Ron Paul

Ron Paul founded Technomic over 45 years ago. As President and CEO, he directs the firm and all its research and consulting engagements, covering almost every aspect of the foodservice business. Ron has written extensively about management and marketing topics, as well as a broad range of food and foodservice issues. He is a frequent industry speaker and is often quoted in trade, news and business media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, CNN-TV and CNBC-TV.

Burgers Are Back—Again

When it closed its initial public offering in January, Shake Shack had raised more than $112 million—which MarketWatch calculated as about $150 for each burger it sold last year. The Habit Burger Grill had a similarly spectacular IPO in November, and excitement is building for Smashburger’s expected stock-market debut later this year. Does the outsize […]

What Wall Street Sees

To gauge what 2015 may bring, I’d like to explore the surge in IPOs, acquisitions and private-equity investments in restaurants. A closer look at the chains making financial news shows us where investors think industry growth will occur. At least in the short run, those who bought into restaurants’ initial public offerings in 2014 have […]

Consumer Demands That Transcend Generations

The American public is increasingly fractured. Accordingly, we at Technomic spend a great deal of time tracking consumers’ changing attitudes and behaviors by generation, income, gender, ethnicity, region and so on. Income is an obvious differentiator. Heavy usage of restaurants (particularly casual-dining restaurants) is concentrated among the more affluent. Those who earn a low income […]

Understand Lifestyles to Understand Consumers

In the early days of marketing, “the consumer” was seen as an undifferentiated mass—the proper object of mass marketing via mass media. Then, around the 1990s, marketers began paying more attention to consumer segments like the “soccer mom.” Now, researchers can divide consumers into much smaller, more narrowly defined groups. For instance, Technomic’s Consumer Brand […]

The Retail-Restaurant Convergence

Restaurants used to assume their competition was other restaurants. It’s not that simple anymore. A new study presented to Technomic’s Foodservice Planning Program members this month makes it clear that retailers’ strategic efforts and the explosion of consumer choice have made the entire retail-to-restaurant continuum one big, level playing field. I’d like to share a […]

The 10-Year Top 10 Track Record

Technomic’s 2014 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report is a well-focused snapshot of a moment in time. Its year-over-year growth comparisons are instructive, but to get a clearer picture of change, we should set the time machine for a longer journey. A 10-year comparison of the Top 10 chains by U.S. sales shows that eight appear […]

Time to Accept Reality—and Find Ways to Grow

Five years after the Great Recession, U.S. restaurant growth remains slow. Technomic’s new forecast shows sales growing one percent after inflation in 2014, just as they did in 2013. (We are seeing some movement of consumer dollars from one segment to another—fast-casual restaurants are still gaining market share while sales remain soft for most casual-dining […]

2013: Another Turbulent Year for the Restaurant Industry

Looking ahead begins with a glance back to see where we’ve been and what direction we’re heading. As we bid farewell to 2013, let’s pause to review key developments. Strikes for a $15 minimum wage find a receptive audience. Fast-food workers’ walkouts demanding higher pay have spread to 100 cities. The industry says doubling federal […]

Wall Street Likes Restaurants

The doubling of Potbelly stock on the first day of its initial public offering represents just the latest in a remarkable string of successful restaurant-company IPOs. Another fast-casual chain, Noodles & Company, also saw its stock price double on its first day as a public company last June, and the company’s shares have continued to […]

U.S. Restaurant Industry: Taking the Long View

“How is the industry doing?” That’s the number one question we’re asked at Technomic, and the one we spend the better part of our time trying to answer. But the picture is more complicated than it seems. The current moving average of restaurant sales (tracking July 2012–June 2013 receipts) is up 2.4 percent in inflation-adjusted […]