Chains continue to embrace the late-night segment. A new fast-casual concept is preparing to open. Salted prepares to grow. These stories and more This Week in Foodservice.
During the pandemic, many operators cut back on their late-night hours as consumers’ dining habits changed, and they stayed closer to home. But now there’s building evidence that late-night dining might be making a comeback.
Take, for example, Pizza Hut. Thousands of Pizza Hut locations will now stay open until midnight or later for delivery or carry-out, according to the chain. Apparently, Pizza Hut is not alone in wanting to extend its operating hours. Chipotle will explore the potential for late-night business in some college towns, per a Nation’s Restaurant News report. Citing Placer.ai data, the story goes on to add that late night now accounts for the majority of Taco Bell visits.
Chains continue to embrace the late-night segment for a variety of reasons, per a Restaurant Business story. For starters, check averages tend to be higher later at night and many of the transactions are delivery orders, which often require less staff to handle.
- Value is the name of the game for restaurants looking to navigate today’s constantly shifting economic environment. From menu innovation to updating design to diving into digital, value can take many forms as this blog post from Fifth Third Bank points out. Operators needing to adjust their approaches to meet consumers changing preferences is nothing new, but the digital explosion of the past few years definitely gives them more options and greater flexibility.
- Golden Corral set an opening date for its first fast-casual restaurant. Homeward Kitchen will open in December in Southern Pines, N.C., per a company release. The restaurant will feature dine-in, takeout and drive-thru options. Similar to Golden Corral’s trademark offerings, Homeward Kitchen will serve a comfort food menu.
- Salted is poised for a tasty growth spurt. The parent company of Moonbowls, Califlower Pizza and other health-focused, delivery-first restaurant brands, has raised $14 million, per a Restaurant Business story. The multiconcept operator has 25 locations and plans to use the funding to open more locations, hire staff, develop technology and acquire more brands. Each location houses up to eight brands and most operate from ghost kitchen facilities. In fact, 90% of its revenues come from delivery. Unlike other virtual brands, Salted operates all of its locations and continues to refine its approach, which includes operating fewer brands out of each unit. The company expects to double its footprint by next year.
- BurgerFi continues to grow via non-traditional channels. In this instance, the chain has inked a licensing deal with Apple Cinemas to operate a franchised location in the theater’s Rochester, N.Y., movie theater, per a Restaurant Dive report. This development comes as BurgerFi already has built a pipeline of airport restaurants.
- A famous New York City steakhouse is going all in on Las Vegas. Peter Luger’s opened a location in Caesar’s Palace last week. It’s the first location outside of the Big Apple in the legendary steakhouse’s 135-year history, per an Eater story. The 8.700-square-foot restaurant features Peter Luger’s oak tables. The restaurant entrance opens to the bar, located just before the octagonal-shaped main dining room. The room features a triple-height ceiling punctuated by bronze chandeliers and framed by brick archways that offer views into the display kitchen.
- Is Pret a Manger poised for a growth spurt? Existing franchisee Dallas International will assume control of 50 East Coast units and will open at least 10 new restaurants by 2026, reports Restaurant Dive. Dallas International already operates eight Pret-A-Manger units in the U.K. and had previously agreed to open 40 units in Southern California. Dallas plans to refurbish an unspecified number of shops and work with the chain to create new shop designs, like drive-thrus, the company said.
- The Conference Board Leading Economic Index declined 0.7% for a reading of 104.6. This follows a 0.5% August decline. Overall, the LEI has posted consecutive monthly declines starting in April 2022, per The Conference Board. The LEI declined 3.4% for the six-month period between March and September 2023. Still, it represents an improvement from the 4.6% contraction over the previous six months.
- Building permits for privately owned housing units in September came in at 4.4% less than the previous month, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau. September was also 7.2% less than the same month in 2022. The news was not all bad, though, as single‐family home permits increased 1.8% compared to August.
- Higher interest rates continue to impact the housing market. Specifically, sales of existing homes declined 2.0% in September compared to the previous month, per the National Association of Realtors. Sales declined 15.4% compared to September 2022. Total housing inventory was 1.13 million units at the end of September, up 2.7% from August but down 8.1% from one year ago.
- Initial jobless claims declined by 13,000 for the week ending October 14, 2023, per data from the U.S. Department of Labor. The 198,000 initial claims were less than economists’ projections of 210,000 claims, per published reports. And it also represents the lowest number of initial claims since January. The 4-week moving average was 205,750, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week.