The Middleby Corporation Acquires QualServ Solutions, LLC

The Middleby Corporation announced the acquisition of QualServ Solutions, LLC, a global commercial kitchen design, manufacturing, engineering, project management and equipment solutions provider. QualServ, based in Fort Smith, Ark., has annual revenues of $100 million. “QualServ is a respected industry leader providing a unique set of services and equipment solutions for the commercial foodservice equipment industry. This acquisition expands the Middleby product offerings to include kitchen fabrication, and will allow us to provide integrated equipment solutions with our existing portfolio of brands and products,” said Selim A. Bassoul, Chairman and CEO. “The addition of QualServ will also enable us to further expand the services we provide to our global restaurant chain customers. These customers want logistical and engineering solutions in both the back and front of the restaurant and with QualServ we have the ability to provide advanced data analytics and broader services beyond equipment sales. QualServ has grown substantially over the past few years and combined with Middleby we anticipate growth through expansion of their capabilities into international markets by leveraging Middleby’s global footprint.” QualServ delivers “Store-in-a-Box” solutions by providing comprehensive design and turn-key solutions to customers in the foodservice, retail, and convenience store industries. – Source: The Middleby Corporation.

David W. Andow Named President of System Concepts, Inc., Developer of the FOOD-TRAK® Food & Beverage Management System

System Concepts, Inc., leading provider of food and beverage procurement, inventory, and culinary control software solutions, announced the appointment of David W. Andow to the new position of company President. SCI’s FOOD-TRAK® cloud-based and in-house applications are widely used across the hospitality and food service industry. Mr. Andow will report to CEO and founder Bill Schwartz. Formerly COO of Cold Stone Creamery, and more recently President of Small Box Energy, Andow brings the extensive industry background and skill set required to spark significant growth. “As great friends for over a dozen years, and an admirer of his business success – especially with regard to growth strategies and relationship building, I have always wanted David in a leadership role in my company,” said Bill Schwartz, CEO. “When the timing finally worked out, I was thrilled to bring David in. He is the perfect choice for helping guide the company through the growth phase we are entering.” “I am very excited to join the company,” says Andow. “Bill and his team has built a very successful company over the last 37 years and has positioned it for this next phase of growth. My charter is to expand the relationships with our existing clients, while attracting new clients across all industries we serve. The depth that FOOD-TRAK offers in food and beverage automation is innovative and the positive impact it makes is the driving force behind my passion to help others control food and labor costs like never before.” While Mr. Andow will focus on expansion, Mr. Schwartz will focus on FOOD-TRAK new product and software development, vital support and implementation quality and processes required to sustain that growth. – Source: System Concepts, Inc.

McDonald’s Strikes Major Tech Deal with Capgemini

McDonald’s has struck a partnership with Capgemini to accelerate the digital overhaul of its restaurants, which has big Chicago employment implications inside and outside the company. About 100 McDonald’s tech workers will become Capgemini employees, and the Paris-based outsourcing and consulting company plans a major Chicago expansion that will add about 500 jobs, most of them in tech roles. Capgemini, which has about 1,600 workers in the Chicago area, will open a global center focused on retail technology in the spring that will employ 400 to 600 people in addition to the McDonald’s workers joining the firm, said Tim Bridges, Capgemini’s head of global consumer products, retail and distribution. The company plans to partner with two local universities, which it declined to name because the deals are not finalized. “For us in the U.S. and globally, a lot of our leadership is in Chicago,” Bridges said. “Part of it is access to talent. If you want to go to the West Coast or Europe, it’s a central location. You can get anywhere in the U.S. from Chicago for lunch.” In addition to McDonald’s employees who are transferring in, Capgemini will bring in employees currently assigned to other companies, such as Cisco. The operation will be temporarily housed in Rosemont, but the company will be searching for additional space with access to O’Hare International Airport. McDonald’s says it’s moving less than 20 percent of its technology workers from its payroll to Capgemini. Almost all the employees offered positions accepted them, said Jim Sappington, McDonald’s executive vice president for operations, digital and technology. “Moving at the pace we’re moving — with 37,000 restaurants — the need to have the right expertise at the right time, flexibility to get right resources in place quickly is of extreme importance. We keep world-class restaurant technology expertise in-house, leveraging our talent and increasing that with Capgemini.” n 2004, McDonald’s outsourced basic computer support, including mainframes, servers and desktops. Capgemini recently landed a similar deal with Meijer, the grocery chain based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The move is risky. McDonald’s is still in the middle of its mobile technology upgrade, with more countries and features to roll out. And the company’s stock is priced for perfection, trading near its recent high of $159.07 on July 25 and up 70 percent since Steve Easterbrook took over as CEO in March 2015. Easterbrook’s turnaround plan, which includes cost-cutting and an overhaul of menus and restaurants, depends heavily on technology. Its “Experience of the Future” idea for restaurants includes table service, self-serve ordering kiosks and an expanded McCafe menu. The company also has partnered with Uber Eats to offer food delivery. Easterbrook also promised Wall Street that McDonald’s would cut $500 million in costs by the end of this year. McDonald’s hinted at a tech restructuring in December, when Atif Rafiq, its chief digital officer who spearheaded its mobile upgrade, was hired by Volvo. “We appreciate Atif Rafiq’s efforts over the last several years,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “His departure provides an opportunity to further align our structure as we accelerate the digital experience our customers want including rolling out mobile order and pay in 2017 and 2018 in the U.S. and our international lead markets.” – Source: Crain’s Chicago Business.

Restaurant renovations: Does your facility need a facelift?

Decide whether the time is right. When it comes to redesigns, stay ahead of the curve. “If you wait until it looks like it’s time to remodel, you’ve waited too long,” says restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, who recommends a facelift every five to seven years. Allen heads up Aaron Allen and Associates, headquartered in Orlando, Fla. ● Establish your goals. “Decide what your target is,” says Lisa Kong, a studio director and project manager for hospitality projects with the Los Angeles office of Gensler, a global design firm. Are you trying to freshen up your decor or to rebrand yourself? Are you retaining your basic blueprint, or do you want to add revenue-generating space, like more seats, a bar or a private dining room? ● Define your restaurant’s personality. “If your restaurant was a person, how would it dress, talk and behave?” poses Allen, who serves clients in more than 100 countries. “Is it carefree and funny or serious and refined?” Defining your operation’s personality will help guide your decisions, down to paint colors and fabrics. For example, De Alba Bakery, with four units in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, recently turned to Allen for help with a rebrand and redesign. As a first step, President and CFO Ana De Alba established that she is striving for an authentic Mexican bakery/cafe that reflects her family’s Spanish heritage. A new exterior featuring traditional Spanish architecture and Mexican tile is in the works to help set the mood. ● Track the trends. If you haven’t remodeled in years, you might need a “reboot” rather than just a tweak, says Allen. Use this opportunity to examine industry trends and to see where you fit in, while also differentiating yourself. ● Poll the people. With Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle turning 40 this year, the management team decided it was time to strategize ways to keep the restaurant relevant in a changing marketplace. “We wanted to be a young 40,” says General Manager Maureen “Mo” Shaw. With the help of a brand management specialist and a survey company, the restaurant polled the locals, including current and former guests. When the results indicated that many consumers perceived the restaurant as dated, management used the data to drive their rebranding, introducing a sleeker, more contemporary design. ● Determine your demographics. Examine local population shifts when determining your target. For example, Kong is renovating the patio of a fine-dining downtown L.A. restaurant to attract an emerging young, hip crowd. She is creating a “loungy,” casual atmosphere to complement a new, lower-price point tapas menu recently launched specifically for the patio. ● Pick the right partners. Look for architects, designers and consultants who are experienced in dealing with the unique challenges of restaurants. Make sure that you have a collaborative exchange, says Allen, so that together you can fashion a redesign that will position you for success. – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

‘Worthless’ Subway ‘Footlong’ Sandwich Settlement is Thrown out: U.S. Court

U.S. federal appeals court threw out a class-action settlement intended to resolve claims that the Subway sandwich chain deceived customers by selling “Footlong” subs that were less than a foot long. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago called the settlement “utterly worthless,” even as it rewarded the customers’ lawyers for convincing Subway it was better to make the case go away than fight. “A class action that seeks only worthless benefits for the class and yields only fees for class counsel is no better than a racket and should be dismissed out of hand,” Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote for a three-judge panel. “That’s an apt description of this case.” Subway has more than 44,000 locations worldwide, and is operated by Doctor’s Associates Inc. The company and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers at DeNittis Osefchen and Zimmerman Law Offices, which represented the customers, did not immediately respond to similar requests. The litigation began after Australian teenager Matt Corby in January 2013 posted a Facebook photo showing a Footlong sandwich he bought was only 11 inches long, not 12. A settlement approved by a Wisconsin federal judge in February 2016 required Subway to adopt quality control measures, consistent with “the realities of baking bread,” to ensure that its six- and 12-inch sandwiches were that length. But a prominent class-action critic, Ted Frank, said this merely codified practices Subway adopted soon after Corby’s photo went viral. He said it made no sense to award $520,000 to the customers’ lawyers, plus $5,000 of “incentive” awards to 10 plaintiffs, for settling. Subway has acknowledged that the “media frenzy” helped drive its decision to settle. But Sykes noted that “short” sandwiches contained no less food by weight, and that even now some sandwiches might be shorter than advertised. “The settlement acknowledges as much when it says that uniformity in bread length is impossible due to the natural variability of the bread-baking process,” Sykes wrote. “Contempt as a remedy to enforce a worthless settlement is itself worthless,” she added. “Zero plus zero equals zero.” The 7th Circuit has jurisdiction in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Frank said he hoped courts elsewhere will apply its lessons. “This is exactly the opinion we were hoping for,” Frank said in an interview. “It affirms the principle that when attorneys bring class actions to benefit only themselves, it’s an abuse of the system, and courts should not tolerate it.” – Source: Reuters

Chicago Was Too Tough for These Burger Chains

There is, apparently, such a thing as too many burgers. Only a few years after a horde of hamburger chains move to Chicago, some are already closing. Others are nixing expansion plans and watching sales slip, slammed by a glut of competition and an industrywide slowdown as Americans push back against rising restaurant prices by eating at home more. “The fast-casual burger segment got too crowded, the ​ competition got too intense and a lot of these places did not give customers a compelling reason to visit,” says Bonnie Riggs, an analyst with market research firm NPD Group. “It’s a tough place to be.” Red Robin has shuttered all five of its Red Robin Burger Works, only two years after introducing the compact version of its conventional fast-casual restaurant in the city. Smashburger, a Denver chain that boasted 11 Chicago-area restaurants in 2015, has shrunk its local footprint to just four sites. And Five Guys, an elder statesman that began grilling burgers in suburban Washington, D.C., 31 years ago, also has retreated; it’s down to 23 restaurants in the Chicago area from 36 two years ago. Other chains quietly have suspended buildout plans here. Tom & Eddie’s, a “better burger” concept launched in 2010 by two former McDonald’s executives, grew to five suburban locations in 2014; today it’s down to three. Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes debuted two locations, in Glenview and Lombard, in 2014 and broadcast plans for 10 more franchises by 2016. Now, the two original locations are gone and a single Mooyah, in Joliet, remains. “You’re looking at the pitfall of a high-growth segment: Aggressive franchising eventually creates saturated markets and leads to closures,” says Darren Tristano, an adviser with Chicago food consultancy Technomic. “There are probably going to be more losers than winners.” The problem extends beyond just having too many burger chains with generically sleek design and indistinguishable sweet potato fries. Another megatrend—the rise of third-partyvices like Postmates and Uber Eats—is further saturating the market by allowing full-service restaurants to directly compete with the Epic Burgers and M Burgers around town. Uber food delivery customers can now, for example, choose a grass-fed burger with cheddar and charred balsamic red onion from DMK Burger Bar for $10.50—just a buck or two more than the myriad fast-casual options available. And if you’re trying to keep your burger under $5, McDonald’s also delivers via Uber Eats. “There’s no growth in the number of burgers that people are eating, but there’s a lot of growth in the number of outlets serving burgers to casual customers,” Tristano says. In fact, Americans are cutting back on all those sliders. Chalk it up to the growing concerns about health risks associated with red meat—or maybe just a growing preference for grilling their own patties in the backyard—but the number of fast-casual burgers sold in the U.S. has fallen by single-digit percentages two years in a row, to 6.8 billion for the 12 months that ended in June, according to NPD, in Fort Washington, N.Y. Consumers willing to spend a bit more, meanwhile, have new trendy options like artisanal salads from Freshii or Sweetgreen and poke bowls from any of a dozen new spots offering the Hawaiian specialty. But most Americans, stung by increasing health care costs and minimal pay raises, are nixing their restaurant budgets altogether, Riggs says. “It created a double whammy last year when health care costs forced operators to increase restaurant prices at the same time that consumers were feeling their own health care pinch,” she says. Add to that an 18-month stretch of food deflation, born of low oil and grain prices plus cutthroat grocery competition, and most middle-class consumers suddenly see little reason to go out. “It’s just not worth the money,” Riggs says, “especially when you can grab a prepared meal at the supermarket. The options are endless.” As a result, the fast-casual market—long a darling of the overall restaurant industry, posting six years of growth ranging from 8 to 20 percent annually—has sputtered. And without fast-casual to prop up the rest of the sector, restaurants overall have clocked six consecutive quarters of declining traffic, the worst stretch since the recession. But while some regional chains have struggled to make it here, at least some of those with distinct products are doing just fine. Culver’s, known as much for its frozen custard as its ButterBurgers, is building three locations in the city, adding to the three dozen it operates in the suburbs. And Kuma’s Corner, a Chicago institution known for monster hard-to-bite burgers served with a heavy-metal theme, opened its fith restaurant in the West Loop in May. Co-owner Ron Cain says he’s also eyeing locations in Vernon Hills, Denver and even Scandinavia, where the love of death metal runs deep. He aims to open one a year until Kuma’s hits 12 to 14 outlets. “We take a lot of pride in our 10-ounce fresh patties—nothing in our restaurants is frozen or microwaved,” says Cain, explaining why he thinks Kuma’s is growing while others aren’t. And even though Kuma’s items aren’t cheap—a Slayer burger with chili, caramelized onions, andouille, Monterey Jack and “anger” runs $16—the portions are so heaping that people consider it a good value. It helps, too, that Kuma’s pours beer. – Source: Crain’s Chicago Business.

Rotunda Capital Acquires IF&P Foods

Rotunda Capital Partners, LLC, a lower middle-market private equity firm, has acquired IF&P Foods, LLC. The acquisition will accelerate the growth trajectory of one of the leading produce distributors in the Midwest. IF&P was formed in 1997 through the merger of Indianapolis Fruit (founded 1947) and Piazza Produce (founded 1970), two leading produce distribution companies with a combined 118 years of experience serving the grocery and foodservice industries. Formation of Garden Cut by Indianapolis Fruit in 1990, followed by acquisitions of Circle City Produce in 2006 and Papania’s in 2015, round out the IF&P platform of offerings for its customers. The company provides fresh and packaged produce varieties, as well as partially prepared meal components, to roughly 7,500 customers throughout the Midwest, including grocery stores, restaurants, schools and food management companies. “We’ve been looking for a platform company in the produce distribution sector for quite some time, and IF&P is an exciting company with tremendous growth prospects,” said Dan Lipson, partner at Rotunda Capital. “Their team has built a leading company in the category, and they are well-positioned to serve their customers’ growing demand for high quality product and services. Combined with our distribution expertise, there’s a great opportunity to expand IF&P’s reach and offerings and provide a new platform for growth.” “Our investment in IF&P is in line with Rotunda’s proven approach of acquiring family and founder-owned distribution companies and partnering with strong management to expand on their existing value proposition,” added Corey Whisner, partner at Rotunda Capital. “What IF&P has built over the better part of a century is truly impressive, and we’re committed to helping them achieve new heights through both organic growth as well as potential acquisitions to expand their offerings.” Many industry trends are driving increased consumer demand for produce. A more informed consumer is demanding fresh and healthy eating options, either through purchase at retail or through meals ordered at restaurants. That trend is driving expansion of produce offerings at grocery and growing the number of independent restaurants to meet the evolving palates of their patrons. “Rotunda’s significant distribution expertise with industries undergoing strong growth trends and their focus on partnership with existing management and workforce was very appealing to us as we look to continue our market leadership,” said Greg Corsaro, CEO of IF&P. “Our mission remains unchanged – to deliver on the promise to our customers and employees to help them succeed and be the best they can be, and Rotunda’s investment and partnership will help maintain that pledge as we take our business to the next level.” – Source: IF&P Foods, Inc.

Restaurant Ventilation: Best Practices

Having proper ventilation for your restaurant is imperative for employee and customer health as well as food sanitation. Improper ventilation can result in safety violations, higher utility bills, decreased employee productivity, and even flaring tempers from customers as well as employees. It can also result in loss of traffic due to unpleasant odors or uncomfortable conditions. Restaurants have unique ventilation needs. Besides the need to control food odors and minimize smoke and fumes from the cooking process, most restaurants have multiple distinct areas, each of which presents its own HVAC challenges. Here are some top tips for meeting these challenges and making sure your restaurant gets the proper ventilation it needs. Make Sure You Have Enough Makeup Air. It’s very important to be sure that you are bringing in enough outside air—“makeup air”—to compensate for the amount of air being exhausted. Not enough makeup air can cause a negative pressure condition in your building. This can lead to all sorts of problems, including areas that are drafty or stuffy, doors that slam, poor air quality, reduced energy efficiency, and back-venting of combustion gases from HVAC equipment. If you are experiencing problems like these, it would be a good idea to discuss your situation with your HVAC professional. You may need to introduce more makeup air into your system, or less commonly, you may be exhausting more air than is necessary. Your technician can assess your situation and provide you with suitable options that meet OSHA standards for workplace ventilation. HVAC for the Restaurant Kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of your restaurant—and it is also the area of greatest need for ventilation. Restaurant kitchen HVAC needs include: Cooling. Most restaurant kitchens feature several pieces of high-intensity cooking and dishwashing equipment packed into a relatively small area. This can quickly raise kitchen temperatures to unbearable levels, especially in hot weather or during very busy periods. High kitchen temperatures are not just an inconvenience for employees—they can significantly affect your restaurant’s profitability. Studies have shown that employee productivity peaks at just over 71˚ F, and drops off above 77˚. (This is consistent with OSHA recommendation that workplace thermostats be set between 68-76˚.) Outside of optimal temperatures, workers exhibit a higher rate of mistakes. In a kitchen, this can lead to anything from botched orders to personal injury. An overly hot kitchen also wreaks havoc on your utility bills. Compressors on refrigerators and freezers must work overtime when they are located in a hot environment. The challenge, of course, comes in keeping the kitchen at a reasonable temperature without freezing out the rest of your establishment. Putting the kitchen on a separate zone with its own thermostat can help. The existing HVAC system, however, may not be up to the task of maintaining the needed heat differential. In that case, installing a portable air conditioning unit in the kitchen for busy times or in hot weather can help keep everyone comfortable. Air Quality. Cooking releases grease, smoke, and particulates into the air, which can be both unpleasant and unsafe for respiratory health. Health department regulations typically require that ventilation hoods be installed over cooking appliances. Codes vary from one state and municipality to another, so check with your local health authorities to make sure you are using the proper size and grade of ventilation hood for your equipment. You can maximize your hood’s efficiency by setting your appliances as close to the wall as possible. This will ensure that the entire cooking area is covered. If you are preparing greasy food, it’s also wise to make sure that the hood you install is designed to filter grease—not all of them are. Fire Suppression. Your building codes may also require that your ventilation hoods are equipped with fire suppression systems. These may utilize either dry chemicals or inert gas (such as CO2) to douse any fire that may occur. To keep fires from occurring in the first place, it is a very good idea to make cleaning the hoods a part of your kitchen employees’ regular routine. Don’t Forget to Ventilate the Other Areas of Your Restaurant. Each area of your restaurant has its own ventilation and temperature control challenges. Here are some things to look for in each area: Dining Room. Is the dining area consistently a comfortable temperature, or are parts of it drafty or stuffy? Is the dining area free of strong or unpleasant cooking odors? Is the air in the dining room clear? Restrooms. Do the restrooms get overly cold or hot? Is the restroom air free of unpleasant odors? Lobby. Are waiting guests protected from air and temperature fluctuations? Outdoor Dining Areas. Is the patio overly hot or cold? Is kitchen exhaust air directed away from outdoor diners? Proper makeup air regulation can go a long way toward optimizing ventilation and temperature throughout your entire establishment. However, you may still need to tweak the system for individual rooms and areas. If you are still experiencing problems in a particular area, have your HVAC technician assess it for pressure, air flow, and temperature. A well-placed ventilation or exhaust fan may be all that is needed. Or—especially for seasonal comfort—a portable fan, heater, or air conditioning unit can be an easy and inexpensive way to keep any area of your restaurant comfortable and inviting. – Source: Dale Allen/FSR Magazine.

Food Safety, Protection & Regulatory Compliance

This in-depth program will provide you with critical Canadian and American regulatory information and proven strategies to help you manage your safety and regulatory challenges. Don’t miss this opportunity to get regulatory updates from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, hear fresh perspectives on the latest opportunities in today’s food industry, meet with your peers and leading experts and major industry stakeholders, and walk away with a new plan for success. Ensure safety is a top priority for your business and avoid high-cost penalties; Delve into the newest Canadian and American legal developments; Learn about innovative products and how to market and fund your start-up food business; Help make a difference by promoting sustainability and consumer protection. September 20-21, 2017. Location: Four Points by Sheraton Mississauga Meadowvale, Mississauga, ON. – Source: GFSR.

Employee Hygiene and Handwashing in Retail Foodservice Establishments

In addition to the risk of environmental contamination from Listeria monocytogenes, product temperature abuse, compromised food contact surfaces and unwanted allergen transfers or mislabeled food, one of my biggest fears that keeps me up at night is the daunting task of controlling, educating and monitoring the personal hygiene and handwashing behaviors of food handlers. A reoccurring hypothetical nightmare of some types of viral or bacterial infections spreading among the masses from contaminated food or an employee you represent would have any food safety practitioner tossing and turning in their sleep. Unfortunately, this bad dream has become reality for some organizations in past foodborne illness outbreaks. The health and well-being of food hanlers and proper hygiene practices often get overlooked in the retail food industry. The employee needs a paycheck to provide for his or her family, and will often neither seek medical attention if ill nor sacrifice missing work if not feeling well. Sometimes, there are cultural barriers or lack of influence outside and inside the workplace that impact proper personal hygiene. Foodservice operators need said employee regardless, as they have a business to run and will often demand the employee show up, even when ill. Labor constraints these days are not conducive to providing any extra breathing room in the work schedule. Food safety, sanitation and customer service suffer when there are not enough employees. On top of that, the broken hand sink is too expensive to fix, and the food safety training? Who needs that? Handwashing? Really? That takes too much time and no one does it anyway. You want me to wear a hat? Why? I’m bald. Does anyone else realize that dripping sweat during food preparation is a problem? Of course, these scenarios are just that, scenarios, but if you don’t think they are all part of the big picture and part of reality in the retail food industry, you are sorely mistaken. What Can Be Done? Whatever happened to “Best Practices?” If management is merely talking the talk and not walking the walk, employees will just think that the unsanitary behavior is acceptable. Then a cycle of food safety negligence develops and continues. In every case of coaching, training and mentoring food handlers about food safety violations, the risk must be fully explained. If the employee does not understand and was never properly trained, then where is the accountability? Illness, potential life-threatening symptoms, liability, reputation damage, financial loss and lack of employment must be addressed as well, rather than dictating “because management told you so” as a rationale. Sometimes, to fully explain the magnitude of noncompliance, I always fall back on a true story of contamination. Everyone talks about government, regulation and how to eliminate foodborne illness, but what the industry needs to do is improve the oversight, training and funds to facilitate change. Part of the solution does not have to be complicated; it just needs to revisit the basic principles of food safety. – Source: Food Safety Magazine.

Millennials Impact Trends in Foodservice Packaging Industry

The 2016 trends report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) reveals key industry shifts that focus on industry changes being driven by the generational influence of Millennials. “Each year our trends report searches for common threads found throughout the entire foodservice packaging value chain. This year more than ever, it’s hard to deny the influence of the millennial generation on the foodservice packaging industry,” says Lynn Dyer, FPI’s President. “As such a large, influential piece of the population, the opinions and ideals of Millennials are a defining factor, leaving an impression on the industry.” Millennials desire food that is increasingly convenient and less time-intensive. Responses this year showed an uptick in the grab-and-go sector. Ordering online, through mobile applications or via automated in-store ordering stations, has become increasingly popular, partially due to Millennials’ “text rather than talk” preference. Meal delivery programs are gaining traction too, requiring new, innovative foodservice packaging. Changes in preparation and distribution of meals are driving other trends, such as an increased interest in tamper-evident packaging and food safety. Tamper-evident packaging offers a visible solution for foodservice operators and their customers concerned about the integrity of their foods and beverages. This year’s report also highlights the fact that environmentally-friendly, sustainable, recyclable, and compostable packaging is moving beyond trendy to now being a regular part of doing business. Light-weighting and mineral filler usage is gaining interest, which can help both the environmental and economic goals of companies and consumers alike. Another key industry shift revealed in the survey is the common concerns addressed across multiple industry segments. Foodservice packaging sectors are communicating more with each other, thus paying more attention to the similar links, challenges, and opportunities in the entire supply chain. “The increasing communication and collaboration between the supply chain partners will result in the continued evolution of the foodservice packaging industry to better support the needs of foodservice operators and their customers—no matter who they are today and in the future,” Dyer says.

Chipotle Names Laurie Schalow Chief Communications Officer

Chipotle Mexican Grill has hired Laurie Schalow as chief communications officer, a newly created position that will oversee all facets of Chipotle’s internal and external communications functions. Schalow comes to Chipotle from YUM! Brands where she held a variety of positions in communications, most recently serving as vice president of public affairs. “We have been actively working to strengthen our leadership team to better prepare Chipotle for continued growth and success,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO at Chipotle. “Laurie is an extremely talented executive, and I am confident that her broad expertise will help to strengthen our communications and better integrate all of our internal and external communications functions to amplify our messages.” In her time at YUM!, Schalow held a variety of public affairs and communications roles in such areas as internal and external communications, crisis and issues management, corporate social responsibility, social listening, community outreach and employee relations. In her most recent position, she was responsible for building the brand reputations of more than 44,000 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in 140 countries. “Chipotle is a great brand and I have been a longtime admirer of the company and its mission,” said Schalow. “There is considerable opportunity ahead for Chipotle, and I am thrilled to join the company to help shape and strengthen its strategic communications in support of a very important vision to make great tasting food, made with real, whole ingredients available to everyone.” Schalow’s appointment is part of a broader, ongoing effort from Chipotle to strengthen its leadership. The company added four new directors to its board in late 2016, and named its first ever chief restaurant officer in May 2017. Schalow holds bachelor’s degrees from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s degree from Wayne State University, Detroit. In her new position, Schalow will work from the company’s Denver headquarters and report directly to Ells. – Source: CHIPOTLE.

Tacos 4 Life Restaurant Brings on New Executives to Expand Business and Mission

Tacos 4 Life, an Arkansas-grown taco restaurant with a mission to help end world hunger, recently brought on Chief Brand Officer Donnie Robertson and Chief Operating Officer Marwan Yasin as the newest additions to their team. Robertson and Yasin will aid Tacos 4 Life in all of their ongoing projects, including the recent brand franchise movement and advising current locations. Yasin is the former vice president of operations for Zaxby’s and will begin working with Tacos 4 Life in August 2017. In his 13-year tenure at Zaxby’s, Yasin increased top line revenue by $500 million and opened 250 new franchise locations in eight states. He also planned marketing tactics, training modules, human resources initiatives and various other programs that were implemented at all Zaxby’s locations. Robertson is the former chief marketing officer for Nothing Bundt Cakes and began with Tacos 4 Life in 2016. In his seven years at Nothing Bundt Cakes, Robertson opened 150 locations, had double digit same-store sales growth for six years and an AUV lift of $550,000 to $1,000,000. I am thrilled to be joining the Tacos 4 Life team and look forward to collaborating with not only the employees, but also the guests,” said Yasin. “Many restaurants just care about feeding their guests and getting them out the door, but Tacos 4 Life has a passion for incredible guest service, fresh food and a mission to help end world hunger.” Tacos 4 Life’s brand mission makes an important statement and I am more excited than ever to be a part of it,” said Robertson. “We are headed in a great direction and I look forward to franchising Tacos 4 Life across the country to get more people involved in our mission.” Tacos 4 Life first opened their doors in Conway, AR three years ago and have rapidly expanded ever since. In addition to the fresh, house-made and unique menu offerings, Tacos 4 Life’s mission is what draws consumers to become repeat-guests: to help end world hunger. Tacos 4 Life donates $0.22 to Feed My Starving Children for every taco, quesadilla, salad or rice bowl sold, which is equivalent to the cost of one meal for a hungry child. – Source: Tacos 4 Life Grill.

Shari’s Promotes Vickie Irish to Vice President of People Engagement and Development

Shari’s Chief Financial Officer Keith A. Wall announced the promotion of senior executive Vickie Irish to the position of Vice President of People Engagement and Development. Shari’s Café & Pies currently has 95 locations throughout Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming. “Vickie’s new title best presents the level of her proven skills in identifying and developing top talented people in all areas of the brand from our restaurants to our Support Center,” said Wall. “In today’s highly competitive environment, sourcing, developing, and retaining top performing and talented people is the difference between winning and losing. Vickie is the person to ensure we have those people onboard as we move Shari’s forward.” Irish rose through the ranks at Shari’s starting as a food server at the Bend, Oregon Café, then assistant general manager and general manager before joining the corporate offices in 1989 to lead training and human resources. Shari’s training systems are considered one of the best as they are a pioneer in developing and delivering online training for restaurants operating in multiple states. Irish serves on the Board of Directors for Oregon Restaurant Education Foundation (OREF), and she is involved with Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHRT). She holds a PHR certification and an HR certificate from Portland State University. – Source: Shari’s.

Thank you for reading The Global Foodservice E-newsletter from American Recruiters!

2 Responses to “Global Foodservice Newsletter – September 1, 2017 Edition”

  1. Benjamin Arce

    What ever happened to paragraphs. It makes for easier reading and separates topics and allows a flow for the reader!

    • Craig Wilson

      Thanks for the tip! We’ve overhauled our postings and made them much more reader friendly.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *