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From the editor: Back to business

From the editor: Back to business

Industry sales trends are weak, and it may not be a blip

The first week of September often means the same thing to many people — back to business.

Summer vacations end, school starts, meeting invites for strategy sessions flood your inbox and work travel gets booked through winter. It’s a time when we all sharpen our pencils. Considering what the restaurant industry is facing right now, it may be best to not only sharpen that pencil, but also to sit up straight.

Industry sales trends are weak, and it may not be a blip. Casual dining in particular is struggling, and many brands may be running out of tricks to turn traffic back to positive territory. And we see restaurant closures and bankruptcies returning to levels seen in previous choppy economic times.

Are we in a restaurant recession? 

Some on Wall Street say yes, while others say it may be too soon to call it just yet. 

But maybe it doesn’t matter. Downturns — whether a blip or long-term — should never be wasted. The best brands will use periods like this to reassess and sharpen their value propositions to customers, stakeholders and employees. 

In this issue alone, we hear from Red Robin, Winsgtop, The Habit Burger Grill and ‘Wichcraft, among others, each of which are fighting the downturn with new energy and strategies around menu, marketing and technology. 

And while NRN provides the most competitive intelligence on ways to drive business forward, learning is sometimes best done in person. MUFSO 2016 is just around the corner, Oct. 23-25, in Dallas. If it’s not already, it should be on your calendar. 

We learn at MUFSO. Industry leaders share best practices and discuss trouble spots and trends. Experts offer new ways to think about consumers, branding and employee engagement. Breakout sessions covers menu, operations, technology, marketing and finance. And this year’s lineup of keynote speakers includes former Yum! Brands CEO David Novak, chef Roy Choi and best-selling author Charles Duhigg. 

MUFSO is a can’t-miss master class on business leadership, and I sincerely hope to see you there. Visit to register. School is in session. 

Sarah E. Lockyer, Editor-in-Chief
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @slockyerNRN

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