Restaurant News Bites: Panera, Yelp, Groupon

Restaurant News Bites: Panera, Yelp, GrouponPanera Bread is one of the top fast casual restaurant chains in the country, and they’ve accomplished this by steady growth throughout the recession. The high quality foods that appeal to the health conscious, their quality décor and their suitability as a community center has put Panera in a good position. To maintain their status they must continue to offer a unique environment and tailor their new locations.

Yelp and Groupon may be popular among diners, but both are viewed negatively by many restaurant owners and operators. This information comes from a survey held by Tundra Specialties. Yelp allows costumers to write reviews that are highly shared among the community, and Groupon encourages price cuts that can bite into restaurant profits.

The popularity of hamburger chains dropped slightly in 2010 and allowed other fast food niches rise according to the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend survey. Subway won in the fast food category, and chains like Domino’s, KFC and Taco Bell saw some of the most growth. Improved menus and service caused these popularity increases.

Customer traffic and same store sales were up in February, according to the National Restaurant Association, and the overall industry outlook is up. January was slightly low due to severe winter weather in most of the country. February saw a 0.4 increase to over 100.7 on the Restaurant Performance Index due to improved weather and operator confidence.

The Washington Restaurant Association has launched an exclusive smart phone app in the Apple Store. The application is designed to help members of the association with exclusive information on business connections, member benefits and support. The app was designed by Talus Mobile.

Workers rallied to support a bill that would offer all restaurant employees paid sick leave. The protestors say it’s a matter of public health, but the Connecticut Restaurant Association opposes it. The association says that the law would hurt restaurants by requiring them to pay double labor anytime an employee was sick.

Dick’s Wings and Grill is expanding into the international market with an agreement for four stores in Canada. The first store will open in June under the company banner of American Restaurant Concepts. Dave Eberle has accepted the position of CEO during this new expansion.

Boston Market has donated more than $800,000 to benefit a non-profit resort in Florida that helps children with life-threatening illnesses have a wonderful experience. The resort, known as Give Kids the World, has been partnered with the chain since 2008. The money was raised with the sale of Boston Market coupon books for $1 each.

Pizza Inn, known for their innovative breakfast pizzas, has expanded in the Southeast with a new Pikeville, NC location. This branch of the national chain offers large screen televisions and WiFi in its 2,100 square foot building. The store is open between 6 am and 10 pm all week long to serve both breakfast and dinner.