Pizza chains try to outdo each with flavored pizza crusts and burgers could be in for a similar competition, this one involving flavored burger buns.
Wayback Burgers’ latest LTO (available through year-end) is the Crispy Chicken Sriracha Sandwich that boasts chicken tenders topped with a creamy Sriracha sauce, sriracha grilled onions, pepper-Jack cheese, lettuce and tomato. Fire Fries dusted with sriracha seasoning accompany. But the notable difference is the burger bun, which the chain says has been infused with sriracha.
In a statement announcing the launch, Wayback Burgers President John Eucalitto said, “Our research has shown that America’s palate is hungry for hot sauce and spicier foods. As we are always looking to add another dimension to our extensive menu boards, we decided to turn up the heat in a creative way with the first-ever sriracha-infused bun. We hope our guests are as fired up about these tasty additions as we are.”
It’s likely the first Sriracha-infused bun but it arrives shortly after Burger King’s A.1. Halloween Whopper with a black bun infused with A.1. Sauce. The question to be answered in the coming months is whether burger chains (and suppliers) will be able to resist the temptation to turn other sauces into bun flavorings. Who will have the first ranch-flavored bun? Ready? Go.
What’s suffering the most from the explosive growth of upscale burger bars and fast-casual restaurants? Neighborhood bars. Nielsen says they are “disappearing at a blinding rate across the U.S.” thanks to an influx of restaurants with liquor licenses.
One of every six neighborhood watering holes closed during the 10 years ended 2014, and 2014 was the worst year with more than six bars closing each day, says Nielsen. New bars are opening, of course; 334 per month, in fact. But closings are much more numerous: 609 a month.
Where do neighborhood bars have the lowest compound annual growth rate over the past five years? Kansas is at the bottom, followed in ascending order by Arkansas, Michigan, Virginia and Indiana.
Danny Meyer intends to eliminate tipping at his Union Square Hospitality Group’s upscale restaurants by the end of next year. The Modern restaurant in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art will be the first to go tipless, followed by Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard and others. Menus will explain that prices include “hospitality”; checks will not have space to write in a tip.
“The gap between what the kitchen and dining room workers make has grown by leaps and bounds,” Meyer told the New York Times. He added that over his 30-year career “kitchen income has gone up no more than 25%. Meanwhile dining room pay has gone up 200%.” The goal is to raise pay for kitchen staff while maintaining servers’ take-home pay level. New York State is moving to a $15 minimum wage.
About five years ago, Burger King unveiled a sophisticated interior design package it called Burger King Garden Grill. It wasn’t an idea that spread, but now Britain’s Burger Lad reports that Burger King has a new interior prototype under that name in the UK.
According to a release obtained by the site, the 20/20 Garden Grill look is defined by its use of materials such copper, brick, reclaimed wood and bamboo to create “an authentic, warm and bold aesthetic.” An open-truss ceiling and wood trellis aim to create an “outdoor BBQ atmosphere.”
Seating options include booths, community tables and “banquet-style dining,” which I’m not sure I understand.
McDonald’s dipped its toe in the water this past summer with a limited market test (Michigan and Indiana) of a BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich (below). Now it’s taking the item into one of the centers of the barbecue culture, Kansas City. They know their barbecue there. If McDonald’s version can compete, it’s likely a keeper.