Chains including Outback Steakhouse and Darden Restaurants-owned Olive Garden and Red Lobster have expanded their lunch efforts, adding menu options more suitable for the midday meal and experimenting with ways to speed service. Lunch accounts for 34% of overall restaurant traffic, but most of that goes to quickservice chains, according to NPD Group, while casual chains derive as little as 15% of their total sales from lunch traffic.
Staying open round-the-clock is paying off for McDonald's and other quickservice eateries, as more Americans work the evening shift. The chain, which reported another quarter of strong sales and earnings growth on Tuesday, says the period between midnight and 5 a.m. is the fastest-growing time slot, and others including Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts have increased the number of 24-hour locations.
In addition to creating a tasty new sandwich that's likely to sell, the new product development team at Burger King has to consider a host of other elements from the price of ingredients to whether the front line crew will be able to serve it, says executive chef John Koch. He also shares his thoughts on the perennial popularity of burgers.
A handful of new restaurants in Canada hope to be at the forefront of a fledgling trend of mixing food and fitness. Cafe Tiramisu includes a play room for children and an exercise studio for adults, and Noorish is a combination vegan cafe and yoga studio. "The philosophy is to nourish one’s body, mind and soul, and we felt like having a vegetarian eatery wasn’t enough in terms of the true definition of well-being,” said Noorish co-owner Sheniz Kassam.
Former Ritz-Carlton New York pastry chef Joseph Murphy was named executive pastry chef at New York City's Jean Georges. Murphy, who has also served as pastry chef at Jean-Georges Management, replaces Johnny Iuzzini, who resigned from the restaurant last year.