Buffalo Wild Wings, Culver’s, Maggiano’s and Taco Bell Named Most Innovative Chains

Posted by IFMA February 11, 2014

Tagged in COEX Distinguished Foodservice Awards Operators

The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) announced the winners of the 2014 COEX Innovation Awards, which recognize regional and national chain companies that are shaping the industry through innovation in culinary, operations, marketing and service.

Four outstanding foodservice chain operators will receive the awards at IFMA's Chain Operators EXchange (COEX), March 2-5, 2014 at The Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nev. COEX is an annual foodservice event that enables chain operators to take advantage of business building insights and create personal connections with leading manufacturers and other resources. With dozens of high-profile operators on the planning committee, the program truly is created "by operators, for operators."

The 2014 winners are:

  • Marketing/Service, National Chain: Buffalo Wild Wings (nominated by Sargento Foods, Inc.  
    Buffalo Wild Wings has soared to unprecedented heights with marketing strategies that made them stand out within their category. From a store redesign that captures the stadium experience to the front-of-house greeters, the setting and  staff create an inviting, warm and fun ambiance that keeps  customers coming back. 
  • Marketing/Service, Regional Chain: Culver's (nominated by Sargento Foods, Inc.)
    Culver's sparks creativity through an inclusive company culture and by listening to their customers, particularly through their Deliciousness Council panel, which gathers input from guests. Some say Culver's use of Twitter is hard to match. They also have a memorable and distinct marketing approach, leveraging the popularity of the company's owner, Craig Culver, and its Wisconsin roots.
  • Culinary/Operations, National Chain: Taco Bell (nominated by J.R. Simplot Company & Surlean Foods
    Taco Bell is a brand of firsts, always innovating and actively listening to its consumers to turn their "wants" into tangible "must haves." In 2013, they continued to bring on trend flavors to the market with the introduction of two unique flavors of Doritos Locos Tacos, Cool Ranch and Fiery. The new flavors and other menu items added over the past year have helped same-store sales performances and the buzz continues to grow amongst consumers looking for something new.
  • Culinary/Operations, Regional Chain: Maggiano's Little Italy (nominated by Neil Jones Food Company)
    At Maggiano's, innovation begins with asking guests what they want and then determining how the chain can meet or exceed that need with food and beverage origination. Their chefs and restaurant teams are critical in providing fresh ideas, recipes and photos to improve upon their already very popular menu. 

IFMA members nominated dozens of national and regional chains, which were then voted on by IFMA members, including the world's most prestigious foodservice manufacturers and a wide variety of industry resources. 

"The annual COEX Innovation Awards are a highlight of the Chain Operators Exchange, a long-standing event that connects foodservice operators with manufacturers," said Larry Oberkfell, President & CEO, IFMA. "We're proud to honor this year's winners, who demonstrate the importance of innovation by raising the bar for all chain operators in the industry today." 

The 2014 COEX Innovation Awards are sponsored by Sargento Foods, Inc. and Surlean Foods. For more information on the COEX Innovation Awards, contact Lisa Ptak at lisa@ifmaworld.com.  

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