ICR CONFERENCE – report from last week’s widely attended three day restaurants/retail event in Orlando
There is lots more detail to follow in the next week or so, but it is safe to say that it is still tough out there in restaurant/retail land. Labor costs continue to be a huge issue, food delivery is a major subject and already in a shakeout phase, traffic is flat to down (mostly down) at almost all restaurant chains, especially “dine-in”. Since costs are rising and pricing power is limited, there is no margin relief to come at restaurant chains, unless they are recovering from depressed results, which is in fact the case in a few situations. We will be doing updates on many of the publicly held chains that will provide more details.
On the plus side, it is always interesting to hear from the chains that present on “privately held day”. While many of the publicly held chains are “mature” and coping with the inevitable pressures of maintaining their original “cultures”, it is always exciting to hear about the success at younger companies, still run by their energetic founders. That’s not to say that all the public companies have lost that youthful enthusiasm, but the job has inevitably become more complex and multi-dimensional.
As far as our coverage is concerned:
Among publicly held companies, we expect to do NEW writeups on Noodles, One Hospitality, and Denny’s.
We will do UPDATED writeups on Kura Sushi, Ruth’s Chris, Chuy’s, Del Taco, Red Robin, Pollo Loco, Dave & Buster’s, and Shake Shack.
The section on our website devoted to “Up & Comers” is largely an outgrowth of exposure at ICR and those articles get more readership because we all hear from the public participants every ninety days.
Our previous writeups on &Pizza, Barcelona Wine Bar (which is part of Barteca, now owned by Del Frisco’s), Fitlife Foods, and Fogo de Chao (which was public a couple of years ago) can now be updated.
Private companies we learned more about, in alphabetical order, include: Benihana (used to be public), Black Bear Diner, Bolay, Fogo de Chao (used to be public), Just Salad, Punch Bowl Social (now owned by Cracker Barrel), TGI Friday’s, and we hope to provide writeups on these companies in the near future.