Chick-fil-A to build new restaurant concepts in Atlanta and New York City

Chick-fil-A announced that it will develop two new restaurant concepts in the Atlanta metropolitan area and New York City.
The quick-service restaurant company will test an elevated drive-thru and a digital walk-up concept.
The concepts, scheduled to open in 2024, are designed to improve the drive-thru and mobile ordering experiences for customers of the chicken sandwich chain.
“Digital orders make up more than half of total sales in some markets – and growing – so we know our customers have an appetite for convenience,” Khalilah Cooper Chick-fil-A executive director of restaurant design said in a press release.
Mor’ Chicken:The Chick-fil-A cows return in a big way with games, merch and prizes Chicken underpass The drive-thru concept will be built in the Atlanta area and will have four lanes that pass under the kitchen and can handle 75 cars.
The restaurant will have a larger kitchen space and a food transportation system that move the order from the kitchen to an employee that will deliver the meal to the car.
Customers who utilize the Chick-fil-A app will have their order sent to the kitchen as soon as they enter one of two designated mobile order lanes to ensure that they receive their order fresh from the kitchen. Customers will be able to order at the location.
Chicken sandwiches in the city
The digital walk-up concept will be tested in New York City and will only serve as a point-of-pickup for mobile orders.
The company says the concept intends to fit into urban areas with heavy foot traffic.
The company will use GPS tracking tied to the mobile app to ensure that the customer receives their order fresh.
While the release and video do not mention in-store sales, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson later clarified that limited walk-in options will be available.


Spicy, seasonal flavors driving summer food trends

Spicy foods and seasonal flavors like blueberry and pulled pork are some of the summer’s biggest trends, according to market research firm Datassential.
The company found demand for spicy foods has grown particularly in the foodservice segment, where 71% of menus and 11% of drink menus feature the word “spicy.” Mike Kostyo, associate director and trendologist at Datassential, pointed to the 270 spicy limited-time offerings released by major foodservice chains as further evidence of the increasing demand.
“If you have this idea that (spicy flavors) are super polarizing, that’s actually not necessarily the case,” Mr. Kostyo said in a July 6 webinar. “There’s a good number of consumers who agree that the things we’re adding to major chain menus are things they want to purchase.”
Spicy offerings have seen a similar uptick in the retail category. Examples include the recent launches of Nashville hot pretzel pieces from Snyder’s of Hanover, SpaghettiOs Spicy Original with Frank’s RedHot from Campbell Soup Co. and Heinz Hot Varieties, a new line of spicy condiments from the Kraft Heinz Co.
Hot sauce consumption also has grown more than any other condiment over the last year, with nearly a quarter of consumers saying they increased their intake. Salsa marked the second largest condiment growth, followed by mayonnaise and ketchup. Spicier condiments are especially popular among younger consumers, with 47% of Gen Z and 45% of millennials preferring either moderately spicy toppings or condiments with as much heat as possible.
“Spice is almost like a lifestyle, there’s these trappings of ‘I’m somebody that loves heat,’” Mr. Kostyo said. “For a lot of people that love spice, it’s a true love for spice. It really is part of who they are and how they eat.”
Within the world of spice, flavors like salsa macha and tajin have grown the most over the last four years across all categories, jumping 383% and 319%, respectively. Nashville’s hot, spicy margarita and mango habanero flavors also saw triple-digit increases during the same period. Popular pepper ingredient additions include pickled Fresno, pickled jalapeños, ghost peppers, habanero peppers, and Calabrian chili peppers.
Seasonal summer flavors
Grilled pineapple is the most seasonal summer flavor, according to Datassential’s analysis of new product launches, limited-time offerings, and returning items across several segments. Watermelon, white peach, yuzu, peach and pineapple also ranked among the most summer-exclusive flavors.
“Pineapple is a little bit seasonal, but when you add that outdoor feel of grilled pineapple … it can hint to people that this is definitely a summer seasonal option,” said Claire Conaghan, associate director of Datassential’s Publications unit.
When comparing summer additions across the restaurant, c-store, grocery deli, and meal kit segments, the company found blueberry and pulled pork were the most common summer flavors and ingredients. In the restaurant category, white barbecue stands out as the most seasonal summer flavor, with menu inclusions of the condiment growing 54% over the last four years. Other summer restaurant offerings range from lobster salad and corn on the cob to tofu and apple butter.
For the C-store, grocery deli, and meal kit categories, the top summer flavors were Italian sub, hatch chile, and nectarine, respectively. — Source: Food Business News.


Chipotle’s plan to ease development delays

Calling cities CFO Jack Hartung said the company’s development pace could grow from about 8% to about 10% if it could get past delays in permitting and utilities.
One of the features that stands out to investors about Chipotle’s potential is its development pipeline. The company is targeting 7,000 North American restaurants, from its current 3,268-unit count, and is starting to ramp up its international expansion as well.
To understand its pace of growth, CFO Jack Hartung joined the brand shortly before its 10th anniversary, when it had just over 200 restaurants. Earlier this month, Chipotle marked its 30th anniversary, so it’s gone from 200 to over 3,200 in two decades.
Chipotle is on pace to open 255 to 285 new units this year, or an 8-to-9% clip. And, the company expects to accelerate that to up to 10% if it could just get through some of its lingering bottleneck challenges.
Those challenges are certainly not unique to Chipotle. Things like permitting and utilities delays have been hindering the industry throughout the past several years, much of it triggered by the global disarray caused by Covid and some of it continuing with staffing shortages or work-from-home employees at the municipal level. You could sense some impatience about this hindrance during the company’s Q2 call Wednesday. “It’s really down to things that are under city control, like getting utilities to the site. Sometimes it takes weeks to just get somebody to come out and make sure we have utilities in,” Hartung said. “It involves things like permitting … inspections. So, a lot of these cities … to get somebody to show up when they need to show up and do the work has been a real challenge.”
Hartung said the company is “calling, calling, calling” those cities to make sure Chipotle is at the top of their work list.
“If they hear from us more often, it’s likely they’re going to move it,” he said. “So that’s the strategy to try to hopefully remove that bottleneck.”
Once Chipotle is able to work through some of these delays, an acceleration in unit development should manifest, especially as unit economics continue to improve; restaurant-level margins on the quarter improved to 27.5%, from 25.6% in Q1 and 24% in Q4. In a note, analyst Peter Saleh said this was the company’s highest second-quarter restaurant margin since 2015, prior to its food safety crisis.
So, what will that acceleration look like exactly? Well, as we’ve previously reported, Chipotle is focused on small (and college) town development.
The company is also bullish on its Chipotlane model, as 80% of its new restaurants include the feature. There’s good reason for this; Chipotlanes have been proven to generate higher sales and higher margins for the company.
International mix
Moving forward, Chipotle’s international mix should also ramp up and, in fact, CEO Brian Niccol said the company has added resources to its European operations to “set up the region for long-term growth.” Hartung said that pace will reflect the growth the company has experienced in Canada.
“We’re making great progress in London, Frankfurt, and Paris. Canada continues to really perform; we’re going to fill 10 new restaurants on a base of 34,” he said. “So, you can see how we’re stepping up development there.”
“Once we get performance consistent in Europe like we did in Canada, we’ll start building much more aggressively,” Niccol added.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the company announced its first ever development agreement to plant a flag in the Middle East. The partnership with the Alshaya Group will bring the brand to Kuwait and United Arab Emirates in 2024. Hartung said that unlike Canada and Europe, a partnership made the most sense in the Middle East because “Alshaya is one of the best operators in the region.”
“We’re really excited about where international can go both from a standpoint of partnerships and then company ownership,” Hartung said.
The combination of North American and international expansion will push Chipotle beyond the $10 billion mark sooner rather than later. As Hartung and Niccol pointed out on the call, the company’s unit-count target was 3,000 when it first went public in 2006. Now, it’s 7,000 and Niccol expressed optimism that its target could continue to expand.
“It’s pretty fun to think about we’re closing in on $10 billion, and then I’m sure we’ll be talking about $20 billion and then probably from there we’ll be talking about $30 billion,” he said. “I don’t see a cap on this business anytime soon.”


What generation shifts mean for predicting food trends

Food preferences can change drastically between a generation, and food industry professionals from chefs to the largest manufacturers need to know who their customer is in order to effectively market to them.
But generational tastes and shifts can be hard to keep track of, as new food trends from plant-based to emerging global cuisines can attract different customers depending on how they’re presented.
There are scores of questions that food makers and marketers need to address as these generational shifts play out: Are millennials still the foodie generation? Is Gen Z catching up? What role do Gen X and baby boomers play in the food trend landscape?
That’s why Datassential developed a report to dive into the changing consumer landscape, using its Consumer Preferences database to see how preferences have shifted over time.
Here are some of the highlights:
Sauces, and spices drive food trend awareness.
Spices and sauces set the stage for consumers to become more comfortable with new foods and cuisines. From kewpie mayo and yuzu to adobo and tamarind, sauces, spices, and flavors are moving faster than ever before on Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC), and these should be the first move additions for any food company that wants to experiment with new trends. For consumers, these flavors – no matter what part of the globe they come from – help bridge the gap in the introduction to new cuisines. Flavors, sauces and spices are also continuing to gain the most overall awareness across demographic groups.
In particular, Gen Z’s accelerating appetite for inception-level or early-stage trends suggests they are leading their older peers when it comes to trying new trends and have awareness of many before they become more mainstream. This generation, which was born between 1997 and 2010, is expected to become a key focus for food makers aimed at capturing consumer attention with unique flavors.
Don’t count out older consumers
Boomers, born from 1943 to 1964, are catching up with younger consumers in terms of food trend awareness across nearly all categories. Boomers are a group for the food industry to reconsider focusing on as they appear to be using their retirement money and time to indulge a passion for food. Trending southern, eastern European and Jewish items are most well-known from Boomers, and therefore may be a perfect place to experiment with innovative flavors for older clientele.
Millennials may not stick with food trends Millennials, dubbed the “foodie generation,” are aware of new food trends but aren’t necessarily loyal to those trends once they experience them. While having a new food product get noticed on a menu or a supermarket shelf is half the battle, a sole focus on this generation, born between 1982 and 1996, may not offer desired brand loyalty.
On the other hand, boomers and Gen Xers, born from 1965 to 1981, tend to take more time to become aware of new trends, but once they do, they rate their affinity—% of consumers who love/like—higher than millennials. Because of this Gen X tends to be a key demographic to focus on for “proliferation-stage” trends, or those trends that have been adapted for mainstream appeal.
While consumers of all ages are more aware of food trends with the proliferation of food programming and social media, it’s worth it to take stock of the changing tastes of each generation to ensure that each new item on a restaurant table or supermarket shelf speaks to a particular consumer. Knowing your audience is more important than ever.
Source: Samantha Des Jardins is the content marketing manager at Datassential.


Keurig Dr. Pepper CEO Expects Coffee Sales to Perk Up

Net sales in Keurig Dr Pepper’s US Coffee segment fell nearly 6% in the second quarter that ended June 30, but Robert J. Gamgort, chief executive officer, said he sees several factors pointing to a rebound in the segment.

Companywide, net income more than doubled to $503 million, equal to 36¢ per share on the common stock, when compared with $218 million, or 15¢ per share, in the previous year’s second quarter. Net sales increased 7% to $3.79 billion from $3.55 billion. Keurig Dr Pepper now expects fiscal-year net sales growth of 5% to 6%, up from a previous guidance of 5%.

“Our solid performance was driven by strength in US Refreshment Beverages, encouraging developments in US Coffee and continued momentum in International,” Mr. Gamgort said in a July 27 earnings call.

In US Coffee, net sales decreased to $970 million from $1.03 billion, which reflected net price realization of 1.6% and a volume/mix decline of 7.3%. Greater consumer mobility when compared to the previous year’s second quarter affected the total at-home coffee category negatively, according to Keurig Dr Pepper. At-home coffee category momentum should begin to recover in the back half of the fiscal year as mobility comparisons ease, Mr. Gamgort said.

“In Q1, Keurig compatible pod volumes, a good proxy for the total single-serve category, declined nearly 4% across measured channels,” he said. “Q2, these declines moderated to less than 2%, with improvement particularly notable toward the end of the quarter. For the last four weeks, category volumes are flat to up slightly.”

Keurig Dr Pepper still expects to add about 2 million US households to the Keurig system this fiscal year. Thirty-eight million households are in the system now.

US retail dollar consumption of K-Cup pods manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper fell 2.3% in channels tracked by Circana. Brewer shipments of 9.9 million for the 12-month period ended June 30 marked an 11% decline year-over-year. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, 9.9 million was an increase of 18% from the 12-month period ended June 30, 2019.

On July 20, Keurig Dr Pepper and La Colombe announced a partnership that included a sales and distribution agreement for La Colombe ready-to-drink coffee and a licensing, manufacturing and distribution agreement for La Colombe branded K-Cup coffee pads.

“Our collaboration with La Colombe will encompass several exciting strategic avenues,” Mr. Gamgort said in the July 27 earnings call. “We will leverage our sales and distribution capability to scale La Colombe across major retail classes of trade. Along with the Philz brand, we are creating a ready-to-drink coffee platform, which will enable us to better serve the needs of our consumers and retail customers in this important category.”

Besides US Coffee, other business segments experienced sales growth in the quarter.

In US Refreshment Beverages, net sales increased 12% to $2.33 billion from $2.08 billion in the previous year’s second quarter, which reflected net price realization of 12% and a decrease in volume/mix of 0.2%. The brands Dr Pepper, Squirt, Polar, Evian, Vita Coco, C4 Energy, Mott’s and Hawaiian Punch drove the growth.

In International, net sales increased 11% to $489 million from $441 million.

Over the first six months of the fiscal year, Keurig Dr Pepper had net income of $970 million, or 69¢ per share on the common stock, up 21% from $803 million, or 57¢ per share, in the same time of the previous year. Six-month net sales of $7.14 billion were up 8% from $6.63 billion. —  Source: Food Business News.


Papa John’s International hires first SVP of development . . ..

Patrick Coelho, new senior vice president of development at Papa John’s International, Inc.

Papa John’s International, Inc., has hired Patrick Coelho as its first-ever senior vice president of development.

Mr. Coelho will oversee North American restaurant real estate development activities, continue to advance business development goals and collaborate with senior leadership.

“Patrick brings a wealth of industry experience and knowledge to this new role during a time of substantial growth and expansion for Papa Johns,” said Amanda Clark, chief international and development officer for Papa Johns. “His passion for driving a culture of collaboration and his eye for process optimization will continue to strengthen our operations and unlock value for our franchise network in the North American region.”

Prior to joining Papa John’s International, Mr. Coelho most recently developed and executed an international expansion strategy for Scooter’s Coffee. He was also with Restaurant Brands International for eight years.

Mr. Coelho received a bachelor’s degree in finance and global business from Suffolk University. He also completed the Program for Leadership Development in Business Administration and Management at Harvard Business School.

“Papa Johns is a globally recognized brand that is leading the charge when it comes to innovation in the pizza category,” Mr. Coelho said. “I’m excited to join as the first senior vice president of development for North America and look forward to supporting the company’s impressive expansion efforts. I’m eager to begin and uncover more ways to bolster this ongoing development and operational performance, while deepening relationships with our franchisees and streamlining customer experiences across the Americas.”   –: Source: Food Business News.


L.A.’s newest omakase is already booking up and marks the return of this second-generation sushi chef

At Sushi Sonagi, tucked into a Gardena strip mall, the courses center “micro-seasonal” fish and produce such as a summer-corn chawanmushi.

Sushi Sonagi

With highly limited seatings, a Korean-influenced omakase and the return of second-generation sushi chef Daniel Son, Gardena’s new Sushi Sonagi fills up quickly. The intimate new restaurant from the Katsu Sando co-owner is a new chapter in Son’s career, and one he has desperately sought to embark on since his family’s closure of their long-running West Hollywood restaurant, Kura Sushi.

“Doing sushi again feels extremely fulfilling and I feel very much more at peace,” said Son, who has trained in sushi for most of his adult life. “Katsu Sando has become such a big thing and although we’re so proud of what we’ve created and the people that we’re working with, I feel like my relationship with the sando company or brand became more of a restaurateur. It’s a lot more satisfying to come back to the cutting board and the knife, just going back to the roots of it all.”

At Sonagi the menu shifts weekly but might include corn-and-shiitake chawanmushi with uni, scattered with chive blossom; a single-bite tart filled with sake-poached ankimo; baby white shrimp nigiri, hand-formed in a shiso leaf to impart its oils; and tamago tinged with scallop and shrimp in the batter for a savory edge, and topped with bruleed miso butter. He serves a maximum of nine guests per seating, of which there are two every night of service: 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. Reservations are rolling, unlocked at midnight 30 days in advance of the date, and fill up almost instantly.


Chef-owner Daniel Son displays a course of grilled kuromutsu that’s been coated in puffy rice crackers.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

He sees Sushi Sonagi as a way to represent an L.A. style of sushi, using traditional Japanese technique while drawing on other cultures, including his own Korean heritage, as well as local produce sourced primarily from the nearby Torrance farmers market to create courses that are unique but might feel familiar to a range of customers.

“It’s making sushi and being unapologetically Korean American about it and delving deeper into the culture that Korea and Japan have history with. There’s this Japanese and Korean rivalry that happens, but I also think there’s shared culture there.”Grilled kuromutsu coated in puffy rice crackers is familiar to both Japanese and Korean palates, while abalone rice with liver sauce serves the rice crisped as a homage to dolsot bibimbap. He’s served a kind of sushi ssambap, or wrap, with Korean chile paste, roasted garlic, flying-fish eggs and Korean flounder — but instead of an entire ssam set, it was prepared as one bite. Son hopes that the unorthodox flair of Sushi Sonagi — the Korean word for a sudden rain shower — will evoke the same rarity and surprise of its namesake weather phenomenon.

Here he can also more easily promote “micro-seasonal” fish, changing his menu weekly, and utilize more dry-aging practices, which he began studying in Japan in 2015. It’s almost a responsibility to his mentors, he said, to keep pushing those efforts in his new restaurant — and he feels similarly about serving bluefin tuna, which he will not do at Sushi Sonagi.

sushi Sonagi is serving courses such as sea trout that’s been perilla-marinated and cured, then draped in kombu and sprinkled with Kyoto sesame seeds.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Since his family closed Kura in 2019, Son searched “aggressively” for a way to open a new sushi venture, and in a space he would want to call home for a long time. He credits Kura, which ran for 18 years, as the project he’s still most proud to have been a part of but feels that that was his father’s restaurant.

Son is at the forefront and behind the counter here, but Sushi Sonagi is still a family project: His parents occasionally help prep, his sister is a server, his wife runs the front-of-house operations. Operating a restaurant with his wife, he says, has helped him to understand his own parents’ relationship in a new light.

Earlier this year he signed the lease on the space in the same city in which he grew up, and where his parents first immigrated to. “For us it felt like it was a perfect move not only for our personal lives, but also to come back home and highlight this area,” Son said. “It’s very fulfilling to kind of come full circle.”

Sushi Sonagi is open Friday to Sunday with the possibility for Thursday night service in the months to come.

1425 Artesia Blvd., Unit 27, Gardena, Chef Josiah Citrin just expanded his live-fire concept Charcoal to the Sunset Strip. Charcoal is Citrin’s steakhouse-leaning ode to the backyard barbecue, and now he and chef de cuisine Jordan Olivo are cooking up coal-kissed vegetables and meats in a sprawling 230-seat indoor-outdoor space. The menu is nearly identical to the original Charcoal’s, which opened in 2015 and, along with its theme of backyard grilling, offers what Jonathan Gold called “the smell of sizzling meat, the rush of side dishes and the warm feeling of contentment.” Citrin — who earlier this week retained Michelin stars at his restaurants Mélisse and Citrin — is serving many of his coal-fired Venice dishes that have since become signatures: a thick wedge of cabbage “baked in the embers,” served with yogurt and sumac; a small pile of smokey, sweet lamb ribs; charred chicken wings; a range of steak cuts, half Jidori chicken and half a Liberty duck; fresh pastas; and vegetables such as ricotta- and black-pepper-honey coal-roasted carrots. Cocktails, similarly, evoke the theme, with options such as bourbon with bitters and smoke; an activated-charcoal margarita; and vodka with watermelon, cucumber, Saint Germain and rosé. Charcoal on Sunset is open from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, with plans to later expand to daily service.

Chef Josiah Citrin’s ode to backyard barbecues is now available along the Sunset Strip. He recently opened a new, indoor-outdoor location of Charcoal in West Hollywood.



An Orange County restaurant group has expanded to L.A. with A PCH, a modern-American restaurant with bay views, house-made pastas, Wagyu-topped pizza, caviar service on fresh-corn blinis, oysters and more spread across 5,400 square feet. A PCH, located within Long Beach’s 2nd & PCH mixed-use complex, is the latest project by River Jetty Restaurant Group from restaurateur Jordan Otterbein and film director Joseph “McG” Nichol, which operates A Crystal Cover in Newport Cove and CdM in Corona del Mar, among others. Executive chef Louis Capiz, formerly of A Crystal Cove, is heading up a menu of some of the hospitality group’s most popular items, including the Fancy Pizza with Wagyu hanger steak, curry, roasted pineapple, Calabrese aioli and Fresno chiles, and the Dirty Pasta with ground duck and ricotta salata. Brunch service involves horchata-inspired pancakes, breakfast pizza, duck-confit sopes with Wagyu-lace refried beans, and filet-and-crab Benedict. A forthcoming restaurant, A Sunset, is slated for the city of L.A. A PCH is open Monday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Expect programming such as DJ sets Thursday to Saturday.

6460 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite D200, Long Beach, (562) 431-4949,  Cue Santa Monica Legendary L.A. pitmaster Kevin Bludso has expanded his barbecue empire to the Westside with a new location in Santa Monica. The newest Bludso’s Bar & Cue marks the chef-owner and TV personality’s first full restaurant opening in a decade, and serves his signature blend of Texas-by-way-of-Compton flavor in the former Truxton’s space. Bludso recently won a James Beard Foundation award for his cookbook — named by L.A. Times as one of the best of 2022 — and is serving all his iconic dishes also found on La Brea, including his award-winning family-style meats smoked on-site: beef ribs, brisket, pulled pork, rib tips, sausage links and even vegan jackfruit, plus newer items like fried okra and smoked turkey. Sides include baked beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, Texas caviar, collards, cornbread and more. The new location features TVs and a full bar, which offers options such as the “pitmaster’s punch” with pineapple, ginger and vodka, and the bourbon-spiked sweet tea with rhubarb and peach. Bludso’s Santa Monica is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

1329 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 310-2775,



Crazy Thai Burger


At Crazy Thai Burger, from the team behind Thaitown’s Radna Silom, the focus is on Thai fusion burgers such as a larb patty with rice in lieu of a bun.

The family behind one of Thai Town’s most beloved sidewalk stalls just launched a quick and casual fusion concept with a bricks-and-mortar in Koreatown. At the new Crazy Thai Burger, the Sathirathiwats are shifting their noodle focus found at Radna Silom — where pad Thai, rad na and other wok’d dishes are fried and simmered freshly in front of Silom Supermarket — and instead are offering a handful of Thai-inspired burgers, such as a krapow variety and a larb iteration, both served between rice patties and with a sweet and sour house-made roasted Thai chile sauce. There are rice bowls, too, as well as boba Thai iced teas, slushies made from freshly squeezed orange juice, and a tom yum-spiced spaghetti with shrimp and fried basil that uses custom Thai seasonings. “We tried the other companies in the U.S., but it tastes different,” said partner Kaenipa Lantomrattana. “We found someone to make it in Thailand and then [import] it.” More offerings are in the works. Crazy Thai Burger is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.

4008 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 925-5652,


The new casual, East Hollywood sibling concept to Gingergrass serves a range of Vietnamese and pan-Asian products as well as dishes such as dan dan noodles and popcorn chicken.


Gingergrass Mini Mart

Silver Lake Vietnamese spot Gingergrass now has a sibling mini mart in East Hollywood selling Vietnamese pantry items, pan-Asian noodle bowls, coffee and more in the former Square One Tacos space. Co-owner John Himmelstein asked himself what the next generation of Gingergrass might look like as a market and tapped chef Andrew Lo to help envision it. Lo’s menu is inspired by Vietnamese, Cantonese, Thai and Indonesian flavors and involves dan dan noodles with herbs, lime-dressed cucumbers and turmeric-pickled mustard greens; a rice paper crepe dressed with egg batter and topped with lemongrass pork; coconut curry noodles with shallot-oil-poached shrimp; mushroom noodles with miso butter and garlic panko; and grab-and-go fridge items like corn salad in shrimp butter and Vietnamese chicken salad with coconut nuoc cham. Himmelstein’s partner, D’nell Larson, is heading up much of the retail curation with Vietnamese pantry and small-batch items such as gourmet fish sauce, pho-flavored beef jerky, canned coconut milk, imported potato chips, pho kits, and all the accoutrements to make Vietnamese coffee at home. Gingergrass Mini Mart is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4:30 to 9 p.m., with lunch hours to follow. In Silver Lake, the restaurant recently launched a weekend-only program for sidewalk-grilled Vietnamese street foods.

4850 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles,


Granville has expanded to North Hollywood with a new two-floor space and a number of murals by local artists.

Granville North Hollywood

A popular local chain for sustainability-minded modern-American fare recently expanded to North Hollywood, opening in the former Renegade space in the NoHo Arts District. It marks the fifth location for Granville, which also maintains outposts in West Hollywood, Burbank, Studio City and Pasadena. Chefs Glenda Galvan-Garcia and Marc Dix and serving signature Granville items such as “uptown” mac ‘n’ cheese with cheddar, Gruyère, asparagus, peas and humanely raised chicken; Thai soba salad with candied ginger; Wagyu stroganoff; sustainable, Cajun-spice-rubbed pork chop with spinach and potatoes; and cocktails that riff on classics such as a chamomile take on the sour and a kaffir-tinged paloma. The two-story restaurant features a central bar and a communal table, as well as murals and other art by local makers. Granville North Hollywood is open Monday to Wednesday from noon to 9 p.m., Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday from noon to 11 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 962-0858, Arroz and Fun pop-ups In celebration of Arroz and Fun’s new series of second-floor events, the cafe is serving Arroz Veloria: a Filipino chicken congee inspired by the home recipe of vintage curator and shop owner Brandon Veloria Giordano.


Five months after its debut in Lincoln Heights, cross-cultural cafe Arroz and Fun is opening its second floor and launching a series of pop-ups, collabs and gallery shows with special menu items. The coffee shop comes from the Leon and Liu families, who also operate Chifa and Monarch, and serves items that blend Latin, Chinese, Peruvian and Taiwanese influence such as bolo-bao sandwiches, pollo guisado, an aji-sauced smashburger, egg rolls and fish-ball curry. The inaugural pop-up is a vintage market curated by New York City shop James Veloria, running now through Aug. 15; in honor of the Filipino heritage of Brandon Veloria Giordano — one of the vintage collective’s owners — Arroz and Fun is serving a Filipino congee, plus an Aperol spritz tinged with Tang.

A photo exhibition beginning Sept. 1 will center on director Spike Jonze’s collaborative work and friendship with Bjork, with photos from Jonze’s personal collection curated by Arroz and Fun co-owner and fashion designer Humberto Leon.

“It’s basically a surprise exhibition because he doesn’t know exactly which photos I’m choosing,” Leon said. The exhibition is set to run for three months and also offer corresponding dishes and drinks. Eventually, Leon says, the cafe’s ownership hopes to launch a grant program that helps members of the Lincoln Heights community access arts classes and other creative programs.  — : Source: Los Angeles Times.



Brand marketing experts talk about their own experiences and how others can build successful careers in the restaurant industry . . . .

How do you Become a Restaurant Marketing Executive?

City Barbeque’s Annica Conrad advises marketing professionals to seek out mentors who can help them throughout their careers, and take advantage of networking and growth opportunities.

Jennifer Faren, vice president of marketing for Hopdoddy Burger Bar, grew up working in her family’s restaurant and developed a lifelong love for the business.


In college, she majored in marketing, believing the restaurant business was in her past. It wasn’t until after college that a light went off and she realized she could parlay her marketing degree into the restaurant industry career she enjoys today.

Early on in her career, Stacey Kane, now fractional CMO for California Tortilla and Mamoun’s Falafel, dressed in the mascot costume of the company she worked at, passing out coupons to potential customers.

Rev Ciancio, co-founder and CMO of Handcraft Burgers & Brew, originally owned an artist development agency in the music industry but realized his calling was in foodservice.

Annica Conrad, chief brand officer at 67-unit City Barbeque, started out as an account executive at an ad agency. A lover of all things restaurant-related, she instinctively knew her future was on the client’s side. She wanted to be in charge of branding and messaging for a restaurant company.

From humble beginnings to great career opportunities The four brand marketing executives, and panelists at the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executive Group meeting in Chicago, discussed their love for the restaurant business and how up-and-coming professionals can achieve similar success—specifically in brand marketing.


“I knew I could use my agency marketing skillset and take it to the next level by applying it to a singular brand,” Conrad says. “It was something I was passionate about. I started at McAllister’s Deli, in a field marketing-type capacity, and eventually worked my way up to the VP level. I was always extremely vocal about wanting to do more. I let everyone know, constantly asking them to let me help on as many projects as possible. The goal was to learn as much as I could.”


Ciancio moved from Detroit to the New York City area to promote alternative, punk, and heavy metal bands. On the side, he wrote a hamburger blog detailing his adventures eating burgers at different restaurants. He wasn’t really interested in a restaurant career, but operators in New York who read his blog asked him to help promote their restaurants.


“Eventually, I started taking on restaurants in addition to bands,” he says. “I closed down the music side of things and went fully into hospitality. My friends who are still in the music business will ask what it’s like being in the food business and I tell them it’s really very similar. With restaurants, you’re constantly marketing to drive repeat trips and in the music industry, you’re trying to promote the next album or concert. It’s all about guest acquisition and retention.”


Kane got her first actual restaurant job at 15, as a busser in a sushi bar, wearing a full kimono.


“It was 1985, and I was spending the summer with relatives in Durham, N.C.,” she says. “I knew I was good with people, had a natural affinity for talking to them. I needed a job, didn’t have my driver’s license yet, and they needed a busser. I worked the whole summer until I had to go back to school.”


She continued her education, eventually graduating with degrees in Radio/TV/Film and Journalism from the Universities of North Carolina at Greensboro and Maryland, but decided that wouldn’t be her career path. Instead, she answered a want ad for an assistant marketing director for a Subway advertising co-op in Washington, D.C. She got the job and found her true passion.


“It’s where I really learned about marketing, she says. “I did everything from dressing up as a sub man, handing out coupons on the street, to writing ad creative for radio spots, and teaching franchisees how to grow their sales and community reputations. At the time, I didn’t know all that much, but I learned quickly.


“That’s the thing about the restaurant industry. You can start out making sandwiches, but end up as the chief marketing officer, or even take your knowledge to different industries. The possibilities are endless.”


Faren worked her way through college, as a server and bartender, and honed her talent for communicating with people. After receiving her marketing degree, she worked at a dairy ingredients manufacturer in Wisconsin, and never looked back. She learned about the B-to-B side of the business but decided to return to her roots as a brand marketing expert for restaurant companies, including Chili’s Grill & Bar. Specializing in digital technology and innovation, she helped the brand develop its loyalty program before moving on to a startup called Snap Kitchen, and then Hopdoddy.


“It was a great experience, to go from a large brand with a lot of resources to a smaller one with more limited resources,” she says. “It taught me how to operate on a much smaller budget, but still produce great content and run breakthrough campaigns.”

Tips to achieve career success

When asked for the best advice they could give the next generation of industry marketers, the four executives offered the following tips:

Be curious. “Don’t be afraid to use your voice and make recommendations at the early part of your career,” Faren says. “Do your research, have insight, then take a shot. Even if the direction isn’t perfect, you’ll learn from it. Try new things, test, and learn. Find new ideas and feel confident in sharing them.”

Make sure to have mentors. “Seek out mentors who will help you throughout your career,” Conrad says. “Also, seek out opportunities that allow you to network and learn. Make sure you don’t just do your work and keep your head down. Be aware of what’s happening around you. Be inquisitive and share your level of curiosity with others. It’s so important to let others in the company know you want to learn more.”

Know the industry. A lot of marketers come in and think being a content creator or digital marketing expert is enough,” Kane says, “but it’s not. You have to know how your brand’s frontline person is ringing in your promo code, understand the entire ecosystem of what’s happening inside the restaurant. That way, when you “pull the lever” of a marketing plan, you’ll fully understand how your campaign will affect the operation’s logistics. Know how food costs and supply chain work. Be well-rounded in the restaurant business, not just in marketing.

Develop your plan. Decide where you want to work. “Whether it’s a large or small company, there are valuable lessons to be learned at each,” Ciancio says. “Working for a startup company that’s going from two to five locations could be a great learning opportunity. It will teach you how to be scrappy and scalable and learn everything you need to know. But if your plan is to become the CMO of a large chain, like McDonald’s, it’s probably more valuable to work as a marketing manager at a larger chain.” – Source: SPONSORED BY HEARTLAND. National Restaurant Association.


TriArtisan Capital Advisors managing director Rohit Manocha named interim CEO . . . .

Damola Adamolekun to step down as CEO of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Damola Adamolekun is stepping down as CEO of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro effective Aug. 1, the Asian-influenced casual dining chain said Monday.

Rohit Manocha, co-founder and managing director of TriArtisan Capital Advisors, an owner of P.F. Chang’s, has been named interim CEO while the board works with an independent recruitment firm to find a permanent replacement.

Adamolekun has been the restaurant chain’s CEO since July of 2020 after he helped lead the 2019 deal in which Paulson & Co and TriArtisan Capital Advisors acquired it from Centerbridge Partners. He will return to Paulson as a partner focusing on investments.

In a press release announcing Adamolekun’s departure, Paulson president and board chairman John Paulson thanked the outgoing executive for his “invaluable contributions” since joining P.F. Chang’s.

“Damola stepped in as CEO in the midst of the COVID-induced economic shutdown and successfully pivoted the business to off-premise dining to continue to serve customers and stabilize cash flow,” he said. “ Subsequently, he returned the Company to growth through a total brand refresh and new restaurant openings that position P.F. Chang’s for long-term success.  We are grateful for his leadership of the Company during this period.”

Adamolekun said, “I’m immensely proud of all that we’ve accomplished to elevate the customer experience, to build-out the Company’s technology infrastructure to enable a robust takeout and delivery business, and to expand our international footprint. It’s been an honor to lead P.F. Chang’s, and I wholeheartedly believe the strong team we have in place will continue to drive success in the future.”

Incoming interim CEO Manocha said he was optimistic about the Scottsdale, Ariz-based restaurant chain’s future.

“The P.F. Chang’s brand and restaurant network are in a great position, and I look forward to working closely with our talented team to build on our momentum, drive increased traffic and transition the Company to its next world class leader. Most importantly, we will continue to make our customers’ lives better through iconic, authentic food and joyful hospitality.”

Manocha is also chairman of TGI Fridays.

P.F. Chang’s has more than 300 restaurants in 22 countries. . . . .–: Source.





Just Eat told investors Wednesday that it’s having issues with selling Grubhub because of delivery fee caps and a pending lawsuit in New York City.

CEO Jitse Groen said the company has talked with interested parties, but they’ve been “complicated conversations.” He added that fees caps are preventing Just Eat from fetching a “decent multiple on Grubhub because the swing factor is so dramatic.” Potential buyers are not sure about the company’s true value.

In New York City, third-party aggregators cannot charge more than 15 percent fees to deliver an order, more than 5 percent in other fees, and more than 3 percent to process electronic payments. The city first implemented a delivery fee cap in June 2020. It made the move permanent about a year later. New York City also promised to review the fee cap every two years to analyze its effect.

Groen also mentioned pending litigation. Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats sued New York City shortly after it passed its permanent delivery fee.

Earlier this year, the New York City Council introduced a proposal that would eliminate the 5 percent fee cap. The legislation has yet to move forward, but it has the support of more than two dozen council members.

“There are two processes running there,” Groen explained. “There’s a legacy authority in the New York City Council. As you probably know, we don’t control the New York City Council. That’s pretty obvious. The second part is still an ongoing court case that also is there. We’re pretty confident that [the fee caps] will roll off. We just don’t know when. And this is in the U.S., it could happen overnight, it could also take a long time still. So we are improving the business. And if the fee caps roll off great, then the profitability profile, Grubhub starts to look like the rest of the business. That’s fantastic. But it’s difficult to control things that we don’t control.”

Just Eat announced in June 2020 that it would acquire Grubhub for $7.3 billion. The move was finalized about a year later. Then, in April 2022, the company revealed that it was putting Grubhub on the market.

The third-party delivery aggregator has been underperforming in recent years. In North America, which includes the Grubhub business, gross transaction value decreased 12 percent in the first half of 2023 due to lower order volumes.

However, Just Eat has looked to improve the business prior to selling it off. In June, Grubhub unveiled a restructuring program that required 400 layoffs (a 15 percent reduction in headcount). CEO Howard Migdal—who rose to the position after Adam DeWitt stepped down from the role after 11 years with the company—said rightsizing the organization will allow everyone to be “more agile, make bolder bets and take advantage of all the opportunities on our doorstep.” Just Eat also extended Grubhub’s partnership with Amazon in which Prime Members get free access to Grubhub+.

“We’re making those changes,” Groen said. “Sometimes they’re painful, like with the reduction of the staff, but they are necessary for that business and is obviously very unfortunate that the fee caps are there. They make no sense and they need to go. But in the meantime, you also need to run a business.”

The shifts appear to be having an impact. North America’s adjusted EBITDA turned positive in the first half of 2023 with $56 million, versus negative $4.4 million in the year-ago period. Grubhub, with a free cash flow of negative $61.6 million, is on a path toward cash flow breakeven as well.

Grubhub held a 10 percent market share in June, according to Bloomberg Second Measure. The company trailed DoorDash (65 percent) and Uber Eats (23 percent).


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