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News Nuggets: Ketchup, McCafé, Pete & TJ, Wraps Etc.

[10/4 Update: Read about Boston Market’s upgrades here.]
Note: Email subscribers, please note that www.BurgerBusiness.com welcomes our inaugural advertiser, Red Gold Tomato Ketchup. We invite you to visit Red Gold’s site, add its fine product at your restaurant or table if you haven’t yet done so and thank Red Gold for making it possible for this site to continue. Please contact us if you, too, are interested in advertising to the smartest operators in the business. Now for news:

Ξ First, two tales of McDonald’s and salads. McDonald’s decision to open separate McCafé outlets in Paris is interesting on several levels. The initial test site will open across from an existing McDonald’s on a square in the Defense district west of Paris, according to Le Figaro. It won’t serve burgers, but it will feature coffees, teas, pastries and a 28-item salad bar, with salads priced at €7 or roughly $9.60. McD’s may open as many as three by year-end.
If McCafé can prove self-sustaining as a salad concept, it gives McDonald’s and its franchisees a immediate second concept for busy downtown markets. In other words, it could become like Pret a Manger, the Euro-chic prepared-salad/sandwich concept in which McDonald’s Corp. owned a 33% stake from 2001 to 2008. Has what McDonald’s learned from Pret been on hold, awaiting the time to be put into action?
And then there’s Brazil, where McDonald’s has added what’s billed as the Vinagrete Salad Burger (right). Indeed, it’s a Cheddar cheeseburger topped with a salad in the form of chopped tomato, lettuce and vinaigrette dressing. Priced at $R 4 (US$2.37), it’s part of a new Pequenos Preços (Small Price) menu.

Ξ Food trucks have gotten so much media attention lately that you’d think no new bricks-and-mortar burger joints were opening during the last months of 2010. Not so. There are a few new and notable indie burger-menu spots opening their doors.
Burger 21 in Tampa, Fla., is among the most anticipated openings because the concept is owned by fondue specialty chain The Melting Pot. Keep an eye on this site. Burgers trump fondue any day but especially in a down slow-to-rebound economy.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar is coming soon to Austin, Texas, bringing its own pedigree. Its developers earlier created the Z Tejas and Roaring Fork concepts, according to Austin Business Journal.
American Burger Bar in Minneapolis offers the usual build-your-own-burger elements along with Meatballs on a Stick as an appetizer.
Better Burger Co., near Ivy Leaguer Brown University in Providence, R.I., offers a nice variety of half-pound specialty burgers for a campus-friendly $5.99. Go for a 10-oz. burger and it’s still only $6.99.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCM0ZUDsVYU Ξ It is somewhat surprising that Sonic would drop its ad agency, Barkley, after 17 years, but when the company named Danielle Vona chief marketing officer in June, some sort of shakeup/personal-stamp move was not unexpected. It’s a shame, though, if it results in ending Sonic’s 8-year-old “Two Guys” campaign. Pete and T.J. (left) give Sonic just the sort of marketplace differentiation the chain claims to be seeking. These guys’ improvised front-seat bickering is never boring and predictable. Can spots touting Sonic’s carhops on skates claim that?
Vona spent 11 years with PepsiCo after leaving agency TracyLocke. That’s some strong familiarity with agency network Omnicom, but with Omnicom’s DDB handling McDonald’s globally, Vona likely will have to look elsewhere.
Maybe to one of the three agencies that come up short in their bids for the Arby’s account? BBDO, New York City; Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, San Francisco; Euro RSCG, Chicago, and Young & Rubicam, New York City, are the four finalists. One will succeed ex-Arby’s agency Merkley + Partners, NYC, which already has landed the business for casual-dining chain O’Charley’s, bumping out Buntin Group.

Ξ Yes, Burger King has introduced the King character in the United Kingdom. Far more important is its introduction of a new line of BK Wraps there where McDonald’s has had great success with snack-size. BK’s three-item line of full-size wraps includes the Texican Wrap that it added with the Texican Whopper, plus Sweet Chili Chicken and Veggie Wraps that should appeal to the UK’s large number of South Asian consumers and other non-beefeaters.

Ξ Boston Market loses one of the foodservice business’s sharpest minds with the departure of Lane Cardwell as its CEO. One highlight of his 17-month tenure with the former McDonald’s subsidiary was this spring’s introduction of burger-like Boston Market Sliders. Succeeding Cardwell is George Michel, previously president-CEO of Timothy’s Coffees of the World and a past CEO of A&W Restaurants. The chain says that today it will announce a “nationwide rollout of upgrades and new menu items designed to significantly enhance the overall guest experience.” Will it stay with rotisserie chicken or branch out into those salads that McCafé is trying?

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