How Pei Wei’s Clean-Label Initiative is Pushing Menu Transparency in the Restaurant Industry

Pei Wei first opened their doors in 2000, arising from the culinary experts at P.F. Chang’s. The restaurant serves authentic, Asian-inspired dishes and prides itself on not compromising freshness for speed of service.

The fast casual chain has recently submitted a Citizen Petition under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requesting that the FDA Commissioner amend an existing provision to require restaurants to affirmatively substantiate their nutritional claims by disclosing the recipe or formula for their standard menu items.

This follows Pei Wei’s introduction of the Wei it Forward clean-label initiative that exemplifies the chain’s strong belief that food should be made with fresh, wholesome ingredients while empowering consumers to make smarter choices.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron is joined by Chief Marketing Officer of Pei Wei, Brandon Solano, to discuss Pei Wei’s clean-label initiative and supply chain challenges that go along with it.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on how Pei Wei is communicating its initiative via social media and the future for the rest of the industry.

SHOW NOTES

  • 13:12 - This is Now the Table Stakes

  • 16:14 - The Tipping Point for the Rest of the Industry

  • 18:07 - Is the Supply Chain Moving in this Direction?

  • 24:07 - Pei Wei Tiger’s Social Media Communicating in an Authentic Way

  • 1:14 - How Brandon Solano became Chief Marketing Officer of Top Fast Casual Chain

  • 3:43 - Why Pei Wei Petitioned the FDA on Menu Transparency

  • 6:04 - 18-Month Timeline For Consumer Visibility

  • 8:04 - Becoming a Thought Leader in Clean Label

 
 

C-level Executives Share Their Best Tips on How to Thrive in This Market Post-Election

C-level Executives Share Their Best Tips on How to Thrive in This Market Post-Election

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

After any major election, especially the most recent presidential one, there is bound to be some uncertainty among consumers. This often impacts their buying behaviors.

Will consumers be visiting less restaurants? With commodity prices low and consumer's uncertainty will restaurants be less busy this holiday season? Or will the holiday season bring the usual foot traffic? 

Nonetheless, restaurant operators and marketers should be ready to up the ante to get their customers dining with them. 

We decided to sit down with a few of the best Chief Marketing Officers in the restaurant industry and a co-founder at an emerging fast casual pizza brand to get some insights on how their brand plans to thrive in today's market post-election.

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Pei Wei's New Summer Menu Offers Guests Gourmet “Salads with a Purpose”

Pei Wei's New Summer Menu Offers Guests Gourmet “Salads with a Purpose”

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The Asian fast casual mogul, Pei Wei launched its brand new summer menu with a nutritional purpose last week, appealing to the health-conscious consumer. These temporary menu options will be available at the 200 Pei Wei stores nationwide. 

The seasonal offerings features three new salads– including the Thai Steak& Mango salad, with wok-seared steak and mixed greens topped with avocado, grape tomato, mango, cucumber, scallions, mint, cilantro, crispy rice noodles, Thai basil– all tossed with a Chile-lime garlic vinaigrette dressing.

Avocado makes an appearance in another new salad– the Ahi Avocado Salad featuring Ahi tuna, mixed greens, avocado, cucumbers, Asian slaw, pickled gingers, toasted sesame seeds and crispy wontons topped with a wasabi vinaigrette.  

All of the gourmet salads stay true to the Asian-inspired menu. The Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad has wok-seared chicken with mixed greens, mint, pickled carrot, scallions, Thai basil, roasted peanuts, crispy onions, chilled rice noodles– all tossed with a Chile-lime garlic vinaigrette dressing. The Asian Chopped Chicken Salad has been updated for the summer menu, featuring hand-pulled chicken, mixed greens, carrots, red bell peppers, scallions, Thai basil, crispy wontons, sesame seeds topped with a ginger-sesame vinaigrette. 

But, salads aren’t the only new offering. The chain will now be serving the Honey Sriracha Wings– crispy chicken wings that have been wok-tossed in a spicy honey sriracha sauce topped with scallions and sesame seeds.

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P.F. Chang’s Launches $6 or Less Happy Hour Menu

P.F. Chang’s Launches $6 or Less Happy Hour Menu

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The Asian fusion casual-dining chain, P.F. Chang’s has just introduced a new happy hour menu featuring food and beverages that are $6 or less that will be available from Monday to Friday from 3-6 pm.

To celebrate summer, the brand is offering cocktails like the Moscow Mule and the Organic Agave Margarita. This happy hour also includes $6 glasses of wine and $4 craft beer specials.

Small plates are also on the menu, including the new House-Made Pork Egg Rolls, Dim Sum, the signature Chang’s Lettuce Wraps and the Kung Pao Chicken Jicama Street Tacos.

The chain is emphasizing that these items are made from scratch with fresh ingredients.

“A lot of guests are surprised to know that we squeeze our own juices,” said Mary Melton, P.F. Chang’s beverage director in a press release. “We even make our own ginger beer every morning using fresh-juiced ginger root and pure cane sugar. No one else makes a Moscow Mule like we do.”

P.F. Chang’s is also promoting the simplicity of the menu items by describing the Margarita as being “made with only three ingredients!” and the Street Tacos with a “subtly sweet flavor.”

The happy hour menu is available for dine-in only in participating stores, not including Puerto Rico, Hawaii and airport locations. The chain also has to comply with local and state liquor regulations. Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont all ban happy hour specials.

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Tech & Marketing Insights From Global Restaurant Brand Leaders

In this “On Foodable Side Dish,” brought to you by the Foodable Network, Foodable Managing Editor Jessica Bryant sits down with two restaurant executives to discuss tech and marketing.

Up first, we are joined by Chris Demery, Group Vice President, Customer Experience Technology at Bloomin’ Brands, at the NRA’s Restaurant Innovation Summit in San Diego. With global brands in its portfolio, including Outback Steakhouse, we learn which technologies the group has adopted over the past year, the timeline used to determine whether it’s a success, and how brands of this size — with international presence especially — scale technology. 

Next, we are joined by Clay Dover, CMO at Pei Wei at the Marketing Executives Group (MEG) conference. How is Clay’s team implementing loyalty and exclusivity? How is Pei Wei using influencers on social to increase authentic engagement? And what does he see on the horizon for 2016? Watch the full episode to find out!