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From emerging concepts to watch like Zoës Kitchen to the largest restaurant company in the world, McDonald's, leadership is always the driving force behind successful brands. Nation's Restaurant News points to 10 restaurant executives to watch in 2013 from brands such as Popeyes, California Pizza Kitchen, Sbarro and more.
The year ahead promises to be a difficult one, as operating costs continue to rise — think health care, commodities, labor, taxes — and consumer spending habits still remain unclear, with spending increases one month and cutbacks the next.
Restaurant securities analyst Bob Derrington, a managing director at Northcoast Research, may have summed up the pending hurdles of 2013 best, or at least most colorfully, evoking the best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey.
“Fears of pain and anguish. Handcuffs. Shackles. Bondage. While those terms may closely describe the action in one of the hottest reads in suburbia … it also describes the views of an increasing number of restaurant industry operators who face, potentially, a more daunting future entering the 2013 New Year,” Derrington wrote in a research note last month.
“From our view,” he continued, “2013 appears to be shaping up to be one of the industry’s more challenging years since we aligned ourselves with it over 30 years ago.”
Not all hope is lost, however. Dining out, carrying out or driving thru has become such a part of American life that there will always be pockets of opportunity for the savvy restaurant operator. In all challenging times there are people, businesses and brands that persevere and even inspire. In the restaurant industry there are many of them, as both upstarts and veterans alike learn to capitalize on new trends — ethnic flavors, millennial dining habits, digital ordering, social media marketing — to drive consumer brand loyalty and spending.
Leadership is always the driving force behind successful brands, and Nation’s Restaurant News has selected 10 executives to watch as 2013 unfolds.