News w/e 8 June
Weekly round up of news stories
Starbucks got the coffee right. Now, it is trying to do the same with the food. The world's largest coffee chain announced on Monday plans to acquire for $100 million a small artisan bakery chain, Bay Bread and its 19-unit La Boulange bakery brand. Starbucks will purchase the San Francisco-based chain from the privately-held investment firm Next World Group. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012. The move comes just months after Starbucks purchased the tiny Evolution Fresh juice brand and at a time Starbucks is pushing hard to expand beyond coffee and vastly improve its food offer. Image from Flickr
Northern Italy was struck by an Earthquake a few weeks ago, with the unfortunate deaths of 17 people. A culinary casualty of the 5.8 quake is the country’s Parmesan cheese industry. About 10% of the Parmesan stock was destroyed. What you need to know: At $2.5 billion in annual revenues, parmesan is a big business. Only 30% is exported, the rest is voraciously consumed in Italy. Each “wheel” has a market value of $520. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the Italian name for this cheese, and according to Italian law, only cheese manufactured in the vicinity of Parma
Walking into some quick-service restaurants these days can make you feel like you’ve just wandered into the produce section at Whole Foods. A colorful cornucopia of fresh fruit—from deep-yellow mangos and light-green apples to purple pomegranates and ruby-red strawberries—is getting highlighted in every menu category. Fruits from across the world are showing up in breakfast items, as part of eye-catching salads, as accompanying elements to entrees, as fresh-pressed beverages, and as healthy dessert options. This fruit usually travels a long and complex road from the orchards, fields, and groves to a quick-service chain’s multiple outlets.
The inaugural report finds that a specialty coffee retailer's staff is more than twice as important to customers compared with the importance for the other factors that measure satisfaction. Customer service attributes such as courtesy, knowledge of merchandise, speed of checkout and availability contribute to the overall staff factor. Other factors contributing to overall satisfaction are merchandise, cost, sales/promotion and facility.
Restaurants against the smoking ban say it would cause greater damage to businesses. Photo: Glenn HuntNINE restaurants are fighting a Parramatta City Council ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas in the Land and Environment Court.
Skip Yelp, text your terrible experience right to the restaurant
Sometimes it's easier to grouse on a site like Yelp about a crummy restaurant than to let the restaurant itself know about a problem. Not all restaurant owners check Yelp — but many of them pay for the consequences of lousy reviews without getting a chance to address the reviewers' complaints. A new program, Talk to the Manager, lets you text gripes right to those in charge at the eatery, with the philosophy behind the program being, "Help us before you Yelp us."
Chinese food-court innovation could signal coming change in the U.S.
Food courts in China today offer a range of experiences, from the simple stands one might see in the U.S. to high-end, luxurious food spots. Experts say China is not simply one contiguous market where food-court restaurants can be plugged in uniformly across the board, but a collection of different markets with varying levels of commercial development and, therefore, tastes. The variety and move toward more upscale food courts, many believe, could give U.S. restaurants a glimpse of things to come state-side. After all, these restaurants, which come in both quick- and full-service formats, are often the primary draw for Chinese shopping malls.