Restaurants Expect Stronger Holiday Party Season

Although customer traffic is flat or slightly down, those who are going out tend to spend more, chefs and restaurateurs are observing. People are dusting off their checkbooks a little more this year than in the past two or three years, said Patrick Lyons, chief executive of The Lyons Group, a Boston-based company that operates restaurants, bars, lounges and other entertainment venues. Instead of the C-grade wine, they might be buying the B- and A-priced wines. That jibes with data from consumer research firm The NPD Group, which reported flat restaurant traffic for the year but higher average checks, for a 2-percent overall spending increase. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association, was also optimistic about the holidays. RELATED More restaurant consumer trends Dining out remains a top activity for the holidays, and savvy restaurant operators leverage that opportunity to market accordingly, Riehle wrote in an e-mail, noting that consumers use restaurants for special meals during the holidays and that businesses hire them to cater events. While both consumer and business spending remains cautious, the overall business climate for restaurants is better than it was several years ago.
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Restaurants’ big bet to get you to spend more

Nichols to the Company’s Board of Directors as an independent director, effective immediately. Additionally, Mr. Nichols will serve as a member of the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Board. Mr. Nichols’ appointment brings the total number of the Company’s board members to ten. Mr.
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BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. Appoints Wes Nichols to Its Board of Directors

Applebee’s set for big 2014 upgrade ) On Thursday, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published an application from Apple ( AAPL ) for a similar device for processing restaurant orders. The application noted that “traditional techniques, however, do have their shortcomings” since “ordering is completely dependent on the waiter’s availability.” By the end of next year, Applebee’s plans to install about 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel ( INTC ), at its more than 1,800 locations. Its decision came following about two years of testing the concept, said Jay Johns, vice president of strategic operations implementation at DineEquity ( DIN ), which owns Applebee’s. DineEquity-unit IHOP may also introduce the tablets in the future, Johns said. “The incidence of guests ordering appetizers improved and the service tips improved, which is a key point to us.
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