everywhere, you haven’t lost your mind. Many restaurants are adding the popular item and Taco Bell will be testing its own fish taco next year in stores nationwide.
  • McDonald’s and Burger King are both offering more premium-priced products, hoping to attract diners that are willing to spend a little more. McDonald’s is testing a $5 Smokehouse Deluxe hamburger in Ontario, and Burger King has installed higher-end Whopper Bars at locations in Orlando and Miami, Florida, as well as Memphis and New York.
  • Wendy’s is testing Natural Fries with the potato skins still on in several test markets. A manager at a Florida restaurant told Consumerist they’re getting rave reviews.
  • California Pizza Kitchen is testing touchscreen menus that let customers pay at the table. El Pollo Loco is also testing self-serve cash registers in Orange County, Calif.
  • Chipotle is testing a few things in a handful of locations around the country, including a roasted tomato salsa and a “garden blend” of vegan protein in New York, Washington, D.C., Denver, Sacramento and Los Angeles, says Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Denver-based chain. Chipotle hasn’t changed its menu much in its 17 years of business. The last major menu change, says Arnold, was the addition of a salad, and a meal in a bowl instead of wrapped in a burrito.
See full article from WalletPop:

Fast Food is disgusting…
July 12, 2010, 10:53 am
Filed under: Market Info | Tags: , , ,

The Carl´s Jr. Foot Long Cheeseburger…

Burger King Super Seven Incher…
Sonic Quarter Pound Chili Dog…
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Poor Outlook for the Restaurant Industry
July 21, 2009, 8:28 am
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Some interesting statistics came out of NPD Group about the performance of the restaurant sector in light of the recession.  With a total traffic decline of 2.6%, the only brand that is still experiencing healthy growth is McDonalds with 2.7% same-store increase.  Elsewhere in the industry… Casual Dining (Chili´s or Olive Garden) is down 4%, Midscale (IHOP) is down 6% and breakfast is down 9%.  Another statistic they pointed out was that while overall traffic is down, spending per head (the “splurge effect”) is actually up 2%.

Samba Sunshine Sushi: Fast Food Concept
November 13, 2008, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Stores | Tags: , , , , , , ,

You may or may not know that when people refer to Brazil as a melting pot of culture and ethnic groups, they are not talking exclusively about indigenous and European cultures. Brazil, oddly enough, is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan with over 1.5 million citizens! It is no surprise that the Japanese culture has influenced Brazil (especially Sao Paulo and the state of Paraná) in many ways.

The influence on the food is perhaps the most prevelant, however, when visiting the cities of Brazil. One need look no further than the latest chain of popular restaurants, Koni. According the New York Times, the Koni shops are “a chain of tiny sushi shops that glow like radioactive salmon” in the night throughout Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

According to the paper, “the city’s university students and 20-somethings flock there after-hours for temaki sushi, what we would call hand rolls and what they have taken to calling “cones,” and have elevated it to a post-clubbing snack on a par with pizza. By early 2008, there were a dozen Koni Stores, all extraordinarily orange and most open late on weekend nights. Limited seating makes them good places to hang out and be seen, but not for too long. One of the 20-something founders, Michel Jager, noted that the bright color scheme was chosen not just for its salmon hue but to induce quick customer turnover.

The cones, pronounced KO-nees, like the stores, are available in about 20 varieties, from the simple tuna (7.50 Brazilian reais, or about $3.40 at 2.25 reais to $1) to the tempura shrimp and the krips, made with salmon, crunchy wasabi peas and crispy fried leeks, each 9 reais. And they come with a pedigree: the menu was created by the Japanese-Brazilian chef Nao Hara, whose restaurant, Shin Miura, is consistently rated one of the city’s best. In March of this year, Grupo Umbria — a Brazilian restaurant conglomerate — snapped up the young company and began to expand nationwide.”

This is the evolution of a great idea combining fresh and healthy food and the suitable retail concept. On any given night the Koni stores are jam packed with people, says a friend living in Rio. I would love to see this concept grow to the USA and Europe. The key is maintaining the price level while not sacrificing freshness, quality, or convenience.