Chefs find politics hotter than kitchen (New York Times) 
Chef Sean Brock made the Quotation of the Day in today's New York Times for comments he made in this story about the changing role of restaurateurs as social arbiters. From Chick-fil-A's position on same-sex marriage to Starbucks' stance on gun control, restaurateurs are increasingly finding themselves players in social controversies, whether they want to be or not.

—Bret Thorn

Study: Restaurant loyalty programs lack impact (MediaPost)
A study by Deloitte Travel Hospitality and Leisure found that, despite most major restaurant brands having or developing some sort of loyalty program, foodservice companies must do a better job marketing their loyalty clubs to seize a sizeable opportunity. Of more than 4,000 restaurant consumers surveyed, half said they belong to a restaurant loyalty program, which lagged far behind the number of people who belong to programs for airlines or hotels. Nearly half of those who don’t belong to any restaurant loyalty networks attribute that lack of participation to a lack of information about what is offered.

—Mark Brandau

Starboard Value says proposed Red Lobster separation is wrong (RTT News)
The industry’s largest casual-dining company found itself under activist investor fire again Tuesday when Starboard Value L.P. renewed its call for a special meeting of Darden Restaurants Inc. shareholders, claiming that the company’s plan to spin off its Red Lobster chain was the wrong action to pursue. Starboard, which holds a 5.5-percent stake in Darden, also issued a presentation outlining the potential value of the company’s real estate. In late March, Barington Capital Group L.P., which represents shareholders with a more than 2-percent stake in Darden, called for the ouster of chief executive Clarence Otis Jr.

—Robin Lee Allen

American appetite for pizza cools off (Time)
American pizza consumption, on a tear for the last decade, may have finally peaked. According to Technomic, consumption has likely leveled off after the recession “due to pizza’s ability to satisfy cravings and meet needs for value.” NPD Group restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs notes that traffic at large pizza chains decreased 2 percent last year, and fell 6 percent at smaller regional chains.

—Marcella Veneziale

K-MAC buys 21 Taco Bell restaurants in Oklahoma City market (Arkansas Business)
Taco Bell is riding high lately, so it’s no surprise K-MAC Holdings Corp., one of the brand’s largest franchisees, is upping its holdings. K-MAC acquired 21 more Taco Bell restaurants from Ricksim Inc., another franchisee in Oklahoma City. K-MAC already operated 275 Taco Bell and KFC restaurants, along with six Golden Corral units. Fort Smith, Ark.-based K-MAC is owned by private-equity firm Brentwood Associates.

—Lisa Jennings