2014 Burger Brackets Voting is Over

Congratulations to champion Burgatory! Thank you for casting a record 149,789 votes and thank you to A.1. Steak Sauce for making this year’s competition possible.
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Retail is Eating Restaurants’ Lunch

Source: The NPD Group

Source: The NPD Group

Restaurants want to believe that the 1% decline in customer traffic at lunch since 2008 is the result of debt-laden consumers spending less. Maybe. But NPD Group data finds that many of those customers haven’t left the marketplace; they simply opted to go across the street to a Wegmans, Walgreen’s or Walmart to grab lunch.

Since 2008, lunch-daypart customer traffic at retail stores (including grocery/drug stores, discount stores, price clubs, and others) has increased by 29% according to a new NPD report, The Retail Prepared Foods Market: Assessing the Competition. Over that same period, restaurant lunch traffic is down 1%.

NPD identifies the key drivers for retail’s growth in foodservice as availability of healthy options, good variety of foods, light meal availability, one-stop-shopping convenience and, of course, affordability, an attribute QSRs are trying so hard to offer.

Grab-n-go subs and salads at Wegmans

Grab-n-go subs and salads at Wegmans

Retail’s incursion isn’t going to go away. NPD forecasts prepared food purchased at retailers for at-home consumption will increase 10% over the next decade. Restaurant traffic is forecast to see just a 4% growth over that period. Lunch represents just 20% of retail’s prepared foods, but the dinner daypart, which is 35% of the total also is growing. NPD says food purchased at retail for lunch or dinner consumption at home at at work is driving growth.

Said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst, “It’s fact that retail prepared foods are taking visits away from restaurants and restaurant visits are not expected to grow much over the next decade, but there is also significant opportunity for foodservice operators to meet consumers’ needs for prepared foods. Learning more about how consumers use retail stores for their foodservice-type meals enable restaurant operators and their supplier partners to understand how to better compete in this area of growing consumer demand.”

Restaurant researcher Technomic says supermarket prepared foods have increased more than 6% annually over the past five years. But mass merchandisers/supercenters have seen even greater growth, exceeding 13% over same time period Restaurant sales haven’t come close to matching that growth during the period.

McDonald’s Opening Unit in TV Studio

McDonald’s will have a functioning outlet as part of a new Australian morning TV show, “Wake Up.” Announcement of the deal with Network Ten has brought the expected criticism from some nutritionists.

McD_Aussie_MaccasLogoThe McDonald’s operation won’t be available to the public. Instead its two full-time staffers will be preparing breakfast items for the show’s on-air talent and guests, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. The unit will be part of the studio but not part of the show’s set. The “Wake Up” program has not yet begun airing.

Network Ten called creation of the world’s smallest McDonald’s part of its sales staff’s “premium creative solutions … to amplify brands on air, online and on ground.”

Not surprisingly, some nutritionists reacted with shock. “Will they stop at nothing?” nutritionist Rosemary Stanton wailed to the paper, worrying about the possible repercussions of people shown eating Egg McMuffins or drinking coffee. ”We just make life so hard for parents, with this constant promotion of junk food,” added Stanton. Network Ten responded that “Wake Up” is not a children’s program.

McD_Aussie_DriveThru2Separately, McDonald’s in Australia (where it is colloquially known as Macca’s) has launched a “Drive Thru to Win” promotion open only to customers who use its drive-thru windows. Codes printed on drive-thru receipts can be entered online. Top prizes in the six-week game are Hyundai i30s, with cash cards awarded daily.

An estimated 60% of McDonald’s revenues come via its drive-thru windows. In  2010, McDonald’s Australia offered a three-minute service guarantee on its drive-thru service.

Typecasting: 50 Great Burger-Joint Logos

Brunch Box, Portland, OR

Brunch Box, Portland, OR

Burger Parlor, Fullerton, CA

Burger Parlor, Fullerton, CA

A year ago, BurgerBusiness.com gathered 20 great burger-joint logos in a post that proved to be very popular. A sequel was promised. I’ve gained several new favorites since that post, including Brunch Box (at left) in Portland, Ore., for its graphic elegance and clever incorporation of the burger shape. Another is the logo for Burger Parlor in Fullerton, Calif. The contrast between the simple graphic and very precise typography at the bottom with the goofy “i’m juicy” at top is delightful. That’s the business and creative sides of burger making colliding. Many of the best logos do that.

If you look at dozens of burger-joint logos, some stylistic patterns and types emerge. So rather than simply toss out my favorites, I’ve decided to arrange 50 great logos (counting Brunch Box and Burger Parlor) into some of the design categories I see. There isn’t room to look at all categories or all examples because the burger business’s creativity isn’t limited to its menus.

Cows. There’s no getting around where great beef burgers come from. Cows feature prominently in many burger-joint logos. The Rail deserves applause for acknowledging cows’ true relationship to burgers. The logo for Moo Gourmet Burgers in Sydney, Australia, is a bit of Rorschach test, but there’s a cow in there.

Bóbós, Dublin, Ireland

Bóbós, Dublin, Ireland

 

Farm Burger, Atlanta

Farm Burger, Atlanta

HopDoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX

HopDoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moo Cluck Moo, Dearborn Heights, MI

Moo Cluck Moo, Dearborn Heights, MI

The Rail, Akron,Ohio

The Rail, Akron,Ohio

 

Moo Gourmet Burgers, Sydney, Australia

Moo Gourmet Burgers, Sydney, Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burger Shapes. Both of the new favorites I showed above incorporate burger shapes, which is one of the primary logo-design categories. Here are a few more where burgers are stylishly adapted:

BurgersPriest_Toronto

Fonzie, Rome, Italy

Fonzie, Rome, Italy

Milk Burger, New York City

Milk Burger, New York City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punch, Indianapolis

Punch, Indianapolis

Shamrock Burgers, Toronto

Shamrock Burgers, Toronto

Wannaburger, Edinburgh, Scotland

Wannaburger, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to continue reading Typecasting: 50 Great Burger-Joint Logos

Burger King Intros Lower-Cal, Higher-Price “Satisfries”

Burger King is changing its french fries again, this time adding premium-price, healthier fries alongside those it introduced two years ago. The company calls this latest fry innovation “one of the biggest fast food launches” ever.

Crinkle-cut Satisfries are available across the U.S.

Crinkle-cut Satisfries are available across the U.S.

The new “Satisfries” will be on Burger King menus systemwide on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. These are crinkle-cut fries that the chain claims are more healthful than the fries McDonald’s serves: 40% lower in fat (6.3 grams compared with 11.2 grams per 70 gram serving) with 30% fewer calories (150.5 calories for Satisfries vs. 226.8 for McDonald’s fries for a 70 g serving). With calorie counts now showing up on menu boards, any reduction can be a persuasive marketing tool.

Satisfries are priced about 20¢ to 30¢ higher than comparable servings of Burger King’s “classic” fries (which remain on the menu), a spokesperson said. The new fries will be available in value ($1.29 suggested), small ($1.89), medium ($2.09) and large ($2.29) serving sizes.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 10.27.34 PMThe chain says its new Satisfries are made with thinly battered real whole potatoes. It claims the new product’s recipe allows them to absorb less oil during frying, thus reducing fat and calories. The smallest (value) serving of Satisfries has 190 calories, 8 grams of fat 210 milligrams of sodium.

The Hudson Institute in February reported a study that found sales of french fries declined nearly 2% (or about 10 million servings a year) at five big restaurant chains between 2006 and 2011. “French fries are declining in both number of servings and share of total food servings among quick-service chains that have more than $3 billion in sales,” the report concluded. It noted that lower-calorie beverages were outperforming traditional sweetened beverages at these chains.

“One out of every two Burger King guests orders our classic french fries and we know our guests are hungry for options that are better for them, but don’t want to compromise on taste,” Alex Macedo, Burger King President North America, said in a release announcing the product rollout. “When it comes to what we eat, we know that small changes can have a big impact. We see Satisfries™ as one of the biggest fast food launches and are excited to bring this great tasting french fry to our guests.”

Fall seems to be the season for revamping QSR french fry offerings. Wendy’s introduced its Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt in November 2010. Burger King followed in November 2011 by introducing its current thicker-cut fries (though not as thick as those Wendy’s previously offered). In July 2011, McDonald’s announced it would reduce the size of french fry servings in its Happy Meals for kids, with apple slices available as a substitute for the fries.

MGM Grand Ready for Burger Showdown

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Avenue 24 Bar & Grill

Avenue 24 Bar & Grill

The dawn of the Era of Upscale Burgers is often traced to Daniel Boulud’s 2001 introduction of the DB Burger at his db Bistro Moderne in New York City. The burger had foie gras at its center and was priced then at $27. From then on it was accepted, even expected, that a fine-dining chef could craft a fine burger.

Given that, it’s good to see that the notion of high-end-chef-created burgers continues to be celebrated. On Oct. 5, 2013, chefs from eight restaurants in Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Hotel & Casino will be serving attendees their burgers during the Burger Bash that will be a highlight of the 4th annual Food & Wine All-Star Weekend (taking place October 4-6).

Craftsteak

Craftsteak

Emeril's New Orleans Fish House

Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House

Their burgers had better be stellar because the judges will be three highly respected chefs led by world-renowned Joël Robuchon  (executive chef at Joël Robuchon Restaurant in the MGM Grand), named France’s Chef of the Century by the Gault Millau restaurant guide among many other honors. Joining him at the judging table will be Michael Mina (creator and managing chef of Michael Mina restaurant in the Bellagio) and Ho Chee Boon (international development chef for Hakkasan in the MGM Grand).

MGM Grand is giving BurgerBusiness.com readers an early look at the competitors:

Fiamma

Fiamma

Michael Mina's PUB 1842

Michael Mina PUB 1842

 L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (separate from Joël Robuchon Restaurant): Executive Chef (and “Chopped” champion) Steve Benjamin’s Le Burger salutes French cuisine by topping a beef patty with a hearty slab of foie gras and caramelized bell peppers.

Avenue 24 Bar & Grill: Executive Chef Steve Barr puts his own spin to the Classic Slider concept with a patty of beef cheek that’s topped with smears of Boursin cheese and tomato jam along with shallot cracklings. A salted caraway brioche bun completes the build.

Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak: Executive Chef Robert Kirchhoff’s Grilled Beef Burger is a pork belly patty joined by a slice of heirloom tomato, blue cheese and chipotle BBQ sauce.

Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House: Chef de Cuisine Heath Cicerilli created the Hand Ground Burger Steak that will represent the Bam!-master’s restaurant. Toppings begin with oxtail marmalade and continue through Havarti cheese and a crispy onion crust, all together in a hand-made potato roll.

Shibuya

Shibuya

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

 Fiamma Trattoria: Chef Ilse Poyato pays homage to his roots with Tuscan Sliders. These are house-ground prime beef patties with white Cheddar, red-onion pickle and a slice of prosciutto.

Michael Mina PUB 1842: Anthony Schutz, executive chef for the MGM Grand restaurant named for the year pilsner beer was invented, offers his signature Bacon Cheeseburger. A beef patty is topped with smoked Gouda cheese and melted American cheese, followed by lettuce, the pub’s secret sauce, bacon and … more bacon.

Shibuya: East and west merge in Executive Chef Heather Zheng’s Nori Salmon Burger. A slice of salmon is the central protein. On top are wasabi relish and asparagus slaw.

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill: The sliders Wolfgang Puck serves at the annual Oscar Night Governors Ball are the stuff of legend. For the Burger Bash, Chef Michael Tiva has created Grilled Sliders that also will be talked about. Toppings include Gouda cheese, habanero-tomato chutney, IPA caramelized onion (Reutberger dunkel Bustard), arugula, Arrogant Bastard beer-battered cipollini. The burger is served on a pretzel bun.

White Paper: Burger Brands and Twitter

twitter_icon5I don’t often open BurgerBusiness.com to outside contributors, but I’ll consider making a exception when someone else knows a topic far better than I do. Such is the case with Harry Hawk and Twitter. Harry understands it and is interested in how both burger brands and consumers use it and interact through it.

Harry teaches in the Hospitality Management Program of New York City College of Technology and has worked in both the hospitality and technology fields for many years. He also has spent a great deal of time looking at burger brands’ Twitter activities. He’s charted how many followers each has, how often they tweet, how inclined they are to publicly respond to tweets and more.

He has compiled his research into a white paper that makes for very interesting reading even if, like me, your knowledge of the intricacies of social media is minimal. His paper can be accessed here. To see the full chart that accompanies it, click here.

The Counter Bellies Up to Oktoberfest

Counter_SM_OktoberfestThe Counter starts celebrating Oktoberfest this weekend with the addition of another of its occasional specialty burgers. Available only from September 21 to October 6, its Oktoberfest Burger is a beef patty topped with German beer cheese, sauerkraut, mustard and diced pork belly with an on-trend pretzel bun.

Served with it will be Oktoberfest Fries, which also get the beer cheese, sauerkraut and pork belly plus chopped green onion. This LTO is the chain’s first use of pork belly. The Counter says Founder Jeff Weinstein and its culinary team collaborate on new-burger creation.

The 34-unit, Culver City, Calif.-based concept is built around the customize-your-own-burger idea, but every so often it creates a limited-time burger for the menu. The last was the “Burgers & Beaujolais” pairing promotion with Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages wines. The LTOs were a beef burger topped with soft brie, mixed greens, sprouts, sliced red onion and apricot sauce on a brioche-style bun plus a turkey burger with feta, baby spinach, roasted tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and artichoke vinaigrette, also on the brioche bun.

Breakfast, Fast Casuals Boost Customer Counts

Source: The NPD Group/CREST, quarter ending June 2013

Source: The NPD Group/CREST, quarter ending June 2013

Customer traffic at U.S. restaurants in Q2 was up 1% over the year-earlier level thanks in large part to increases in QSR breakfast and fast-casual traffic.

The latest data from The NPD Group/CREST counts 15.7 billion customer visits for the April-May-June quarter, returning the U.S. foodservice business to its 2009 level. In addition to the traffic increase, consumer restaurant spending rose by 3%, driven by a higher check average.

Quick-service restaurants (78% of total industry customer traffic) saw a 1% increase for the second quarter. That included a 3% increase in morning-meal traffic and an 8% jump in customer traffic at fast-casual restaurants (included in the QSR total). QSR traffic at lunch and dinner was flat; PM Snack customer counts were 1% higher than a year ago.

Traffic at midscale restaurants (10%) was steady at 2% below year-earlier traffic for the fourth consecutive month. Casual dining (10%) was flat after at least eight consecutive quarters of negative comparisons. Fine dining (1% of total traffic) was 6% ahead of last year’s Q2.