When Sutas Pipatjarasgit came to the United States from Thailand in 1968, he had a lot more than the few hundred dollars in his pocket. He had an entrepreneurial spirit that eventually led him to found Toledo-based Magic Wok, a family owned chain of Asian-style restaurants that now has eight locations in Ohio, three in Michigan and three in Bahrain. In addition to Magic Wok, the family owns two Tropical Grill & Juice-branded locations, one in Ohio and one in Michigan.
There are a lot of trendy restaurants out there, places that reinvent themselves regularly in order to remain relevant in a competitive hospitality landscape. Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Fla., on the other hand, has taken the exact opposite approach, and it has paid off.
Healthy eating and sustainability are two of the biggest trends in foodservice right now, and practically every company in the industry is reacting to it in one way or another. For most, this means some revamps to their menu or an increase in the amount of organic or locally-sourced ingredients they use. For Hyatt, however, the world-leading hotel chain has fully embraced these principles with a top-to-bottom operating philosophy that has been two years in the making. Vice President of Food and Beverage Susan Santiago says this is far from a reaction to market trends – it’s a global initiative that represents how the company’s foodservice operations will think in the future.
Elevation Burger founder Hans Hess had a real beef with the fast food industry back in 1999. After moving from California, Hess says that the market didn’t have a whole lot of fast and healthful options. “I just wanted something I could feel comfortable feeding to my kids,” Hess says. “I couldn’t find an all-American meal in a health-friendly format.”
Nobody goes on a cruise to lose weight, and when they are onboard a Celebrity Cruises ship, they expect a high quality of cuisine. Delivering that is the team of Scott Steenrod, vice president of food and beverage. But besides quality, providing quantity is a challenge his team meets daily. Steenrod estimates his employees feed a total of 22,000 guests on one of 10 (soon to be 11) cruise ships three meals plus plenty of morning, afternoon and evening between-meal cuisine and snacks daily.
The keys to successful franchising are easy enough to understand. It takes a strong brand backed by a knowledgeable corporate team coupled with franchisees boasting keen business sense to make the model work. On paper, the plan seems simple, but the execution is far more difficult. For example, a Quiznos master franchisee with 22 units sued its parent company in October 2010 over breach of contract.
Despite the difficult economy, one of the fastest-growing quick-service master franchise developers in Latin America and the Caribbean has no intention to slow down in 2012. Costa Rica-based QSR International’s plans for the year include opening at least 30 new restaurant units, opening three new countries for Quiznos and seeking additional franchise partners for new countries.
It would be difficult to find an entrepreneur with a better sense of Caribbean consumers’ fast-food demands than Mario Sabga-Aboud. The chairman of Pizza Boys Group of Companies can be described as a master in the industry on all aspects of cuisine from burgers and donuts to Chinese and coffee houses. He has made his fortune by bringing the next big fast-food fads to Trinidad and wherever else the demand can be found throughout the rest of the Caribbean.