Starbucks becomes the Greenest Company in the World

starbucks1Starbucks has over 23,000 stores worldwide, and has converted a number of the locations into being eco-friendly. Starbuck’s business model to become more environmentally friendly has finally paid off. They opened a new location that is the 700th LEED-certified location worldwide, which established Starbucks to be the most eco-friendly company. Starbucks plans to double the amount of LEED-certified locations by the end of 2016, with over 1,200 certified stores.

Starbucks first initiated their plans to convert store locations to be LEED- certified in efforts to rebrand their “chain” image. They hope to win back consumers by producing a “hip” coffee atmosphere where the furniture is slid wood, employees are wearing artisan aprons and siphons LED-equipment. However, even with these efforts, many critics still label Starbucks to be similar to “the Cheesecake Factory” with chain-like atmospheres.

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Keurig Sees Decline in Sales

The Keurig machine has become a home-appliance maker that many consumers envy. However, this year a decline in sales of Keurigs and K-Cups are evident. After closing the third quarter of 2014 up 13 percent, they dropped every quarter since by 22 percent this past summer.

One of the main reasons for this decrease is environmental concerns. The K-Cup pods are un-recyclable, and while Keurig plans to make K-Cups recyclable it will not be available till a distant date. Another reason for this decline is because the new Keurig machines, 2.0, are equipped with DRM technology that prevents customers from using other brand of pods. This limits the variety, and choice of consumers who may prefer other brands of coffee/tea outside of Keurig brands.

Customers have outlined their complaints towards the Keurig, and CEO Brian Kelley has already started to implement new strategies to make improvements. Kelley is hoping to make the Keurig less bulky, less expensive, a better drink selection and servings larger than eight ounces.

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Wahlsburgers is Opening in Manhattan

website-logo-black-backgrouLast year, Wahlburgers announced to New Yorkers that they are expecting to open at least seven new locations. However, New York City has only seen one Wahlburgers in Coney Island. The second location has, now, been released to be more central to Manhattan. It will be near Times Square, at 725 8th Avenue, near 45th St. The new Wahlburgers will be five stories, and 8,300 square feet of restaurant, bar and merchandise.

Wahlburgers along with Shake Shack has redefined the fast food culture with their burgers and fries. Wahlburgers hope they can create as much of a success they have seen in other cities, in New York. Especially, with the Times Square Shake Shack location in close proximity to Wahlburgers’ projected new location, a “face-off” between the burger shops will be enticing.

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Constellation Brands acquires Ballast Point Brewing Company

16-ballast-point-beer.w529.h352Ballast Point Brewing Company has been acquired by Constellation Brand for $1 billion. Ballast Point first started in San Diego out of a home-brew supply shop. It has a strong indie-brewing tradition and is based in America’s most prominent craft-beer cities.

Constellation Brand is the world’s largest wine producer and owns most of the Mexican beers popular in America like Corona, Negra Modelo. However, even after the acquisition Ballast Point’s ownership disclosed that it “will continue to operate as a stand-alone company with its existing management team and employees running the day-to-day operations.”

This sale continues the latest trend of craft breweries being overtaken by large international companies. By the end of this year, Constellation Brand will now own the 37th largest craft brewery brand.

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Ample Hills to Open an Ice Cream Factory

16-ample-hills-gowanus-1.w245.h368Ample Hills Creamery is a four year old Brooklyn scoop-shop in Brooklyn, known for their throwback flavors. Since opening their first stores in Prospect Heights, they have expanded to locations in Gowanus and stalls in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Gotham West Market, and Jacob Riis Park. Ample Hills has acquired $4 million in funding from venture-investment firms including Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Tom Potter and the founders of Seamless.

With their new funds, Ample Hills will be opening a 15,000 square foot factory, which will be used to make all of their ice cream except for a single location specific flavor that differs at every store. They will also be using the funds to hire more management team and expand both wholesale pint distributions and direct shipments to consumers.

Co-Owners Brian Smith and wife Jackie Cuscuna have expressed their intents to expand their brand slowly for quality driven growth. They plan to expand within New York before branching out to other parts of the country.

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Urban Outfitters to Acquire Vetri Family

image-tenant-urban-03Popular clothing brand Urban Outfitters, which also owns Anthropologie and Free People among other brands, has announced that they will be buying Philadelphia’s Vetri Family restaurant group. Over last few years, Urban Outfitters has been integrating food and dining into its stores, with Ilan Hall’s the Gorbals opening in the Urban Outfitter’s complex in Williamsburg. Urban Outfitters cited increased spending in the food industry and the decrease in traffic in actual stores because of e-commerce as issues to turn attention to food and dining within their brand.

The financial details have not  yet been disclosed, but is proposed to be completed by the end of the year. Marc Vetri is one of the the country’s preeminent chefs and his restaurants like Osteria, Alla Spina and Pizzeria Vetri will now be owned by Urban Outfitters. However, operations within the restaurants will not change after the deal. Vetri and his partners will be running all of Urban Outfitter’s food and drink sectors including his restaurants and future expansion strategies.

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How Race influences Yelp Reviews

A recent study by Sharon Zurkin, Laurie Hurson, and Scarlett Lindeman at CUNY examines the language of Yelp restaurant reviews in gentrifying neighborhoods. The study finds that race factors heavily into user’s perceptions and descriptions of businesses. More than 7,000 restaurant reviews in Bedford Stuyvesant, and Greenpoint were examined. The sample set was selected consisting of trendier restaurants that have opened since 2005, along with the “top ten” best reviewed restaurants in the local area.

The authors focused on 1,056 reviews that mention the neighborhood: 720 Bed-Stuy and 336 Greenpoint. Reviews of the “trendier” restaurants were three times as likely to contain some mention of the neighborhood itself. The uneven breakdown lead authors to conclude that reviewers draw attention to neighborhoods when the majority of the residents are of black race.

Reviewers also tend to describe Greenpoint’s ethnic restaurants in a more positive light than they do historically black restaurants in Bed-Stuy. Polish restaurants in Greenpoint are described as “authentic” and “cozy,” while those in Bed-Stuy are described as “sketchy.”However, trendier restaurants in Bed-Stuy include more positive reviews.

Authors conclude that while reviewers want to preserve Greenpoint’s ethnic white restaurants, Bed-Stuy’s case is “discursive redlining” that contributes to gentrification.

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Pepsi and Coke settle a Truce for Veteran’s Day

This past summer, McDonald’s and Burger King made headlines with Burger King proposing a collaboration in efforts to create awareness for “Peace Day.” However, with McDonald’s declining the offer, Burger King teamed up with other restaurant chains to “end friendly restaurant feuds” for a day. Likewise, for Veteran’s Day, Pepsi Co. and Coca-Cola came together to create a public service announcement for American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit that connects veterans to professionals for career guidance.

Both CEO’s approached the cause in friendly terms. “They compete on the beverage side for customers, but independently both companies are very focused on veterans,” says Sid Goodfriend, ACP Founder and chairman.

While both companies target the same consumer market, they both also support similar causes in which they seize rivalry for. This is the first time the two CEOs have come together in a public way, but according to a Coke representative, Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi attended a reception hosted by Coke during the World Economic Forum at Davos.

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Nationwide Restaurant Chain Eliminates Tipping

With Danny Meyer’s making recent headlines with restaurants under the Union Square Hospitality Group eliminating tipping, the head of Ignite Restaurant Group has also recently revealed to investors that all Joe’s Crab Shack locations will be testing a gratuity-free model. Joe’s Crab Shack has locations nationwide, and has already implemented no tipping in 18 restaurants with more on the way. Being the first of a casual mid-range chain to implement gratuity-free policies, this proposes options for other restaurants to follow its model.

The policy has increases serves wages to start at a flat $14 an hour, instead of $2.13 and tips. The menu prices will rise by 12 to 15 percent to compensate the extra labor costs. However, noted by generous tippers, implementing such policies while increasing menu prices is still a cost benefit to themselves.

Ray Blanchette, CEO of Ignite, believes Joe’s Crab Shack’s conversion to a gratuity-free policy is sensible because their consumers are mostly big groups and waiters dislike doubling up on tables and splitting tips. The policy test is expected to run through at least the end of the year, and Blanchette says “We’re really leading in our industry with regards to national brand going out and testing this thing in a meaningful way. So we want to be somewhat cautious.”

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One Third of Beers to be Brewed by New Merged Company

a-b-inbev-modelo-corona-mergerAnheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller have formalized their merger. With this huge merger of popular beers, it is forecasted that one in every three beers sold worldwide will come form this megabrewer. AB InBev will pay $106 billion for SABMiller, which is a higher than the expected offer.

Because of their monopolized merger, many regulations and scrutiny is expected from this transaction. However, both companies have already taken into consideration the amount of regulatory scrutiny by creating side deals to sell SABMiller’s 58 percent stake in MillerCoors to Molson Coors. Molson Coors will control Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Blue Moon. Even after this transaction, the new megabrewer will overshadow shelves of the Americas, Europe, China, Africa and Latin America with other low-cost beers like Budweiser.

The new merger between AB InBev and SABMiller have been confirmed, but the new company name is yet to be revealed.

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