Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Separate and Kroger’s Culinary Innovation

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features CKE Restaurants, MTY Food Group, LevelUp and Grab, Kroger and Typsy and Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine.

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Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Go Their Separate Ways

CKE Restaurants, Inc. will create two separate, distinct brands for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. CKE said they will “continue to maintain each of the brands’ unique, ‘impossible to ignore’ personas, while keeping the quality, taste and value of the food firmly as the star.”

CKE selected Havas Chicago as Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s creative agency of record, responsible for digital, social, TV, radio and OLV content needs for both brands. Using their unique content creation model, speed to market and clear read on today’s cultural insights, Havas will build separate brand identities for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, starting immediately with Carl’s Jr.  

“Carl’s Jr. has been, and always will be a brand that’s impossible to ignore,” said Jeff Jenkins, chief marketing officer, CKE Restaurant, Inc. “We are excited to partner with Havas, whose reputation for breakthrough creative aligns perfectly with our vision for these two brands moving forward, to put our great tasting food at the forefront of the business.” 

Carl’s Jr. is the first brand out the gate with a new multi-channel campaign…and voice. The campaign, titled, “Call of Carl’s,” is powered by the voice of actor Matthew McConaughey. Together, they embark on an unapologetic crusade to create a “crave culture”. Carl’s Jr. will leverage this behavioral phenomenon to create a manifestation and vocalization of food cravings, specifically around the brand’s iconic Western Bacon Cheeseburger, CKE said.

The culinary team at Carl’s Jr. are trying to crack the code of crave culture. Their attempt to understand the reasoning behind what we crave and when, might one day point to the meaning of life. For now, Carl’s Jr. has uncovered the existence of three distinct types of cravings: Craving what the body wants, craving what the body needs, and a third craving that’s a hybrid. This third, known as “associative craving,” occurs when we yearn for food that has a rich, meaningful connection to a personal experience. Teams in the Franklin, Tennessee based headquarters reached a startling conclusion when they combined a familiar voice with the visual associations of Carl’s Jr.’s mouthwatering food, triggering a crave calling for Carl’s Jr.

“The speed of marketing today is leaving brands and traditional agencies behind,” said Jason Peterson, chairman and chief creative officer, Havas Creative, U.S. “By shifting both our thinking and making from ‘creatives’ to ‘creators,’ we’re able to come up with culturally relevant ideas, and create and execute them with immediacy. As a brand that understands the need to be one step ahead of culture, CKE embraced this model and knew this is what it would take to create inspired work for both brands.”  

Recently, Carl’s Jr.’s opened a flagship restaurant in Manhattan, in addition to the 23 new restaurants opened in January, including international growth in Mexico, France, Spain and Cambodia.

MTY Food Acquires Grabbagreen

MTY Food Group Inc. said one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries has signed an agreement to acquire the assets of the Grabbagreen® franchise system  for an estimated consideration of USD $2.75 million.

There are currently 27 Grabbagreen restaurants in operation, 26 franchised and one corporate, all of which are located in the United States. 

“Grabbagreen is a young and trendy brand with solid growth potential” said Jeff Smit, COO of MTY’s U.S. operations.  “We are extremely happy to add this concept to our portfolio.”

The transaction is expected to close within 45 days of this News Release but remains subject to multiple conditions customary for a transaction of this nature.  There is no assurance the transaction will be completed as described above, or at all, or that the anticipated closing date will materialize.

Following the closing of the transaction, MTY expects to consolidate the corporate operations and run the franchising platform from its U.S. headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Founded in 2013, Grabbagreen’s Eat Clean menu focuses on semi-organic, preservative-free, and GMO-free options. 

Kroger Open’s Culinary Innovation Center

Kroger opened its Culinary Innovation Center in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Kroger’s new Culinary Innovation Center is an exciting state-of-the-art test kitchen and education center,” said Daniel Hammer, Kroger’s vice president of culinary development and new business. “As we focus on redefining the customer experience and developing talent through food inspiration and uplift, as outlined in Restock Kroger, this R&D lab will allow us to accelerate product development for Our Brands, produce new recipes for Prep + Pared Meal Kits, explore new restaurant concepts, host food tastings and focus groups, and increase our associates’ culinary knowledge.”

Kroger commenced construction on the 12,000-square-feet, LEED-designed Center in March 2017. The commercial kitchen features multiple cooking stations, spaces and capabilities, including technology that allows video streaming of educational sessions to Kroger associates across the country.

“The Center gives our culinary team a fun, modern space to innovate and experiment with food trends, flavors, and ingredients to create new experiences for our customers,” added Hammer.

Kroger introduced its first restaurant concept Kitchen 1883 in November 2017 and launched its Prep+Pared Meal Kits earlier in the same year, which are available for purchase in stores and through Clicklist

“Kroger has operated grocery stores since 1883; we know food. People will always eat, but the way they eat will always change. Our new Center is one more tool we have to keep our pulse on customer trends and expand our foodie culture,” said Hammer.

LevelUp Partners with Grab 

LevelUp is partnering with Grab, the airport e-commerce platform, to increase mobile order-ahead capabilities in airports across the U.S. Through the partnership, travelers no longer have to sacrifice airport meals due to long lines and overcrowded dining areas and instead can use their mobile devices to place orders ahead of time, allowing them to avoid the line and hop on board their flights faster than ever. 

Hundreds of menus from popular airport restaurants such as Chili’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels, TGI Fridays, Wolfgang Puck Express and others are now easily accessible to millions of travelers who are looking for the speed and convenience of ordering ahead before their flight.

“With more than 719 million domestic passengers passing through airports in 2016, restaurants and other food kiosks in airports are some of the most logical venues to support mobile order ahead,” said Matt Colfax, strategic partnerships manager at LevelUp. “Travelers want to enjoy a made-to-order meal, but they often do not have time to wait in line or wait for food to be prepared. This partnership is just another stepping stone in making technology and apps work to make consumers lives easier in any possible area.”

Restaurants currently on Grab’s platform will now have exposure to massive audiences of new customers through LevelUp’s network of partners, including Facebook, Chase Pay, and Yelp, among others. LevelUp’s user base has come to expect convenience, speed and flexibility while interacting with restaurant brands across the country, giving Grab an extremely targeted potential user base.

Additionally, Grab’s technology integrates with restaurant POS systems like NCR Aloha and Oracle Micros giving restaurants a seamless integration to enable mobile order ahead.

“We are excited by the continued growth of the Grab platform with new partners like LevelUp” said Jeff Livney, Chief Experience Officer of Grab. “Together we can reach busy travelers on the go while improving the airport experience and reducing anxiety on the day of travel.”

Mobile order ahead through LevelUp and Grab is available at hundreds of restaurants in 25 airports and growing.

MRM Goes Typsy

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia was a guest contributor for hospitality training provider Typsy on the subject of Google My Business. Read more here.