Best Chain Restaurant - 2009
Proposal: Require any chain restaurant applying for a Florida operating license to complete a 16-week course mastering the Char-Hut methodology. This little five-store Florida franchise, which opened its first outlet in 1976 to sell char-grilled burgers, onion rings, and hot dogs, is doing so many things right that it's easy to lose track. It serves nutritious food at low prices — a fresh, lean burger that's won approval from the American Heart Association; side orders of whole baked sweet or Idaho potatoes, black beans and rice, cole slaw, and plantains; salads topped with grilled tuna steak or chicken. Further, the franchises are located in suburban communities and reach out to their neighbors with specials — discounts for local teachers and faculty, free food for youngsters wearing uniforms on game days, junior burgers and hot dogs for every A a kid earns on her report card. They have stuff for vegetarians. Discounts for seniors. They're so squeaky-clean that it's almost painful. Their food is delicious. With every patty they flip over a hot grill, they sew up one small tear in fast food's tattered reputation.