Archive for Mary Meisenzahl

Companies like Chipotle are boosting prices, but CEOs multimillion dollar pay packages aren’t getting any smaller

Chipotle workers
  • Chipotle recently raised prices about 4% across the board.
  • The company says price increases are due to increased employee wages.
  • CEO Brian Niccol made $38 million in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Chipotle raised prices across the menu by about 4% in June, a move the company says was prompted by increased wages for workers.

The average Chipotle meal will cost 30 to 40 cents more than it did before, and a spokesperson told Insider that the price hike will compensate for the recent wage increases for workers. In April, the fast casual chain said it would raise average hourly wages to $15 per hour by the end of June, an increase of $2 over the $13 an hour average pay.

While Chipotle attributes raising menu prices to the growing price of labor, some analysts point to high CEO compensation as another factor. In 2020 CEO Brian Niccol took home $38 million, $1.24 million of which was his base salary. The rest was made up of other incentives and an annual bonus.

"Brian Niccol 's annual compensation package is based on a competitive analysis of CEO pay levels within our peer group and is designed to pay for performance," a Chipotle spokesperson told Newsweek when the pay report was released.

Niccol 's compensation was 2,898 times more than the median Chipotle worker's $13,127 salary in 2020, based on an employee working 25 hours a week in Illinois. Companies are required to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of a median employee. At Chipotle, that ratio is 1,129 to one. Across the board, the pay ratio of CEOs to workers averaged 830 to 1 in 2020, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

Higher labor costs do eventually lead to higher prices for customers, but experts say the difference isn't as stark as some might expect. A study from California State University San Bernardino found that for a minimum wage increase of 10%, food prices increase by just 0.36%.

According to Chipotle's proxy statement, executive compensation is aimed at maintaining "a level where we can successfully recruit and retain industry leading talent critical to shaping and executing our business strategy and creating long-term value for our shareholders."

"For 2020, Brian's compensation includes the value of a one-time modification that is not reflective of his ongoing pay package," a Chipotle spokesperson told Newsweek. Niccol made $33.5 million in 2019, an increase of about 13%.

Read more: Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol answers 9 questions about the chain's future including the fight for delivery profits, menu innovation, and franchising

In 2020, Chipotle's revenue grew 7.1% to $6 billion, with much of the growth attributed to an explosion in digital sales. In a year that was disastrous for many restaurants, Chipotle opened 161 new locations, expanded its Chipotlane drive-thru footprint, and stock prices increased 65.7%.

The distance between worker and CEO pay grew wider than ever during the pandemic of the past year, The New York Times reported. The largest CEO compensation packages are for tech company executives. Chipotle does stand out among fast food and fast casual restaurant compensation, though. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson took home $14.7 million. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski received $10.8 million.

Critics of sky-high CEO pay, like the Economic Policy Institute, say the enormous compensation packages are "a major contributor to rising inequality that we could safely do away with."

"This escalation of CEO compensation, and of executive compensation more generally, has fueled the growth of top 1.0% and top 0.1% incomes, leaving less of the fruits of economic growth for ordinary workers, " EPI said in a report released last year.

Labor costs might have increased for restaurants over the last year, but so did the price of ingredients. Staple Chipotle items, like corn and avocados, grew more expensive this year as demand rose and shipping delays drove prices further up.

"Ingredient costs, there's talk about it. We'll see where that leads," Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung said at the Baird Global Consumer, Technology & Services Conference. The company says there are no plans to further increase prices right now.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Chipotle customers are complaining about receiving ‘tiny’ burritos even as the chain says it’s raising prices

Chipotle Burrito
  • Chipotle customers are complaining about small portions on social media.
  • The chain says it is not facing any supply chain shortages or issues.
  • Many brands are shrinking boxes and keeping prices the same to deal with inflation.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Something strange is happening at Chipotle, at least according to dozens of social media posts.

Customers have taken to Twitter to show off tiny serving sizes and small burritos. People used dollar bills, rulers, and beer cans for size references.

Chipotle just raised menu prices by about 4%, which the company told Insider will offset higher wages for employees. The average Chipotle meal now costs 30 to 40 cents more than it did a few months ago.

Alongside labor, prices for ingredients have also increased. Staple Chipotle items, like corn and avocados, grew more expensive this year as demand rose and shipping delays drove prices further up. Chicken in particular has gotten more expensive, and overall food costs are up 2.4% year over year.

"We think everybody in the restaurant industry is going to have to pass those costs along to the customer," Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung said during the company's quarterly earnings call in April. "We think we're in a much, much better position to do that, than other companies out there."

When asked about the size of some orders, Chipotle told Insider it is not experiencing shortages or supply chain problems.

"Guests of Chipotle have the opportunity to completely customize their meal in restaurants by vocalizing their desired portions, or digitally selecting extra, light, normal or on the side when choosing from the list of real ingredients," Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow told Insider in a statement. "We are not experiencing any supply chain shortages and Chipotle receives an abundance of praise for the incredible value its entrees offer with responsibly sourced ingredients chopped or grilled fresh daily."

Chipotle tiny burrito
Some customers says Chipotle's burritos are getting smaller.

I ordered a burrito to see if mine would compare to the puny Chipotle orders all over Twitter. My standard chicken burrito with no extra add-ons was about five inches long, and roughly the size of my hand. For reference, my hands are fairly small.

Chipotle tiny burrito
Some customers says Chipotle's burritos are getting smaller.

The standard burrito looks especially small next to my boyfriend's order. He added extra carnitas for $3.20, plus an extra 25 cent tortilla double wrap. My burrito by itself cost $7.75, while his with add-ons came in at $11.70.

Here they are side by side.

Chipotle tiny burrito
Some customers says Chipotle's burritos are getting smaller.

Like nearly all of the complaints on Twitter, these burritos were ordered through Chipotle's app, so customer don't actually see them being made.

Digital sales have exploded at Chipotle, more than doubling in the first quarter of 2021. Over the time period they made up over half of all the chain's transactions, Chipotle said.

Chipotle works on an assembly line type model, where customers move down the line of ingredients to choose what they want in a burrito or bowl. Chipotle locations also run a second assembly line behind the scenes dubbed the "digital make line" in 2019. That section is focused on making mobile and delivery orders, the kind that would make up business at a Chipotlane.

Since COVID-19 prompted more people to order digitally, Chipotle has been able to gather more precise data about ingredient costs and customer ordering. In September, Hartung said that workers were "more consistent on portioning" with digital orders, eliminating potential for for variance depending on the customer and person working.

Then, in October the chain announced it would begin charging for extra tortillas on the side. Though the extra tortilla only costs 25 cents, it showed that Chipotle was getting wise to so-called menu hacks customers used to get extra food. Burrito bowls typically came with more filling than burritos, so adding an extra tortilla meant more food for the same price.

If its portion sizes are getting smaller, Chipotle wouldn't be the only retailer to do so. Retail brands are increasingly turning to "shrinkflation" to avoid scaring off customers with higher prices, instead keeping prices the same for smaller packages and less product.

When it comes to raising prices, companies have two options. "Do we raise the price knowing consumers will see it and grumble about it? Or do we give them a little bit less and accomplish the same thing? Often it's easier to do the latter," consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky told The Washington Post.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Goldman Sachs is making employees tell them their vaccination status, and your employer could too. Labor lawyers explain what rights employees have.

covid vaccine
A medical assistant administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a woman at a clinic in Los Angeles on March 25, 2021.
  • The EEOC says employers can require employees get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office.
  • Goldman Sachs is one of the few companies requiring workers to disclose if they are vaccinated.
  • Most employers are strongly encouraging vaccines, but not requiring them.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Goldman Sachs will require US employees to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, and other bosses could do the same thing.

Employers can legally require employees get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a recent guidance.

As just over 50% of people in the US have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, workers are asking: Can my boss legally require that I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Goldman Sachs previously gave workers the option to disclose if they'd been vaccinated, allowing them to work maskless in offices if they reported that they were vaccinated. The disclosure is no longer optional. All employees must tell the company what date they were vaccinated and what brand, though they don't need to provide proof.

Read more: Employers are flooding labor lawyers' inboxes to ask if they can make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory in the workplace. Here's the advice 6 lawyers are giving clients.

Business Insider spoke with six labor and employment lawyers about whether workplaces can make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for their employees.

Can bosses make a coronavirus vaccination mandatory at the workplace?

Workers likely first want to know what exactly their employers can require of them. In short, yes, employers can make vaccines mandatory, Jimmy Robinson, managing shareholder at the L&E firm Ogletree Deakins's Richmond office, told Business Insider. He also mentioned that there would need to be religious and medical accommodations, with specific requirements varying by state and locale.

Karla Grossenbacher, chair of Seyfarth Shaw's L&E practice in Washington, DC, said that employers would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA says that employers can require medical exams and vaccinations of employees under certain, specific conditions, like for healthcare workers, or if it poses a "direct threat" to the person if they are exempted, Grossenbacher said.

The EEOC, which enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, has categorized COVID-19 as a direct threat. This designation allows employers to require temperature takes, masks, and social distancing. The federal agency has clarified that employers can mandate vaccination for employees, saying, "If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual's impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination." Medical examinations, including COVID-19 antibody testing, are not limited by the EEOC.

There are still many questions lawyers don't yet know how to answer.

Workers have other questions about what employers can ask of them, too.

Nathaniel Glasser, a partner at Epstein Becker Green, said his clients are asking if they can restrict employees from attending large gatherings, or if employees can be required to come into work if they feel it is unsafe. Thomas Wassel, a partner at the law firm Cullen and Dykman on Long Island, said that in many cases employees do have to come to work, but it depends on specific circumstances.

The Biden administration just released new COVID-19 workplace safety regulations, though they will be limited to the healthcare sector, Politico reported.

"OSHA has tailored a rule that focuses on health care, that science tells us that health care workers, particularly those who have come into regular contact with people either suspected of having or being treated for Covid-19 are most at risk," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said. "We also expect to release some updated guidance for general industry which also reflects the CDC's latest guidance and tells employers how to protect workers who have not yet been vaccinated."

Unions and worker advocacy groups are largely disappointed by the limited rules, which were expected to apply to all workplaces. Key parts of the plan require that workspaces under its jurisdiction designate workplace safety coordinators, carry out hazard assessments, mandate and provide PPE, and other typical COVID safety protocols.

Federal and state regulations conflict

The EEOC and federal law say that employers can require employees to get vaccinated, but some states are attempting to find ways around these laws.

Arkansas, Florida, and Texas all have laws specifically prohibiting businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccinations. A Texas hospital is being sued by more than 100 employees after saying that vaccines would be required for continued employment. With federal and state laws in direct conflict, it's unclear how things will shake out in Texas.

This legal gray area is likely why few companies have outright required vaccines for employees, though many are encouraging them with perks like bonus payments.

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Starbucks developed a ‘contactless’ system to avoid touching customer’s reusable mugs and it shows how hard it is to return to business as usual

Starbucks reusable cup
  • Starbucks will allow reusable mugs in stores for the first time since March 2020.
  • Baristas are not supposed to actually touch the cups.
  • After lifting mask requirements, this is another step towards returning to normal.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Starbucks just announced that customers will once again be able to bring in their own mugs later this month. To encourage sustainability, Starbucks will continue to offer a 10 cent discount for drinks in reusable cups.

Starbucks suspended the use of reusable cups in March 2020 to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in stores. Now they're back, but the process won't look quite the same. In the announcement, the company also included new protocol for filling cups that keeps baristas from ever actually touching the cup.

Read more: Nuggs won over Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who is now leading the plant-based chicken nugget startup's $50 million Series B

Customers remove the lid on their reusable cup themselves while the baristas checks that the cup is clean. "Only clean cups will be accepted; Starbucks partners will not be able to clean them for customers" the statement says.

Then the reusable cup goes inside a ceramic mug while the barista prepares the drink, without ever actually touching the cup. When it's done, the mug with the reusable cup inside is placed in the drink handoff area, where the customer can grab it.

This new reusable cup protocol begins on June 22. For now, Starbucks says they can only be used in-stores, and not in drive-thrus, though the company says it is " testing safe options for allowing personal reusable cups via the drive thru."

Life is slowly returning back to a pre-pandemic normal as more people are vaccinated. In May, Starbucks lifted mask requirements for vaccinated customers in stores in response to revised guidelines from the CDC. Employees will continue to be required to wear double masks.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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McDonald’s new BTS meal is already outpacing the hit Travis Scott meal in popularity

McDonald's BTS meal
  • McDonald's launched the BTS meal with the Korean band at the end of May.
  • In its first week, it drove more traffic to stores than the Travis Scott meal.
  • Celebrity partnerships continue to be huge for fast food companies in 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

McDonald's BTS meal is bringing in the most customers the chain has seen all year after only a week, according to foot traffic reports from third-party researchers.

McDonald's partnered with the famous Korean boy band BTS on a signature promotion in 49 countries that launched on May 26 in the US. Restaurant visits were up 12% over the previous week during the first seven days of the promotion, a report from Gordon Haskett Research Advisors found. These numbers are the highest of 2021 so far.

McDonald's customers in the US can order a BTS meal: a 10-piece McNuggets, medium fries, a medium Coke, and sweet chili and Cajun sauces inspired by menu items in McDonald's South Korea.

Read more: Shake Shack founder's VC fund just invested in this plant-based milk brand that's aiming to be the 'Nestle for millenials'

"We're excited to bring customers even closer to their beloved band in a way only McDonald's can - through our delicious food - when we introduce the BTS signature order on our menu next month," Morgan Flatley, the chief marketing officer of McDonald's US, said in a statement when the promotion was announced.

McDonald's has partnered with celebrities on signature order campaigns before to huge success. The Travis Scott meal last fall was so popular that some locations ran out of Quarter Pounder ingredients. It was also enriching for Scott personally, as he netted at least $20 million from the deal, according to Forbes. The BTS meal has the potential to be even more successful for McDonald's - it is outpacing the gains from the first week of the Travis Scott Meal, which bumped traffic 9% in the first week it was offered.

Collaborating with young artists and creators became huge for fast-food chains in 2020, and is continuing strong in 2021. The deals helped brands connect with Gen Z customers and often ended up on social media and as TikTok trends.

Like the two other celebrity collaborations, the BTS meal is made up of existing menu items to draw in customers (though the sauces are a new addition in the US), a move that analysts have praised. With a celebrity endorsement, brands can harness the energy and excitement of a new product without actually adding menu items.

The era of fast-food and celebrity partnerships isn't likely to end anytime soon. Brands continue to look for strategies to reach younger customers, and they've found something that works.

"They look to recommendations much more than any other generation has. They're very reliant on social media. They're very reliant on their friends," Flatley told Business Insider.

The BTS meal isn't yet available in every country McDonald's has planned. By June 25, residents of all 49 included countries will be able to try it out.

Despite the meal's success so far, it hasn't moved the needle as much as McDonald's chicken sandwich did. The crispy chicken sandwich launched in February bumped traffic 16% in the first week, according to Gordon Haskett. found that foot traffic increased more than 20% week-over-week in the days following the release, helping the chain get closer to pre-pandemic numbers.

Do you have a story to share about McDonald's or another company? Email [email protected].

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Burger King is promising to donate to an LGBTQ group for every chicken sandwich sold ‘even on Sundays’ amid calls to boycott Chick-fil-A

Burger King rebrand.
  • Burger King will donate to the Human Rights Campaign for every chicken sandwich sold this month.
  • BK announced the initiative in a tweet aimed at Chick-fil-A.
  • Chick-fil-A is under fire for CEO donations to groups fighting LGBTQ protections.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Burger King says that for every Ch'King sandwich sold during June, which is Pride month, it will donate to The Human Rights Campaign.

The chain announced the donation plans in a tweet on June 3 that seemed pointed at Chick-fil-A, the reigning chicken sandwich fast food restaurant. BK says it will donate 40 cents for every chicken sandwich sold up to $250,000, or 625,000 sandwiches.

Chick-fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays, is once again facing scrutiny over donations made by CEO Dan Cathy to groups fighting legislation for LGBTQ protections. Cathy is a "high-dollar donor" to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), one of the largest charities in the US with a history of funding opposition to The Equality Act, The Daily Beast reported.

Chick-fil-A itself no longer makes political donations.

Read more: Newly revealed CloudKitchen documents show how Travis Kalanick's company is pivoting as new rivals enter the crowded ghost kitchen space

The Equality Act would expand civil rights protections to LGBTQ people, making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identification in employment, housing, and other areas. The NCF funds opposition to the bill through donations to groups fighting the legislation, including the Heritage Foundation and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The Dan and Rhonda Cathy Foundation donated $5,750 to the NCF in 2018, 2017, and 2016, according to 990 tax filings.

Burger King's Pride Month promotion is a chance for it to distinguish itself from the crowded chicken sandwich landscape. Burger King released the Ch'King sandwich on June 3 after two years of recipe testing.

KFC, Popeyes, and McDonald's all sell their own versions of crispy chicken sandwiches, though Chick-fil-A remains the chain to beat. As of December 2020, Chick-fil-A still had by far the largest share of online chicken sandwiches sales at 45%. No other brand even reached 20%.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Costco says it’s getting more expensive keep the rotisserie chicken at $4.99, but it won’t raise the price

Costco employee chicken
  • Costco CFO says that the company is under "inflationary pressures" with shortages.
  • The company says it won't increase the $4.99 rotisserie chicken price.
  • The rotisserie chicken is sold at a loss to draw in customers.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Costco's famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens are getting more expensive for the store to stock, according to Chief Financial Officer Rich Galanti.

Inflation and rising costs are making nearly everything more expensive for consumers, from meat and cheese to electronics. Big box stores like Costco aren't immune to these higher costs, some of which may be passed on to customers, Insider's Áine Caine reported.

Costco is under "inflationary pressures," Galanti said in an earnings call, including "higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with the container shortage and port delays," along with widespread shortages.

Read more: Ghost kitchens operators like CloudKitchens, Kitchen United, and All Day Kitchens are expanding their business models beyond the rent-a-space model as competition heats up

The price of a rotisserie chicken should stay the same for customers, though Galanti says "there's been some pressure on some cost components of these items. So those are already impacting our margins a little." The chickens were already sold at a loss for Costco - the $4.99 price has remained the same since 2009, even as costs of labor and production have increased.

"When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 [million] to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99," Galanti said in 2015. The chickens are sold at a loss, but they, along with gas and food court items, draw customers into stores where they might make other more profitable purchases.

The rotisserie chickens are also a Costco staple. The big box store sold 87 million in 2017, and 91 million in 2018. To keep costs as low as possible, Costco opened the $450 million facility in Nebraska in 2019, which processes about 2 million chickens a week, with plans to eventually supply nearly half of the chain's total chickens.

As prices increase, hot dogs are the other staple Costco customers can count on to stay at the same price, even as beef costs surge as much as 20%. The hot dog and soda combination has been priced at $1.50 since 1985.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Dunkin’ and Krispy Kreme are giving away free doughnuts for national doughnut day

Krispy Kreme donuts
  • Friday June 4 2021 is National Doughnut Day.
  • Krispy Kreme, Dunkin', and Tim Horton's are all running doughnut discounts for customers.
  • DiGiorno also created a limited-edition pizza doughnut.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Friday June 4 is National Doughnut Day, and brands are giving away free treats.

At Krispy Kreme, anyone can get one free doughnut of their choice, no purchase necessary. Customers with proof of COVID-19 vaccination can also get a second glazed doughnut for free.

Read more: The founders of a chocolate startup turned down an acquisition from Hershey's and are using their Instagram reality show and $10 million in revenue to try for an IPO

"On National Doughnut Day, stop by and enjoy any doughnut you want on us. And if you're helping us get past this pandemic by getting your COVID-19 vaccine, then THANK YOU and have a second doughnut on us," CMO Dave Skena said in a statement.

Krispy Kreme says it has already given away more than 1.5 million free doughnuts since launching the program in March, with plans to give out thousands more through the rest of the year.

Dunkin' will also give out free doughnuts with the purchase of a beverage, the company said. To celebrate, Dunkin' also launched a National Doughnut Day merch collection with tote bags, tee shirts, and sweatshirts.

Dunkin National Doughnut Day Merch

Tim Horton's is selling doughnuts to rewards members for only 50 cents with any purchase over 50 cents, and the deal lasts through June 15.

Finally, frozen pizza seller DiGiorno is giving fans the chance to try a combination pizza and doughnut, or DiGiornut.

Anyone 18 years old or older can enter online by the end of National Doughnut Day for the chance to try the unusual offering.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Taco Bell is bringing back its controversial Naked Chicken Chalupa to get in on the chicken sandwich wars

Taco Bell's Naked Chicken Chalupa
  • Taco Bell is bringing back the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
  • First introduced in 2017, chalupa fillings are served inside a fried chicken shell.
  • The chain also announced a Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco earlier this year.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Taco Bell is bringing back the Naked Chicken Chalupa on May 20, the chain's latest offering in the slate of chicken "sandwiches."

The item - consisting of a crunchy fried chicken shell wrapped around lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and avocado ranch sauce -was first introduced as a limited-time menu offering in 2017 after years of testing. That first launch was such a hit that Taco Bell brought it back the next year and launched several other fried chicken products.

In a 2018 taste test, Insider called it the chain's "most controversial chalupa ever,"

Taco Bell menu items usually use ground beef or beans as protein, but it hasn't shied away from testing chicken dishes. There was the Crispy Chicken Chickstar in 2015, followed by Naked Chicken Chips and Crispy Chicken Quesadilla following the unorthodox chalupa. Most recently, Taco Bell released the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco in a few markets ahead of a nationwide release.

"When you look at the industry, you see the same sandwich being introduced as new everywhere, but at Taco Bell, being a follower isn't our philosophy. We've listened to our fans and we're confident this is the perfect time to bring back this fan-favorite," Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's chief "food innovation officer, said in a press release.

Taco Bell is one of many players in the world of fast-food chicken sandwiches and similar dishes. The segment has become red-hot in recent years.

Several chains are gearing up to introduce competitors to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes, both of which sell wildly popular crispy chicken sandwiches with pickles.

In January, KFC introduced a crispy chicken sandwich now available nationwide, and Jimmy John's dropped its own version of the chicken sandwich in a Super Bowl ad earlier this year. Burger King announced a new chicken sandwich coming later this year, and McDonald's latest chicken sandwich has been praised as a worthy competitor to Chick-fil-A.

Taco Bell is known for a frequently-changing menu and bringing back old favorites. Matthews hinted that more chicken dishes could be on the horizon.

"The Naked Chicken Chalupa is just the beginning of Taco Bell's chicken offerings this year with more unexpected menu items being introduced at a later time," she said.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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Bernie Sanders will join striking McDonald’s workers demanding higher wages ahead of the chain’s annual investor meeting

McDonald's workers striking Fight for $15
  • McDonald's workers in 15 US cities plan to strike on May 19 for higher wages.
  • Bernie Sanders and AOC will join the striking workers and make a speech.
  • The strikes are planned for the day before McDonald's annual shareholder meeting.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will join McDonald's workers in strikes planned around the US for higher wages on May 19, the day before the company's annual shareholders meeting.

On "Walkout Wednesday," employees in 15 US cities will go on strike to demand all McDonald's workers make at least $15 per hour. So far, the strikes are planned for Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Raleigh-Durham, Fayetteville, Houston, and Milwaukee.

A demonstration is also planned outside the company's Chicago headquarters, organizers from the advocacy group Fight for $15 said.

Sen. Sanders and two current McDonald's employees will give remarks about the strike in a livestreamed event, then workers in a Durham, North Carolina McDonald's will stream from their picket line.

Read more: McDonald's franchisees blame hiring challenges on unemployment benefits and say an 'inflationary time bomb' will force them to hike Big Mac prices

"When working people stand together, they cannot be defeated," Sen. Sanders told Insider. "I'm proud to join courageous workers who are taking on corporate greed and demanding dignity on the job. The time is now to end starvation wages in the richest country in the world."

McDonald's announced earlier in April that it would raise minimum wages at corporate-owned stores. Entry-level workers will make at least $11 per hour, and shift managers will make at least $15, boosting the average worker by about 10%. The chain is aiming to hire 10,000 new employees in the coming months and says its average hourly wage is expected to reach $15 by 2024.

The raises only impact the 5% of locations owned by the company in the US, not franchises.

The Company previously told Insider when the demonstrations were first planned that it depends on local governments for minimum wage laws.

"It's the responsibility of federal and local government to set minimum wage, and we're open to dialogue so that any changes meet the needs of thousands of hardworking restaurant employees and the 2,000 McDonald's independent owner/operators who run small businesses," a spokesperson said.

The strikes comes as fast food restaurants struggle to hire enough workers. A labor shortage in many sectors of the economy has been a boon to some dissatisfied retail workers who are suddenly able to shop around for new jobs and leave retail for other industries.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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