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Disposable Jobs & Unsafe Food?

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Touch the Soil News #750 (feature photo – A Fast Food Employee – CC SA 3.0) As we’ve always said, the food chain is ripe with insights about ourselves and the economy. The restaurant business is considered part of the larger “hospitality” industry that includes lodging and resorts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that annual employee turnover rates in the restaurants and accommodations sector peaked in 2007 at a whopping 80.7 percent. It is hard to imagine the training and learning challenges of an industry in which almost 81 employees out of a 100 at the beginning of the year will leave for a number of reasons. The…

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Contortions in the Food Chain

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Touch the Soil News #709 (feature photo – CC SA 4.0) We’ve been following the restaurant scene as part of our larger food-chain awareness efforts. In an earlier news piece (#632-Restaurants in Trouble) we reported that overall, approximately 93 new restaurants opened every day in America, but 128 restaurants were closed every day. That is a net loss of 35 restaurant locations a day. Technomic, a foodservice research and consulting company, has also been crunching the numbers. According to Technomic, the bottom line is that fewer customers are visiting restaurants less often than they were a few years ago. Technomic is scratching its head – if the economy is improving…

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Restaurants in Trouble?

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Touch the Soil News #558 Casual dining restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and Johnny Carino’s are but two of dozens of chains having to close locations due to faltering traffic. In an earlier News piece, we revealed that on average, 850 new restaurants open every month. On the flip side, some 1,400 restaurants close every month. Recently BMO Capital released a new analytical estimate that the casual dining sector may be over-supplied by some 4,500 locations. Given the rate of restaurant closures, it may not take that long to thin the ranks. Other than a couple of months over the past three years, traffic through casual dining restaurants has been decreasing –…

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Antibiotics in Meat – How Does Your Favorite Restaurant Score?

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Touch the Soil News #496 (feature photo courtesy of Center for Food Safety) Social protest in the food chain is not only growing, but it is becoming organized. Recently, a number of high-profile non-profits joined forces to produce a report card that grades major restaurant chains on efforts to move to antibiotic free meat in their restaurant chains. The cooperating organizations include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust and Keep Antibiotics Working. You can download the full report here: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/4471/chain-reaction-2016-how-top-restaurants-rate-on-reducing-use-of-antibiotics-in-their-meat-supply In a nutshell, here are the grades for America’s 25 largest fast food and fast casual restaurant…

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The Wild Side of Buffalo Wild Wings

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Touch the Soil News #469 (Feature Photo – Jon Ridinger CC 3.0) What does Buffalo Wild Wings (a restaurant chain) have to do with urban farming or raising your own food? On the surface, maybe not much. However, like other larger food-chain enterprises it is an entity engulfed in a financial fever (greed and fear of not achieving stockholder expectations). So far, the lesson has been that greed and fear puts food and employees at risk. For two out of the last three years the company has had 20 percent plus growth in earnings. The year 2015 was almost flat. Now company executives are scrambling to get their earnings back…

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Shake Shack – Can We Keep the Fun Going?

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Touch the Soil News #463 Shake Shack was born as a food cart inside Madison Square Park in 2004. It was born amidst an environment of people having fun. The enterprise specializes in hotdogs, hamburgers, fries and milk shakes. The restaurants grew in popularity and like other fast growing companies – decided to go public in 2014. New restaurant openings were rapid and the company now has 100 locations – small by Wall Street standards. Going public is not necessarily about having fun – it comes with a responsibility to pay dividends and keep stockholders happy. But that is getting difficult to do. Shake Shack earnings have been dropping the…

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Ruby Tuesday Says Goodbye to 95 Restaurants

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Touch the Soil News #460 The food chain is a great place to take the pulse of the economy. Unfortunately, the Ruby Tuesday Restaurant chain of some 724 restaurants is painfully showing a down pulse. The company just announced that it was closing 95 restaurants (13 percent of its locations) as early as next month (September). Talk is that they might close another 5 to 10 more. The reasons given were drops in sales over the past two years. Ruby Tuesday closed 30 of its restaurants in 2014 and another 12 in 2015. All in all from two years ago, Ruby Tuesday may end up closing close to 20 percent…

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Chipotle Mexican Grill – Struggling From Food Poisoning Troubles (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #371 After giving the nation the largest food poisoning outbreak from any single restaurant chain, Chipotle said in a recent press release that their food safety practices were already well within industry norms. What does this say about the industry, health inspections and Chipotle? Despite words and efforts to improve, Chipotle has taken a financial beating. Financial results for the first quarter of 2016 – compared to the first quarter of 2015 were way off. Revenues decreased 23.4 percent and the company experienced a net loss of 26.4 million. How long do you think it will take for customers to regain full confidence in Chipotle? Chipotle’s…

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Rising Consumer Consciousness – We Can Make Changes

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Touch the Soil News #196 At the recent “Women in Agribusiness Summit” in Minneapolis (9/28/2015) a number of women provided insights as to the direction of food and farming. Dr. Elizabeth Sloan (of Sloan Trends, Inc.) said we are in a new age of agriculture (source WattAgNet) . From her presentation, several key points stood out: The marketplace is moving to “fresh” when it comes to food. Chemicals are the No. 1 safety issue for consumers who are also avoiding artificial ingredients and preservatives. Some 29 percent of adults now buy organic foods in order to avoid genetically modified foods. Forty seven percent of supermarket shoppers say they support companies…

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The Nation’s Top 100 Restaurants – Can You Find Your Favorites? (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 138 Here are restaurants #50 to #1. Surprising is the Starbuck’s Coffee is the nation’s #2 restaurant. Restaurants #50 to #26 #50) Steak ‘n Shake                        $952,000,000 #49 Bob Evans                                 $959,900,000 #48 Bojangle’s                                  $1,000,000,000 (one $billion) #47 Culver’s                                       $1,000,000,000 #46 Waffle House                             $1,100,000,000 #45 Ruby Tuesday                            $1,200,000,000 #44 Five Guys Burgers n’ Fries      $1,200,000,000 #43 Wawa                                          $1,200,000,000 #42 Zaxby’s                                       $1,300,000,000 $41 Red Robin                                  $1,400,000,000 #40 Carl’s Jr.                                    $1,500,000,000 #39 LongHorn Steakhouse            $1,500,000,000 #38 Golden Corral Buffet               $1,700,000,000 #37 Jimmy Johns’s                          $1,800,000,000 #36 TGI Fridays                               $1,800,000,000 35 The Cheesecake Factory            $1,800,000,000 #34 Whataburger                             $1,800,000,000 #33 Texas Roadhouse                     $1,900,000,000 #32 Hardee’s                                      $2,100,000,000 #31 7-Eleven stores                           $2,100,000,000 #30 Cracker Barrel Country Store $2,100,000,000 #29 Panda…

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