Restaurant News Bites: Friendly’s, KFC, Veggie Grill

Restaurant News Bites: Friendly's, KFC, Veggie GrillThe Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurant chain has laid off an estimated 1,260 employees. This came last Tuesday night after an announcement that the chain is filing for bankruptcy. Laying off this many workers is usually illegal under Federal law, but Friendly’s will get by because none of its locations employed more than 50 people in one place.

New research completed by Cornell University shows that about 25% of all take-out restaurants in the country offer some form of online ordering. Online ordering is more accurate and requires less labor than telephone ordering. 47% of pizza chains offer an online ordering option, while only 2% of fine-dining chains do.

OpenTable may be seeing strong growth in the terms of traffic and revenue, but the competition for online restaurant reservations is getting stiffer. People are also eating out less as a whole. The company tracks information on over 20,000 locations and accepts reservations for these restaurants as well.

KFC is pushing for a fundamental change in its communications programs, including television advertising. The chain says that the existing TV ads aren’t working properly to increase sales and bring in new customers. They are pushing the firm responsible for their ads, Ogilvy & Mather, to add more senior creative partners to the campaign for better results.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is highlighting their commitments to sustainability to draw in more traffic. The chain uses hormone-free cheese and dairy products, humanely raised chicken and beef and partners with independent farmers. A short video was played at a number of food and art festivals recently to explain this commitment.

Southern California-based The Veggie Grill chain has finished its third round of equity funding with $11 million. This amount was based on the strong growth and expansion shown by the new chain. Current shareholders and new investors both contributed to this round of funding.

The building in the South Loop of Chicago may not still house a White Castle restaurant, but it is considered a historical landmark by the city. It was the 16th location for the chain and was built in 1930. The current owners operate an independent restaurant out of it and they purchased and renovated the building in 1982.

Jack in the Box is debuting a new sweet menu item with the addition of the Mini Cookies. For $1, diners get 5 freshly baked small cookies that use both candy coated chocolate pieces and regular chocolate chips. All 550 locations will be offering the small dessert starting at the end of this week.

October 20th marks the 20th anniversary celebration for the Pretzelmaker chain. To celebrate their birthday, all locations will offer visitors a free order of Pretzel Bites. These Bites are small pieces of pretzel dough perfect for snacking. No other purchase or coupon is necessary, but you will need a photo ID to get your free pretzels.

Atlanta-area Little Caesars restaurants are joining with the Children’s Miracle Network and local charities for a number of Miracle Balloon Drives. Purchasing a $1 makes a donation directly to the Children’s Miracle Network. This program helps fund children’s hospitals around the country, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.