Promoting menu items made with local ingredients and brand partnerships that resulted in new menu items like Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos turned into some of the hottest stories in the quickservice industry this year, according to several industry executives. Pretzel buns, spicy condiments and barbecue-inspired flavors also made the list.
Taco Bell has come from behind to become Yum! Brands' fastest-growing concept in the U.S., largely driven by the popularity of its higher-priced Cantina Bell menu, which will soon add $5.49 fajitas as the chain's most expensive single item. "We haven't seen this kind of a surge of same-store sales at Taco Bell in some time. What's working is more upscale pricing," said analyst Bryan Elliott.
Quickservice burger chains will soon trade their Lenten fish specials for more innovative new menu items, including Grilled Chicken Flatbread sandwiches at Wendy's and a Jim Beam Bourbon Burger at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. Not to be outdone, some "better burger" brands including Umami and Original Tommy's are debuting some beefy new creations.
MonkeyMedia Software has launched the MMS Catering Institute, a suite of products for restaurants looking to create or improve their catering divisions. The offerings include certification workshops, consulting services and webinars.