Restaurant News Bites: Burger King, Hooters, Wingstop


Restaurant News Bites: Burger King, Hooters, WingstopAfter the October purchase of Burger King restaurants by 3G capital, the industry was abuzz with rumors of slashing costs in order for an easy flip of the business.  So far, the speculation seems to be holding true.  After a surgical removal of seven top-level executives in October, 3G Capital announced a much larger round of downsizing on Monday.  On Monday, the new owners of Burger King announced the dismissal of 413 employees from across the company, including 261 employees in South Florida.  Many of the dismissals in Florida worked at the company’s Miami-based headquarters.  Before the cuts, it was thought that 500 to 700 people were employed at the facility.  3G has said that even though they have reduced the workforce, they do not intend to move the Burger King headquarters out of Miami.

The battle over the sale of Hooters of America, Inc. took another turn last Thursday when a Horry County judge approved the sale of the company to Wellspring Capital Management.  As part of a previous loan, Chanticleer Investors LLC was given right of first refusal over any sale of the company.  It appears Chanticleer will attempt to block the sale of the company to Wellspring.  The battle began after Hooters founder Robert Brooks died in 2006 and divided ownership of the company between his son and daughter.  Brooks’ second wife refused the terms of his will as written and the legal battles have been ongoing since.

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Wingstop has announced a franchise incentive program aimed at increasing the number of multi-unit franchisees.  The new incentive program will run through April 1, 2011 and offer qualified candidates the opportunity to become a part of the Wingstop brand for reduced franchise and royalty fees.  The program is part of the company’s aggressive expansion campaign after a banner year in 2010.

Superior, Wisconsin City Councilor Greg Metzig is planning to introduce a city ordinance that would follow in the footsteps of the recent San Francisco ban on toys in fast food meals that do not meet certain requirements.  In order for toys to be included, the meals would have to be less than 600 calories with no more than 10% of calories coming from fat as well as meeting other nutritional guidelines.  Metzig says he drafted the measure after a number of citizens asked him to do something to promote the health of Superior residents.  The measure is expected to undergo a preliminary vote next Tuesday.

In the midst of the recession, restaurants around the country have turned to technology to help keep the doors open.  Aside from the usual suspects like Facebook and Twitter, a number of restaurants around the country are beginning to use daily deal websites like Groupon, which leverage the power of social media to promote one special deal each day.  When a deal is posted, a specified number of coupons have to be sold in order for anyone to get the discount.  The group buying system encourages buyers to spread the word to friends, family, and strangers to ensure enough of the deals are purchased for the coupons to be valid.  People love it because they get amazing discounts, and restaurants love it because they do not pay a dime if the required number of deals are not sold.

OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC has announced the return of volunteers from a successful Operation Feeding Freedom VIII trip.  Operation Feeding Freedom is part of OSI’s continued effort to support American and Coalition troops stationed away from home.  The latest incarnation of the event marked the eighth time that OSI has sent volunteers overseas to give troops a taste of home cooking.  To date, the company, which operates Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s, and a number of other restaurants, has served meals to more than 167,000 troops stationed at various locations around the globe.

Brinker International, Inc. announced that Ian Baines has been named Senior Vice President of Strategic Innovation for Brinker and Chili’s Grill & Bar.  Additionally, the company announced that Carin Stutz has been named President of Brinker’s Global Business Development.  In his return to the company Baines will oversee future kitchen and culinary innovation as well as head the company’s plans to remodel more than 800 company-owned Chili’s locations.  Stutz will oversee all business decisions and restaurant operations for the company’s international locations as well as developments for Brinker’s international goals moving forward.

Smashburger is partnering with 25/20 Management to bring the acclaimed burger joint to Brooklyn in 2011.  25/20 is slated to open three locations in Brooklyn, all featuring menu items designed to appeal to the unique palates of New Yorkers.  The expansion into Brooklyn is part of Smashburger’s larger plan of targeted growth in New York City.  The restaurant currently has franchise agreements in place for 20 locations in Long Island and continues to seek partners in the New York City area for additional locations.

Since the 2008 opening of their first restaurant, Bullritos has become a local favorite.  On November 29, Bullritos opened their tenth store.  To celebrate the new Houston location, the restaurant gave away free tacos for a year to the first 50 qualified guests in line.  The opening was so popular that guests stood in line for the Monday morning grand opening starting on Sunday night.

Johnny Rockets, Home of the Original Hamburger, celebrated the opening of its new location in Quezon City on November 12.  The location is the second Johnny Rockets in the Philippines and officially opened on October 10.  Since opening their first Philippines location in August of 2009, Johnny Rockets has quickly become a favorite in the country’s most populous city.  In keeping with Philippine tradition, rice is served as a side dish alongside meals.