Restaurant News Bites: DineEquity, Applebee’s, Food Truck Letter Grades
DineEquity, Inc., parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP, announced two asset purchase agreements on Monday. DineEquity, Inc. and Mid River Restaurants, LLC announced an agreement in which Mid River Restaurants, LLC will purchase 36 company-operated Applebee’s locations in St. Louis, MO and parts of Illinois from DineEquity, Inc. The sale is expected to produce $26 million in proceeds after taxes.
In the other purchase agreement, DineEquity, Inc. announced the purchase agreement of 20 company-operated Applebee’s locations in Roanoke and Lynchburg Virginia to Apple Investors Group, LLC. The agreement is expected to result in $12 million after tax proceeds for the company. Both of the announced purchases are contingent on the successful transfer of liquor licenses. The agreements are expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2011.
DineEquity, Inc. also announced on Monday the signing of new senior secured credit agreements with Barclays Bank PLC. The agreement will establish a $900 million senior secured term loan facility maturing in October 2017 as well a $50 million senior secured revolving loan facility, which matures in October 2015. The agreements provide DineEquity, Inc. with the ability to increase the senior secured credit facility by up to $250 million under certain conditions. The initial funding of the $50 million secured loan is expected to occur on October 19, 2010.
A recent study found that baby highchairs in restaurants contained more bacteria than the average toilet seat. The study found that restaurant highchairs held an average of 147 bacteria per square centimeter, while the average toilet seat contains just eight bacteria per square centimeter. Bacteria found on the highchairs included strains potentially harmful to the still developing immune system of babies. Parents are being warned to ensure highchairs are cleaned prior to use.
According to a recent report, 55% of all establishments offering Wi-Fi are now doing so free of charge. The number is a huge increase from last year when just over 27% of establishments offered the service for free. The shift to free Wi-Fi service is a reaction to consumers expecting the service to be offered for free, as well as a way for establishments to keep guests happy, coming back, and staying longer.
Los Angeles County is taking steps to make food trucks and carts follow the same health department standards as restaurants. Proposed rule changes include requiring food carts to display the county’s letter grading system prominently, filing route maps with health inspectors, and having at least one field inspection each year. The rules would make it possible for the health department to fine or close street food vendors with a letter grade of less than a C. Similar measures are being considered in other cities around the country.
IHOP unveiled its new SIMPLE & FIT menu on Monday. The new menu contains more than 30 items containing 600 or fewer calories. A green icon on the menu will denote SIMPLE & FIT menu items. The new menu will also include tips and hints to how guests can make traditional menu items healthier. The company also announced that every kid’s menu item would be part of the SIMPLE & FIT menu.
Pizza Inn, Inc. is celebrating National Pizza Month by releasing their newest pizza creation. The new Loaded Baked Potato Pizza features the company’s signature made from scratch dough, a ranch dressing base, mozzarella, bacon and cheddar mix, sliced potatoes, and is sprinkled with chives. The creation was the winner of the company’s first companywide 2010 Culinary Challenge competition.
White Castle is giving away coupons for a free Garlic Cheese Slider on Facebook. Fans of the restaurant can get the coupons by “liking” White Castle on the company’s Facebook page by October 22. Users can then print the coupon and redeem it for a free Garlic Cheese Slider at participating locations throughout the nation by October 30.
The most recent Zagat survey found that over 60% of diners in major cities in the U.S. think that texting, checking e-mail, and talking on cellphones during a meal is rude. While the results show that diners feel the actions are rude, most admitted to at least occasionally engaging in the activities.