This Week In Foodservice

Jerry Stiegler aggregates key industry information and provides brief analysis to help foodservice professionals navigate the data.

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Are Starbucks Employees Prepared to Unionize? Plus, DJ Khaled Creates 'Another Wing'

Consumers will look for healthier fare in 2022. A handful of chains prepare to accelerate their growth plans. An Ohio bar offers a charcuterie vending machine. These stories and more This Week in Foodservice.

What is on the menu for 2022? Apparently healthier fare, per the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. Demand for comfort foods surged during the height of the pandemic but consumers appear ready to refocus on better-for-you options, with foods they believe will have immunity-boosting qualities and plant-based sandwiches among the Top 10 Trends for 2022.

Sustainability will continue to influence menus and how restaurants make decisions across the board, the NRA adds. From reusable and recyclable packaging to zero-waste options, restaurants will continue to prioritize sustainable initiatives. Consumers’ ongoing emphasis on off-premises consumption means restaurants will continue to seek ways to translate their dine-in experience outside the operations’ four walls with packaging that maintains food quality, retains temperature, and is tamper-proof.

The NRA also projects menus will become more refined and streamlined in 2022, while chefs anticipate alcohol-infused desserts, globally inspired items, and even upscale potato chips to find spots on the menu.

Economic News This Week

  • The Consumer Price Index increased 0.9% in October, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This comes after a 0.4% September increase. Over the last 12 months, the All-Items index increased 6.2%. The October increase was broad-based with energy, shelter, food, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles among the larger contributors. Less food and energy, the CPI increased 0.6% in October, which is .4% greater than the previous month.
  • Initial jobless claims totaled 267,000 for the week ending Nov. 6, 2021, per the S. Department of Labor. This marks a decrease of 4,000 claims from the previous week. The 4-week moving average totaled 278,000 claims, a decline of 7,250 from the previous week. It is encouraging to see the number of initial-jobless claims continue to tick downward.
  • The number and rate of job openings were little changed at 10.4 million and 6.6% on the last business day of September, per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLT Study. Hires and total separations were little changed at 6.5 million and 6.2 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits level and rate increased to a series high of 4.4 million and 3.0%, respectively. The layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged at 0.9%.
  • Business activity grew strongly in New York State, according to the November 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The General Business Conditions Index totaled 30.9, an 11-point increase. New orders and shipments posted substantial increases, and unfilled orders rose. Delivery times were significantly longer. Employment grew at its fastest pace on record, and the average workweek increased. Looking ahead, firms remain optimistic that conditions will improve over the next six months, though optimism dipped.
  • S. retail sales increased 1.7% in October 2021 compared to September, per the U.S. Census Bureau. These results beat many analysts’ expectations. Total sales for August 2021 through October 2021 period were up 15.4% from the same period a year ago. Retail trade sales were up 1.9% from September 2021, and up 14.8% above last year. Sales at foodservice and drinking places were flat month over month.

This Week in Foodservice

  • Panera Brands is preparing to go public and it will get a little help from a big name in the restaurant industry. The company, which includes Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Brothers Bagels, will receive an investment from renowned restauranteur and Shake Shack Founder Danny Meyer. Back in August, parent company JAB Holding Co. brought all three companies together to form Panera Brands in an effort to “turbo charge” their growth.
  • Starbird Chicken raised $12 million in capital to help its growth plans take flight. The chain plans to grow via company-owned restaurants, ghost kitchens, increased licensing agreements and its initial foray into franchising. This comes as the chain reported year-to-date same-store sales growth of 26% compared to 2020 and 75% compared to 2019.
  • Are Starbucks employees prepared to unionize? We will soon find out as workers at three separate Starbucks stores in and around Buffalo, N.Y., begin voting by mail this week on whether they want to be represented by Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The National Labor Relations Board’s regional office in Buffalo is scheduled to count the votes on Dec. 9.
  • Seven of The Simple Greek Restaurants will convert to Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh units by the end of the year. In March, The Simple Greek was acquired by WOWorks, which also owns such restaurant brands as Saladworks, Frutta Bowls and Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh. The conversion of several The Simple Greek restaurants means these locations will expand their Greek menus to a more diverse Mediterranean menu. Locations already converted to Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh include Boardman and Warren, Ohio; Hermitage, Pa.; and Ankeny, Iowa. The Simple Greek restaurants that will soon be converted include Fullerton, Calif., as well as Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, Va.
  • C3(Creating Culinary Communities) is teaming with REEF to open and operate 800 virtual restaurants across the U.S., per a release from the two companies. This represents an expansion of the two companies’ existing relationship that has seen the rollout of C3 brands at REEF Kitchens across the country. REEF has more than 5,000 proximity hub locations globally and an ecosystem of kitchens staffed by a global culinary team. Chas more than 800 digital brand locations across the U.S. with an expansion pipeline of over 1,500. Cbrands include Umani Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam's Crispy Chicken, Kumi, Sa’Moto, EllaMia, Cicci di Carne, Plant Nation, El Pollo Verde and more.
  • Another virtual wing concept simultaneously takes flight on three continents. Emmy award-winning producer DJ Khaled partnered with REEF to create Another Wing. The delivery-only model is launching simultaneously with more than 150 kitchens in 5 countries: the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, and the United Arab Emirates. In North America, it will operate in cities from Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles to Toronto and Vancouver.
  • An Ohio craft beer bar now offers a charcuterie vending machine. Dublin, Ohio-based Getaway Brewing Company features its own beers as well as those from several others. It is only natural that patrons will want to nosh on a little something while enjoying their favorite brews. Given that Getaway does not have a kitchen, it installed a vending machine chocked full of meats, cheeses and other goodies like caviar. Customers can build their own charcuterie plate from the assorted options. The owner calls it an adult version of Lunchables.
  • BradyIFS acquired Seaway Supply Company, a broadline distributor of janitorial, cleaning equipment and facility supplies headquartered in Chicago. The deal further expands BradyIFS’ presence in the Upper Midwest.
  • Growth Chains: Automat concept Brooklyn Dumpling Shop plans to add five units in Queens and two locations in Staten Island, N.Y. Multiconcept operator FAT Brands plans to open 25 Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express locations in Illinois over the next 8 years. Fast-casual restaurant chain Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers plans to bring more than a dozen locations New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Dakota.