Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sweeter than chocolates?

You foodservice romantics may want to give the loved one a special gift this Valentine’s Day: Unlimited burgers, fish fillets, steak and sodas. Yes, buy them a restaurant chain.

Certainly plenty are now on the market, particularly in fast food. This morning, in case you’re just arising, brought confirmation of what has been rumored for a long time: The parent company of Wendy’s is exploring financial alternatives for its secondary brand, Arby’s. That’s financial lingo for finding a buyer or otherwise peddling the portfolio chip. (I’ve often wondered if financial geeks have Exploring Financial Alternatives Events instead of yard sales.)

So, to recap what’s available to you Valentine’s Day shoppers, officially on the block right now are A&W All-American Food, Long John Silver’s, Arby’s, and Charlie Brown’s, the bankrupt steakhouse that has to be sold in the next week or so under a deal with lenders. Red Robin is a judgment call, since investors are demanding that it be sold and say suitors have come forward. But there's been no For Sale sign posted outside headquarters.

Interestingly, the first three on the industry Craig’s List are being peddled because their parents want to focus on stronger brands with more growth potential (A&W and Long John’s are of course owned by Yum! Brands, better known as the franchisors of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). So there’s a bit of restaurant triage under way.

If it continues, we may see the restaurant For Sale listing grow to the length of the Singles and Seeking column.

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