Six Big Foodservice Headlines

What are the biggest December headlines from Starbucks, McDonald’s and other restaurant leaders

Delivery, convenience, customization and kids’ meals are among the headlines percolating this month in the restaurant sector. How can convenience stores react? Keep technology at the forefront of all planning. And moms. And probably coffee, too.

1. The Uberization of, well, Uber

Uber is growing its food-delivery service with a stand-alone app and extended hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The expanded UberEATS is rolling out first in Toronto, although the company has also extended into the dinner day-part in Chicago and Los Angeles. Currently, lunch delivery “in as little as 10 minutes” is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

2. Deskside lattes

In more delivery news, Starbucks has expanded its delivery pilot to its hometown of Seattle. It has partnered with third-party service Postmates to execute delivery; customers can order food and drinks via the Starbucks app’s Mobile Order & Pay service. The service, which launched earlier this fall, sees 5 million transactions a month, according to Restaurant Business.

3. The big chains downplay soda

Applebee’s and IHOP announced plans to remove soda as a drink option on kids’ menus. Parent company DineEquity Inc. joins a host of other restaurant brands that have made the move, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Dairy Queen. “While soft drinks are still available by request, we believe this is a small step in assisting parents when dining out, as parents are in the best position to determine the appropriate food and beverage choices for their children,” a spokesperson for DineEquity told WTSP in Florida.

4. Please the parents to please the kids

Speaking of kids, fast-casual chain Which Wich has upgraded its children’s menu with feedback from moms from across the country. The new menu includes Peanut Butter & Jelly, Super Awesome Grilled Cheese (available with multiple varieties of cheese), Cheese Pizzawich and Kidswich. Aimed at smaller children, Rollups are a meat and cheese offering without bread. The meals come in a Bento Box with lid, novelty straw, sticker sheet and token for a handful of M&M’s.

5. Can customization work at the Golden Arches?

McDonald’s is bringing its new customizable sandwich menu and table service to more than 600 restaurants in the Southern California region, according to the OC Register. Coined Taste Crafted, the menu allows customers to choose from multiple bun and topping options as well as a beef patty, fried chicken or grilled chicken. It resembles a scaled-down version of the Create-Your-Taste menu the chain offers in select cities. Prices for the customizable sandwiches range from $4.59 to $5.19.

6. McDonald’s takes on Starbucks

Meanwhile, across the Canadian border, McDonald’s has opened North America’s first standalone McCafe. The venture is seen there as a defense against Starbucks and Canadian QSR leader Tim Hortons, according to Restaurant Business. The stores’ footprint is about one-quarter the size of a traditional McDonald’s, and they feature a handful of menu items exclusive to the concept including a grilled cheese sandwich and a hummus, sweet potato and lentil wrap. Many of the items are offered grab-and-go vs. made to order, payable by a self-service checkout counter.