Article: “Customer demand means beverage options overflow” (Aug.2006)


“Walk into any of the area’s Potbelly Sandwich Works and, next to the counter, there’s a large, refrigerated cooler full of soda, tea and water.

Unlike many chains, most Potbelly outlets don’t offer fountain drinks. The decision to offer bottles and cans is part of the chain’s quirkiness.

But it turns out that an increasing number of restaurants, even those that rely largely on fountain drinks, are increasing the variety of offerings by adding beverages in bottles and cans…”

source: “Customer demand means beverage options overflow” by Barnet D. Wold (The Columbus Dispatch, Aug.1,2006)


Article: “A menu of tasks” (Jul.2006)

“About a quarter of U.S. restaurants fail within a year, and 50 percent to 60 percent by the third year, according to three studies cited by the California Restaurant Association.

Many owners underestimate the start-up costs and do not do enough market research or staff training, said Jordan Traverso, the group’s director of communication.

Experts said problems can arise if the quality of the cooking slips.

Mark Smallwood, owner of Harvest Moon restaurant in Modesto, said this is not a problem in his restaurant because he makes sure the kitchen crew knows what he wants…”

source: “A menu of tasks” by John Holland (Modesto Bee, Jul.30,2006)

Advice: “8 legal ways to spy on your competition” (Jul.2006)


“Are your competitors marketing more effectively than you? What is their pricing strategy, and how are they changing their menu? Why do people visit them instead of your place?

Here are 8 sure-fire methods to keep you up with what’s happening in the marketplace.

1. Visit their business, of course. If you’re well known, arrange for someone you trust to visit. Keep it friendly, and let’s not pretend they haven’t done plenty of ‘market research’ on your business…”

source: “8 legal ways to spy on your competition” (, Jul.2006) [public access til Aug.3]

Web Site: Springwise – Food & Beverage ideas


“Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation. Ferociously tracking more than 400 global offline and online business resources, as well as taking to the streets of world cities, digital cameras at hand.”

link: Springwise – Food & Beverage ideas

sample posts:
Happy Healthy Meals
Dessert-only Restaurants
Indian Fast Food

Newsletter: “MarketBrief” from AMEX/Technomic, Inc.


“For full-service restaurants, an increased focus on strategies that drive check averages, such as promoting sides, appetizers, desserts and adult beverages can help to drive not just revenue growth, but also profitability, as many of these items have higher average margins than do the main entrées. Align the incentives of servers and line managers with selling activities that will drive profits.

For those not in the Top 100, unit growth remains important to drive to a position of better economies of scale. In addition, look hard at opportunities to improve processes in the back of the house. While smaller chains do not have the buying power of large chains simply due to size, they do have the opportunity to hold a tighter rein on operations due to size. For many chains, there is significant opportunity to take cost and inefficiency out in this area, which can be a major profit-driver…”

source: “Public Company Reports” by Technomic (MarketBrief, July 2006)

“MarketBrief provides chain restaurant operators with research-based analysis of key industry developments. Access to past issues is offered free of charge by logging into this section of our site.

MarketBrief is produced by Technomic, Inc., the leading provider of consulting and consumer research to the restaurant industry.”

link: Amex MarketBrief Newsletter

Article: “Defining fast casual” (Jul.2006)


“What is fast casual?

As editor of Fast Casual magazine and this Web site, I am frequently asked this question. Sometimes I have to correct people who claim their restaurant is fast casual when it’s really a QSR or casual-dining restaurant. I can’t blame them for miss-categorizing their outfits; fast casual is a hybrid and, well, it’s the hip thing to be called.

With that said, it’s important we are very selective in who we call fast casual…”

source: “Defining fast casual” by Fred Minnick (Fast Casual, Jul.13,2006)

About the publisher:

“Founded in 1997, the foodservice media division of NetWorld Alliance is the leading vertical restaurant publisher in the restaurant industry. Together with Fast Casual magazine,, and, we continue to provide the industry with thought-provoking news and updates on the latest trends.”

link: Fast Casual Magazine

Article: “Independent Restaurants, Lose the Chains” (Jun.2006)


“You’re ready for the grand opening of your all-American burger joint when you learn McDonald’s is moving in next door. What do you do? Don’t panic. There are a number of steps you can take to give your independent restaurant the edge it needs to take on a chain.

“The number one way small businesses can compete with chains is by nurturing the relationships they have with the customer,” says Joe Erickson, editor of, an online resource and networking tool for independent restaurateurs. “Collect their names, birthdays, anniversaries, and their specific likes, and use that [information] to start a direct mail campaign….”

source: “Independent Restaurants, Lose the Chains” by Douglas MacMillan (BusinessWeek,Jun.29,2006)

related segment:

An Edible Game Plan

There are a slew of ways to compete with franchises, according to 10 independent restaurateurs around the country…(click here for more)