Restaurant News Bites: Wingstop, Del Taco, Big Apple Restaurants

Restaurant News Bites: Wingstop, Del Taco, Big Apple RestaurantsRestaurants used to have a good idea of who was a food critic or reviewer, but now everyone who sits down to dine can leave their opinion on one of hundreds of food review websites. The internet, especially social networking and smart phone web access, has radically changed reviewing in the industry. Reporters aren’t as intensely wooed as previously and restaurants have to stay on top of their game with all diners.

2011 has been a year of rapid expansion for the Wingstop chain. Over 35 new franchise agreements have been signed since January. This translates into 101 new stores currently in development in states like California, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. The chain will soon celebrate the 500th location opening and wants to have at least 1000 restaurants in the next five years.

A new logo and restaurant prototype are coming to the Del Taco chain. Locations in Irving, California and McKinney, Texas are testing a brighter, smoother logo created by the design firm Tesser, Inc. The restaurant prototype is also being introduced through these locations. The prototype includes a more casual and relaxed dining room and an updated exterior.

Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Restaurants operates five family-favorite restaurants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The company is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but plans to keep all five locations fully operational through the proceedings. Real-estate values and sales took a hit for the restaurant chain as the recession continues to worsen.

If you’re a fan of apples and cinnamon, the newest dessert at Applebee’s is for you. The Cinnamon Apple Turnover is a miniature apple pie with cinnamon flavored apple slices hidden inside a flaky pastry crust. The dessert is topped with a honey cream cheese sauce and is served with a slice of vanilla ice cream.

A 25-year-old waitress at the Port Richey restaurant Mugs N Jugs stole the credit card information of at least 9 customers. She used a credit card skimmer she received from a cousin. The skimmer gathers the information from the cards, which is downloaded by computer and used to create fake cards. One victim lost nearly $4,000 to the scam.

The previous owners of the Bennigan’s chain, Metro Media Group, closed all of the chain’s locations when it filed for bankruptcy three years ago. Now a new owner is bringing the casual chain back to Texas. Bennigan’s Franchising Company is looking for franchisees interested in operating a location in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Blockbuster Express and Boston Market have teamed together to create the “Dinner and a Movie” promotion. Each meal purchased in a participating restaurant after 5 p.m. will come with a free voucher for a movie rental at any Blockbuster Express location. The voucher is only good for one night and comes with a $5 minimum purchase requirement.

Caribou Coffee is now the country’s second largest coffeeshop chain, and their introduction of breakfast items helped drive this growth. The chain will soon be offering a lunch menu as well that is headed by their Grown-Up Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Strongly flavored cheeses like smoked gouda are combined with chicken and pesto to make tasty lunch options.

If you can remember the iconic NOID from Domino’s “Avoid the NOID” campaign from 25 years ago, you should fan the company’s Facebook page soon. To celebrate the anniversary of the NOID, the chain will release a special game on Facebook and will award the best players with $10 gift cards to their local Domino’s restaurant.