Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Jimmy John’s franchise fires union workers after sick-day campaign


The owners of 10 Minnesota Jimmy John’s sandwich shops — where a rare unionization vote was narrowly rejected last year – have fired six union organizers.

sickdayposter[1]The terminated workers are members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a formerly high-profile union better known as the Wobblies, and said they were fired after they put up 3,000 posters (shown here) around Minneapolis as part of a campaign to win paid sick days.

Michael Mulligan, president of MikLin Enterprises Inc, which operates the affected Jimmy John’s restaurants, told Reuters that the terminated union workers “crossed well over the line of protected activity” with their latest appeal.

“The posters dishonestly state that Jimmy John’s workers are forced to work while sick and suggest that the health of customers is at risk when eating at our restaurants,” said Mulligan, who characterized the IWW as anti-capitalist, anarchist and socialist.

Root beer, roast beef, fish & chips: Who’s buying?


There’s a new batch of quick-service restaurants on the block – Arby’s, A&W and Long John Silver’s – and according to YouGov BrandIndex, A&W is the most popular of the three.

A&W, founded in 1919 and known for its root beer, had the trio’s highest satisfaction rates, said YouGov BrandIndex, which does daily consumer perception research on brands. 

Jimmy John’s workers in Minneapolis unionize


jimmyjohnsHere’s a Labor Day story for you: Newly unionized workers at nine Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis took to the streets over the weekend to protest minimum-wage pay, inconsistent daily schedules (some as short as one hour), and a lack of sick days.

“We formed a union to fight for change, starting at Jimmy John’s today, and throughout the entire fast food industry tomorrow,” David Boehnke, a union member said.

Is KFC’s Double Down a double whammy?


KFC’s new, artery-choking Double Down sandwich is getting lots of media buzz — but is it helping the brand?

The breadless “sandwich” is just the latest in a long line of decadent dishes from fast-food chains. It features bacon, cheese and “the Colonel’s” special sauce sandwiched between two boneless grilled or fried chicken filets.  It’s a low-carb dream but a healthy eater’s nightmare as it is loaded with calories, salt and fat.

Shift FROM thrift? Are diners trading up?


olivegardenAfter a much heralded “shift to thrift” during what has become the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, diners are now saying they plan to spend less money at cheap fast-food chains and more at some pricier eateries like Darden‘s Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, Chipotle and Maggiano’s Little Italy from Brinker

“Trading up is supported by fewer customers saying they’re ordering less expensive items, skipping beverages and choosing less expensive restaurants,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller wrote in a client note. Miller regularly polls diners about their spending plans. 

On the front lines of the coffee war


mcdonaldsstarbucks2By Laura Isensee

On her way to work in downtown Los Angeles, banker Teresa Roman recently picked up a large iced vanilla coffee. Her cup had no green mermaid, the iconic Starbucks symbol. Instead, it displayed McDonald’s famed golden arches.

Roman switched from Starbucks iced coffee to McDonald’s when the fast-food giant started selling lattes, mochas and cappuccinos as part of its McCafe beverage expansion that launched officially earlier this year.

Chick-fil-A eyes California growth


chickfila_spicysand_medium1Privately held Chick-fil-A has plans to open 50 new free-standing restaurants in California within the next five years — a move that would more than double its presence in the nation’s most populous state.

While most of the company’s 35 California restaurants now are located in suburbs or smaller cities, many of the new outlets are planned for Los Angeles and San Diego.