Panera CMO says ad agency didn't fire company (Advertising Age)
Panera Bread Co. chief marketing officer Michael Simon said Thursday that its creative agency Cramer-Krasselt did not quit the marketer, as the agency's leaked internal memo seemed to indicate. "Cramer-Krasselt did not fire us," he said. Rather, he said that the chain had been pushing the agency to bring the advertising to the next level over the last couple months because Panera has been tweaking its marketing strategy due to softening sales.
 
—Ron Ruggless

Are activist-investor buybacks a return to 'greenmail?' (Barron’s)
Restaurant companies including Bob Evans Farms Inc., Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and Darden Restaurants Inc. are seeing their share of activist-investor pressures. Now, a 1980s trend of companies paying investors to go away has returned, observers say. Back then it was called “greenmail.” Today it’s called “greenish mail.”
 
—Ron Ruggless  

Starbucks brews wireless cell phone charging (USA Today)
The coffeehouse operator and Duracell Powermat will partner on a national rollout of wireless phone chargers in Starbucks and Teavana locations.

—Marcella Veneziale

Kentucky restaurant opens with clear-cut no-tipping policy (The Courier Journal)
The Packhouse Meats restaurant opened in Newport, Ky., this January with an all-meatball menu and a no-tipping policy. "No tipping" signs are posted prominently and credit card slips have no line for a tip. Bob Conway, owner of Packhouse, said, "We did it to protect the servers." Conway is the former president of the Bistro Group, which runs local TGI Fridays and McAlister's Deli restaurants. "I've heard the horror stories — $3 left on a $100 tab," he said. "How much a server makes has nothing to do with how hard they work. Servers had quit because they couldn't make ends meet."

—Ron Ruggless

The new face of fine dining (Eater)
As part of the growing trend of making fine-dining experiences both more casual and more unusual, award-winning chef John Shields is planning on throwing casual but elegant dinner parties at Riverstead, a Victorian house in Chilhowie, Va.

—Bret Thorn