Taco Bell and Chipotle Want to Shave Time off Food Deliveries

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“When it comes to restaurant delivery, speed matters. And the burrito chains want to be faster.

Taco Bell –– which now offers delivery at roughly two-thirds of its U.S. restaurants through GrubHub Inc. with plans to continue expanding the service –– says its average delivery time is 34 minutes. The company acknowledges that’s not good enough for today’s demanding customer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., meanwhile, says it’s averaging between 28 and 32 minutes for delivery, but it thinks it can shave four minutes or so as it expands pickup shelves across the nation. It’s also introducing prepaid delivery so drivers don’t have to pay in stores. It’s all part of a digital push that is a key part of the comeback plan laid out under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol in his first year on the job.”

“While restaurant delivery has long been part of the culture in major cities like New York and San Francisco, pizza was often the only option in many markets. That has started to change as on-demand delivery services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have proliferated, joining GrubHub to expand delivery options.”

Read more here.

Chipotle skips sponsorship of college bowl games, offers free delivery instead

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In honor of college football season, Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering free delivery now through Jan. 7 on any Chipotle order worth $10 or more.

“Given the iconic nature of Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl, many consumers have pointed out that we should sponsor a bowl game,” Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt, said in a company press release. “We listened and decided to do something about it. But, rather than spending millions on a traditional game sponsorship, we decided to give that money back to our fans in the form of free delivery.”

With the help of expanded delivery partnerships and the ability to offer delivery directly within Chipotle’s mobile app and website, the company has seen steady growth in digital orders. Last quarter, digital sales grew 48 percent, with digital orders accounting for 11.2 percent of sales, according to the release.

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New on the Menu: Jack in the Box’s Late-Night Proposition

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“Jack in the Box is expanding its “french fries in a box” concept to two more potato, fat, and dairy concoctions that would make any cardiologist squirm. In the company’s defense, they’re going to try just about anything to keep their franchisees happy right now. Also in Jack’s defense? It doesn’t have the meal in this installment that must worry doctors the most.

Every few weeks Skift Table will wrap up the latest seasonal and new items on chain restaurant menus in the United States. We don’t call out everything (sorry limited-time Pumpkin Spice something), but we will call out items that are notable for what they mean to a chain, the season, or consumer habits.”

See more here.

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.”

Read more here.

Bark Hot Dogs Closes Up Shop

10435790_10152728392254916_3747257176259248714_n.0.0.jpgAfter a brief stint with a second location in Greenwich village last year which closed after six months, the 7 year-old Bark Hot Dogs will officially close up shop completely on February 7th. Bark was a Park Slope standby for many years, and owner Joshua Sharkey had previously talked about plans to open a different Manhattan location in a new neighborhood. That now seems unlikely, although Sharkey has been vague on the exact reasons for closure, stating only that (unlike the Greenwich Village location), rent was not the primary factor.

In honor of their final week, Bark’s popular homemade condiments will be available in bulk for $5 a pound. Stock up now for Superbowl Sunday, and get one last dog before they’re gone.

To read more, click here.

Competitors See Opportunity in Chipotle’s Troubles

The Chipotle food-safety saga has been impossible to ignore for the last few months, as everyone from hungry college students to Wall Street traders are forced to reckon with the chain’s downfall. For other fast-casual and fast food restaurants, however, the news is an opportunity to snatch some new guests. As we wrote earlier, Sweetgreen has already earned the moniker “the new Chipotle” to some, and they’ll undoubtedly benefit at least somewhat from the Mexican chain’s decrease in sales. Others are hoping that they can improve their image by highlighting food safety practices – and surreptitiously reminding everyone that they haven’t caused any norovirus outbreaks recently.

Canadian chain Freshii is twisting the knife by offering half-priced Mexican food while Chipotles everywhere are closed for an all-hands meeting and regroup. They claim that this is to “help consumers through these dark hours,” and that “the least [they] could do was look after their customers while Chipotle paused to recalibrate.”

White Castle, while not a direct competitor of Chipotle, has decided now would be a good time to launch a website devoted entirely to advertising their food safety practices. The website is unambiguously named http://www.WhiteCastleClean.com, and it showcases their commitment to “promoting food safety, cleanliness and transparency.”

Chipotle meanwhile is struggling to recover while their stocks are in free-fall. CEO Steve Ells has made repeated statements about their new food safety practices, and promised that they will release any information about the source of the outbreaks last year. This Super Bowl, they are offering $50 currency card and a limited-edition gift from the makers of Tabasco sauce to anyone who uses their catering service.

To read more, click here and here.

 

Chick-Fil-A Rings in New Year by Getting Shut Down

wrewr435345fdssdfsd.jpgAfter a December Health Inspection that earned the fried chicken chain a damning C grade, the midtown Manhattan Chick-Fil-A has closed for five days in order to make improvements to operations and hopefully earn a higher grade on re-inspection. “Grade Pending” currently hangs in their window until the update is complete.

This New York branch of the controversy-ridden chain earned a total of 59 violation points on their December 24th inspection, and 39 on an earlier December inspection. Those include a number of “critical” violations for things like the presence of filth flies and improper food storage. They are allowed to leave the “Grade Pending” sign up until their appeal is heard at an Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing Health Tribunal.

To read more, click here.