KFC wants a makeover, and it’s starting with Canada.
The fast-food chain known for its fried chicken is following other fast food chains in trying to capture a part of the "fast casual" restaurant market — relatively low-priced but high-quality chains like Five Guys or Chipotle that are quickly making inroads into the fast food market, and particularly appeal to younger crowds.
For KFC, that effort will begin in Canada with the launch of its first KFC Select restaurant.
The new restaurant will stick to KFC’s core ingredient, chicken, but instead of buckets of chicken and fries, KFC Select will offer rice bowls, burritos, burgers and salads, among other things.
The first-ever location will open on Toronto’s Bloor St. in December, the company announced Wednesday.
The move is reminiscent of the push by McDonald’s towards a healthier selection of foods. But KFC Select’s look and menu more closely resemble another restaurant chain — Chipotle Mexican Grill, the casual restaurant chain that has taken the U.S. by storm in recent years and has been expanding into Canada.
The appearance of the new KFC Select restaurant closely resembles the right-angled, stainless steel-and-brick look of many Chipotle restaurants. And the pick-and-choose menu also resembles Chipotle: Customers choose a format (burrito, rice bowl, salad), and then a style (fajita, mango, California).
They even have pico de gallo and cilantro mayo as options.
Check out the similarities between KFC Select and Chipotle:
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Interior of a KFC Select restaurant...
...And the interior of a Chipotle restaurant
A KFC Select menu...
...And a Chipotle menu
A KFC Select burrito...
...And a Chipotle burrito
Another view of KFC Select
Note Colonel Sanders on the walls.
A KFC Select 'Kream Ball'
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McDonald's Grew During The Recession
McDonald's had <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2009/08/who_won_the_recession.html" target="_hplink">higher sales growth in 2008</a> than in 2006 or 2007, opening nearly 600 stores that year, according to Slate. The chain was able to take advantage of Americans' recession tastes: Cheap, convenient food.
They Handle Food That Isn't Really Food
One <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/" target="_hplink">Reddit user claiming to be an ex-McDonald's worker</a> said he once left a bag of chicken nuggets out on the counter for too long and "they melted. Into a pool of liquid." That didn't stop him from loving the nuggets, "still delicious," he wrote.
Fast Food Companies See Huge Profits On The Backs Of Low-Wage Workers
More than <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Press Releases/2012/PR_MinWageCorpProfits.pdf?nocdn=1" target="_hplink">60 percent of low-wage workers</a> are employed by big corporations, according to a July analysis by the National Employment Law Project. And more than 90 percent of those companies were profitable last year.
The Average Pay For A Fast Food Worker In New York City Is $9 Per Hour
Fast food workers in New York City make an <a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2012/11/fast_food_forward_strike_nyc.php" target="_hplink">average of $9 per hour</a>, according to the Village Voice. That comes to about $18,500 per year for full-time workers.
Fast Food Workers Are Unlikely To Get Paid Sick Days
For 40 percent of private sector workers, <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-11-28/news/bs-ed-sick-leave-20121128_1_sick-days-care-workers-service-workers" target="_hplink">taking a sick day</a> and still getting paid isn't an option, according to the Baltimore Sun. Fast food workers are especially likely to be part of that 40 percent.
The Boss Can Threaten To Take Workers' Health Care Away
Many fast food workers saw their health benefits put at risk this year, if they even had them at all. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/papa-johns-obamacare-john-schnatter_n_2104202.html" target="_hplink">Papa John's CEO John Schnatter</a> said he would likely reduce some of his workers hours so that he wouldn't have to cover them in response to Obamacare. Jimmy John's founder, Jimmy John Liautaud told Fox News in October that <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/your-world-cavuto/2012/10/16/jimmy-johns-founder-business-owners-unsure-future" target="_hplink">he would "have to" cut workers' hours</a> so that he wasn't forced to cover them under Obamacare.
The Average Hourly Pay At Many Fast Food Eateries Is Less Than $8 An Hour
The average hourly pay at McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and Taco Bell is less than $8 an hour, according to <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/50015355" target="_hplink">salary data cited by CNBC</a>.
The Median Age Of A Fast Food Worker Is 28
As more workers fight for limited jobs, many older employees are gravitating towards the fast food industry. The median age of a fast <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/mcjobs-should-pay-too-its-time-for-fast-food-workers-to-get-living-wages/265714/" target="_hplink">food worker is 28</a>, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the Atlantic. For women, who make up two-thirds of the industry's employees, that age is 32.
Labor Leaders Rarely Try To Unionize Fast Food Workers
Fast food worker's went on strike in late November in New York City, showcasing a rare effort to organize the industry's workers. Labor leaders often don't make an effort to organize these workers because the high turnover makes the challenge daunting.
Fast Food Workers Are The Lowest Paid Workers In NYC
For all their work, fast food workers get very little dough. The lowest paid job category in New York City is "Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food," according to Bureau of Labor Department Statistics <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/11/29/in_rare_strike_nyc_fast_food_workers_walk_out/" target="_hplink">cited by Salon</a>.
There is one way KFC Select will top Chipotle: price. With mains starting at $5.99, a meal at KFC Select will be several dollars less expensive than a meal at Chipotle.
KFC is owned by Yum Brands, which is the world’s second largest operator of fast food restaurants and also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. The company’s earnings have been under pressure this year, mostly on a sales decline in China, due to allegations KFC restaurants in China were using chicken with excessive amounts of antibiotics.
The company missed earnings estimates for the third quarter of this year, earning $3.52 billion instead of a projected $3.57 billion. But that was mostly the result of flagging sales in China; the chain has seen sales growth in the U.S. for the past two years, and sales in Canada have been flat for the year so far.
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