Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly

Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
August 25, 2009

Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
Food & Hotel Vietnam 2009
Economists Become More Optimistic, Consumers Less So
Food Prices Fall, Though Not At Restaurants
Only Big Chains Grew Units During 2009, Says NPD
Traffic Falls Again In May
In Times Such As These, You Need FER E&S Market Forecast

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
MUFES 2010
Panera Rolls Along
Sodexo To Debut Burger Concept On Campuses
Western Sizzlin, Steak N Shake To Merge
Taco Maker Plans NYC Debut
M. Tucker Helps Sharpen Foodservice Focus at IHM&R Show

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In This Section:
California Sets New Standards For Green Buildings
Chains Push Back Against Calorie-Posting Laws
Tougher Rules On Signs A Sign Of The Times?
Teaspoons Of Grease Add Up To FOG Ordinance
No More Turkish Blend In Turkey Or Gauloises In Galveston

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Food & Hotel Vietnam 2009 
Industry Report Sponsor: MUFES 2010 
Regulatory Report Manitowoc Foodservice

California Sets New Standards For Green Buildings

A few weeks ago we told you about California's new building code, effective this coming January, and its high energy-efficiency requirements. Now the state has released its voluntary green building-code standards, the first in the nation, and it's set the bar pretty high.

Announced last year, the green building code took effect at the beginning of August. To meet the new standards, new construction has to reduce water use by 20%, which is more more than what the California Energy Commission mandates in its updated efficiency standards, and either a 15% or 30% reduction in energy use. The code calls for improved efficiency in appliances, windows, lighting, insulation and other upgrades, and encourages the use of recycled, renewable and recyclable materials in building construction. New rules also include improvements in air quality and suggestions for site improvements such as parking for hybrid cars.

"While the new code is voluntary, it is the first step toward meeting the governor's 2010 objective" of making the state more energy-efficient, according to Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission. The CBSC says it's working toward making the standards mandatory by the end of 2010.

You can download a copy of the new codes at the CBSC website at


Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Chains Push Back Against Calorie-Posting Laws
Although the National Restaurant Association has backed a bill in Congress to establish federal standards for calorie-posting on menus, not everybody is on board. In fact, some chains are pushing back on the idea.

Yum! Brands, the first big chain to voluntarily post calories on menu boards of all its KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut units, among others, last October, now says the proposed legislation isn't really fair. Jonathan Blum, Yum! senior v.p. and chief public affairs officer, told the Los Angeles Times recently that chains with 20 or more stores nationally accounts for only about 25% of U.S. restaurants. Blum said nutrition software now is so inexpensive that even small mom-and-pops can afford to analyze their menu items.

Steve Carley, CEO at El Pollo Loco, was quoted in the Times as saying, "If this is truly about nutrition and obesity, it is intellectually dishonest to have some restaurants disclose nutritional information and others not."

Another fluke of the law: What of chains whose 20-plus stores are of different concepts? Numerous restaurant companies across the country meeting that description don't need to post calorie counts, or are challenging the intent of such laws. Another question mark: What of menu items that appear at some locations but not others? Two Houston's restaurants in Manhattan recently piqued the ire of health inspectors by refusing to post calorie counts. Even though the chain has 30 units, menus at some units vary. A manager at one of the NYC restaurants says several of his entrees are different from those at other Houston's stores in town. The case is going to a judge—after a Sept. 1 hearing on the fines imposed by the health department.

A fairer and broader way to impose calorie-posting rules, Blum said, is to include chains of three or more stores and set the threshold at $1 million in annual sales for individual restaurants.

Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Tougher Rules On Signs A Sign Of The Times?
Businesses competing for a dwindling number of consumer dollars are pulling out all the stops, including bigger, better, fancier signage to attract more consumers. Now a number of cities are saying enough is too much.

With 60,000 signs and counting, formerly freewheeling Houston recently decided some changes were in order. Acting on the advice of a 14-member task force that deliberated for a year, the city is eliminating roof signs, limiting how electronic signs can be used and decreasing the height and size of on-premise signs by nearly half in some cases.

The new rules go into effect in September, but only businesses erecting new signs or refurbishing existing signs need comply. Existing signs get a pass.

Havelock, N.C., just passed a sign ordinance that puts a kibosh on electronic signs that have bursting, flashing or scrolling messages. The town's planning director Scott Chase said the electronic signs are a potential hazard to drivers and could make the town look like a mini Las Vegas. Only a dozen businesses have the expensive signs, and the city itself has two, which also must comply when the rule take effect next month.

Chase said he hopes to have a video produced sometime this month that will illustrate impermissible uses of electronic signs. Based on that video, Chase said, the city board of commissioners may revisit the rules and make them a little more lenient.

Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Teaspoons Of Grease Add Up To FOG Ordinance
Enterprise, Ala., is one the latest cities to institute a Fats-Oils-Grease ordinance that requires restaurants to have grease traps or interceptors. The town's public works director, Jimmy Kilgore, underscored the issue pointing out just one teaspoon of grease a month from each of the city's 10,000 sewer customers would amount to seven 55-gal. drums of sludge coating the inside of the sewer pipes like cholesterol plugging up an artery.

The new rules say the city will inspect facilities to make sure they have properly maintained grease traps. The traps must be cleaned four times a year. Violators are subject to fines of $250 plus court costs for a first offense. Kilgore said he'll likely recommend giving first offenders a 30-day correction notice, though, before handing out fines.

Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

No More Turkish Blend In Turkey Or Gauloises In Galveston
No more smoking hookahs in Istanbul or stoking stogies in Galveston, Tex. Turkey, long known for its tobacco and heavy smokers, extended a ban in public places to include restaurants and bars in July, and the Galveston city council passed an ordinance that also bans smoking in bars and restaurants, but still permits lighting up in tobacco stores and private clubs.

Turkey's Health Minister Recep Akdag said smoking rates have dropped 7% since May 2008, when the initial smoking ban went into effect, and he said he expects the latest restriction to cause a further reduction in the smoking rate. The government has established a 4,500-member enforcement arm to make sure both businesses and patrons comply. Smokers can be fined about $45 for lighting up, and $16 for littering with cigarette butts; businesses that allow or condone it will be tagged for anywhere from about $366 to $3,660 depending on particulars.

In Galveston, people who intentionally thumb their noses at the new rule could be fined up to $2,000. Bar and restaurant owners who don't remove ashtrays and make sure patrons stamp out butts face fines of from $200 for a first violation to more than $500 for subsequent breaches of the law, effective Oct. 1.

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