America’s First Vegetarian Fast Food Restaurant Could Be Coming to a City Near You

A photo of the outside of Amy's Drive Thru, a fast food restaurant that serves vegetarian and gluten-free meals.

Amy’s Drive Thru, a fast food restaurant that serves vegetarian and gluten-free meals.
Photo courtesy of Tony Webster at Flickr Creative Commons.

Two years ago, vegetarian fast food restaurant Amy’s Drive Thru opened in Rohnert Park, CA. Since its inception, business has been booming. In fact, the restaurant is doing so well that the company recently announced plans to open more eateries across the U.S.

If the name “Amy’s” sounds familiar, that’s because there’s a good chance you’ve seen their food in the frozen isle of your local supermarket. The brand has been in business for over 27 years and specializes in providing convenient, pre-made, organic vegetarian meals. Stick it in the microwave for a couple minutes and you’ve got a wholesome dinner made with natural ingredients.

As the company grew in popularity, loyal customers began requesting dairy-free and gluten-free options. Today, you can find a variety of heat-and-serve Amy’s meals for nearly every diet imaginable. There’s even vegan and kosher options.

If the company’s steady growth shows anything, it’s that there’s a demand for healthy fast food, whether that be frozen or freshly made. Most everyone wants to eat healthy, but most don’t have the time to eat healthy.

And that’s the brilliance behind Amy’s business model. The company meets this demand by providing easy-to-make meals that feature high quality ingredients.

So if the thought of a healthy fast food chain with vegetarian and gluten-free options excites you, that’s great. But don’t get too excited, as it’s going to be a while before the new Amy’s Drive Thru locations are in operation.

Fast Company reports that the newest location in Corte Madera, CA isn’t slated to open until 2018. Also of note: Amy’s is eyeing five more locations in Northern California.

Unfortunately, the company hasn’t announced any locations outside the state of California as of yet. However, director of operations Paul Schiefer told Fast Company that Amy’s does intend to expand across the U.S., there’s just no word yet on when that will be happening.

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McDonald’s to Use Snapchat for Summer Jobs

A McDonald's sign.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart at Flickr Creative Commons.

Many teens turn to the fast food industry when it’s time for their first summer job, and McDonald’s has found a way to reach this new crop of potential employees.

This week McDonald’s will be releasing a series of 10-second ads on Snapchat, aimed at teens who are looking for summer work. These ads will feature current employees talking about why they love their jobs, with the hope of enticing viewers to become its new batch of hirees. Jez Langhorn, a McDonald’s human resources executive, believes this is the best way to reach their target audience.

“As we see the younger generations seeking out their first jobs, we want to make them aware of the great opportunities available at McDonald’s,” Langhorn said in a statement.

McDonald’s plans on hiring 250,000 seasonal employees for jobs starting this month and ending in August–just in time for the new school year.

Clever advertising and intelligent marketing are just two of the reasons McDonald’s is one of the most ubiquitous companies in the world. It’s no surprise that McDonald’s is using the most popular social media platform with teens to engage them, especially one that comes with a catchy name: Snaplications.

“We thought Snaplications was a great way to allow us to meet job seekers where they are—their phones,” said Langhorn.

While some may say kids would have McDonald’s in their mind anyway, it’s still a very smart way of interacting with today’s teens and young adults. It’s also not entirely new.

McDonald’s began using Snapchat in Australia earlier this year (with positive results), and in keeping up with the online/social stratosphere, it’s looking to engage jobseekers on both Hulu and Spotify.

Job seekers are encouraged to find out more by going to McDonald’s website (via the Snaplication, of course) or any local restaurant.

Burger King Buys Popeyes Chicken

A photo of the outside of a Popeyes Restaurant.

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Restaurant Brands International, the company that owns Burger King, will be buying Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion. Popeyes is known for its Cajun cuisine and extremely popular fried chicken which can be found in its 2,600 restaurants worldwide.

Daniel Schwartz, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, is excited about the new venture.

“RBI is adding a brand that has a distinctive position within a compelling segment and strong U.S. and international prospects for growth,” he said in a statement. “As Popeyes becomes part of the RBI family we believe we can deliver growth and opportunities for all of our stakeholders including our valued employees and franchisees. We look forward to taking an already very strong brand and accelerating its pace of growth and opening new restaurants in the U.S. and around the world.”

Restaurant Brands International is already doing well in the fast food market due to Burger King’s rising sales, but this Popeyes purchase can make it a formidable opponent in the fried chicken arena, where KFC is still king. Wall Street seems to think it has a chance. As of Tuesday morning, the company’s value rose 19% (up from Friday’s closing numbers), bringing Popeyes’ stock up to $79 per share.

Popeyes was founded in the early 1970s in New Orleans, and has since become a staple for chicken lovers in more than 25 countries. Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes, is just as excited as Schwartz when it comes to the RBI/Popeyes partnership.

“As Popeyes enters its 45th year,” she said, “it’s success reflects the amazing brand entrusted to us by founder Al Copeland, Sr. and the unique high trust partnership that we enjoy with our franchise owners. RBI has observed our success and seen the opportunity for exceptional future unit growth in the U.S. and around the world.

Restaurant Brands International also owns Tim Horton’s, the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain.

Organic Fast Food Chain Scores Big Investment

organic food

Two former Costco execs are attempting a very different model of fast food restaurant. Called The Organic Coup, they only have one option so far, which is fried chicken that comes with popcorn. That chicken is certified organic and fried in coconut oil, and the organic popcorn is covered in caramel and drizzled with chocolate. That’s it. There are a variety of sauces to choose, and you can go with a bun, a wrap, or a bowl for the chicken, which costs $9.99. that’s kind of pricey for fast food, but compared to the $4 chicken sandwiches at most other fast food chains, the owners are expecting that people will pay for the quality difference.

And they seem to be, which is good considering they’re also paying their employees much more than the average fast food worker gets, between $14 and $16 an hour. They’re building on the Costco model of paying a living wage and being as efficient as possible. And, they just landed $7 million in financing which will allow them to open two dozen more locations next year.

Neither of the founders, Erica Welton or Dennis Hoover, have restaurant experience, but they’re both Costco veterans, which explains their business model. Welton was a food buyer for the bulk chain, and Hoover ran 53 of the companies warehouses, and helped turn Costco into the largest organic food seller in the world.

That experience seems to be paying off. The Organic Coup is the first fast-food chain in the country to be USDA-certified organic, which is sure to raise some eyebrows among potential customers who are concerned about where their food is sourced. The two sores so far are in San Francisco and Pleasanton, California, so the former at least has some pretty steep overhead. Things seem to be going well though, and depending on when and where they open their other locations, we should expect to hear good things about the company.

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