Yum!Brands the parent company of popular fast food chains such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell has been operating the largest number of restaurant units since 2018. While Q2 of 2018 saw a decline in the company’s units by 1,647 from the previous quarter, the same was increased by a tad more than a couple of thousand in each of the last two quarters of 2018. Q1 of 2019 predicts a slow growth of 333 units. However, this is nothing compared to the snail-paced growth of its Chinese counterpart Yum!China which only had a double-digit growth in the number of store additions in the second quarter of 2019.
Coffeehouse chain Starbucks outshone in Q4 of 2018 by 2,463 store additions and earned a number 2 spot in the 2019 QSR ranking of top 50 fast food chains in America. Not surprising, as according to investing app Acorns’2017 Money Matters report, the average American spends about $1,100 per year on coffee, which is 34% more than the annual individual investment in stocks.
Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group saw a 58.49% QOQ jump in the April-June quarter of 2018. This was perhaps reflective of the high hopes placed on its May 2018 announcement of acquisition of the Barteca Restaurant Group for $325 million. Hopes were soon dashed as the high offering price was almost as much as Del Frisco’s enterprise value and the company had to borrow funds to close the deal.  This resulted in a GAAP operating loss of $22.5 million in 2018 and the Texas based company had to close multiple locations that year.
United States’ largest Burger King restaurant franchisee Carrols Restaurant Group completed its merger with Cambridge Franchise Holdings on 30th April, 2019. This resulted in acquisition of 165 additional Burger King and 55 Popeye restaurants in 10 Southeastern states. The second quarter of 2019 ended with 13 more Burger King restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland and a 21.6% increase in restaurant sales to $368.6 million from $303.0 million in the prior year quarter.
The Steak ‘n Shake chain controlled by Biglari Holdings closed 46 locations in the quarter ended March 2019. This was reportedly done as part of a refranchising initiative in response to a 7.9% fall in same-store sales in the first quarter.
The curators of the culinary world are expected keep an eye on the constantly changing needs of diners. One of the major trends is the farm-to-table concept which led to a shift from ‘simply sourcing locally to becoming the source’. This has been a major confidence booster amongst customers regarding a restaurant’s ability to provide fresh, seasonal food. It has also enabled sustainable management of food leading to the zero-waste food movement as chefs are coming up with innovative ways of using up all parts of the food. Although fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s have seen a surge in sales, there has not been much increase in customer traffic as more consumers are opting to dine in
2019 foresees replacement of happy hours and Restaurant Week with new offerings. For instance, the Off-Menu Week is a program resulting from the collaboration between Resy, the restaurant reservation company, and Capital One Financial Corp. wherein ‘for one week only, iconic eateries and neighborhood mainstays will serve their experimental new concepts and off menu hits’.
In an effort to provide seamless experience to consumers, technology such as scheduling software, electronic inventory tracking systems, kiosks in place of cash registers and digital reservation managers that keep both customers and hosts happy, have fast become an integral part of the food service necessities.
Few restaurants have also taken on the role of ‘night owl operators’, which has been one of the long-term missions of Starbucks. For instance, the New-Orleans based hot dog chain Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street, stays open as late 7 a.m. the next day. This not only leads to additional purchases by customers that tend to linger on but it also helps in identifying future employees amongst the frequent visitors. As Dat Dog’s CEO Paul Tuennerman points out “‘hire your customer.’ Nobody knows your brand better than the people that patronize it day in and day out.”