Restaurant News Bites: Panera Bread, Starbucks, Golden Corral

Restaurant News Bites: Panera Bread, Starbucks, Golden CorralPanera Bread has experienced continuing growth for the past four consecutive quarters despite the U.S. recession. Expansion into the catering industry and a new customer loyalty program has largely driven the double digit gains. The program, called MyPanera, gives customers points for each purchase that can be used for discounts and coupons.

A new summer camp for the children of disabled and wounded veterans has been developed by Golden Corral. 400 children will be invited to a free, week-long summer camp run by 4-H Youth Development staffers at a North Carolina 4-H camp. Parents will only be responsible for transportation to and from the camp location. Golden Corral visitors in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina can make donations to the camp at any restaurant in those states.

Subway recently passed McDonald’s in the race for the most restaurant locations, and founder Fred DeLuca couldn’t be happier. He founded the company at 17 to pay for his college education and now the corporation boasts over 33,000 global locations. The self-made billionaire stays on top of the competition by expanding to global markets aggressively and occasionally visiting the restaurants of his competitors.

Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have partnered together to release a line of Starbucks branded premium coffee beverages for the Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System. The Keurig drink machine creates high quality coffee shop beverages from individually packaged servings of concentrated bases, known as K-Cups. The Starbucks K-Cups will allow consumers to make their own favorite drinks at home.

CiCi’s Pizza is starting a new marketing campaign, known as the Endless Value Dinner Campaign, to spread consumer awareness of their $4.99 all day pizza and pasta buffet.  CiCi’s hopes that by highlighting their low price and wide selection of family friendly foods that new diners will try the restaurant chain.

Kenny Chesney’s new “Goin’ Coastal” tour will be accompanied by Hooter’s. Hooter’s plans to have Chesney related giveaways in many stores, and a text-to-win contest for a trip to the tour’s final show. The tour’s coastal theme fits the beach style of the Hooter’s restaurant chain. Happy Hour events will take place at the stadium stops of the tour that will allow concert goers to take part in the Hooter’s experience.

Fazoli’s recovered from their recent slump due to a new and innovative CEO, Carl Howard. The Lexington, Kentucky based brand is seeing returns of growth despite the death of many similar chains. Employees will once again bring out complementary freshly baked bread sticks to diners and new dishes are in development to keep the chain growing. A higher quality menu and renovated restaurants are what allowed the chain to finally open new stores after closures three years ago.

The 2011 International Pizza Challenge at the Pizza Expo, with over 1,000 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees, was highlighted by the success of Cloverleaf Pizza. Reaching the finals in both the traditional and non-traditional categories, the pizza restaurant is led by head chef Shawn Randazzo. Cloverleaf Pizza makes Detroit style pizza, a method pioneered by Gus Guerra in the 1940s.

The frozen yogurt chain Yogurtini, based in Arizona, has announced plans to expand into Kansas. The chain offers non-fat yogurt by the ounce, with toppings bars that allow patrons to create their own frozen yogurt concoctions. Each restaurant features a rotating menu of 16 yogurt flavors and 75 different topping choices. The company currently operates 25 locations.

Cha Cha’s Tacos & Tequila is offering all customers a 50% discount on entrees to celebrate Spring Break. A coupon is available on their website that must be printed and presented at purchase to receive the discount. The restaurant is located in downtown Brea, California.