This Week In Foodservice

The editorial team aggregates key industry information and provides brief analysis to help foodservice professionals navigate the data.


Starbucks Shakes Things up and More Foodservice News

Starbucks shakes things up, literally and figuratively. Which retailer is getting into the restaurant biz? What is to come of the all-night diner? TGI Fridays’ future takes shape. Red Lobster is treading water. These stories and more This Week in Foodservice.

Starbucks' new disposable cups will include up to 20% less plastic than their predecessors, per the Associated Press. The Seattle-based chain plans to roll out the new cups starting this month. This comes after its engineers assessed “thousands of iterations” to see how much plastic they could remove while still making the cup feel sturdy. The company spent years researching its new cups at the Tryer Center, the company’s research laboratory, per a release.

Starbucks reports that sales of Frappuccinos and other cold drinks now account for 75% of its U.S. beverage sales, up from 37% in 2013. Although it was founded on brewed coffee, Starbucks' growth and innovation opportunities continue to come from a variety of non-traditional formats, as the success of its cold drinks offerings indicates.

Take, for example, the espresso martini workshop Starbucks offers as part of its Signature Experience Series at its Reserve Roastery locations. The Art of the Espresso Martini workshop is an immersive experience, allowing attendees to drink a cocktail, understand the history and process that goes into it, and even make one themselves, per a Tasting Table story.

The hour-long workshop appeals to both coffee lovers and cocktail enthusiasts. Participants get a little history lesson on the espresso martini and a breakdown of each ingredient that goes into the cocktail. From there, attendees craft a classic espresso martini from start to finish and enjoy a globally inspired three-martini flight. Each part of the martini workshop is also paired with a couple of light bites from Princi, the vendor that supplies all the baked goods for Starbucks Roastery locations.

Foodservice News

  • Online retailer Wayfair is getting into the restaurant business. The company will include a restaurant known as The Porch when it opens a brick-and-mortar location in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette next month, per a Restaurant Hospitality story. The restaurant will seat 70 inside and 20 outside on a patio. Wayfair is far from the first furnishings retailer to try something like this. IKEA has done this for years and Restoration Hardware has several locations in the Chicago area that feature dining options. In fact, RH plans to open a restaurant in its Cleveland location. Crate and Barrel has what it calls The Table at Crate in its Oak Brook, Ill., location.
  • The COVID pandemic may be behind us, but it continues to claim a few more victims. In this case, it is the all-night diner. The number of all-night diners has declined by 18% since 2024, per a story from The Food Institute. The results tend to vary by location, with New York City losing 13% of all-night diners compared to 35% in Los Angeles, per Yelp! data cited in the article. Changing consumer habits represents one of the main factors here. People do not stay out as late as they did before the pandemic. Further, labor costs are up 29% and the available labor pool is down nearly 1 million people, making it harder to run such establishments.
  • TGI Fridays’ future as part of Hostmore continues to take shape. A Restaurant Dive report sheds more light on how the new company will function. For example, Hostmore has spent time in recent years shoring up its finances, which will help the company start on solid footing. The C-suite team from both companies is expected to remain in place, which will help with continuity and stability. Staying current with the times, the chain expects off-premises sales will continue to be a key ingredient in its success. Last year off-premises made up 25% of TGI Fridays’ revenues. Over the past four years, TGI Fridays has closed 156 restaurants but this transition to ownership by Hostmore is part of a larger transformation effort for the brand, per an FSR story.
  • Was an LTO that got Red Lobster in deep water? Apparently. Last summer Red Lobster offered a $20 all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion that subsequently led to an $11 million third-quarter loss, per a story in Food & Wine. Now speculation is growing that Red Lobster may need to file for bankruptcy. The chain seeks to close some locations and get out of some other long-term deals. Doing all of that can become a little easier when a company is in Chapter 11.

Economic News

  • Initial unemployment claims totaled 212,000 for the week ending April 13, 2024, per the U.S. Department of Labor, which added this was unchanged from the previous week. The 4-week moving average was 214,500, also unchanged from the previous week.
  • Higher interest rates continue to impact the housing market. Existing home sales declined 4.3% in March compared to the previous month, per data from the National Association of Realtors. Compared to March of 2023, sales declined 3.7%. The median existing-home sales price rose 4.8% from March 2023, the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains and the highest price ever for March. Rising interest rates constrict both housing supply and demand, as one economist told Yahoo! Finance. That economist notes that 7% interest rates could become the new norm.
  • March sales of new single‐family houses increased 8.8% compared to February, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This also represents an 8.3% increase compared to March 2023.
  • The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index decreased by 0.3% in March for a reading of 102.4. This comes after a 0.2% February increase. For the six-month period ending in March 2024, the LEI contracted by 2.4%, which is a smaller decrease than the 3.4% from the previous six-month period.