Emerging Brand Series: McAlister's Deli Looks to the Future with Joe Guith

On this episode, seasoned food industry leader, Joe Guith, President of McAlister’s Deli®, shares with Foodable insightful information about the future outlook of the brand.

Within the course of the next year McAlister’s Deli plans to continue to elevate its menu to offer more premium items.

“We know that our guests want more from us and we can offer more and so you can expect to see that start in our soup lineup and more to salads, sides and even more spuds and sandwiches from a premium standpoint,” said Guith.

Be sure to download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to see Foodable Lab's full list of emerging brands.

McAlister’s Reveals Consumers Rather Give up Chocolate than Sweet Tea in New Survey

McAlister’s Reveals Consumers Rather Give up Chocolate than Sweet Tea in New Survey

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The fast casual chain, known for its popular sweet tea product revealed some interesting consumer insights from a recent survey the brand conducted.

1000+ participated in the survey. 57% of the respondents said they would rather give up the fan-favorite treat, chocolate than sweet tea.

Some of the other survey findings include–

  • 69% of respondents said a glass of sweet tea is better than a good afternoon nap.
  • Even though coffee is still the most popular specialty beverage, 43% of the those surveyed would trade a cup of coffee for sweet tea.
  • 57% prefer to have lemon with their sweet tea.
  • 48% would drive at least three miles out of their way to get some sweet tea.
  • 93% believe sweet tea can be enjoyed all year round.
  • 34% of those in the Southeast enjoy a glass of sweet tea a day, 33% do so in the Southwest, 28% in the Northeast and 22% of Westerners are daily sweet tea drinkers.
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Rick Altizer Joins Executive Management Team of McAlister’s Deli as President

Rick Altizer Joins Executive Management Team of McAlister’s Deli as President

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

FOCUS Brands, the group behind Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky's, Moe's Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne's and McAlister's Deli has named Rick Altizer as the new president of their sandwich fast casual chain, McAlister’s Deli.

The former president of McAlister’s Deli, Carin Stutz recently moved to Red Robin, leaving the fast casual brand on the look-out for a worthy replacement. And it’s safe to say that she left Altizer some big shoes to fill. 

Background on the Industry Leader

Altizer joins the fast casual brand’s executive team from Rightwell Growth, a consultant group that helps early-stage companies achieve growth. But, he started his career in foodservice in 1989 with McDonald’s Corporation, where he worked his way up in different positions including roles in accounting, operations and store management. He rounded out his tenure at the fast food company as the VP and General Manager of 500 store locations across Missouri and Kansas. 

He eventually moved to Midas International as the VP of Operations and then to be the President of Jiffy Lube International. Later as the Fuel Marketing VP with Shell Oil in Houston, TX, where he led a team to create and market a loyalty program for over 14,000 Shell gas stations and convenience stores. 

He returned to the restaurant industry when he became the CEO at Elevation Burger, the largest and first grass-fed organic hamburger business, where he grew the restaurant’s franchise program and achieve double-digit growth in the burger chain’s total sales.

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Industry Leaders on the Move: Carin Stutz Will be the Executive Vice President and COO at Red Robin

Caring Stutz on an episode of Fast Casual Trends TV |  Foodable WebTV Network

Caring Stutz on an episode of Fast Casual Trends TV | Foodable WebTV Network

Carin Stutz, the former president of McAlister’s Deli, is transitioning from a fast casual chain to the casual dining chain Red Robin.

From sandwich shop to gourmet burgers, she has been appointed the Executive Vice President and COO on Red Robin, where she will be leading the restaurant management teams of more than 440 company-owned store locations in both the US and Canada.

She didn’t exactly venture away from the fast casual segment altogether though. The chain also has a fast casual concept, known as Red Robin Burger Works. This is where foodies can "Get Their Quick Fix of YUMMM®." So far there are 12 locations in the nation, including a new Chicago store that just opened this week.

Although, Carin Stutz fast casual background will be relevant to her new role, she is also no amateur to the casual dining market. She has previously served in operations leadership roles for major brands including Chili’s and Applebee’s.

“Carin is a proven leader in driving operational excellence, business results and profitability in the highly competitive fast casual and casual dining industry,” said Denny Marie Post, president of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers in a recent press release. “We are excited to have Carin on our Red Robin team, where her extensive restaurant and new concept development experience, combined with her leadership talents, will be essential as we continue building an organization focused on engaging our restaurant teams, creating memorable guest experiences and driving superior results.”

Red Robin's New Focus on its Bar Program

Red Robin was founded in 1969, but has gone through a recent re-branding to stay competitive in today’s market. Its latest focus has been on its bar menu. Now known as Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, the bar-recapture program has been in the works since 2011. This wasn’t an easy feat, considering the chain was seen as a family eatery in the 2000s.

New Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brew |  Redrobin.com

New Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brew | Redrobin.com

Interestingly enough, the brand was originally known for its mixology and beer. The original Red (the brand’s mascot) was even holding a beer. But over time, the brand transformed into a more conservative, family-focused restaurant.

After experiencing low bar sales, accounting for only 6% of the entire business, the brand decided to do a redesign of its stores. The remodel included constructing three distinctive areas, one for family dining, one for 21+ and one area open for all.

In as early as 2012, the brand started the major remodel project on 21 of the stores and by the end of this year, the “Take Back the Bar” program will be almost complete in all stores. Since the brand transformation, the bar sales have increased significantly, draft beer and margaritas are there best-selling alcoholic beverages.

It will be interesting to see how Stutz brings fresh ideas to the casual dining chain.

Even though she has had a busy career as a restaurant leader, she still makes time to share her industry knowledge. She currently serves as one of the board of directors on the Woman’s Foodservice Forum and was also a moderator for The Tipping Point panel at the event that kicked off the NRA Show this past weekend, foodable.io.