Restaurants test disinflation, and Federal Reserve observers watch closely (Bloomberg)
Restaurants could see an opportunity for additional price increases as Americans encounter more expensive food at groceries. The cost of eating at home rose 1.7 percent in April from a year ago, the largest increase in almost two years, while consumers paid 2.2 percent more at U.S. eateries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly consumer-price index. “People who have to predict things like inflation or pricing power should be watching this differential very closely,” said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York. That’s because, amid concerns about disinflation, investors and Federal Reserve watchers are looking for signs that companies are able to pass along higher costs to their customers, he said.
Domino’s adds voice-ordering function to smartphone app (Associated Press/Yahoo)
In the escalating arms race among pizza chains to add new interactive features to their ordering apps, Domino’s Pizza has added a voice-ordering platform to its digital tools to deliver a human-like, conversational experience. Through voice commands, users would be able to speak their orders and add items to their carts quickly. Domino’s previously had partnered with the Sync platform on Ford automobiles to allow hands-free in-car ordering earlier this year. The new feature is available on Domino’s iPhone and Android apps, which have been downloaded more than 10 million times, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain said.
Starbucks to subsidize workers' college degrees (Associated Press/ABC)
Starbucks is partnering with Arizona State University to offer online college courses at a steep discount to employees that work at least 20 hours per week.
McDonald’s continues push for gender neutral Happy Meal toys (Forbes)
This Forbes contributor provides an interesting look at customer action, and the subsequent corporate reaction, surrounding gender politics and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Often prompted in store as either a “boy’s toy” or “girl’s toy,” McDonald’s is looking to kick that habit and use gender neutral language when offering its toys. “Credit should be given to [McDonald’s chief diversity officer] Patricia Harris and the other good people at McDonald’s who are going beyond the pretty words of a formal corporate policy to rolling out real in-store change.”
12 burger chains that could go national (Thrillist)
As "better burger" chains continue to proliferate across the country, Thrillist takes a look at a dozen old and new ones that they think have the "it" factor.