QSR Uncut: A Fast-Food Restaurant Podcast from QSR Magazine

QSR Uncut: A Fast-Food Restaurant Podcast from QSR Magazine

QSR Uncut is a podcast from the editors of QSR magazine—the leading publication for foodservice owners and operators—that discusses the current state and future of the fast-food restaurant industry as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Made for restaurant executives, entrepreneurs, consumers, and leaders, each episode candidly answers three questions from readers. We'll also check out the best of fast-food Twitter each week and chat with some of the industry's most insightful leaders.

Episodes

November 22, 2021 44 min

On a special Thanksgiving week episode of QSR uncut, the team chats with Smashburger president Carl Bachmann for an inside look at what’s made the fast casual thrive over the years and during COVID-19, from menu innovation to technology to store design, and more. Also, what Thanksgiving foods are overrated, and what’s the best way to cook a turkey? Let's dive in.

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As restaurants rebound from the pandemic, the opportunity to lean on customer data has never been greater. But how do you listen, and what really matters? Nihal Advani, CEO and founder of QualSights, joins the QSR team to talk about the future of foodservice, and why reviews don't begin and end with Yelp.

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QSR editor Danny Klein catches up with industry innovator and change-marker Alex Canter, the CEO of Nextbite, to chat about all things virtual brands, and why COVID ushered in a digital era for restaurants that's just getting started.

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A&W CEO Kevin Bazner discusses the biggest crisis facing restaurants today—where to find labor and how to keep employees from leaving.  Also, cheese curds, the brand's famous root beer, and how the 102-year-old chain charted one of the most impressive turnarounds in fast-food history.

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OneDine CEO and industry thought leader Rom Krupp joins the QSR magazine team this week to talk all things digital, and how COVID-19 ushered in a decade of innovation in 19 months. From QR codes  to the real dangers of third-party delivery to a rash of IPOs,  we take an unscripted look at the hottest topic in the restaurant industry's evolution today. Plus, Wendy's is roasting McDonald's (again).

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In this week’s episode of QSR Uncut,  QSR magazine editors Danny Klein and Ben Coley are joined by Joseph Szala, managing director of Vigor and author and marketing expert, to talk about everything from virtual restaurants—are there too many?—to brand relevance, marketing to employees amid a labor shortage, the return of the McRib, Golden Corral, Jersey Mike's, and Portillo's, and whether or not tater tots should be conside...

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September 24, 2021 42 min

In the first edition of QSR Uncut, editors Danny Klein and Ben Coley discuss how Chick-fil-A could be the "slowest drive-thru in America," and yet also be the fastest. And Wendy's roasts McDonald's on Twitter yet again. Plus, Chipotle has some wild ideas about how to make ranch dressing.

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Everything restaurants have been forced to go through in the last year has been unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a crisis like no other for restaurants. There hasn’t been a playbook. But there have been some companies that have been better prepared for crises than others.

Just look at Whataburger. This is a company whose restaurants are primarily based in the South, and which has been forced to deal with hurricane and s...

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Chicken-finger brand Raising Cane's lost 30 percent of its sales in the weeks following stay-at-home orders last March, but by the end of 2020, it was clearing its original sales expectations by 10 percent. How did it do it? Drive thrus helped a lot, but the company's culture was mostly to thank.

That culture is something founder Todd Graves has been working on since he opened the first location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, i...

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If you were to point to some of the biggest trends in the pre-pandemic foodservice world, health-oriented concepts would have to be in the top five. Especially in the fast-casual category, there was a lot of momentum for salad and bowl concepts that were geared toward that healthy, active lifestyle. When COVID showed up, though, some wondered if the momentum for that category had hit a wall.

But that’s not really been the case—at l...

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The buy-one-give-one model became popular in the last 10–15 years, with businesses like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker donating a product to those in need for every transaction they made. That’s exactly what Tacos 4 Life is doing with tacos, as founders Austin and Ashton Samuelson committed to donating the funds necessary to purchase one meal to the organization Feed My Starving Children for every taco they sell.

That mission was saili...

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While most quick serves and fast casuals had a huge advantage in quickly recovering from the sales drop of last March, there is a whole subset of fast casuals that, even if they were in tune with digital and off-premises trends, took much longer to recover. Those are the fast casuals in more urban areas or business districts, brands that might have done 80 percent or more of their sales at the lunch daypart and had a massive cateri...

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced restaurants to rethink how they get their food into customers' hands, and technology has allowed them to get really creative with service. That's led to a real opportunity for restaurants of all service models to innovate—which is exactly what McAlister’s Deli is doing.

Prior to the pandemic, McAlister's was doing dine-in, carryout, and third-party delivery model, while also testing curb...

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In the five or six years prior to the pandemic, big-box fast casuals sprung up around the U.S. offering a high-quality experience meant to be enjoyed on-site. These kinds of restaurants were hit particularly hard by COVID-19, as they didn’t have the off-premises mechanisms that helped more traditional fast casuals turn things around last year.

Hopdoddy is one of these so-called fast casual 2.0 brands with big footprints and comfort...

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If you’re a restaurant industry professional, chances are your path to where you are today has included a lot of hustle, a lot of putting your head down and grinding out the job that needs to get done. You probably didn’t have a clearly articulated career ladder to climb or the attention of someone higher up who took you under their wing and taught you how things were supposed to be done.

That’s because this rarely exists in the res...

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For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on life, to reassess what we’re doing and where we're going. That's been very true of restaurant companies, which have taken the opportunity to think more about their operations, their service, their menu, and their plans for the future, and for many, to use that reflection to reimagine their business model.

Smashburger is one of those co...

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COVID-19 is likely to give a jolt to the franchise world. Just like in the Great Recession, there will probably be a surge in people looking for a new career, driving demand for franchises sky high. And many franchisors are able to provide support and resources to their franchisees in times of crisis, making franchises a safer bet for those looking to jump into entrepreneurialism.

Scott Greenberg is a franchising expert and author o...

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Remember the chicken sandwich wars that launched with Popeyes’ new sandwich? Way back in 2019? We all called it a war but really, as with most marketing initiatives, it was mostly just tongue-in-cheek barbs and playful quips that brands slung at each other via social media.

That playfulness disappeared in the early days of the pandemic as restaurant brands scrambled to come across as trustworthy and transparent. And while that play...

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Just a few years ago, food halls were christened as the next big thing in foodservice. Like food trucks, every city had to have one and consumers had to be seen eating at one. Unfortunately for food halls, the COVID-19 pandemic was kind of like the anti-food hall; food halls are all about socialization, which is exactly what we lost with COVID.

Reed Allen Slobusky had opened a food hall, Hall Pass in Salt Lake City, just before COVI...

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COVID-19 has affected limited- and full-service restaurants in totally different ways, with staggering implications for the future of the industry. Nobody knows this quite like Sam Fox. The founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts has developed both casual and fast-casual concepts,  giving him a unique window into how the pandemic has altered service and hospitality for the future.

Fox joins the podcast to discuss his entry into the ghost...

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