Would you like a beer with that Whopper?
It's not a question you'd expect to hear when ordering up some fast food at Burger King -- but that's about to change.
By Jim Woods
Burger King (BKC) announced it would be serving beer at its new "Whopper Bar" located in the South Beach section of Miami, which it plans to open sometime in mid-February. The move is widely seen as an attempt to compete with casual dining restaurants in the tourist-packed area.
This is also likely an attempt to go after a younger (but not too young) crowd at a time when the restaurant industry is struggling and people are looking for cheaper dining options.
If you're in the mood for an adult beverage with your combo meal, you can swap your soda for a brewski for about $2 more. Or, if you're going straight for the hard stuff, ordering up a beer will run you $4.50.
The company said it will start by offering Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors beers, but may add more selections in the future.
Now, Burger King doesn't plan to make beer a part of its menu in existing restaurants, so the temperance-movement types out there needn't worry. But if the Whopper Bar concept is successful, I suspect we'll see more of these restaurants opening up in other tourist-heavy cities such as New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The idea of selling beer at a fast-food restaurant may be new to the United States, but Burger King already sells the adult beverage at its name-brand restaurants in lager-friendly Germany, and in its Whopper Bars in Singapore and Venezuela.
The Burger King announcement came the same day rival McDonald's (MCD) reported super-sized quarterly profits. Before Friday's opening bell, the fast-food behemoth revealed it earned $1.2 billion, or $1.11 per share, in its most recent quarter. That figure is up 21.8% from the same quarter a year ago, and the company's bottom-line EPS figure easily satiated analysts' appetites for earnings of only $1.02 per share.
We'll find out what kind of earnings meal Burger King served up for its latest quarter on Feb. 4, but I expect the company to meet or beat Street expectations based on research that shows improving conditions in the restaurant sector.
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John Stumpf acknowledges that growth has been slow, but he says he's still optimistic.
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