Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Chipotle IPO

There are rumors that Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-food burrito and taco restaurant chain may be headed toward an initial public offering. McDonald's Corp is the majority owner of the Chipotle chain, but would not comment on their intentions regarding an IPO. [Chicago Trib]

McDonald´s Corp. said Wednesday (9/21) it plans to file for an initial public offering of a minority stake in its Chipotle Mexican Grill brand by the end of October, and expects to launch the IPO in the first quarter of 2006. [MarketWatch]

UPDATE (12/27/05):
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., a majority owned subsidiary of McDonald's Corp., plans to offer 7.9 million shares for between $15.50 and $17.50 a share in an initial public offering, according to a regulatory filing made Friday. McDonald's Ventures LLC plans on selling 1.8 million of the shares to be offered while Chipotle Mexican Grill plans on selling 6.1 million shares, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Denver, Colorado-based company intends to apply for a New York Stock Exchange listing under the symbol "CMG". [CNN]

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Controversy: French fries & acrylamide

A lawsuit filed Friday by California's Attorney General seeks to stop fast food (and other) restaurants from serving french fries without an explicit warning about Acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical that studies have found is created when starchy foods are cooked at high heat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is studying the impact of acrylamide levels in food. In a March press release, the FDA said "acrylamide can cause cancer in laboratory animals at high doses, although it is not clear whether it causes cancer in humans at the much lower levels found in food."

In other bad news for french fries, another study has shown that young children who eat French fries frequently have a much higher risk of breast cancer as adults.


Friday, August 26, 2005

McDonald's to pay $10.5 million in trans fat suit

A judge has approved a settlement requiring McDonald's to pay a total of about $10.5 million for failing to give adequate notice that it had delayed a highly publicized plan to reduce trans fat in its foods. McDonald's agreed to donate at least $7 million to the American Heart Association to publicize the dangers of trans fats and spend up to $1.5 million to publish notices telling consumers about the status of the chain's trans fat reduction plan. McDonald's announced is plan to reduce trans fat in their foods in February 2003, but so far have only reduced trans fats in fried chicken products. [AP]


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Study looks at fast food near schools

A recent study published in this month's American Journal of Public Health looked at the prevelance of fast food restaurants near schools and at the effect the restaurants and their location might have on childhood obesity. The researchers found that nearly 80 percent of Chicago schools studied had at least one fast-food restaurant within a half mile, and there were at least three times more fast-food restaurants located less than a mile from schools than would be expected if the restaurants had been more randomly distributed. An estimated 16 percent or more than 9 million U.S. children aged 6 to 19 are seriously overweight or obese, numbers that have tripled since 1980. [AJPH, also Washington Post]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another McDonald's dieter

Merab Morgan probably isn't a name you recognize, but she's trying. She's the latest to try and nab her 15 minutes of fame by trying to prove Morgan Spurlock wrong. Spurlock is the director of the documentery Super-Size Me and the auther of the book Don't Eat This Book. Merab Morgan, a construction worker and mother of two, claims to have eaten only at McDonald's for 90 days -- and to have dropped 37 pounds in the process. But as reported here, she's not the first to try the McDonald's diet: there was Les Sayer with his McLes diet and Chazz Weaver and his documentary Downsize Me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Choosing the right wine to go with your fast food

How about a Leonesse Cellars 2003 white riesling with your Taco Bell Quesadilla? Or "the flowery, almost perfumelike nose of Thornton's 2004 Viognier" with KFC's Original Recipe? Vick Knight has these and other suggestions in his article in San Diego's North County Times. Knight says,"Wendy's old fashioned rectangular hamburgers and Arby's roast beef sandwiches both benefit from red wines. I'd recommend Falkner Winery's 2003 Luscious Lips," and "those who like their pizza with a glass of wine should find that Domino's Pepperoni Pizza (double pepperoni and extra cheese, please) goes well with Wilson Creek's 2001 sangiovese."

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Healthy food fails to catch on

An article in today's Washington Post further explores the trend among many restaurants to eliminate the healthy items they added a few years ago and replace them with high-calorie, high-fat items. We've already noticed this trend in many fast food restaurants. "One of Burger King's best product launches recently was its widely derided but oft-ordered Enormous Omelet breakfast sandwich." McDonald's seems to be sticking to their guns with healthy menu items (probably to avoid potential 'fast food' lawsuits), but that doesn't mean anyone orders them!
McDonald's has won much praise for adding healthful menu items, but only a tiny fraction of customers order them. The fast-food giant promotes the fact that it has sold 400 million premium salads since they were introduced more than two years ago, but that number is dwarfed by the chain's total customer count. McDonald's serves 23 million people a day in the United States alone, or roughly 16.8 billion people in the past two years — meaning just 2.4 percent of customers have ordered salads since they were added to the menu."The most popular item on our menu continues to be the double cheeseburger, hands down," said company spokesman Bill Whitman.


Couple Married In Fast Food Drive-Thru

Call it a McMarriage. A couple from Pennsylvania actually tied the knot in a Mcdonald's drive-thru. It looked like a regular fast food run at first - at least, until the priest showed up. Through the same window all those Happy Meals pass, the groom took the hand of his fiance like a hungry man looking for a Big Mac. The two met in the same exact spot four years ago while he ordered his lunch.
[from First Coast News; watch the video]

Fast food comic strip: Lucky Cow

In case you haven't seen it yet, Mark Pett has a comic strip called Lucky Cow. He is currently having a contest where readers submit story ideas for the strip. Lucky Cow:
A microcosm of America set in a fast-food restaurant, Lucky Cow tells the story of a father and daughter running their own fast-food franchise. "We've all heard the stories," says Pett. "The famous chicken head story where a woman finds a perfectly breaded and fried chicken head in her otherwise normal basket of wings or the customer who no matter which fast food chain, while in the drive thru, always persists in reminding the fast food worker that the food is 'to go!'"
You can see Lucky Cow daily in 75 newspapers or on the web.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fast food for Muslims in Paris

Islamic dietary laws have long kept many Muslims away from Mcdonald's and Burger King. Now a new fast-food restaurant in Paris allows devout Muslims to snack on burgers in accordance with the Koran. Long limited in their choice of eating-out options to kebab shops and halal meat outlets in the country, France's large Muslim population got a new alternative in the French capital last month. "Buerger King Muslim" or BKM, a new fast-food restaurant in the eastern Paris suburb of Clichy-Sous-Bois, offers the standard fast-food fare: burgers, fries, sundaes and doughnuts. The difference is that the beef and chicken burgers here are halal -- meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. [Deutsche Welle]

Thursday, August 04, 2005

No fast food for Cindy Crawford

Supermodel Cindy Crawford does treat her two children to fast food, but doesn't eat any of the fast food they're enjoying herself. The 39-year-old said, "When we go my kids always say, 'Aren't you hungry, Mommy?' And I look at the fries and think it's just not worth it." [southflorida.com]

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Casual dining takeout a growing market

Instead of hitting the drive-thru, more and more families seem to be calling their local 'casual' restaurant chain and ordering something to go. More and more casual dining restaurants are promoting there service in this area, even offering special reserved parking spots near the door. A recent survey has ranked Ruby Tuesday, Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse as the top 3 best casual dining chains for takeout dining. The survey also revealed that roughly 75 percent of all consumers currently make use of takeout or delivery from full-service restaurants at least once a month and nearly 30 percent of these regular users would rather order takeout than eat in at a restaurant. [QSR]

Sandwich Wars: Quiznos vs. Subway

Consumers are noticing what restaurant industry analysts have seen for years. By making toasted sandwiches a hot item, Denver-based Quiznos has become the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country, trailing only Subway as the nation's No. 2 sandwich shop – not counting hamburgers.

After the upstart in the sandwich market hit the $1 billion sales mark last year, Subway took notice and launched is own brand of toasted sandwiches.

But industry analysts say Subway and Quiznos are locked in an unusual competition. Like McDonald's and Burger King, they compete for the same market. But the sandwich purveyors also share a common goal: luring customers away from the burger joints.

[more from the AP]