Last Chance to Register for Today's
Leadership Series Webinar!

Register now and you'll be entered in a drawing for a chance to snag a copy of Chef Priyanka Naik’s new cookbook, the Modern Tiffin, or to receive ten cases of Sweet Earth Plant-Based Mindful Chik'N. Recipients will be notified by the end of the day Thursday.

It’s time to get innovative — the plant-based trend is here, and it’s here to stay! Join DMA as Marie Molde shares her industry insights on the plant-based trend and stick around for chefs Priyanka Naik and Matthew Jordan as they share plant-based recipes you can incorporate into your operations. You don’t want to miss this!

Register today and receive a link to Marie’s slides in addition to a chance to win the book and product drawings.

    SAVE THE DATE - Thursday, June 3rd @ 1 CST

    Finding – and keeping – the best staff has never been more challenging in foodservice. Whether you’re a chain operator, distributor or supplier, you’ve likely never been faced with an environment quite like this.

    Join us June 3rd when DMA hosts the tenth edition of The Leadership Series and learn how operators are winning the labor wars through community involvement and cultural fluency.

    Gerry Fernandez (MFHA) will moderate a panel of successful large and small operators (including Gail Sharps Myers of Denny’s and Lewis Rudd founder of Ezell’s Famous Chicken), Kelli Valade will share Black Box’s very latest Workforce Intelligence data and Susannah Sellers-Ryan will offer the supplier perspective from PepsiCo’s Dig In program to partner with Black restaurant owners.


      Restaurants Forced to Get Creative to Lure New Hires

      Restaurants are struggling to win back employees so far in 2021. The Food Institute reported on this issue back in early April when QSRs were finding hiring new workers particularly challenging, and the issue has only worsened in recent weeks.

      Servers, hosts and cooks aren’t rushing back to work following a year largely spent in quarantine, restaurant owners say—either because they are fearful of COVID-19, have moved on to other industries or remain on unemployment benefits. Foodservice job postings on in mid-April stood 16.2% higher than in February 2020, reflecting the highest number of openings for servers, cooks, managers, hosts and other restaurant jobs posted since the pandemic began, reported The Wall Street Journal (April 25). Full Story


      As restaurant visits increase alongside COVID-19 vaccinations, here are some ways restaurants are getting creative in attracting new hires:


      Signing Bonuses, New Benefits

      Fast-food operators, such as the owners of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches restaurants, are offering signing bonuses for recruits. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is going as far as offering free college tuition to employees who work at least 15 hours a week after four months.


      Illinois-based Portillo’s Hot Dogs increased hourly wages in markets including Arizona, Michigan and Florida, and is offering $250 hiring bonuses. The chain also hired social-media influencers and built a van called the “beef bus” to help recruit. However, many of the chain’s restaurants still remain understaffed, according to Jodi Roeske, Portillo’s VP of talent.


      In California’s Sonoma Valley, business leaders are exploring the idea of pooling employees, among other workforce initiatives. Meanwhile, one Florida McDonald’s is even offering $50 to anyone who simply interviews for a job, reported Click Orlando (April 24). Full Story


      Parent Companies Lend a Hand

      Chain restaurant companies are also trying to help their franchisees hire. For example, Taco Bell and IHOP are holding job fairs to try to recruit thousands of employees across both chains.


      McDonald’s restaurant owners are surveying managers to assess pay, benefits and other job offerings to guide a new employee program.


      The chain says it’s “more committed than ever” to attracting workers to meet demand, help performance and improve McDonald’s reputation as an employer, according to a recent company email.


      NYC Becoming Epicenter for Growing Vegan Movement
      Coming as no surprise, plant-based food is making headlines again. In addition to other news, one of the world’s most renowned restaurants is going entirely vegan.


      Fine Dining Makes the Shift


      Perhaps the biggest plant-based news of late is that chef Daniel Humm is leading a relaunch of New York City’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park as an all-vegan restaurant. Of the 132 restaurants worldwide with three Michelin stars, EMP will become the first with a meatless menu, reported Bloomberg (May 3). Full Story


      “It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant,” said chef Humm in a letter on the Eleven Madison Park website. “With that in mind, I’m excited to share that we’ve made the decision to serve a plant-based menu in which we do not use any animal products.” Humm added that he found himself “most moved and inspired by dishes that center impeccably-prepared vegetables, and have naturally gravitated towards a more plant-based diet.”


      So why an entirely plant-based menu? “This decision was inspired by the challenge to get to know our ingredients more deeply, and to push ourselves creatively. It wasn’t clear from the onset where we would end up.


      “All this has given us the confidence to reinvent what fine dining can be,” wrote Humm. “It makes us believe that this is a risk worth taking.”


      Popular Cooking Website Ditches Beef

      New York City-based recipe website Epicurious announced it will no longer publish new beef recipes over concerns about climate change, as noted by The New York Times (April 27). The shift was “solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders,” Epicurious said in an article. “We think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet.”


      The publication said the decision to publicize its shift was connected to a recent increase in beef consumption reported by USDA. “The conversation about sustainable cooking clearly needs to be louder; this policy is our contribution to that conversation,” the brand said.


      More Options for Consumers

      For home chefs looking to steer away from meat, more plant-based options are becoming available. Recently, Raised & Rooted, Tyson Foods’ plant protein line, expanded its offerings with three new products: plant-based burger patties, Bratwurst and Italian sausages, and ground “meat.”


      Outside the U.S., Brazil’s JBS is set to buy Dutch vegetable-based protein company Vivera for more than $408 million to expand its offerings and appeal to consumers who want to eat less meat. Vivera includes a portfolio of 50 products and sells in the Dutch, German and U.K. markets, accounting for roughly 60% of Europe’s plant-based protein market. Food Institute Focus


      A Closer Look at Gen Z’s Eating and Shopping Habits

      Food is Gen Z’s No. 1 wallet priority at 23%, according to Piper Sandler’s annual Taking Stock with Teens survey. The survey highlights discretionary spending trends and brand preferences from 7,000 teens across 47 U.S. states.


      Restaurant and Food Choices

      Here are some key stats when it comes to what Gen Z is eating these days:

      • Chick-fil-A is the most popular restaurant among Gen Z, keeping its No. 1 spot for seven consecutive surveys. It was followed by Starbucks and Chipotle.
      • As for snacking, Lays is the most preferred brand among teens at 11%, followed closely by Campbell’s Goldfish (9%).
      • Notably, 49% of teens either consume or are willing to try plant-based meat, with Impossible Foods as the No. 1 choice, followed closely by Beyond Meat.


      The Importance of Social Causes

      Today’s young consumers also care that companies they buy from have a social conscience.


      “GenZ is a conscious generation as teens this spring cite racial equality and the environment as their top-two social issues,” said Erinn Murphy, Piper Sandler senior research analyst in a press release.


      Gen Z also aligns with values-based descriptors like cell-based meat, cannabis, and sustainable.


      Shopping Habits

      The Piper Sandler survey found that Amazon remains teens’ top preferred online shopping mindshare at 56%. This finding is reflected in a similar report from Deal Aid which found that 87.6% of Gen Z do more of their shopping online than in-store.


      However, the Deal Aid study found that 88.5% of Gen Z purchase food and groceries in-store while another 54.9% indicated that they purchase household items in-store.


      Price (79.7%) and quality (65.5%) are the two most important factors that Gen Z consumers consider when making a purchase in-store. Other factors mentioned were positive reviews (22.1%), flexible return policy (23.9%) and rewards program (14.2%).


      Popular in-store retailers included Walmart, Costco, and Target, while popular e-retailers included Amazon, Kroger, and eBay. Food Institute Focus



      Store News:

      • Wendy’s became the nation’s No. 2 burger chain by sales in 2020, surpassing Burger King. Wendy’s system sales increased by 4.8% last year to $10.2 billion. Burger King, meanwhile, dropped by 5.4% to $9.6 billion, reported Forbes (April 21). Full Story 
      • A group of Subway franchisees sent a letter to the widow of the chain's founder with a list of demands. The group, representing about 1% of U.S. store locations, requested changes like giving operators the ability to source their own produce, negotiate changes to franchise agreements, and leasing property from landlords other than Subway, reported New York Post (April 19). Full Story 
      • Fresh Acquisitions LLC, the parent company of five buffet chains and one steakhouse chain with locations across 27 states, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Through the bankruptcy process, the company plans to preserve two of its brands – Tahoe Joe’s and Furr’s, reported (April 21). Full Story 
      • Taco Bell will collaborate with TerraCycle later this year to recycle its hot sauce packets. The chain is the first quick service brand to partner with TerraCycle to tackle recycling flexible film packets. Full Story 
      • Nathan’s Famous is partnering with Ghost Kitchen Brands to open 60 locations in the U.S. and 40 in Canada by the end of 2021. Full Story 
      • TravelCenters of America exited the standalone restaurant business after completing the sale of 42 locations, primarily Steak & Lube properties, in a $5 million deal, reported CSNews (April 21). Full Story 
      • Little Caesars is looking to grow its Pacific Northwest presence through more than 50 new franchise units across Portland and Seattle by 2026. Full Story 
      • McDonald’s beat Wall Street’s estimates for its quarterly earnings as net sales topped pre-pandemic levels. Net sales rose 9% to $5.12 billion, beating expectations of $5.03 billion. Global same-store sales climbed 7.5% in the quarter, surpassing 2019 levels, reported CNBC (April 29). Full Story 
      • Restaurants operated by Landry’s will soon begin accepting bitcoin as form of payment for meals. In an interview with CNBC, Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta said 80% to 90% of the company’s restaurant brands, including the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Morton’s The Steakhouse, would accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the next 90 days – a move that’s a step toward bringing crypto into the mainstream, reported Coin Telegraph (April 28). Full Story 
      • Krispy Kreme filed for a confidential IPO with the SEC, which could bring the chain back to equity markets after its run as a public company ended in 2016. JAB Holdings Co. acquired the company for $1.35 billion in May 2016, reported MarketWatch (May 4). Full Story 
      • Chaac Foods Restaurants will open 40 Bojangles restaurants in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida and acquire 40 corporate-owned locations in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Full Story 
      • Wendy's is planning to move back into the U.K. for the first time in 20 years. The company plans to open 400 stores in the country over the next few years, with the first store slated to open in Reading, Berkshire, in June, reported MarketWatch (May 10). Full Story
      • Wow Bao is set to open ghost kitchen locations in Walmart stores. The chain, which is poised to reach 1,000 locations this year, is leveraging its new partnership with Ghost Kitchen Brands to tap into the grocery store space, reported Fast Casual (April 30). Full Story
      • Shake Shack is looking to expand its footprint with a focus on the suburbs. CEO Randall Garutti said the company is planning between 35 and 40 new company-owned locations and is preparing for new limited-time chicken offers later in 2021, reported MarketWatch (May 13). Full Story
      • Chick-fil-A could be entering the virtual kitchen space after trademarking Outfox Wings. The company's virtual brand could deliver chicken wings, roasted chicken, salads, and more, reported (May 3). Full Story
      • San Diego-based Epic Wings has signed a 39-store franchise agreement with an experienced multi-unit franchisee with plans to open locations in Los Angeles County, Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas. Full Story



      Executives on the Move:

      • SpartanNash hired Masiar Tayebi as chief strategy officer. Full Story 
      • JBS USA appointed Kevin Arquit as chief legal officer. Full Story 
      • Little Caesars named Jeremy Vitaro chief development officer and Glen McIntosh chief supply chain officer. 
      • Sysco named Ron Phillips EVP and chief human resources officer. Full Story 
      • Jack in the Box named Steve Piano as chief people officer and Carlson Choi as chief information officer. Full Story 
      • BurgerFi named Henry Gonzalez chief marketing officer. Full Story 
      • SpartanNash named Rona Caswell VP of internal audit. Full Story 
      • Zaxby’s hired Brenda Trickey as general counsel. Full Story 
      • Conagra Brands Inc. has named Alexandre “Ale” Eboli executive vice president and chief supply chain officer. Full Story
      • Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers named Chris Dull chief executive officer. Full Story


      Wing and a Prayer: Restaurants Scramble During Chicken Shortage

      Restaurants throughout America are dealing with a frustrating shortage of chicken wings that shows no signs of slowing.


      This has pushed executive chefs like Dan Miles to do what was previously unthinkable: either sell a different sized chicken wing than usual, or strictly sell the boneless variety.


      “While it seems there is a wing shortage every few years, this one may be the worst we’ve seen in the last decade. This shortage is really prolonged,” said Miles — the executive chef with Minneapolis-based Pizza Luce, which has nine locations and features chicken wings as a top-selling menu item – in an email to The Food Institute.


      Along with increased demand, some processors are having trouble maintaining a full staff during the pandemic. Others are trying to overcome the impact of severe winter weather in Texas and nearby states, so it will take time to replace the impacted hatchery supply in the region, according to the Associated Press.


      Trickle-Down Effect

      The price of chicken wings tends to fluctuate throughout the year, hitting its peak around early February, coinciding with the Super Bowl. This February, wing prices hit an all-time record at $2.71 per pound. In the weeks following, however, wing prices didn’t dip like they usually do in late winter.


      Wingstop saw bone-in wing prices rise 25.8% in its first quarter, which was considerably lower than the market-rate increase of 50%, noted Yahoo Finance.


      Moe Stevenson, owner of My Mama’s Kitchen in Norfolk, Virginia, told The Washington Post that wing prices went up 20 cents per pound over the span of just one week in April (April 25). Full Story


      Persistent Demand

      Wing sales increased by 7% in 2020, according to NPD Group, and demand remains strong in 2021.


      “Wings travel well and hold up during delivery,” Tom Super of the National Chicken Council told the Associated Press (April 25). Full Story


      “Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic.”


      This isn’t strictly a chicken wing shortage, mind you. KFC says it’s struggling to keep up with demand for its new chicken sandwich, while fellow chicken chain Bojangles reported outages of tenders across its locations, including its popular whole-breast Chicken Supremes, which prompted a public apology from the chain, reported the Charlotte Observer (May 1). Full Story


      “You’re actually seeing inflation in all parts of the bird, not just wings,” Wingstop executive Michael Skipworth told Yahoo Finance (April 30). Full Story


      But the shortage of hot wings, in particular, is causing the most headaches for restaurant operators, as customers become increasingly frustrated with higher prices.


      Possible Solutions

      Some restaurant owners are able to make up for bone-in wing shortages by getting them through alternate suppliers, swapping out fresh wings with frozen products, or incorporating alternative menu pricing strategies.


      “We have been dealing with shortages since quite early in the pandemic,” Pizza Luce’s Miles told The Food Institute. “At first we were caught off-guard and were forced to use a different sized wing than we typically do, as it was our only option. Since then, we have been able to work with our purveyors to protect our supply.”


      At Norfolk, Virginia restaurant Chicho’s Backstage, operators are pricing their wings similar to how a seafood restaurant might list its high-end fish: by market price. And right now, that means the restaurant is charging $15.50 for 10 hot wings, up from $12.50 recently.



      Paul Aho, an international chicken consultant, told The Washington Post he expects supply to eventually catch back up to demand with regard to chicken wings. But, in the meantime, he expects many wing sellers to temporarily switch to selling boneless wings made from breast meat.


      “Ultimately, there is no replacement for bone-in wings – that’s what our customers really want,” said Miles. “We would not consider discontinuing wings unless we couldn’t source wings that are up to our quality standards, and that would definitely be a temporary situation.” Food Institute Focus


      U.S. restaurant same-store sales were up 6.84% in April when compared to April 2019, according to Blackbox Intelligence. However, comparable traffic during the period was down 4.17%. Full Story


      Meanwhile, for the 12 months ending in March, fast-food chains dominated the restaurant market – taking in 70.2% of dollars spent eating out and 82.9% of all restaurant traffic, according to data from The NPD Group. Drive-thrus, new crispy chicken sandwiches and "family meal" deals helped draw customers that other restaurants lost, reported Reuters (April 30). Full Story



      Selected Results:

      • Chipotle Mexican Grill said same-store sales rose 17.2% in the first quarter. The company also reported $869.8 million in digital sales, reported Bloomberg (April 21). Full Story 
      • After four straight quarters of pandemic-fueled sales declines, Starbucks is returning to growth. The Seattle-based coffee giant said its sales rose 11% to $6.7 billion in the January-March period, just shy of Wall Street’s forecast revenue of $6.78 billion, reported The Seattle Times (April 27). Full Story
      • Restaurant Brands International reported quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street’s expectations as its systemwide sales surpassed 2019 levels. Net sales rose 2.9% to $1.26 billion, beating expectations of $1.25 billion. The company said that the revenue increase was primarily driven by favorable foreign currency movements, reported CNBC (April 30). Full Story 
      • Papa John’s first-quarter earnings topped expectations as the pizza chain held on to the momentum it saw during the coronavirus pandemic, even as the country reopens for business. In North America, same-store sales rose 26.2%, beating the gain of 14.6% estimated by analysts. Its international business was also strong, with same-store sales rising 23.2% in the quarter, above the 17.4% increase projected, reported CNBC (May 6). Full Story 
      • Shake Shack reported first-quarter revenue of $155.3 million, falling short of estimates, in a sign that restaurants are still suffering as consumers stay away from city centers, reported Bloomberg (May 6). Full Story


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      The Chemical Formula for Reducing Labor: Paul Edmondson of Procter & Gamble

      What if you could prove the products used to clean directly relate to an operator's labor margin? As it turns out, innovation in cleaning products could result in hundreds, if not thousands, of labor hours saved over the course of a year.

      May 11th, P&G's Paul Edmondson joined Roger Beaudoin, a successful restaurant entrepreneur, on his podcast. Paul has a true passion for the hospitality industry, and he applies a personal approach to elevate this business. Listen to Paul's conversation with Roger about not just surviving the pandemic, but making your business better for your staff and customers everyday. 

      To check out any of the products mentioned on the show visit


      For regional chains looking to grow quickly and selectively across the US, DMA Offers the one national network that can be customized specifically to your needs to serve your long term expansion plans.

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