Business, Food

Putting lipstick on a Whopper…

Burger King recently announced an effort to renovate its 12,000+ locations worldwide using a new restaurant design they call “20/20” – which includes features like rotating red flame chandeliers, television-screen menus and metal-and-brick walls – in order to better compete with fast casual chains like Starbucks and Panera.

The idea is that if the restaurants now look more “sit-down” than “drive-through,” they’ll make a better impression on diners, who view Chipotle, Cosi and the like as “better than fast food.”

The flaw in this strategy is the failure to realize that the reason the fast casual demographic eats at those restaurants is because the food there actually is “better than fast food,” even if only by a margin.

1,000+ calories aside, a chicken burrito from Chipotle is better for you calorie-for-calorie than a double cheeseburger or an original chicken sandwich. The key is in the ingredients – for example, the fresh, free range, hormone-free chicken that Chipotle uses and the artisan bread served at Panera – and not in the decor.

I love¬†fast food a lot more than I should so these kinds of changes are going to make my personal dining experience more enjoyable and comfortable, but they’re certainly not going to attract the crowd simply looking for a healthier alternative to the Whopper and the Big Mac.

And therein lies the challenge for Burger King corporate. Franchisees are required to update their restaurants every so often, and the company is trying to position “20/20” as the most attractive option, but it’s tough to justify to a small business owner trying to get by in this less-than-stellar economy that they should spend the $300,000 to $600,000 necessary to implement the upgrade when the potential for new business is so small.

The money Burger King invested coming up with this new design would have been better spent creating higher end menu items that better matched those of the companies they so desperately want to compete against. As those companies have proven, people are even willing to spend a little more to get a higher quality of food.

But “20/20?” Well, that’s just putting lipstick on a Whopper.

Source: Burger King revamp aims at higher-priced kin


My new guilty pleasure

I recently ordered an Italian hot dog pie from one of my favorite local pizzerias, Verona Pizza. I contemplated sampling this 18″ disc of ambrosia a few times, having heard of (but never having tried) Italian hot dogs from many a New Jerseyan, but always had one reason or another why I should go with a plain, sausage or mushroom pie instead.

I finally made the decision to order one after my curiosity got the better of me. I mean, how could you go wrong with hot dogs, peppers, onions, and potatoes smothered in gooey mozzarella cheese on a greasy slab of pure carbohydrates? Do me a favor and don’t answer that!

I have to admit I’m really glad that I did overcome whatever reservations I had because the pizza is incredibly delicious. My wife is not a fan of pizza (although she will eat a slice if you put it in front of her) but even she really likes this specialty pie, probably because it lacks the key ingredient to her pizza adversity – tomato sauce.

Of course, those of you who would catch on fire if you even considered consuming a slice without any pizza sauce in it can very easily just ask for some sauce on the side to apply as you wish. In fact, I tried just that to be able to compare which version I liked better and ultimately decided that I would rather have it the way Verona Pizza designed it.

I don’t really eat much pizza anymore since I’m trying to lose some weight (a goal whose futility I have yet to decide) but I’m positive that anytime I fall off that horse I will certainly be doing it with a delectable mash-up of hotdogs, potatoes and cheese in hand!