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McDonald’s: Sonic sees oppurtunity to eat lunch

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Cliff Hudson, Sonic Corp.’s chief executive and president would tell you to see Sonic’s opportunity as against McDonald’s on being asked about his plans to grow the chain.

Hudson said that McDonald’s initiatives (such as revamping its stores, changing the way it prepares food and expanding its Mc Cafes) have run out of steam and the company has yet to produce fresh ideas. It recently reported its U.S. same-store sales have declined for a fourth straight month without elaborating much.

“There’s a bit of opportunity for all of us,” Hudson said recently in an interview. The quick-service restaurant industry “is much squeezed. It’s been a share-stealing game.”

Investors appear to appreciate Sonic’s SONC -2.84% opportunity. Its shares surged 11% to $23.25 on Tuesday to their highest level in six years.

“We continue to recommend Sonic shares as we believe management has successfully created greater visibility and clarity surrounding its growth strategy” and plans to grow per-share profit by up to 20% annually over the long term, said William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia.Mcdonalds Sonic

To combat recession, Sonic began to heavily consider customer feedback, began to improve its food quality(such as using real ice cream instead of reduced fat soft serve in its shakes) It took steps like switching to Ciabatta instead of a wheat bun for its chicken sandwich.

To fight cost inflation, it designed “layered pricing” such as more ice cream cone sizes or a six-inch hot dog besides its foot-long one that gave customers more choices while allowing it to raise prices.

Moreover, the company hired a chef from chocolate maker Godiva to design its menus and offered choices such as 25 summer shake flavors and to appeal to court the health-conscious, it pitches choices that include iced tea and slushies made from real fruit.

This year, Sonic is installing personalized service interactive screens and digital menu boards, known as POPS, at each drive-in check out that allows it to engage shoppers who spend an average of nine to 11 minutes at the drive-through.

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Beyond mommy guilt: Is Canada’s growing meal-kit mania here to stay?

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TORONTO — Celebrities like Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and NSync’s Lance Bass are now in the meal kit business, and for some that’s a sure sign the online subscription-based food startup phenomenon has hit its peak.

A plethora of the new e-commerce meal companies have popped up in Canada and the U.S. in the last couple of years, and subscribers have been joining the services in droves.

While the biggest player in the space, New York-based Blue Apron, does not operate in this country, a number of meal kit services are available locally and nationally for Canadians seeking a quick meal fix: Chef’s Plate, Goodfood, MissFresh, The Jolly Table, Cook It, Kuisto, Fresh City Farms, One Kitchen, Dinnerlicious, Fresh Prep and Germany’s Hello Fresh, to name a few.

There’s even a subscription-based startup for breakfasts, Montreal-based Oatbox, which delivers granolas, ‘overnight’ oats and granola bars to customers.

The convenience factor is undeniable. For about $10 to $13 per meal, customers receive a box of chilled, portioned food and recipes for an easy meal assembly.

The whole industry in the U.S. was founded on mommy guilt

Home chefs are able to cook dishes that evoke an au courant restaurant menu in less than half an hour: lentil mushroom tacos with jicama carrot slaw; mint sumac chicken with sautéed snap peas and carrot, parsnip and cucumber salad; Cajun tilapia over quinoa with a corn and tomato succotash.

But two recent initial public offerings by meal kit companies — including Blue Apron, the biggest player in the United States and Montreal-based Goodfood Market Inc. — ended up looking like a failed soufflé. Skeptics have drawn parallels between the spate of subscription startups and the faddish dot-com failures of the early 2000s.

Indeed, on Friday, Blue Apron announced it is cutting almost a quarter of its staff as it struggles to become a profitable business.

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‘Toronto’ New Restaurant is a Paradise for Bao Lovers

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This cleverly named restaurant makes a dizzying array of bao and banh mi, from pork belly to Japanese fried chicken. There’s also banh mi and a host of Asian-inspired appetizers like Bulgogi Kimchi Fries that’ll have you eating until you’re stuffed.

Read my profile of It’s a Bao Time in the restaurants section.

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‘Toronto’ At This Toronto Cafe you Can PWYC for Coffee

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One of Toronto’s quirkiest cafes has just become a bit more “kooky” in the words of its founder Liz Haines. Formerly called the Intergalactic Travel Authority, the espresso bar was designed to support Story Planet, a charity modelled after Dave Egger’s 826 Valencia, which provides writing and communication workshops for kids from age six to 18.

Operated as a social enterprise, the Intergalactic Space Authority was never about making tons of money, but the cafe was the economic engine that made running Story Planet out of a storefront space possible. Now, just over three years since it opened, the concept has proven insufficient to fund the operation.

Rather than close up shop, Haines has decided to try something unconventional. “While our social enterprise (formerly known as the ITA) has been an amazing community hub, it has not been financially viable. We have let the espresso machine go and are operating it, for the next little while, as a pay-what-you-can, serve-yourself community lounge,” she notes.

Aside from the loss of the espresso machine, the space remains the same as before, and there’s still drip coffee on offer. The space has always been available to rent ($30 an hour), so the new model isn’t radically different than before, but the notion of a PWYC cafe and lounge is intriguing.

“We’ve been surprised by the incredibly warm reception to this slightly kooky idea,” Haines writes in a blog post.

It will, however, need plenty of support to remain viable. Story Planet is trying out the concept for the month of April, after which time it will decide whether to keep the storefront space at 1165 Bloor St. West or close up shop and continue its programming in schools and community centres.

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