Recapping the most memorable moves to come out of the full-service industry in August.
1. Chain Restaurants: Fast-casual brand Fuddruckers bucked the trend when it announced it opened a full-service prototype in Virginia, complete with servers and a bar; Beef 'O' Brady's on the other hand detailed its fast-casual concept and its decision to add pizza to the menu; Legal Sea Foods unveiled a satirical campaign that advocates for consumers and media not to refer to the brand as a chain.
2. Technology: Scott Shaw, founder of email marketing platform Fishbowl, shared four steps for restaurants to strengthen their email initiatives; more restaurants are inquiring about first-time point-of-sale purchases or choosing to update their software to more expansive suites; and QSR Automations updated its DineTime platform to add online reservations and email marketing capabilities.
3. Real Estate: Vegas has always been a hotspot for culinary growth, and this year has seen many esteemed chefs and restaurants open outposts there. Chef José Andrés leads the way as culinary director at the new SLS Las Vegas resort, and Yardbird Southern Table + Bar, the Miami dining darling operated by 500 Eggs, Inc., will open in Vegas in early 2015. Meanwhile the $5 million, Native-inspired Ulele opened its doors at the end of the month, lighting a spark in a struggling district of downtown Tampa and encouraging the city to reinvest in the area.
4. Wine & Spirits: The Melting Pot asked guests to vote on their favorite of five limited-time cocktails over the summer, and the winner, the Sassy Señorita, has won a place on the 2015 core menu. FSR investigated the six types of wine drinkers in restaurants and provided tips to a more approachable wine program.
5. Industry Highlights: FSR revealed the FSR 50, its list of the top 50 chains in full-service by last year's sales; the top 10 full-service restaurant groups, with Darden and DineEquity nabbing the top spots; and the 10 restaurant brands touting double-digit revenue growth that are we recommend keeping an eye on. Full-service and bar sales rose 3 percent, while independents also cheered No Kid Hungry, which celebrates its annual Dine Out month in September.