Deep Dive

Industry insights from our journalists

  • A photograph of a First Watch restaurant
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    Permission granted by First Watch

    Rise and shine: Why breakfast chains are booming

    Early bird foot traffic from remote and hybrid workers is boosting same-store sales growth at A.M. eateries, fueling sizable expansion pipelines.

    Julie Littman • March 21, 2023
  • Wendy's ghost kitchen
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    Permission granted by Wendy's

    Ghost kitchens need to go omnichannel if they want to survive, experts say

    After a year of dashed expansion plans, closures and high-profile regulatory infractions, segment players may need brand awareness and expanded access points to thrive.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Jan. 31, 2023
  • An image of a woman at open sign.
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    monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images

    While chains seek multi-unit franchisees, small operators have room to grow in 2023

    Franchisees will continue to push franchisors to boost store-level profitability as many brace for high development and operating costs.

    Julie Littman • Jan. 30, 2023
  • A man and woman looking at receipts inside a cafe
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    Ridofranz via Getty Images

    5 trends that will shape the restaurant industry in 2023

    Restaurants will experiment with dynamic menu pricing, cater to diners who are trading down and move away from ghost kitchens as inflation pressures the bottom line, experts predict.

    Emma Liem Beckett, Aneurin Canham-Clyne and Julie Littman • Jan. 5, 2023
  • Two flags flown by fast food workers demonstrating in support of AB 257.
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    Mario Tama via Getty Images

    What’s at stake in the next battle over the FAST Recovery Act

    A look at what California’s fast food council might mean for the restaurant industry if it survives the referendum process.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Dec. 19, 2022
  • Old Spice's deepfake ad starring Dolph Lundgren
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    Retrieved from Old Spice on February 24, 2022

    9 campaigns that boosted the mood in 2022

    Amid economic woes, an ongoing war and a series of controversies, efforts by McDonald’s, Domino’s and Chipotle found a way to cut through the noise. 

    Peter Adams, Jessica Deyo and Sara Karlovitch • Dec. 14, 2022
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    Sean Gallup via Getty Images

    DoorDash’s expansion beyond the US will come with challenges

    As DoorDash grows globally, it could face headwinds entering new markets, including competitive pressures and shifting consumer behavior.

    Julie Littman • Dec. 1, 2022
  • DoorDash and 2,000 grocery partners will waive delivery fees
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    Permission granted by DoorDash

    How new verticals boost DoorDash’s momentum

    The delivery giant’s expansion into convenience, grocery and other retail has helped it reach new customers and increase loyalty on its platforms.

    Julie Littman • Nov. 30, 2022
  • A picture of a woman reviewing delivery orders.
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    Permission granted by DoorDash

    How DoorDash became the dominant US food delivery company

    By focusing on communication with restaurant merchants, the aggregator has built products and features based on operator needs.

    Julie Littman • Nov. 29, 2022
  • An image of a building with Hawaiian Bros branding
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    Permission granted by Hawaiian Bros

    As chains expand drive-thrus, speed of service becomes paramount

    Drive-thru ordering remains in high demand long after dining room lockdowns, and chains are making sure their design and layouts help maximize efficiency. 

    Julie Littman • Nov. 16, 2022
  • A picture of a blue and white building with Dutch Bros branding
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    Permission granted by Dutch Bros

    Drive-thru drag: Construction delays, rising costs slow development

    Inflation and labor disruption are forcing restaurants to get creative with site selection to obtain prime drive-thrus and mobile pickup window real estate.

    Julie Littman • Nov. 15, 2022
  • Unionized Starbucks workers strike
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    Permission granted by Starbucks Workers United

    Union proposals at odds with Starbucks’ contract goals

    The union’s demand for a seat at the decision table would restrict Starbucks' power, experts say, so the company may use its deep pockets to drag out the bargaining process and protect its interests.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Nov. 9, 2022
  • Starbucks Workers United members on strike
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    Permission granted by Starbucks Workers United

    The Starbucks union’s contract fight is a race against time

    Organizers face slowing new election rates, accusations of bad-faith bargaining and an impending loss of decertification protection.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Nov. 8, 2022
  • A picture of one of Reef's mobile kitchens.
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    Courtesy of REEF Technology

    How Reef helps shape city ghost kitchen regulations to accommodate its model

    The ghost kitchen company has devised two paths into new markets: one through city hall, and one through back doors of hotel kitchens.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Aug. 8, 2022
  • Miso Robotics' 2nd iteration of the Flippy robot.
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    Courtesy of Miso Robotics

    6 restaurant tech solutions to combat 2022's challenges

    From QR codes to advanced mobile apps and robots, restaurants are planning to adopt more technology within their operations in the year ahead. 

    Julie Littman • April 20, 2022
  • Image attribution tooltip
    Courtesy of Burger King

    How QSR marketers are riding the plant-based food wave

    Marketing plant-based foods, whether made in-house or with industry partners, comes with its own challenges as chains stay true to their brands.

    Chris Kelly • March 8, 2022
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    LeoPatrizi via Getty Images

    Delivery firms are offering more flexibility to retain partners. Will it work?

    Major aggregators are rolling out white labels, subscription programs and new data tools to keep partner restaurants and delivery customers as more diners order from operators directly. 

    Julie Littman • Jan. 19, 2022
  • DoorDash self-delivery
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    Courtesy of DoorDash

    Can restaurant marketers get digital right while facing panoply of pressures?

    Amid labor, supply chain and inflationary issues, 2022 will be a year of increased pressure to deliver on fronts that span media, ordering and loyalty.

    Chris Kelly • Jan. 18, 2022
  • Backs of bike couriers with Uber Eats bags.
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    Tomohiro Ohsumi / Stringer via Getty Images

    Sustained delivery profitability may hinge on business beyond restaurants

    While eateries remain their core businesses, third-party aggregators are adding new verticals, like retail and grocery, and services to diversify.

    Julie Littman • Jan. 12, 2022
  • The waiter works in a restaurant in a medical mask, gloves during coronavirus pandemic.
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    The image by Vuong Tran is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    7 restaurant trends that will define 2022

    Restaurants will trim their menus, phase out cumbersome curbside pickup channels and invest in automation as operators balance labor pressure with off-premise demand, analysts say. 

    Emma Liem Beckett, Julie Littman and Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Jan. 4, 2022
  • Colin Cochran tells reporters why he thinks Starbucks Workers United will win in Cheektowaga
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    Aneurin E Canham-Clyne/Restaurant Dive

    Behind the scenes of Starbucks workers' first successful union drive

    A Buffalo Starbucks store secured a majority union vote on Dec. 9 after two years of organizing. But union experts don't think the win will be "a wildfire sweeping the American labor market."

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Dec. 16, 2021
  • A man picks up an order from a Reef vessel. Photo by KATELYN PERRY
    Image attribution tooltip
    Courtesy of REEF Technology

    Reef's ghost kitchen expansion mired in permit, health inspection infractions

    In the Sunshine State alone, more than one-third of active Reef mobile kitchen licenses had high-level health and safety infractions, Restaurant Dive found.

    Aneurin Canham-Clyne • Dec. 2, 2021
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    Retrieved from Target on November 23, 2021

    How brands are turning inclusive holiday campaigns into more than 'inspiration porn'

    Starbucks and Target lead the way for marketers trying to authentically embrace diversity and inclusion during a busy yet reflective season.

    Chris Kelly • Nov. 24, 2021
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    Joe Raedle via Getty Images

    Lack of capital, legislative restrictions may impede franchisees in 2022

    Despite these hurdles, there is still runway left for expansion, experts say, and competition for high-quality operators.

    Emma Liem Beckett • Nov. 8, 2021
  • Food at Curry Up Now
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    Permission granted by Curry Up Now

    Why franchisors are targeting Texas and Florida

    A friendly business environment, strong population growth and lax COVID-19 restrictions have made the two states popular for franchise expansion.

    Julie Littman • Nov. 1, 2021