This Week In Foodservice

                              Jerry Stiegler aggregates key industry information and provides brief analysis to help foodservice professionals navigate the data.


                              Restaurant Revitalization Fund Sparks More Questions Than Answers

                              Some operators find more questions than answers regarding the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The National Restaurant Association reports more operators plan to invest in their businesses. Pizza Chain Lou Malnati’s is reportedly up for sale. Costco brings back its food courts while McDonald’s and Subway bail out Walmart. These stories and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.

                              When it was approved on March 11, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was seen as a ray of sunshine piercing the dark clouds that had hovered over the industry for roughly a year. Yet weeks after passing this historic piece of legislation, operators across the country seem to have more questions than answers about how the fund works, when they can cash in and more.

                              As one restaurant owner put it, “Every time the Small Business Administration answers one question they raise another one.”

                              The fact is that the bill is 5,500 pages long and was written in just a matter of days. As such, managing any type of relief project with such a significant scope was bound to come with some glitches and problems.

                              For its part, the National Restaurant Association has developed a list of frequently asked questions about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. And the Independent Restaurant Coalition also has a resource page aimed to help better understand how to receive a grant and it partnered with the Small Business Administration on an April 13 webcast to answer questions about the fund.

                              Economic News This Week

                              • Initial jobless claims climbed to 744,000, an increase of 16,000 for the week-ending April 3. The 4-week moving average hit 723,750, an increase of 2,500 claims. Most observers do not seem concerned about the increases even though most had predicted the number of claims would decline.
                              • The Census Bureau’s full report for February showed a decline in new orders after nine months in increases. New orders for manufactured goods dipped 0.8% following a 2.7% January increase. Shipments of manufactured goods dropped 2.0%. Unfilled Orders increased 0.8%.
                              • Consumer credit increased 7.9% in February, per the Federal Reserve. Revolving Credit, mostly credit cards, rose 10.1% on annual basis. Nonrevolving credit (vehicle loans, student loans, etc.) increased 7.3% on an annual basis.
                              • The Producer Price Index for Final Demand increased 1.0% in March. A 1.7% increase in final demand goods drove this increase. Without food and energy prices, the PPI was up 0.9%. In the past 12 months the Producer Price Index increased 4.2%. In March food prices increased 0.5%. Some economists feel this month’s report indicates an inflationary trend.

                              Foodservice News This Week

                              • Are foodservice operators ready to invest in their businesses? Data from the National Restaurant Association says yes. The association’s February Restaurant Performance Index reported that 64% of operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next 6 months. This represents a 13% increase from the previous month and is the highest level in more than 10 years.
                              • Chicago pizza chain Lou Malnati’s may be for sale. The family-owned company has 70 units in 4 states and might fetch $700 million if sold. Some believe Lou Malnati, the chain’s founder, invented deep dish pizza, commonly referred to as Chicago-style pizza.
                              • Costco reopens its food courts. During the pandemic, the members-only big box retailer eliminated everything on its menu with the exception of pizza and hot dogs for takeout only. The company is now bringing back full menu as well as tables and chairs.
                              • McDonald’s plans to pull its operations from Walmart stores. Big Mac attributes the move to low sales volume. The Subway chain plans to take similar steps. Walmart plans to replace the two restaurant chains with other foodservice operations. In fact, Walmart is testing a ghost kitchen option that includes several chain restaurant concepts in some of its Canadian locations.
                              • Taco Bell will hold an April 21 job fair with a goal of hiring 5,000 new staffers. A previous job fair hosted by the chain resulted in 4,000 new hires.
                              • Growth Chains: Toasted Yolk added single and multi-unit franchisees in Memphis as well as in Dothan, Ala. The breakfast/brunch/lunch chain expects to enter the Florida market soon. Walk-On Sports Bistreaux opened its 50th unit in March and plans to open 25 or more restaurants this year. The chain hopes to eventually reach 150 locations. Taffer’s Taverns inked a deal to open 10 units across Central and Northern Florida and Georgia. FAT Burger, which earlier had inked a contract for 2 restaurants in Paris, now has a commitment for 40 dual branded FAT Burger and Buffalo Café locations in France.

                              To see restaurant chains’ same-store sales, please click here for the most recent Green Sheet.