QSR Uncut

QSR Uncut

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 shares expert advice from some of the industry's most insightful leaders.

Episodes

June 20, 2024 35 mins

How does a cult-favorite restaurant chain embrace the masses? It’s a multi-tiered strategy from store design to digital campaigns to rethinking every customer touchpoint along the way. Potbelly CMO David Daniels joins QSR Uncut this week to talk about the sandwich legend’s approach to guest engagement and what’s still to come. 

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Lunchbox cofounder and CEO Nabeel Alamgir returns to QSR Uncut to talk about what’s fast become one of the biggest opportunities in the restaurant marketplace. Catering has made a massive comeback out of COVID and is now rife with whitespace. Can tech unlock the potential?

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The Açaí pioneer recently launched into franchising for the first time in 24 years. CEO and cofounder Ryan Black joins QSR editors Danny Klein and Ben Coley to discuss the brand’s journey—it owns 50 percent of the imported Açaí market and has more than 30,000 retail partners stocking the product—and how it’s going to translate that equity and experience into brick-and-mortar development that’s already fast underway.

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No stranger to the restaurant industry, Max Sheets got his start as a teenager scraping cheese off pans in a Pizza Hut kitchen. He later spent more than 20 years in real estate and development for such brands as Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Smashburger, and Ted’s Montana Grill. In fact, he was with Smashburger when the footprint transformed from a handful to hundreds, and was at the f...

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One of the industry’s biggest events is approaching, and we’re offering listeners an exclusive deal to attend. UNCUT25 is what's mentioned in the podcast. And the event site is here: https://www.qsrevolutionconference.com/

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Kristen Hartman, the president of Specialty Brands at GoTo Foods (formerly Focus Brands)—the parent company of Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister's Deli, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s—takes us inside the mashup everybody’s talking about. Is co-branding making a comeback? Should we call it something else? We’ll get into that and a lot more.

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The food-cart-to-global-franchise brand has expansion on the mind once again as it prepares to take its iconic concept to new markets. Meanwhile, CEO Ahmed Abouelenein continues to position the fast casual for the future while paying homage to its past—a balance that’s constantly preparing The Halal Guys for whatever comes next.

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Jason Brooks has spent more than 30 years in the restaurant industry with six of the top 100 brands. He joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to share some of that wisdom and how he coaches leaders to drive culture and manage teams from all levels of the organization. If you want to want to dive in deeper, Jason’s new book is now available here: https://www.jasonebrooks.com/book

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Viral Nation cofounder and CEO Joe Gagliese joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss what’s fast become one of the most successful marketing realms of quick service. McDonald’s Famous Orders. MrBeast Burger. What do these stories have in common? They found a way to tap into the audiences that matter most to today’s consumers.

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Farmer Boys COO and president Joseph Ortiz joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to take us inside a 40-plus-year-old brand that continues to chart its own path, and share what it’s like to run and grow a California-based brand these days. We get into everything from sourcing to menu innovation to how to handle the labor challenge, and much more.

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Diana Geseking, General Counsel at Restaurant Technologies, joins QSR Editorial Director Danny Klein to dive into the ever-evolving topic of sustainability and how operators and partners can work together to make a lasting impact, and improve kitchen operations while they’re at it. This episode was sponsored by Restaurant Technologies

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Taco John’s chief marketing officer Barry Westrum joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss the brand's expansion throughout the Midwest as it continues to surprise with menu innovation (Taco Pizza), a new Drive Thru Olé prototype, and the same commitment to challenging the status quo that’s always been a part of the concept’s DNA.

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March 28, 2024 32 mins

Eric Lam, CEO of Berry AI, joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss one of the most-buzzed about industry topics in recent memory: can you improve the drive-thru with artificial intelligence? But it might just surprise you how that’s possible, and what it means for the evolution of performance and customer experience in fast food's most important channel.

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The inspiration for Sip Fresh began, as the company likes to say, on a balmy evening at a local bar. Could a juice chain mirror the mixology trend that had taken over the beverage scene? Sharon Arthofer, CEO and founder, and 27-year franchise industry veteran, joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to talk about how the brand’s fresh and interactive experience has set it apart in what’s become a $146 billion industry, and why gro...

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Last year, restaurant operators shared their key priorities and initiatives in Qu’s fourth-annual State of Digital report. Now, CMO Jen Kern joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss the findings of the fifth edition, which went even bigger, highlighting the rise of kiosks, “Loyalty 3.0,” and way more as we break down findings from 179 Brands across 62,000 locations. This is a look into the future of foodservice you won’t...

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RSE Ventures founder and “Shark Tank” guest Matt Higgins has created a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio of leading fine-dining and fast-casual concepts, including iconic eateries like NYC’s Magnolia Bakery, David Chang’s Momofuku, Milk Bar, &pizza, and Bluestone Lane. He joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss all of that, plus sharing his philosophy on leadership and achieving your potential, as well as st...

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February 23, 2024 36 mins

Dustin Portillo joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss a journey unlike any other we’ve had here on QSR Uncut. From becoming the third-youngest person in Ringling's 147-year history to being promoted to “Boss Clown” to portraying Ronald McDonald at The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to leading community relations at one of the top McDonald’s franchises in America, Portillo has traveled one of the most unique roads...

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Few restaurant brands, if any, have stayed at the forefront of innovation like Wow Bao, a concept that began as a small Chicago storefront and has now spread to more than 700 “dark kitchens” across the country. Also, Wow Bao recently rolled into thousands of CPG outlets and is plotting a future in web3 that could change the game as we know it. CEO Geoff Alexander joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein to discuss it all, what’s ne...

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Penn Station East Coast Subs chief operating officer Craig Dunaway joins QSR editorial director Danny Klein for a wide-ranging chat on the challenger brand's history and why it's poised for growth. How do you guard a brand's differentiators as you franchise? Where is the sandwich sector headed next? We get into that and a whole lot more.

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Gong cha president Geoff Henry, who assumed the international bubble tea brand's top U.S. role last March, has 20 years of experience as a leader in the quick service and CPG beverage industries. He joins the podcast to discuss the factors driving the growth of the bubble tea industry and how it's capturing the Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha market and helping turn new generations into tea consumers.

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