Chick-fil-A won out as the favorite quickservice chain in Technomic's Chain Restaurant Consumers' Choice Award, and Firehouse Subs was the favorite among fast casuals and Outback Steakhouse was the top casual chain. Chains were evaluated on food and beverage, service, atmosphere and brand image.
Time will tell whether any or all of Darrel Suderman's predictions for the year's top food innovations come to pass -- for now, the president of Food Technical Consulting is calling them "opportunities." His top five list includes global growth of organic foods, fried rice balls called Arancini and rising awareness of ancient grains such as quinoa and spelt.
Yum! Brands reported another strong quarter of sales and profit growth in China, easing analysts' concerns that the market there might be softening, and other global markets including France, India and Russia also contributed to the company's fourth-quarter growth. Overall, Yum!'s international operations in emerging markets booked a 13% rise in sales last year, said CEO David Novak.
Firehouse Subs has named finance and technology vice president Vincent Burchianti as its new chief financial officer. Burchianti started with the company 10 years ago and is credited with developing the accounting and auditing department for the 479-unit chain.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Firehouse Subs turned around declining sales at its 382 locations last year by using an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at setting itself apart from sandwich giants Subway and Quiznos. Firehouse began with a multimedia campaign that touted the chain's unusual meat-steaming process and won "Whopper" status for its best-selling sandwich. At the store level, the addition of double-meat options and larger soft-drink cups are aimed at adding $15,000 in annual revenue per store.