2019 Top 100 Retailers Power Players: Restaurants

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Chain restaurants have been running in place the last few years, showing year-over-year sales gains that are flatlining, according to industry watcher Technomic. Operators are scrambling to distinguish themselves from the competition. Restaurant Brands’ Burger King began testing the Impossible Whopper earlier this year, featuring a plant-based patty made with wheat and potato proteins by Impossible Foods.

Burger King isn’t aiming at a vegan clientele with its new sandwich, says CMO Fernando Machado, rather meat eaters who want an option to the usual beef. In addition to the 59-store pilot project introducing the Impossible Whopper in the greater St. Louis area, Machado conducted taste tests at corporate headquarters.

“People on my team who know the Whopper inside and out, they try it and then struggle to differentiate which is which,” he says. The tests were so successful, Burger King will roll out the Impossible burger chainwide by the end of the year.

Dunkin’ Brands is doing more than dropping donuts from its flagship’s name; it’s also closing stripped-down units that “don’t provide the full Dunkin’ experience,” says Dunkin’ Brands CEO Dave Hoffman.

At the intersection of fast food and regulation, McDonald’s this spring said it would no longer fight proposals for a $15 hourly minimum wage. In another development affecting fast-food restaurants, the Trump administration has taken steps to move away from Obama administration rules that said franchisors like McDonald’s could be considered “joint employers” with their franchisees and therefore responsible for issues like compliance with local minimum wage laws or other labor disputes.

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