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Restaurant Roundup: Wendy’s Gets The GameStop Treatment

The meme traders are back, and this time they are going for “Wendys [sic] Chicken Tendies.” Wendy’s stock prices jumped up about 26 percent on Tuesday (June 8) after a post on the subreddit r/WallStreetBets argued on behalf of the stock.

Following the surge, a Wendy’s spokesperson commented to Yahoo Finance, “We’re aware of the unusual trading activity this morning and we’re closely monitoring.”

User Chillznday posted that Wendy’s was “literally the perfect stock for this sub,” pointing to Wendy’s meme-heavy social media presence, its much-hyped new summer salad, its Twitter relationship with GameStop, and (“well this one is obvious”) the chicken tenders as reasons the company was a good fit for the subreddit.

The Wendy’s buy came alongside the subreddit’s inflation of prices of health insurance technology startup Clover Health Since Tuesday, Wendy’s stock has normalized, though it remains 5 percent above Monday’s price.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer commented that this buy marks a departure for the subreddit community, saying, “Now they’re spreading their wings, even into an institutional favorite like Wendy’s with a very low short position.”

For other restaurants, this surge could indicate an opportunity to attract the meme crowd, since it was in part the savvy social media presence of the quick-service restaurant (QSR) that won the favor of the reddit community. However, unsuccessful attempts to stay in tune with internet trends can lead to mockery, and these online communities’ behavior is usually, by design, unpredictable. More certainly, the meme-ing of Wendy’s serves as a reminder of the power online communities can have on commerce and of the need to keep a finger on the pulse of the digital discourse surrounding a brand.

Starbucks Hit By Supply Chain Shortages

One of the reasons that customers may buy their coffee at Starbucks rather than at a small, local shop, is that at a major chain, you generally know what you are going to get. Now, an unwelcome element of unpredictability is creeping into the Starbucks experience. Shortages in the supply chain are making items disappear from the chain’s locations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Items that have vanished in some locations include cup stoppers, cake pops and mocha syrup. Oat milk was removed from the company’s app and from menus at many Starbucks store while stores wait for supply to be restocked.

According to Foodbeast, customers originally caught wind of the shortages through TikTok videos posted by employees. One such video noted shortages of items including (“but not limited to”) vanilla, caramel, chai, a number of fruit flavors, straws, cup sleeves and more.

Starbucks then sent a notification to users of its mobile app that read, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Due to current supply chain shortages, some of your favorites may be out of stock. Feel free to browse the menu for different options or ask your barista for a recommendation.”

NYC Delivery Services Accused Of Breaking Fee Cap Laws

In May of 2020, the New York City Council voted to put a cap on third-party meal delivery services’ fees, limiting the delivery fee to 15 percent and additional charges to 5 percent. Now, a lawsuit filed against  GrubhubDoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates and Seamless alleges that the services have been violating the fee cap, imposing fees above 20 percent, reports Law360.

“Despite the passage of the … Delivery App. Legislation and the Amended Delivery App. Legislation,” the filing with the district court states, “Defendants proceeded to continue their prior practices of bleeding New York City’s restaurants dry while collecting millions of dollars at their expense in blatant disregard for the laws of the City of New York.”

The suit comes from Micheli & Shel LLC, owners of the Michaeli Bakery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The bakery’s site currently advertises delivery through all of the suit’s defendants except Seamless. In the lawsuit, the bakery owners have accused  the delivery services of charging the bakery with additional fees that exceed the 5 percent cap and of “fraudulently inflat[ing] their credit card processing fees,” among other alleged violations.

“The claims in this lawsuit are entirely wrong,” a DoorDash spokeswoman said in an email to Restaurant Business. “DoorDash has complied with the price control in New York City.”

A Grubhub spokesperson told the outlet, “We look forward to responding to these baseless allegations.”

Lawmakers Propose Allocating Additional $60 Billion In Restaurant Relief

A bipartisan bill introduced by Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Roger Wicker would add $60 billion to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), after requested funds far exceeded the amount initially allocated. Sinema announced the bill on Thursday (June 10), adding that a bipartisan congressional pair is introducing a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided a lifeline for America’s small and independent restaurants,” said Wicker in a statement. “Our restaurants are now beginning to recover from a year of lost revenue, but many establishments are still hurting and have not been able to access aid for which they are eligible. Replenishing this fund would help restaurants, their staff, and the broader food supply chain as they continue to get back on their feet.”

This proposed addition comes after applications closed earlier than initially intended following news in mid-May that demand for relief was already more than double what the $28.6 billion fund could accommodate, just 9 days after applications opened.

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