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Which Restaurants Do the Most Sales?, 6 Retailer Updates, a QSR and a Landlord Put AI to Use and the Battle to Open Stores in Florida

September 1, 2023

Which Restaurants Do the Most Sales?

Steakhouses are always in style with big spenders dining out, but restaurants with menus that serve wider palates rake in more money, according to an analysis of the 500 top restaurant chains, as compiled by Nation’s Restaurant News and Datassential. Indeed, topping the list is a restaurant famous for its mammoth menu. NRN and Datassential calculated annual estimated sales per unit by dividing the annual sales by the number of locations.

1. The Cheesecake Factory: $12.6 million
2. Ocean Prime: $12.1 million
3. Cooper’s Hawk: $10.3 million
4. Fogo de Chao: $9.9 million
5. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood: $9.2 million
6. The Capital Grille: $9 million
7. Lazy Dog: $8.7 million
8. Yard House: $8.6 million
9. Portillo’s: $8.3 million
10. Maggiano’s Little Italy: $8.1 million

Nine of the 10 are full-service, sit-down operators. Only one, Chicago-based Portillo’s, is a fast-casual chain. With only 100 units, Portillo’s focuses on the Midwest, serving Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef and chocolate cake.

Bain Capital Private Equity recently agreed to acquire No. 4 Fogo de Chao from Rhone to accelerate the restaurant’s expansion.

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6 Retailers Making Headlines

Apple has slowed the pace of store openings every year since 2017. In the first eight months of 2023, Apple has opened five; in 2022, it opened six; and in 2021, it added eight. Apple instead is investing in backstage improvements, bathrooms and stockrooms in existing stores.

Best Buy expects to have a slow holiday season after reporting a 7.1% drop in year-over-year sales during the second quarter at stores open that have been open for at least a year. Customers are spending less on big-ticket appliances and electronics and more on entertainment, the retailer said. Physical stores continue to be a key component of the company’s strategy to reverse sales declines by helping goods reach customers faster. “Our buy-online-pick-up-in-store percent of online sales continues to be just over 40%,” CEO Corie Barry said on an earnings call. “With almost 60% of packages delivered within two days, we believe the consistency of our high rate of in-store pickup by our customers truly underscores the importance of the combination of our digital and physical locations.” In 2024, the retailer plans to close 20 to 30 stores, remodel and expand eight stores and open five outlet stores.

Dollar Tree blamed declining profitability in the second quarter in part on retail theft. The company said its retail shrink issue is worsening, and it’s implementing various strategies to combat those losses; in some cases, the retailer moves items behind the counter, locks up items or takes them off the shelves altogether.

Sporting goods brand Inov-8 opened its first U.S. store, at Idaho’s Village at Meridian. The 20-year-old brand has two stores in the U.K., it’s goods have been sold in the U.S. since 2004. Inov-8 chose the Idaho property for its U.S. debut because of its proximity to its distributor’s warehouse.

JCPenney plans to reinvest more than $1 billion into the business by fiscal year 2025 to improve customer experience and operational efficiencies. The company will update its 650 stores to make the in-store experience more inviting and productive, including an enhanced look and feel, physical upgrades and improved technology and tools for associates. It also will upgrade its point-of-sale system and in-store Wi-Fi networks to improve inventory integration. The retailer already has refreshed more than 100 stores.

Wireless provider Verizon plans to open hundreds of Total by Verizon stores in each 2023 and 2024 to boost its market share of the prepaid market. Verizon launched Total by Verizon, which sells prepaid instead of traditional wireless plans, last summer. It hopes to grow the chain to several thousand units across the country. More established prepaid competitors Metro by T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile operate some 15,000 stores combined.

How a QSR and a Landlord Each Are Putting AI to Use

Quick-service restaurant operator Panda Restaurant Group and retail landlord Kimco Realty are experimenting with artificial intelligence to improve their operations, executives said at ICSC@FLORIDA this week. Panda is using AI to speak to customers in drive-thru lines, flip woks of rice and compile data for making predictive calls about food prep, said eastern U.S. executive director of real estate Mike Everage. Kimco Realty is using AI for lease abstraction and architectural design, said president and chief investment officer Ross Cooper. Both companies believe AI has the potential to save money and improve efficiency. “It won’t reduce our workforce but will enhance what each person could do,” Cooper said.

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Florida Retailers Battle Rising Costs and Delayed Store Openings

Rising construction costs and government red tape are delaying store openings and making it more difficult for retailers to expand in Florida, according to a panel discussion at the ICSC@FLORIDA event this week. Projects that Panda Restaurant Group approved in 2021 and 2022 have gotten significantly more expensive, requiring another review by the retailer’s real estate committee, said eastern U.S. executive director of real estate for the Mike Everage. And rising interest rates have made some Sprouts Farmers Market projects infeasible, according to director of real estate Dean Koutroumanis.

Slow-moving county and municipal governments are a drag on development of new locations too, he said. “The entire governmental process is lengthy, which in turn makes it difficult to stay on track and keep our timelines. We promise Wall Street a certain amount of growth, and we have to achieve that. The challenge is opening these stores on time and in budget.”

Retailers and landlords are being proactive. Sprouts has added 12 development managers to direct entitlements and permitting on new stores, Koutroumanis said. Panda and Sprouts are cutting red tape by hiring private providers to review their building plans and private inspectors to review properties in lieu of county or municipal governments where such third-party reports are accepted. And Kimco Realty has hired more tenant coordinators to guide its small-shop independent tenants through the permitting and inspection process, said president and chief investment officer Ross Cooper.

Florida businesses also face skyrocketing insurance costs due to the state’s frequent and destructive weather events. Cooper said he’s hearing of 300% to 400% increases in insurance premiums. The rising costs hit small landlords and tenants the hardest. Larger retailers like Panda and Sprouts self-insure to avoid the market’s skyrocketing rates. Kimco is considering offering insurance coverage to some tenants, as the company’s captive insurance company and its size give it the leverage to keep premiums lower, he added.

To enable attendees to get to safety, ICSC@FLORIDA closed early as Hurricane Idalia bore down on the Orlando area. Such disruptive weather events are becoming hard to avoid, according to Cooper. “You used to get that email once every 12 months,” he said regarding the company’s properties across the country. “Now you get it every month,” he said.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today


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