Industry News

Top 10: Post-pandemic restaurant ideas, Kroger’s robotic warehouse, revamped chocolate chips

This week, SmartBrief’s food and beverage readers were drawn to New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer’s take on the industry during the coronavirus pandemic as well as his thoughts on how restaurants will recover post-pandemic. This No. 2 most-clicked story of the week focused on how Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group had to quickly adapt when lockdown orders began and what he misses about the foodservice industry.

In fast food news, executives at McDonald’s also shared what consumer behaviors are expected to last even after the pandemic. The chain believes the increased digital and delivery orders seen during the pandemic will endure. The fast food restaurant arm of Roark Capital, which owns chains such as Sonic and Arby’s, has also taken note of customer foodservice trends during the pandemic. The group has expanded and revamped Sonic following increased sales to accommodate more takeout orders and outdoor dining.

News that Whole Foods Market employees took legal action against the supermarket chain after the workers were punished or reprimanded for wearing Black Lives Matter face masks took the top spot on this week’s most-clicked list. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Whole Foods discriminated against workers wearing BLM apparel such as face masks by sending them home without pay or taking other disciplinary actions that aren’t typically enforced against dress code violations. 

Another food retail story that piqued reader interest was the onset of construction for Kroger’s high-tech fulfillment center in the Washington, D.C., area. The Frederick, Md., warehouse will be powered through robotics company Ocado Solutions and is expected to be completed in two years. Fellow grocer Wegmans opened its new location in Cary, N.C., this week, and the store planned to maintain social distancing measures.

Consumer packaged goods news that caught readers' attention included Dandelion Chocolate’s remodeled chocolate chip product. The new chocolate chip is in a square pyramid shape and was designed by Remy Labesque, an industrial designer at electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla. In other CPG news, Unilever announced the decision to sell a portion of its tea business, but the company will still produce its ready-to-drink Lipton brand.

Check out the complete list of this week’s top 10 most-clicked stories in SmartBrief's food and beverage briefs:

  1. Whole Foods under fire over Black Lives Matter masks
  2. How Danny Meyer sees the post-pandemic restaurant world
  3. How a Tesla designer reinvented the chocolate chip
  4. McDonald's expects pandemic-era dining habits to linger
  5. Layers of flavor key to barbecuing the perfect ribs
  6. Kroger starts work on robotic fulfillment center in Md.
  7. Why Sonic's owner isn't slowing down in the pandemic
  8. Unilever to sell hot tea unit, retain RTD Lipton line
  9. Chicago chefs turn the Italian beef sandwich on its head
  10. Wegmans to emphasize safety at N.C. store opening

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