This Week on the Street: March 26, 2012

by Harold Shumacher

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The Peach State is well represented among the nominees for the 2012 The James Beard Foundation Awards 2012.

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Best Chef, Southeast

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Outstanding Restaurateur

Outstanding Bar Program

  • Holeman and Finch Public House
  • The Porter Beer Bar

Outstanding Wine Program

  • Five and Ten

The winners will be announced in May at an event in New York. Click here to download the full list of this year’s nominees.

Established in 1990, the coveted James Beard Foundation Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and continue to emphasize the foundation’s mission to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity.

Chicago, March 19, 2012, Business Wire –The 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains registered a 3.4 percent annual sales increase in 2011, a sharp improvement over 1.8 percent the prior year. According to data released today by Technomic Inc. in its annual reporting on the top U.S. restaurant chains the foodservice consultancy found that U.S. systemwide sales for the Top 500 chains grew to an estimated $242 billion in 2011, up more than $8 billion over 2010.

“It is certainly encouraging to see overall industry growth rates nearly double in one year,” said Ron Paul, President of Technomic. “On a chain-by-chain basis, however, performance varied substantially, reflecting the fact that many organizations are still redefining their value propositions for today’s economy and tackling various industry challenges.”

Among limited-service restaurants, growth came from the coffee and tea, other sandwich and Mexican categories with Starbucks, Subway and Chipotle Mexican Grill posting 2011 estimated sales growth of 7.5, 7.5 and 23.4 percent, respectively. McDonald’s, the largest U.S. restaurant chain, boosted sales 5.5 percent in 2011, with total annual sales of $34.2 billion. Subway continues as the second largest restaurant chain in the U.S., followed by Starbucks, Wendy’s and Burger King.

As a whole, limited-service restaurants saw a sales bump of 3.7 percent. Bakery café chains, which grew 7.1 percent, represented another limited-service subsegment with above-average sales growth. Within this group, Panera grew 10.1 percent with 2011 sales of $3.3 billion. Other fast casual chains also contributed to stronger 2011 performance. A standout in the fast casual burger segment was Five Guys Burgers and Fries with sales growth of 32.8 percent.

Full-service restaurants experienced a 2.8 percent sales increase in 2011, following a flat year. The full-service seafood and steak categories showed healthy growth, with increases of 5.2 and 5.1 percent, respectively. Red Lobster, the category leader among seafood restaurants, outperformed the average, with a 6.2 percent sales increase. Among steak chains, LongHorn Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse drove sales with increases of 13.1 and 9.2 percent, respectively.

The Ten Fastest-Growing Chains with Sales Over $200 Million

Ranked by Percentage Increase in Sales in 2011 vs. 2010



U.S. Sales ($MM)

% Sales Change

% Unit Change

1 Five Guys Burgers and Fries $951 32.8% 24.7%
2 Chipotle Mexican Grill 2,261 23.4 13.0
3 Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop* 895 21.8 17.1
4 Yard House 262 21.5 20.7
5 Firehouse Subs 285 21.1 19.0
6 BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse 621 20.9 12.7
7 Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar 2,045 20.1 11.6
8 Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers 206 18.2 24.0
9 Noodles & Company 300 14.9 11.4
10 Wingstop 382 14.7 3.4


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