Few commodities are as tricky to navigate as chicken wings. After all, there are only two wings available per chicken, so supply is limited.
Our football-induced obsession with wings doesn’t help the supply/demand volatility. Though pricing instability is for restaurant operators to figure out, figure out they must since we consumers hanker for wings year after year after year. That’s especially true this year, with wings servings up 5% from the prior period, according to the NPD Group.
As we transition into November, and into the throes of football season, chicken wings are yet again taking flight. Just take a look at Wingstop as an example. Earlier this week, the company reported a 12.3% increase in same-store sales for Q3, the highest comps in the industry thus far (and by far).
David Portalatin, NPD’s vice president, food industry adviser, said Americans have consumed nearly 1 billion servings of wings this year (942.5 million servings).
There are a few reasons for this growth. The wing category is changing and blurring and innovating in a way that it’s never quite done before. Namely, there are more wing concepts—Wing Zone, Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings among them. These players are relatively new compared to some of the legacy brands in the restaurant space, conceived in 1993, 1994 and 1982 respectively (for context, McDonald’s has been around since 1955).
There are also smaller, yet growing, wing concepts, like East Coast-heavy Atomic Wings, Nashville-based The Wing Basket, emerging Epic Wings, college campus staple Wings Over and more. This doesn’t even count the pizza joints, including Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, that have leaned heavily into wings, and KFC, which just added wings to its permanent menu, a rarity in the QSR category. (Notably, McDonald’s Mighty Wings launch in 2013 was an abject failure).
A growing category combined with innovation (both flavors and cuts) and more accessibility and you’ve got a perfect storm for increased consumption.
“I’ve always believed that there are big, established behaviors in American eating patterns and one of those is that we love wings,” Portalatin said. “When companies in the marketplace do things that are new, innovative, exciting, or there are companies that are building new stores and growing, the consumer responds favorably to that.”
Consumers clearly responded favorably to Wingstop this past quarter. The chain’s same-store sales growth came despite wing prices being up nearly 23% this year. To navigate the commodity headwind, Wingstop launched a national test on whole wings.
“This test is key to our strategy of mitigating the volatility that we see in markets due to the price of bone-in chicken,” CEO Charlie Morrison said during the earnings call. “Overall, we were pleased with what we learned from the test and we’ll use our learnings to continue to find ways that we can leverage purchasing whole birds as a way to mitigate the volatility of wing prices.”
Wing Zone took a similar approach, introducing thigh wings in all of its domestic locations in early August. CEO Matt Friedman said the launch has been successful so far.
“We had high expectations on guest feedback and we are seeing 70%-plus success with two key questions: ‘Would you order thigh wings again?’ and ‘Would you recommend thigh wings to someone you know?’ Each week, we are seeing more and more orders, showcasing continued success of the launch,” he said.
Beyond that customer feedback, Friedman said the company is better able to control costs with the new product.
“We started to explore additional chicken items that were unique and lower cost. Traditional wings continue to be in great demand and prices have been higher this year. Wing Zone locked in a fixed price on traditional wings, so that has had a great impact on reducing food cost,” he said. “Chicken thighs, consisting of dark meat, are approximately 50% less than wings. We have been able to reduce our food cost by 2.5% through innovation and increased buying power.”
Friedman adds that Wing Zone’s research shows it is the only wing-themed restaurant to offer a thigh wing.
“I believe this is the most innovative menu item we have launched in our 26-year history. I cannot recall a menu item being in research and development for this period of time,” he said.
Portalatin does question use of the word “innovation” when it comes to these types of approaches, but admits the newness of products like thigh wings will turn on plenty of customers nonetheless.
“It’s the same with boneless wings. Are they truly under the banner of innovation? Maybe it’s not the right word, but the American consumer loves to try new things especially if we’re already familiar with it,” he said. “We love wings. We always have. If you give us new flavors, forms and shapes, we’ll try it.”
He adds that restaurant operators are forced to think beyond the traditional wing because of the supply chain squeeze.
Still, wing innovation extends beyond cost cutting/supply chain opportunities. Chicken is certainly a versatile protein, and wing purveyors have not been shy in experimenting with new, bold flavors accordingly—something more consumers are demanding. Wing Zone currently has 17 flavors, rolling out one or two new flavors each year. The chain plans to launch its newest flavor, Nashville Hot BBQ, in March 2020 to coincide with the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
KFC already has a Nashville Hot offering for its wings, alongside Buffalo and Honey BBQ. Wingstop recently launched limited-time Ancho Honey Glaze and Harissa Lemon Pepper flavors to add to its 11 original flavors.
These aren’t flavors you’d find from a time machine trip back to 1993.
Wings’ popularity can also be attributed to accessibility. Wingstop has generated a significant amount of investor confidence because of its digital prowess. For Q3, digital sales represented 36% of domestic systemwide sales, pushing toward the chain’s goal of “digitizing every transaction.” Most of Wingstop’s transactions (75%) are takeout orders, and the chain continues to ramp up its delivery capability, with 90% of the system expected to offer the channel by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, 80% of Wing Zone’s thigh wing orders are coming from its online channel, Friedman said.
Speaking of accessibility, KFC now delivers its wings and offers a subscription service for its most fervent fans. That subscription service sold out in about two hours, by the way, underscoring the demand for this product. Further, at just over 4,000 domestic units, KFC’s footprint is significantly deeper than any other wing concept (Wingstop has about 1,110), which means this permanent menu addition and the chain’s quick-service model could very well be a game changer for the wing category and its supply.
“Wings have become popular across all restaurant formats, so it doesn’t surprise me that someone in QSR wants to make a play in this space,” Portalatin said. “The competition is already intense and is getting more intense. But it’s a big enough market for a lot of people to play in.”
Of course, such intensity means there could be supply chain challenges down the road. Perhaps that’s why these new cuts and flavors and channels are, indeed, innovative.
“When there are two wings on the bird, the demand for wings outstrips the ability of the supply chain to keep up. Restaurants are forced to innovate in a way that is outside of a straight commodity wing. We’re seeing that diversity now,” Portalatin said. “It will be important for this innovation to continue for the growth to continue.”
I have covered the restaurant industry since 2010 when I was named editor of QSRweb. I later added fast casual and pizza beats to my portfolio as editorial director of foodservice media. This coverage spanned the gamut of topics that make up the foodservice space, from marketing and customer service, to the supply chain and display technology. My work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Crain’s Chicago, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. I continue to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb, Food Dive, Innovation Leader and the Digital Signage Federation.
The Popeyes fried chicken sandwich that kicked off last summer’s Great Fried Chicken Sandwich Wars returned on Sunday. And judging by my experience in getting one, the buzz around the sandwich is back, too. Popeyes announced the sandwich’s return last week, in time for National Sandwich Day. The signs were up, but there was no sign of the sandwich.
“Sunday at 10 am sharp,” the counter clerk told me, via the drive-thru intercom. “You better get here early.”
I hadn’t been planning to be there at the opening bell, but I woke up in time, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time. So, I bundled my 91-year-old aunt, Maxine Clapper, into my Prius and set off.
The scene. We arrived at 9:50 am to find a knot of people waiting outside the door, and 14 cars in the drive-thru and the parking lot. We were car No. 11 in the drive-thru.
But at 10 am, we were told there was a delay. The restaurant would open at 11 am, despite the instructions we were given and the hours posted on the door .
The delay wasn’t explained, but the restaurant then posted “cash only” signs which made me think it might have been a credit card processing issue.
The wait. We contemplated leaving, but decided to stay. Around us, others stayed, too, including the group at the door. A manager eventually came out and gave those people numbers so they could go wait in their cars in the 37F cold.
As the 10 am hour ticked by, more people arrived. The drive-thru line re-formed, and eventually, it stretched down the side of the restaurant, through the parking lot, past the front of the restaurant and onto the road outside.
They were determined to get one this time. And after the restaurant doors finally opened at 11 am, the first customers emerged, holding their Popeyes bags high in victory.
It took us about 25 minutes to get up to the drive-thru window and collect our sandwiches. We pulled into a parking lot space, and opened the bag. On Friday, I stopped by my local Popeyes near Ann Arbor, Mich., just to see if it had arrived early.
The sandwich. This iteration of the Popeyes fried chicken sandwich seems identical to the previous version. For $3.99, you get a generous portion of fried chicken breast, a dollop of mayo, two pickles and a soft bun.
If anything, the chicken was even more moist than last time, perhaps because it was prepared in the morning rather than afternoon.
And the pickles seemed thicker, almost a little too thick for a sandwich. We both took them off the sandwich and ate them as a side dish.
Since I’d tried it before, I was curious what Maxine thought of it.
She pronounced it “good,” her all-purpose compliment for something she enjoys eating, and said she would have one again if I brought it home to her. (She’s not from the eat-in-your-car generation, which is understandable.)
She was unable to finish her sandwich, which seems a little large for elderly appetites. Popeyes would do just fine if it made a chicken sandwich slider.
The buzz. A huge advantage to this Popeyes launch, of course, is that it took place on Sunday, when its main rival, Chick-fil-A is closed, and something Popeyes touted in its run up to the chicken sandwich’s return.
That Sunday availability is likely to result in a big launch day.
As we drove off, I counted 25 cars waiting in the drive-thru line, and the parking lot was nearly full. I asked the counter clerk how many she thought they would serve, and she estimated it would be more than 100.
Based on the early demand, they most likely sold them all by the end of the lunch hour.
Business may not keep up at that rate, and Popeyes might not get the massive marketing boost that the chicken sandwich generated last time.
But at least for now, it has successfully fired its second shot.
I’m an alumni of the New York Times and NPR. I learned to cook from my mom, and studied with Patricia Wells and at Le Cordon Bleu. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: @mickimaynard I: @michelinemaynard Sorry, I don’t honor embargoes.
Bucatini Cashew-Kombu Cream at Osteria 57 in New York City.
National Pasta Day is coming soon. While October 17 may be a great excuse to try a new pasta dish, these options are so incredible that we recommend enjoying them all year long. Starting today, ideally.
At Osteria 57 in New York City, this is a vegan pasta dish with incredible Japanese Umami flavor. The dish is made with cashew-kombu cream, Mediterranean pesto, Sorrento lemons and breadcrumbs to give it a fresh, satisfying Mediterranean taste with rich, savoriness from the umami flavor. “It’s uncommon to think ‘vegan’ when you hear of Italian cuisine since most dishes have meat and/or cheese. So I thought of a pasta that I can serve my customers that’s packed with flavor and combines ingredients from my two favorite cuisines- Italian and Japanese. Knowing that a majority of umami flavor in Japanese cuisine stems from kumbu, I decided to create a cashew-kombu cream sauce and flavor it with ingredients that reminds me of the southern region of Italy. There’s fresh basil, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, white fennel, capers from Sicily, lemons from Sorrento with the cream sauce as a clear tribute to the magic of ingredients,” said chef Riccardo Orfino.
Wagyu Pappardelle at Margot Los Angeles.
At Margot Los Angeles, this dish is made with Einkorn wheat and ragu Bolognese. “Our Pappardelle is the most unique pasta dish on offer right now at Margot. It’s made from heirloom einkorn wheat that is milled weekly for us by a local grain mill. It’s served with a Bolognese sauce made with wagyu beef that’s simply delicious,” says executive chef Michael Williams.
Blue Crab Carbonara at The Wilson in New York City.
Jenna Murray IGC Hospitality)
Ben Bridge Jeweler BrandVoice
Shopping For The Perfect Engagement Ring? Here’s The Diamond You Need To Know About
Cole Haan BrandVoice
Twin Brothers Warn Of Climate Change With Vanishing Street Art In Unexpected Places
How A Provider of Streaming Video Entertainment Battles Those Maddening Delays And Buffering
At The Wilson in New York City, this dish is made with spaghetti, guanciale, Calabrian chilies, basil crumbs. “We make ours with rustichella spaghetti, EVOO, guanciale, garlic, calabrian chilies, and blue crab. Finished with butter, parmesan cheese, black pepper and chives. Garnished with pangrattato, which is bright green basil bread crumbs, and grilled lemon. It’s a fun and modern spin on an already delicious classic,” said executive chef, Stephany Burgos.
Chickpea Pasta at Electric Lemon at Hudson Yards in New York City.
At Electric Lemon at Hudson Yards in New York City, the Chickpea Pasta is a linguini type noodles topped with a fresh tomato sauce made à la minute. Chef Kyle Knall roasts garlic, shishito peppers and basil in a pan then squeezes skinless sun gold tomatoes to make a fresh, vibrant sauce that coats the gluten free pasta without being too rich. The dish is then garnished with fresh basil and halved sun gold tomatoes. “We wanted to make a true chickpea pasta that was actually gluten free. So we took the ratio that we would normally use for our traditional dough with farm egg yolks and switched out the pasta flour for chickpea. This keeps the dough soft and rich,” said chef Kyle Knall.
Squid Ink Linguine
Squid Ink Linguine at Siena Tavern in Chicago.
Forget the lobster roll and the bisque because black is the new… black at Siena Tavern in Chicago with Top Chef alum, Fabio Viviani’s Squid Ink Linguine. Having a celebrity chef behind the Italian restaurant’s menu guests know dishes served there are going to be amazing and delicious which includes his Squid Ink Linguine served with a lobster tail and spicy lobster sauce. Not only is this dish one of the most popular entrees served at Siena Tavern, but it is also eye-catching with its shocking color. Although, the silky black-hued pasta is not the only reason this dish is so popular; the flavor of the dish also credits to its acclaimed fame. Given the extra dimension the squid ink linguine gives off, chef Viviani complements it with a grilled lobster tail served on top while a spicy lobster cream sauce is mixed in with it. “As much as I love making traditional pasta dishes, I knew I needed to make Siena Tavern’s Squid Ink Linguine a little different,” said executive chef Fabio Viviani. “Mixing the squid ink’s rich and briny flavor with a lobster’s mild and sweet flavor, there needed to be a spice to make a lasting impression which I made the sauce to be a spicy lobster cream sauce.”
Duck Confit Risotto
Duck Confit Risotto in New York City at ATRIO Wine Bar & Restaurant.
ATRIO Wine Bar & Restaurant
In New York City at ATRIO Wine Bar & Restaurant, a combination of sautéed butternut squash, wild mushrooms, dried cranberries, and wilted kale folded into arborio rice that is immersed in a rich duck broth. White balsamic pearls are dotted on top for a tangy finish. A major trend we’ve noticed that has returned is the use of duck on culinary menus. This is a bold and flavorful meat that can be used in a wide variety of dishes; we have added duck to our risotto and flatbread for fall,” said executive chef Enrico DeOcampo of Conrad New York Downtown.
Chicken Sausage Rigatoni
Chicken Sausage Rigatoni at Thalia in New Orleans.
At Thalia in New Orleans, chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus just gave a seasonal update to the chicken sausage rigatoni. The fall version of the beautiful pasta dish is made with housemade sausage and pasta served with pumpkin, shiso, and sage, then finished with shaved parmesan. This dish embodies what we love about fall. The pumpkin and sage add those flavors that we love about fall, while the shiso adds a brightness.
Not Your Nonna’s Bolognese
Not Your Nonna’s Bolognese at Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar in south Miami.
At Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar in south Miami, this twist on a classic Bolognese over delivers on the pasta. Featuring two (!) types of pasta, a slow braised veal, pork and beef Bolognese sauce is mixed throughout pappardelle and ricotta gnudi before being topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. The hearty sauce pairs well with the light gnudi, and bright pop of basil. “Italy has always astounded me with its culture and beauty. That beautiful sun-filled country is a huge source for culinary inspiration for me, and Mi’talia dishes are my versions of these flavors,” said chef Janine Booth.
Carbonara in a Jar
Carbonara in a Jar at Siena Tavern in Chicago.
If there is something Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani is an expert on making, it’s pasta. The Italian chef’s Carbonara in a Jar served at Siena Tavern is not only cooked perfectly al dente and tastes delicious but also an interactive dish as it is prepped and finalized at the table utilizing a mason jar. The ooey and gooey pasta dish initially fills the mason jar with gemelli noodles and then layers of crispy pancetta, parmesan cream, spinach, egg yolk and pecorino are added on top. The mason jar is served to the table in its deconstructed form and ready to be finalized by the chef who shakes it tableside, ultimately breaking the egg yolk and mixing the other ingredients to finalize the Carbonara in a Jar. “One of my favorite things to do as a chef is go out in the restaurant and talk to the guests who are eating my food,” said executive chef Fabio Viviani. “The Carbonara in a Jar not only allows me to talk to my guests, but I also get to serve them their meal.”
Zucchini Pasta at HandCraft Kitchen & Cocktails in New York City.
HandCraft Kitchen & Cocktails
At HandCraft Kitchen & Cocktails in New York City, this is zucchini noodles, roasted kale, charred tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, pistachio nuts and Asiago cheese. If you follow the Whole 30 diet, you can ask the chef to hold the cheese. If you want to add a little protein, you can request the addition of chicken, steak or pulled pork. “Our Zucchini Pasta is one of our best sellers and I think it’s because it’s so versatile. It’s a vegetarian dish that you can easily make Whole 30 compliant by ordering it without the cheese, or you can add chicken, steak or pulled pork if you’re a meat-lover. All these options and it’s delicious no matter how you order it,” said Chad Gaudet, co-owner of HandCraft Kitchen & Cocktails.
House-Made Campanelle at The Hive in Bentonville, Arkansas.
21c Museum Hotels
At The Hive in Bentonville, Arkansas, they showcase the unique culinary identity of Arkansas and the region’s farmers and producers. Chef Matt McClure’s cooking pays homage to the High South, highlighting local ingredients such as wild mushrooms, basil puree and pistachio found in the campanelle.
Siamese Agnolotti at Casa Nonna New York.
Casa Nonna New York
At Casa Nonna New York, the filling of this house-made two-sided ravioli pasta consists of veal ragu on one side with spinach and taleggio cheese on the other side. The ravioli rests on top of a truffle pecorino fonduta sauce and is finished with beech mushrooms and a drizzle of marsala glaze. “Siamese Agnolotti is one of our most popular pasta dishes as you can experience a vegetarian and meat option in just one bite! The beech mushrooms add a cashew-like flavor and when combined with a drizzle of the marsala glaze and truffle oil, you get a sherry sweet taste. Plus, it’s a great pasta that pairs really well with most known Italian wines like Chianti, Montepulciano and Sangiovese,” said Atilio Ramos, chef de cuisine.
Spaghettini Freddi Benedetto Cavalieri
Spaghettini Freddi Benedetto Cavalieri at La Cucina at Il Salviatino in Fiesole, Florence.
At La Cucina at Il Salviatino in Fiesole, Florence, an upscale twist on a classic, this chilled spaghetti dish features fresh prawns tossed in Tuscan citrus fruit delicately served over al dente spaghetti, garnished with colorful edible wildflowers sourced from Il Salviatino’s orto — organic orchard and herb garden. “I love how refreshing this dish it. We are really lucky to have a big organic garden right on our property grounds where we source fresh herbs and vegetables daily. Almost 100% of our ingredients are sourced from Tuscany; generally we don’t need to go far to find the best quality, most of the time it is right around the corner,” said executive chef Silvia Grossi.
Fettuccine at La Ventura in New York City.
At La Ventura in New York City, housemade fettuccine with poblano peppers, littleneck clams, garlic, chili flakes and lemon. “Our fettuccine is the perfect way to celebrate National Pasta Month because it gives a nod to classical old school pasta and white clam sauce. It is super garlicky with chili flake, butter and lemon that keeps it packed with flavor the entire way through,” said executive chef Peter Lipson.
Cacio E Pere
Cacio E Pere on New York City at Felidia.
In New York City at Felidia, pear and pecorino ravioli with crushed black pepper. “After all these years, I love to make this; it’s such a simple yet delicious dish and is still a favorite among the guests year-round!” said executive chef Fortunato Nicotra.
Rigatoni with Heritage Pork Ragu
Rigatoni with Heritage Pork Ragu in New York City at OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria.
OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria
In New York City at OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria, rigatoni with Heritage pork shank braised with onions, Calabrian chilis, and tomato sauce. “This is one of our signature pasta dishes that’s perfect to celebrate with on National Pasta Day! There’s no shortage of flavor here, and as a butcher, I love using high-quality meat from our longtime purveyor Heritage Foods!” said executive chef Gaetano Arnone.
Spaghetti Special at Carmine’s.
At Carmine’s, already known for their massive portions, the legendary Carmine’s is serving up a Spaghetti Special for the entire month of October. The special comes with five pounds of spaghetti served alongside a gallon of sauce – pomodoro, bolognese, marinara or vodka. The dish is designed to feed eight-ten people. “What Carmine’s does best is massive portions of food served family-style so this special is designed for even bigger groups to gather and enjoy heaping platters of pasta with their favorite sauce!” said director of culinary operations Glenn Rolnick
Mezzelune Pasta At Lupa in New York City.
At Lupa in New York City, a seasonal pasta dish made with honeynut squash stuffed lune with sage brown butter and toasted hazelnuts. “Honeynut is my favorite Autumn squash. Specifically bred for their sweetness, they make an incredible filling for ravioli. Mezzelune pasta is a great shape because of the crescent moon shape which resembles the fall months and looks amazing on the plate” said executive chef James Kelly.
Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti
Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti at Gelso & Grand in New York City.
Gelso & Grand
At Gelso & Grand in New York City, toasted pistachio, fresh basil, Parmigiano Reggiano mixed with spaghetti. “Since our restaurant is located in the heart of Little Italy, we wanted to offer a bright-tasting pasta that would whisk guests away from the hustle bustle of New York for a moment and to let the flavors of the dish sink in. The pasta itself is a delicious twist on an Italian classic, that’s traditionally prepared with pine nuts, and perfectly balanced with the freshness from the basil,” said owner Nima Garos.
California Sea Urchin and Angel Hair Carbonara
California Sea Urchin and Angel Hair Carbonara at Tocqueville in New York City.
At Tocqueville in New York City, this signature appetizer at Tocqueville has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2000. The dish features California sea urchin and angel hair carbonara with sea lettuces and lime-soy butter. “In my opinion Sea urchin and egg yolk is a perfect match, the velvety texture of the softly scrambled yolk with the sauce is pure decadence, against the al dente pasta, it all really works well together!” said chef and owner Marco Moreira.
Linguine ai Frutti di Mare
Linguine ai Frutti di Mare t Primavera Ristorante.
At Primavera Ristorante, a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant located in Coronado, Calif., will celebrate National Pasta Day with a featured entrée swimming in flavor: linguine ai frutti di mare, made with fresh tomato, shrimp, mussels, and baby clams atop linguine with light saffron sauce. The restaurant will also have an array of signature pasta dishes available, including: portobella alla bianca, portobello mushroom-filled ravioli with sundried tomato and dill cream sauce; pappardelle alla Bolognese with veal, pork and beef ragu, dried chile oil and mascarpone; and spaghetti alla carbonara with sautéed pancetta and sweet peas in a rich parmigiano cream sauce. Buon appetito!
Hawaiian barbecue is no-frills and mixed, just like the Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur who made it mainstream: Eddie Flores, Jr.
Hawaii’s quintessential plate lunch of meat, macaroni salad and two scoops of white rice originated in the late 1800s as the midday meal for workers on Hawaii’s pineapple and sugar plantations, with immigrants from Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea and Portugal adding their food traditions. Hence, you’ll find katsu, char siu, adobo, Korean fried chicken and Portuguese sausage on the menu, in addition to native Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pork.
It seems only fitting then that L&L Hawaiian Barbecue was recently rated by Entrepreneur magazine as the top Asian fast food franchise in the U.S. The Honolulu-based restaurant chain serves affordable island comfort food at more than 200 locations from California to Florida, all of which are independently owned, mostly by immigrants. (Panda Express, in contrast, owns all of its outlets.) L&L also has two locations in Japan, with Flores open to more Asian expansion. The company recorded $95 million in sales in 2018.
And the founder and CEO is an immigrant himself.
I met Flores at an L&L inside a Walmart in downtown Honolulu. He’s ambitious and a dreamer, “cocky,” as his wife would say. He’s working to have an L&L in every Walmart on the mainland.
Flores’ family moved to Hawaii from China when he was a youth, the eldest boy of seven children. His Filipino father, a musician, and Chinese mother, have sixth-grade educations and were part of the middle class in Hong Kong. In Hawaii, his father worked as a janitor and his mother a restaurant cashier and dishwasher to make ends meet.
That’s what sparked Flores’ entrepreneurial spirit. “I told myself I’m not going to be poor,” he said.
But it wasn’t easy for the 72-year-old, who had a learning disability and repeated grades four times in China. Still, he learned to be aggressive and business savvy, working in banks and then real estate. In a few years, he became a millionaire and bought a restaurant for his mom in 1976, which would eventually be the first L&L, and the birth of a food empire.
Before poke became Hawaii’s hottest food trend, Flores popularized Spam musubi, a handheld snack of seaweed-wrapped grilled luncheon meat on top of rice. He says he was serving brown rice on his menu before most of the mainland U.S. knew what it was.
“No one ever took a concept of Hawaii to the mainland and made it. We were the first one,” Flores said. “We’re the only true Hawaiian brand serving Hawaiian food.”
To stay true to the brand, potential franchisees spend time in Hawaii to get to know the local icon’s “Aloha spirit.”
His upbringing made him a long-time champion of immigrants, especially the Filipino community in Hawaii. And while he made his fortune in real estate and franchising, he says his real legacy is building the 50,000-square-foot Filipino Community Center, the largest cultural center outside the Philippines. It aims to support the 300,000 or so Filipinos living and working in the state–about a quarter of the local population–with health and educational services as well as entrepreneurial and business incubation. Furthermore, about 60% of the new immigrants in Hawaii are from the Philippines.
“It’s for the pride of the Filipino. Filipinos are relegated to the lowest socioeconomic status here, like janitor, dishwasher,” Flores said. “I believe in political empowerment for the community and teaching them entrepreneurship so they can own their own businesses.”
Many of the Filipinos in Hawaii have little education, so it will take two to three generations to move up, Flores added. “Of the 1,200 board of directors of publicly traded companies here, only three are Filipino.”
Flores has also brought Hawaiian business delegations to the Philippines to explore opportunities with the motherland. But he admits cultural differences make it difficult to do business there. Entrepreneurship doesn’t come naturally for many Filipinos, he explains. Even in the United States, where immigrants grow up believing in the American dream, starting a business requires taking risks and a willingness to fail–an approach that runs counter to the more cautious culture of many Asians.
It’s a reality Flores is working to change, especially as an immigrant who overcame poverty and adversity to become one of the most successful Asian food franchise operators in the U.S.
“We are first-generation immigrants,” he said, “and since we’ve been able to achieve the American dream, I want to give back.”
I’m an international news anchor, Asia correspondent and freelance content creator based in Manila, with 20 years of experience in news, business and lifestyle reporting, producing and anchoring across Asia and the United States, including Singapore, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. In 2017, I launched ABS-CBN News Channel’s morning newscasts Early Edition and News Now as lead anchor and managing editor and hosted the popular “Food Diplomacy” segment. From 2013-2016, I was an anchor/correspondent for Channel NewsAsia and hosted “What’s Cooking,” a weekly food and travel show. Before moving to Asia, I worked in New York as an anchor, reporter and editor for several major media companies, including Forbes, CNBC, HGTV, Yahoo and Bloomberg. Born in Los Angeles, I graduated from UCLA and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism
Edit: I honestly can’t believe I posted this garbage video lol. Forgive the low quality. I intend on replacing this video with something much better. But thank you for those who watched through this atrocity haha. I went into L&L Hawaiian BBQ in Las Vegas to see what it was all about! Check it out :D. Follow me on social media!! Facebook: www.facebook.com/bigpileofwesley Twitter: www.twitter.com/bigpileofwesley Instagram: www.instagram.com/bigpileofwesley Snapchat: bigpileofwesley
In the battle for China’s massive food-delivery market, Alibaba is in the unfamiliar position of falling behind its rival. The behemoth that’s feeding more of the country’s hundreds of millions of hungry customers is Meituan Dianping.
Led by billionaire founder Wang Xing, Beijing-based Meituan recently solidified its share of the country’s $84 billion food delivery market at a record 65%, well ahead of Alibaba’s Ele.me at 27.4%, according to consultancy and data provider Trustdata. The company’s Hong Kong-listed shares have soared 80% this year after it reported a surprise profit in the second quarter.
The stock defied the broader market decline in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index, which tumbled 9% since July amid ongoing anti-government protests in the city over the now suspended extradition bill. Wang, who derives the bulk of his fortune from his stake in Meituan, saw his net worth increase from $3.8 billion in the beginning of 2019 to $6.2 billion.
“A lot of people are now positive on Meituan, because they have proven that there is money to be made in the food delivery business,” says Wang Xiaoyan, a Shanghai-based analyst at 86 Research. “There will be fluctuations in its profitability margin, but it won’t bleed as much money as before.”
The company’s results were attributed to its ability to provide better services and the effectiveness of its subsidy strategy. It’s been more aggressive than Alibaba in inking exclusive delivery partnerships with restaurants, while boosting delivery time and reducing costs by matching order data and grouping more deliveries in one trip.
This has allowed users to stick to Meituan’s platform, even though Alibaba has tried to convince them to switch by doling out hundreds of millions of dollars in coupons and meal subsidies. David Dai, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bernstein Research, says Meituan’s user loyalty is much stronger than Alibaba had initially expected.
“People may say that they are price sensitive, but not everyone would open two apps and compare prices before ordering a meal,” he says. “Meituan has more restaurants, more users and higher delivery efficiency, and this has formed a positive cycle.”
Now, in the face of reduced competition, Meituan is seeking to generate revenue from advertising on its platform, which boasts of 422.6 million annual active users. Restaurants can now pay to place banner ads, or have their offers displayed higher up in users’ search results.
Although Meituan’s market leadership will be hard to displace, Alibaba has already signaled that it won’t give up easily. Analysts say the e-commerce giant views food delivery as essential to its wider strategy, because it’s a high-frequency service that can be embedded in the Alibaba ecosystem to promote complimentary services like online payments. To chip away its rival’s dominance, Alibaba has been focusing on lower-tier cities, which are Meituan’s traditional strongholds.
“If Ele.me is determined to launch another price war, then Meituan has no choice but to follow up,” says Steven Zhu, a Shanghai-based analyst at research firm Pacific Epoch.
And this may well be the case towards year end, when the e-commerce giant launches its Singles Day shopping bonanza and uses discounts to attract shoppers. What’s more, Meituan may also have to pay more to couriers at that time, because cold weather in the winter season usually leads to increased delivery fees. Still, analysts say it has enough room for growth, which could lead to sustained margin improvements.
“Profitability improvement will come more from revenue growth instead of cost reductions,” says Bernstein Research’s Dai. “They can boost their take rate and improve advertising, and the space for revenue growth is still pretty big.”
I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang
My life changed when I discovered food delivery in China – mainly, I got a bit lazier, but it’s just so easier and there’s a ton of tasty western and Chinese food available. Some of the food isn’t even possible to get unless you order it through one of China’s food delivery apps. Right now, there are 2 that are very popular: ele.me and Mei Tuan Wai Mai. I prefer Meituan Waimai, and I breakdown how to use it in this video. I’ll show you how to setup a profile, how to order food, and I’ll even attempt to follow the delivery driver from the restaurant to my home. This is the video you need to watch if you want to learn how to get food delivered in China. Mei Tuan Wai Mai can be downloaded here: http://waimai.meituan.com/mobile/down… Once installed, follow the instructions in the video to setup a profile that includes your address for quick delivery. Tune in Tuesdays and Thursdays at around 3PM EST for new videos, including my series Chengdu: City of Gastronomy (https://goo.gl/kSSxw2), where I randomly pick a card that has a Sichuan dish on it and I hit the city to find it and try it. There’s so much good food in Chengdu, Asia’s first ever city to be named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. —/// ABOUT ME \\\— I live in China and am constantly exploring and traveling the country and other parts of Asia. Subscribe to my channel to watch more adventures… and to learn a bit about food, cultures, and more. If you’re looking for more videos about living in China: https://goo.gl/e2kSVz —————————————————————————————– \\ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/2e8BCZv \\ Website: http://itchyfeetonthecheap.com/ \\ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org \\ Instagram: http://instagram.com/itchyfeetonthecheap \\ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/itchyfeetont… \\ Twitter: https://twitter.com/itchyfeetcheap —————————————————————————————– 🎵 MUSIC 🎶 Music by Andrew Rothschild Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgkz… Bandcamp: https://andrewrothschild.bandcamp.com/ Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/an… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arothsmusic/
When Popeyes launched its fried chicken sandwich on August 12, it got a lot of positive attention — the Twitter announcement got more than 31,000 likes, which is pretty impressive considering that their posts usually get less than 400. What the world didn’t know was that tragedy was soon to strike. Popeyes ran out of chicken sandwiches before the month was over. But what’s the real reason it disappeared? And when will the Popeyes chicken sandwich be available again, if ever? To find out, we have to go back to the beginning. For the longest time, Popeyes only sold chicken pieces and tenders, with no sandwiches on their menu. They have a loyal fan following nonetheless, including the late Anthony Bourdain, who is said to have once eaten at a Popeyes buffet for three days in a row. The Popeyes chicken sandwich, made with their signature crispy fried chicken on a spicy mayo-slathered brioche bun and topped with pickles, was bound to be a hit with fans, but it had a few competitors who wanted to make their presence known when the newcomer started getting attention. Chick-fil-A, a big name in the chicken sandwich game, was compelled to tweet out an equation alluding to the fact that they have the original chicken sandwich, stating: “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [love] for the original.” Popeyes wasn’t having it, tweeting a simple “… y’all good?” in response. While Chick-fil-A’s tweet got more than 23,000 likes, the reply from Popeyes got almost 325,000. Round one goes to Popeyes. Wendy’s, with its notoriously on-point Twitter game, also tried to get in the fight, posting a tweet that said: “Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich.” But once again Popeyes’ reply — “Sounds like someone just ate one of our biscuits. Cause y’all looking thirsty.” — got way more engagement from customers. The fast food chicken sandwich war has officially begun. It’s not just social media hype, either. The masses seem to agree that Popeyes chicken sandwich really is superior to Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, calling it better and cheaper. CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, who called 15 different Popeyes locations trying to get her hands on one, said on her first bite, Even celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse gave his version of a five-star review. He posted on Twitter that he was about to try the Popeyes chicken sandwich, and when a fan asked what he thought of it, Lagasse replied with two explosion emojis, the picture version of his famous catchphrase. But not everyone managed to try one of the chicken sandwiches. Just 15 days after they launched, Popeyes made an announcement on Twitter, dashing the dreams of hopeful diners. “Y’all. We love that you love The Sandwich. Unfortunately we’re sold out (for now).” A Popeyes spokesperson told CBS why the sandwich sold out so quickly, explaining: “The demand for the new Chicken Sandwich in the first few weeks following its launch far exceeded our very optimistic expectations. In fact, Popeyes aggressively forecasted demand through the end of September and has already sold through that inventory.” The chain hasn’t said exactly when the Popeyes chicken sandwich is coming back, only that they, along with their suppliers, are quote, “working tirelessly to bring the new sandwich back to guests as soon as possible.” If you want to know the second it becomes available, you can download the Popeyes app and enable push notifications. You’ll get an alert as soon as the sandwich hits stores, so keep gas in your car and a go-bag by the door, because you never know when the call might come. And don’t worry — once the Popeyes chicken sandwich becomes available it won’t be disappearing again. According to a Popeyes spokesperson, the chicken sandwich is permanently on the menu. That’s great for fans of the chain, but the question remains: What are we going to do with ourselves while we wait for its return? Watch the video to find out the real reason Popeyes ran out chicken sandwiches! #Popeyes#Chicken#ChickenSandwich
At 70, Singapore’s “popiah king” Sam Goi still has his sights set on expanding his food and property empire. After earning his royal sobriquet—and his $2 billion fortune—making the paper-thin crepes used to wrap spring rolls known as popiah, he is now branching out. He wants to invest in meat substitutes and other special-diet foods, and play angel investor to food startups like the one he started in 1977, Tee Yih Jia Food.
Goi knows something about building a brand. Privately held Tee Yih Jia (TYJ) today exports Asian food items such as spring rolls, glutinous rice balls and samosas to more than 80 countries. It’s now in the process of doubling its production capacity with a new facility due for completion in 2021.
Goi’s Singapore-listed development company GSH, however, has hit a lull. After a S$75 million windfall in 2017 from its sale of private-equity unit Plaza Ventures, net profits dropped 93% in 2018 to S$6 million on a 9% decline in revenues. That’s pushed GSH’s shares down 13% in the past year, helping pull Goi’s fortune down by $100 million.
Goi arrived in Singapore in 1955 when he was six years old with little but the shirt on his back after his family fled China’s Fujian province in a small boat. Goi dropped out of high school, but used his training in a repair shop to gain a toehold in the food industry.
With S$450,000 borrowed from a bank and his father, he bought an underperforming food company and overhauled it, increasing production from 3,200 popiah skins a day to 25,000. In 1980, he brought in technicians to design the world’s first automated system for making spring roll pastries at the blistering rate of 30 million a day. He then branched out, pumping out fortune cookies, flatbread and samosas.
Goi returned to his hometown in Fujian in 1985 and built his first China factory there, later adding a frozen-food facility, a brewery and a vinegar plant in other parts of China. Goi also snapped up land in China’s second-tier cities long before China’s property boom. Most of Goi’s exposure to property, though, has come through GSH, where he now has a nearly 60% stake.
TYJ also has a subsidiary in Yangzhou focused on developing residential and commercial properties in surrounding Jiangsu province. But Goi’s plans for TYJ are more food-related. Goi’s daughter Laureen, who runs TYJ Food Manufacturing, has been building a state-of-the-art food factory nearly four times larger than the present one in Singapore, with the latest in automation, including driverless vehicles.
The new facility will also have a laboratory developing new products, and TYJ may even invest in and incubate promising food ventures, furthering Goi’s legacy as a foodstuff innovator.
Correction: the original version of this story incorrectly stated Goi’s late son Ben was involved in TYJ’s factory expansion. It is his daughter Laureen. Also corrected is that the new facility is an expansion not a replacement of the existing manufacturing plant.
Pamela covers entrepreneurs, wealth, blockchain and the crypto economy as a senior reporter across digital and print platforms. Prior to Forbes, she served as on-air foreign correspondent for Thomson Reuters’ broadcast team, during which she reported on global markets, central bank policies, and breaking business news. Before Asia, she was a journalist at NBC Comcast, and started her career at CNBC and Bloomberg as a financial news producer in New York. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, USA Today, Huffington Post, and Nasdaq. Pamela’s previous incarnation was on the buy side in M&A research and asset management, inspired by Michael Lewis’ book “Liar’s Poker”. Follow me on Twitter at @pamambler
A month ago, facing widespread criticism over DoorDash’s policy of reducing pay to delivery workers who receive tips, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu promised to introduce a new payment scheme in which delivery workers could keep their tips without seeing their pay reduced. Now that new model is here, and it’s a powerful incentive for customers ordering DoorDash deliveries to add a tip when they order. Preferably, a generous one.
Under the old system, a DoorDash delivery person (or “Dasher”) would be promised a certain fee, say $7, to make a given delivery. If the customer tipped zero, DoorDash would pay $7. If the customer tipped $3, DoorDash would pay $4, and the Dasher would still receive a total of $7. (If the customer tipped more than $7, DoorDash would pay its minimum fee of $1, and the Dasher would keep the entire tip.)
According to some accounts, the majority of customers who use a food delivery service such as DoorDash don’t tip–perhaps believing that most of the fee they pay to the service goes to the deliverer–while others do tip. Thus, the old system created greater predictability for drivers when deciding whether to accept a delivery. (Dashers are independent contractors who accept or decline each delivery as they see fit.)
Some Dashers liked that model, and New York Times reporter Andy Newman, who spent several days as an undercover deliverer for DoorDash, PostMates, and Uber Eats, found that he generally earned more from DoorDash than from the other two services. There was just one problem with that model, which Xu identified in a series of tweets announcing the change: “What we missed was that some customers who *did* tip would feel like their tip did not matter.”
Want your food to arrive hot? Add a big tip.
Well, it’s about to start mattering big time. The new model is short on essential details, but this is what DoorDash has announced: From here on out, all Dashers will keep 100 percent of their tips and DoorDash will no longer reduce their base pay when they do. Xu has vowed that the new scheme will increase Dashers’ pay overall, and to that end the company is doubling its minimum pay from $1 to $2. The company is adding “promotions,” bonus pay for Dashers to work at busy times, and also “challenges,” in which Dashers who work frequently will receive extra pay for reaching certain goals. DoorDash has not yet released the details of these promotions. It also says the new payment system will roll out to all Dashers by the end of September.
The company has made one thing very clear. DoorDash will give every Dasher 100 percent of the customer’s tip without reducing the Dasher’s base pay, and if a customer adds a tip when placing the order that tip will be included in the pay offered for the delivery. Although the Dasher won’t be able to see the tip amount, he or she will be able to see the total payment for the delivery, including the tip, which obviously will be higher than for an untipped delivery job.
Thus, if a customer ordering a DoorDash delivery adds a big tip when ordering, Dashers will likely scramble to grab that delivery job, knowing it will pay better than usual. Conversely, customers who doesn’t add an upfront tip will likely wait a bit longer for their food to arrive since those jobs will be much less attractive to Dashers. A customer may be planning to tip after the food arrives, but since the Dasher can’t know that in advance and most customers don’t tip, he or she won’t bank on it.
That’s what many people who posted in a Reddit forum for DoorDash drivers are saying. For example, one Dasher posted, “The nice part about this is that you will be able to see what the customer tips up front before accepting the order so those big fat 0 tippers even if they’re gonna tip afterwards I’m not risking it.”
And here’s a comment from another Dasher: “My thinking also is that the low-paying offers (from non-tippers) are going to be passed over repeatedly, so the food may be cold and will arrive late. So not only is it a low-paying job, but the odds are likely that you’ll get 1 star for taking the order. Wow, sounds great, huh?”
For the moment, there are more unknowns than knowns about this new payment scheme, but one lesson is clear. If you’re ordering food via DoorDash and you want it to arrive hot, add a tip when you first order. Preferably a big one.
Pat Brown isn’t an inventor so much as a reinventor. He sees something that works, but not well, and figures out how to do the same thing, only a lot better. And along the way, he’s reinvented himself into perhaps the most unlikely entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.
Brown trained as a pediatrician but, seeing that genetics figure prominently in diseases such as cancer, repurposed himself as a scientific researcher. Within a few years, he’d created something called the DNA microarray, a technology that has allowed scientists to better study genetic code. It was a breakthrough, and for most people that would be a career peak. Not Pat. In 2001, frustrated by limited worldwide access to scientific research, he co-founded the Public Library of Science, a radical revision of academic publishing.
A decade later, he saw a vastly greater inefficiency: meat. Raising and killing animals, he realized, is an environmentally expensive way to produce protein, demanding tremendous amounts of water, land, and energy. “There’s a $1.6 trillion global meat and poultry market being served by prehistoric technology,” he fumes. So Pat, then at Stanford, ditched academics for startup life. Today, he’s the founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, a company that’s reinventing meat.
Unlike entrepreneurs who tally their startups like animal heads mounted in a man cave, Brown wasn’t looking to add founder to his résumé. “I couldn’t have imagined myself doing this,” he told me over a lunch of Impossible burgers in Redwood City, California. “But the most powerful, subversive tool on earth is the free market. If you can take a problem and figure out a solution that involves making consumers happier, you’re unstoppable.”
And so, in 2011, and nearing 60, he launched Impossible Foods. First, he needed investors. “My actual pitch, if you showed it to a business school class, would’ve had people rolling in the aisles because it was so amateurish,” he admits. But he could tell potential investors, with complete conviction: What I am proposing is going to make you even more obscenely rich than you already are. “I didn’t say it in quite those words,” he notes, “but I knew that this was something that was going to be incredibly successful. And that worked.”
Oh, yeah. Starting with a $9 million round in 2011, Impossible has raised nearly $750 million, including $300 million in May. It is now valued at more than $2 billion.
To say Pat Brown is unconventional is to say that cows moo. But it’s important to celebrate him, because, though few of us are as smart, many of us are possessed of the same inspiration. We just lack the conviction that we’re the entrepreneurial type. Yet many of the best founders don’t have an MBA–what they have is a sense of opportunity, a hunch that they’re on to something the rest of the world hasn’t quite spotted. Something they can’t let pass by. I was inspired by Pat to take my own leap away from a secure job and hatch my own startup.
Part of his success is that he’s honest about his capabilities. He has hired well, including a terrific operations team and an ace CFO whom he calls an “investor whisperer.” How did he know he could survive moving from scientist to CEO? He figured that, given the scope of the meat problem (massive and global), few people would actually go about trying to solve it.
He’s not a guy who places limits on himself, and that’s his message. “There’s a big phenomenon of people self-censoring, worrying about the imposter syndrome,” Brown says. “They say, ‘Someone has to do this, but I’m not the guy,’ or, ‘I’m not qualified.’ People limit their own opportunities.”
He pauses to take a big bite of burger. “There’s no road map for what we’re doing,” he continues. “But someone has to solve this problem.” He figures it might as well be him.
Impossible Foods looks to expand as the demand for meat alternatives continues to grow. The company is a leader in the food-tech industry producing plant-based foods that look at taste like meat. David Lee, CFO of Impossible Foods, joined CBSN to talk about the company and the emergence of the meatless market. Subscribe to the CBS News Channel HERE: http://youtube.com/cbsnews Watch CBSN live HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1PlLpZ7 Follow CBS News on Instagram HERE: https://www.instagram.com/cbsnews/ Like CBS News on Facebook HERE: http://facebook.com/cbsnews Follow CBS News on Twitter HERE: http://twitter.com/cbsnews Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream CBSN and local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites like Star Trek Discovery anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B — CBSN is the first digital streaming news network that will allow Internet-connected consumers to watch live, anchored news coverage on their connected TV and other devices. At launch, the network is available 24/7 and makes all of the resources of CBS News available directly on digital platforms with live, anchored coverage 15 hours each weekday. CBSN. Always On
If you’re interested in the impossible, let’s just say that it’s been an interesting week. First there was bad news at Burger King. Then, there was almost no news at all at McDonald’s.
But now, Subway might have the most important news of all.
First, you might know, thanks to reporting by my colleague Chris Matysczyk, about the surprising thing Burger King admitted this week — namely that it’s preparing its plant-based Whoppers “in the same broiler used for beef and chicken.”
Let’s just say hardcore no-meat-eaters aren’t exactly thrilled about that.
Meanwhile, there was just the faintest hint that McDonald’s might be getting on the meat-less meat bandwagon in the United States.
As my colleague Peter Economy reported, Impossible Foods is reportedly teaming up with a food supplier that works with McDonald’s — suggesting there might some kind of meatless meat coming to McDonald’s at some point in the future.
But now, like a dark horse contender (sorry, horrible analogy), Subway has raced to the front of the pack.
Starting next month, the world’s largest restaurant chain says it will be offering a meatless meatball sub, after teaming up with plant-based meat substitute company Beyond Meat.
I don’t know which will be more surprising to people: the idea of a meatless meatball sub, or the simple fact that Subway is so much bigger than McDonald’s.
Let’s take the second point first: The tale of the tape right now worldwide, or at least as of 2018, which is the most recent year available:
42,431 Subway stores;
37,855 McDonald’s restaurants; and
13,000 Burger King restaurants.
It’s fascinating. If Subway were a TV show, it would be NCIS: extremely successful, even though it’s not exactly socially popular. It reminds me of how people failed to predict the electoral victory of President Trump.
But it’s also why, while the meatless meatball sub is just a test for now in about 685 of these Subway restaurants, Subway’s much larger size means it has a better chance of catching on more quickly than its smaller competitors.
I have no dog at all in the fight over meatless meat (sorry, another bad analogy). But I mean that I like to eat meat, but I also enjoy really vegetarian options.
Personally, I just don’t see the need to create a plant-based meat substitute designed to fool people into thinking they’re actually eating meat.
Even in places like Sweden, they apparently find that weird.
But if you’re betting on whether companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat really have a long-term future, for now at least, I wouldn’t be watching McDonald’s or Burger King. I’d watch how the meatless meatball sub does at Subway.