Fast Food Prices Rise to Better Reflect True Costs

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“Dollar cheeseburgers and discount nuggets are getting Americans in the door at their favorite fast-food joints, but the savings end there.

Even as the recent fast-food discount wars rage on, with Burger King advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1 and Pizza Hut offering $5 pies, fast-food items that don’t make it onto value menus are actually climbing in price. Median fast-food hamburger prices have jumped 54 percent over the last decade to about $6.95, according to menu researcher Datassential. Chicken sandwiches are up 27 percent. Both surpass overall U.S. price inflation during that same time.”

“McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, recently started touting a $6 meal including a burger, fries, a drink and a pie, but it’s also offering plenty of items at the other end of the price scale. Its honey-barbecue glazed chicken tenders are more than $6 without any drinks or sides, and the new Bacon Smokehouse Quarter Pounder meal runs nearly $9 in Chicago.”

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Designing a Chain Restaurant for 40 Million Travelers

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“The estimated 40,000,000 people that pass through Washington D.C’s Union Station annually were a major consideration throughout the 6-month development of one of its newest bars and restaurants. Legal Sea Bar (part of the 37-Restaurant Legal Sea Foods chain) opened this past July on the West side of the station’s mezzanine level, was designed with high traffic in mind.

And so the casual bar/restaurant combo is “primarily designed for people trying to catch a train.” Small details take travelers’ needs into account: there are designated areas to put suitcases aside where visitors are still able to keep an eye on them, sufficient space between tables to store luggage, and ample hooks underneath the bar for easier purse and backpack storage.”

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McDonald’s Is Selling Cheesy Bacon Fries In Certain States

“McDonald’s traditional hot and crispy fries are getting jazzed up with two classic add-ons: Smoked bacon bits, and a gooey drizzle of real cheddar cheese sauce. It’s not quite the gravy-and-cheese-curd-topped poutine of our Canadian neighbors, but if you like your fries with a little something extra, this is your side dish.”

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Behind Chick-fil-A’s Success

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Political controversy aside, Chick-fil-A’s success is undeniable. In 2015, they averaged $3.2 million in per-store sales, which is 25% higher than McDonald’s, and double Burger King or Wendy’s. In 2014 they overtook KFC as America’s biggest Chicken chain. Analysts now predict that they are on track to become the 4th largest chain in America in terms of revenue by 2020, calling them the largest and least appreciated threat to McDonald’s. And if you think that this is largely irrelevant in New York, where Bill De Blasio has come out officially against the company for the CEO’s homophobic remarks, you might want to think again. 8 blocks from their first NYC location in midtown they are currently construction a second, and there are additional plans in the works to open a dozen more around the outer boroughs – bringing them close to the number of Panera breads in the city.

Needless to say, controversy does not seem to be slowing them down too much. Analysts credit their tight operations, and perhaps a certain amount of exclusivity: apparently only 0.7% of the 20,000 applicants who applied for franchises last year were given a spot – an acceptance rate lower than Harvard.

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Papa John’s Goes “All Natural” With Ingredients

works-ingredients.jpgPapa John’s, whose motto of “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” you likely know even if you’ve never touched a slice, is making moves to uphold that promise by removing a host of artificial ingredients from its pizzas. “We closed out 2015 announcing our commitment to serve chicken raised without antibiotics and are ringing in the New Year artificial-flavor and synthetic-color free,” said Sean Muldoon, Papa John’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development. This might lead one to wonder what made the ingredients “better” before the change, but to its credit Papa John’s is the first national pizza chain to make a move like this.

It’s unclear whether going all-natural will help Papa John’s recover from a season of poor sales and falling stocks, but it seems like management is banking on the consumer demand for transparency (or at least the appearance of transparency) in ingredients that once helped Chipotle rocket to the top. Hopefully they can do so on a national scale without the same food safety issues that plagued the Mexican chain.

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