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January 31, 2013
Since the beginning of the republic, there has been a dynamic tension between constantly expanding diversity driven by immigration and the relentless homogenizing force of common American culture. And there's nothing like a long drive on an interstate highway to remind a person of that reality. On Monday, I traveled 600 miles on I-5 cutting through the center of California, from Redding to Los Angeles. The force of homogenization was apparent at every major exit and interchange. I was hungry, but I was hoping to find something beyond McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Wendy's, Arby's or Taco Bell.
January 26, 2013 | By Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
The gig : Andrew Wiederhorn is the chairman and chief executive of Fatburger Inc., a fast-food restaurant chain based in Beverly Hills. The first Fatburger opened on Western Avenue in Los Angeles in 1947 and gained notoriety when rappers Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. all mentioned the restaurant in songs. Since 2003, Fatburger has been owned by Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., a Santa Monica investment company of which Wiederhorn is also chairman and CEO. Self-starter : Wiederhorn grew up in a single-parent family in Portland; his father died when he was age 9. In high school, he hired a lawyer to help him get permits to rent out jet-skis on the Willamette River.
January 25, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu
No more missing inches: Subway says that never again will a Footlong sandwich meet a ruler it can't match. In the company's own words: “We regret any instance where we did not fully deliver on our promise to our customers. We freshly bake our bread throughout the day in our more than 38,000 restaurants in 100 countries worldwide, and we have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve. Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide.” This after an outcry when an Australian customer posted a photo of a Footlong sub on Subway's Facebook page.
January 24, 2013 | By Kenneth R. Weiss
Can we eat our way to sustainability? That's a question that Daniel Pauly , a preeminent fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, has asked for years. He's suspicious of the long-term viability of the strategy behind Eco-labels, which promise that if everyone ate sustainably caught seafood, it would solve the problem of declining global fish stocks. A grand experiment to test this notion is underway, as one of the world's largest fish buyers has agreed to source all of its fish from America's largest sustainable-caught fishery: wild-caught Alaskan pollock.
January 9, 2013 | By Patt Morrison
Well, no one ever convincingly argued that a diet of fast food is good for your health. And now it could be unhealthy for some of the people who work there - without them having to eat so much as a bite of their products. In anticipation of the healthcare overhaul that takes full effect next year, a couple of Taco Bell and Wendy's franchises in Oklahoma and Nebraska are evidently cutting back the hours of employees to dodge requirements of the healthcare reform law. It was admittedly not the best thought-out part of the healthcare overhaul, requiring companies with 50 or more employees working 30 or more hours a week to offer healthcare coverage.
January 8, 2013 | By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
A grill man turned chief executive at McDonald's, Fred L. Turner oversaw an aggressive expansion of the company beginning in the 1970s that turned it into a corporate giant. When he began reshaping the restaurants in 1968, he left a visible legacy by removing the signature golden arches from the building's architecture and placing them on signs out front. What McDonald's founder Ray Kroc called Turner's gift for "planning and vision" is reflected in a restaurant menu that includes the Quarter-Pounder, which he co-developed with a California franchise owner in 1971.
December 6, 2012 | By Betty Hallock
With the winter season comes a barrage of fast-food holiday menu items, and this year that includes McDonald's McRib. The burger chain is bringing out the cult-status BBQ boneless-pork-patty sandwich on Dec. 17 for the holidays (the once-a-year special usually shows up for an October-to-November run) in an effort to boost year-end sales.  It's not just the McRib that rears its head this holiday season; Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte is flowing, despite rumors of a shortage. And desserts such as McDonald's McFlurry, Sonic's milkshakes and Burger King sundaes get holiday-ized.
December 5, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
Face-lift fever is sweeping the fast-food industry as aging establishments swap ketchup-smudged Formica for mood lighting and gleaming stainless steel - all in the pursuit of profit. In a tough economy, picky consumers are being selective about where they spend their cash. Many tired outlets are losing sales to flashier competitors, experts said, forcing them to spruce up or lose out. Taco Bell is testing eateries, including one in Redwood City, Calif., that glow purple at night to attract the bar crowd.
November 29, 2012 | By Alana Semuels
New York -- A week after hundreds of Wal-Mart employees walked off their jobs to demand better wages and the freedom to form a union, fast-food workers from some of the nation's largest chains are staging a similar walkout. Employees from McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC are staging protests in locations around New York City today, demanding $15 an hour in pay - more than double the minimum wage some receive - and the right to form a union. “What we're finding is that there's huge support among fast food workers to form a union and to fight back against the poverty wages that they're being paid,” said Jonathan Westin, organizing director of New York Communities for Change , which is helping to organize the strike.
November 28, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu
KFC is taking airplane food to a whole new level, pairing with Japan Airlines to serve its fast-food chicken on holiday flights between Tokyo and eight U.S. and European destinations. The chain's Japanese operation will provide a meal of a drumstick, chicken breast, flat bread, coleslaw and "special mayonnaise" to passengers on select trips out of Narita Airport from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28. The so-called Air Kentucky trays will be served during the second mealtime in the premium-economy and economy-class sections of planes bound for Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Paris and Frankfurt.
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