The Chaser: Restaurant News

The Chaser Restaurant and Bar Weekly News
// By Jordan Brydges // , Sep 20, 2019

Topics: Restaurant Management

Crate & Barrel creates a restaurant, more chicken sandwich wars, and using technology to hire staff. 


Current News


Is Crate & Barrel the New Ikea?


Crate & Barrel is breaking into the restaurant industry after the success of their Chicago store this summer.  After opening The Table at Crate they saw positive profits after the second month of opening and decided to continue the trend. 


They plan on opening 15 more full-service restaurants in their stores to showcase their kitchen, dining, and design products, all of which will be available for purchase.


The relatively new CEO, Neela Montgomery, is looking to shake up the concept of furniture shopping and make it relevant to their customers making it more of an experience.  Competing against companies like Ikea, another furniture retailer, and Amazon online retailer, Crate & Barrel has been looking for new ways to stay relevant to consumers on social media platforms and creating new experiences for shopping.


With the popularity of online shopping, and 45% of sales online for Crate & Barrel, the hardest part for Montgomery will be getting shoppers in the door to see these products in action.  For Montgomery, it is all about interacting with the brand, "For us, its all about relevance and reimagining our amazing stores."  And what better way then to serve up delicious food on their own products that could one day be in your home.    


In the Food Industry 


"y'all good?" With the Chicken Crisis  


It's been Popeye's vs. Chick-fil-A for the past month or more.  So who won?  I suppose it depends who you ask.  Since both sandwiches are made of the same ingredients it is hard to say.


On August 12th, Popeyes launched a spicy chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A added Mac & cheese to their menu.  


A week after Popeyes released their nationwide chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A threw some subtle shade leading to Popeyes response "...y'all good?" and from there the battle began. 


Gravy Analytics found that Chick-fil-A had more foot traffic when they introduced Mac & cheese to the menu (Aug 12-31), seeing an increase of 16.5% than the following period (July 22-Aug 11).


Foot traffic also increased at Popeyes after the response tweet to Chick-fil-A so much that it ran out of chicken breast for the sandwich and had to stop selling them until further notice.  


For both companies, Twitter blew up with followers, engagements and mentions.  As far as who won, the debate is still out.  Popeyes ran out of chicken for their sandwiches that made foot traffic decline and Chick-fil-A did not and is still able to serve their customers. So moral of the story....


"When two brands face off on social, like what happened recently with Popeye's and Chick-fil-A, it can drive flocks of hungry customers to stores but also lead to long lines and product shortages," Gravy CEO, Jeff White. 


For other players like KFC, it is a great time to insert yourself in the game rather than watch from the sidelines with the social media game.  Tweeting you have chicken sandwiches and are open will throw you into the mix and stay viral amid the chicken crisis.  


In the Beverage Industry


Mini Cocktails Move Onto the Menu 


How many times have you left a drink half full at a restaurant because you had to go and didn't have time to enjoy?  Or maybe you only wanted a just little taste of the drink?  More and more bars and restaurants in New York City are now offering mini cocktails for their patrons.


These mini cocktails are in response to the trend of people drinking more in moderation, especially during the work week.  The cocktails are 50% smaller than the usual 3.5 ounce serving, great for people that just want a little taste of a speciality cocktail or want to limit the amount they drink on a weekday.


This is also great for people that are pressed for time.  They want to come in and enjoy a drink but maybe do not have enough time for the whole thing.  This new concept appeals to many people in the Big Apple and would not be surprising if it was brought to other cities.


It also gives patrons more options when it comes to menu offerings and the ability to try more drinks at a cheaper price point.  A fun concept for those patrons that want to try a variety of speciality cocktails without the headache the next morning.    


In the Tech Industry


Using Technology to Hire 


We all know technology is coming more and more prevalent in today's world so how do you incorporate it as a restaurant operator?  McDonald's did a one-day virtual hiring event via the Snapchat application and saw a 35% increase in application flow.


The "Snapplication" phenomena shows that restaurant operators should go to the places where their potential hourly staff hang around -- applications and social media.  This revamps the whole application process and makes it more game like for applications and enjoyable, increasing the number of applicants.  


Technology not only can be used for hiring but also for resources once the employee is hired.  KFC uses voice-activated training in the U.S. and Australia, so when an employee has a question they can ask the virtual assistant.  


This provides the employee with a quick answer rather than running around trying to find the correct person to ask and break the flow of work.  This way employees can get the correct answer quickly and the chain also found that work flow had improved when this process was implemented.


Breaking into these spaces will help with recruitment and retention, being on different platforms for your employees and providing tools to help them succeed with in turn help your establishment succeed.



Jordan Brydges

About the author, Jordan Brydges

Jordan is a marketing intern at Backbar and a business student studying marketing. She has been working in the restaurant industry for 8 years and developed a passion for cooking and a love of red wine.

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