A 19-year-old fast food boss says he expects to lose half his staff in the next few weeks, as the labor shortage continues to hammer restaurants

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000 a year.
  • Cabrera said that his biggest problem is finding enough workers in the labor shortage.
  • He expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a Texas chicken restaurant told Insider that he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks.

Jason Cabrera runs the Allen, Texas, branch of the Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant chain, which promoted teenagers to management roles because of a severe staff shortage. Cabrera, who earns a $50,000 salary, estimates that he’ll need to replace 11 of his 22 junior employees in the coming weeks, with many going off to college out of state.

The labor shortage was the biggest challenge he faces as the restaurant manager, he said.

Garrett Reed, CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late-20s, early-30s” running his eight restaurants, but the labor shortage led him to promote three workers who are 18 or 19 to manager roles, including Cabrera.

Reed has found it “tough to compete” with places like Walmart and McDonalds, which can afford to offer higher wages, and many of his workers have left to join bigger companies, he said.

Read more: Leaked documents show how McDonald’s plans to win the 2021 chicken-sandwich wars. Here’s everything we know about the looming fast-food battle.

Cabrera took on the role a week after his 19th birthday in January.

He told Insider that he’s “huge on recruitment” and uses hiring service CareerPlug to find workers.

“I always refresh that page every day,” he said.

“I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any, there’s days I’ll get five.”

In recent months, restaurants have struggled to find enough workers to keep up with customer demand, leading some owners to hike wages and offer large sign-on bonuses to entice employees.

Hiring appears to be picking up: Food services and drinking places added 194,000 jobs in June, accounting for more than half of all job gains in leisure and hospitality industries that month, per Labor Department data. However, three in four independent restaurants are still struggling for workers, according to a recent poll.

A fast food worker prepares fries for the deep fat frier in the restaurant kitchen.
Jason Cabrera told Insider that he expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college.

Cabrera insists a lack of staff has not led to a drop in standards. “I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” Cabrera told Insider. He said that he looks for staff who care about the quality of service, and work with urgency.

Cabrera’s annual earnings are far above the $9.50 per hour “learning wage” that Reed said his entry-level employees receive, and the $28,860 per year the average 16 to 19-year-old can expect to make in the US, per Labor Department data.

His salary doesn’t include any performance-linked bonuses general managers might receive at the end of the year.

Cabrera said that he has struggled in past jobs to be taken seriously due to his young age, but has embraced the responsibilities of his new role.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me,” he said. “Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me.”

Cabrera told Insider that he’s saving up so he can open his own Layne’s franchise. “I just want to see how fast I can get there,” he said.

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Fast food has gotten way more expensive in the last year

  • Fast food prices are rising across the industry.
  • Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell have seen the biggest increases, according to analysts.
  • Shipping issues, labor shortages, and weather events all contribute to rising prices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Prices at fast-food chains will continue to rise as ingredients and labor grow more expensive.

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.

Nearly every fast food and fast-casual chain will likely follow, according to analysts at Gordon Haskett in a report released Thursday.

Read more: Kraft Heinz employees and analysts say 3G Capital’s cost-cutting business strategy is setting it up for failure. Here’s how the private equity firm’s playbook left it playing catchup to its rivals.

Analysts looked at 24 restaurant chains over the span of a year and found 17 of them are currently running price increases, and price increases, on the whole, are growing in both size and frequency. Quick service restaurants have seen the largest increases, averaging 6% compared to 3% at fast-casual and 1% in casual chains. Most of these increases have been implemented since March 2021.

Based on Gordon Haskett analysis, the greatest price increases have been 10% at Taco Bell, 8% at McDonald’s, and 8% at Dunkin’, follow by Chipotle and The Cheesecake Factory. Exact prices vary by market. Applebee’s, Papa John’s, Red Robin, and a few others have not adopted any price increases over the past year.

Labor costs are partially the cause of these rising prices. A truck driver shortage is making transportation more expensive, while restaurants, grocery stores, and factories are all struggling to keep fully staffed. Processing plants and farms are facing the same problems, for example, chicken farms don’t have enough employees, so they’re struggling to process birds quickly.

Labor costs might have increased for restaurants over the last year, but so did the price of ingredients. US consumer prices hit their highest level in 13 years in May, increasing 5% over the previous year. Staple Chipotle items, like corn and avocados, grew more expensive this year as demand rose and shipping delays drove prices further up. Experts say rising food costs are a combination of growing demand as consumers increase spending and supply chain struggles. Shipping delays and severe weather events have made crucial commodities more expensive and difficult to obtain.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Why McDonald’s hasn’t introduced plant-based burgers in the US after launching them around the world

FILE PHOTO: A McDonald's "PLT" burger with a Beyond Meat plant-based patty at one of 28 test restaurant locations in London, Ontario, Canada October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Moe Doiron
A McDonald’s “PLT” burger with a Beyond Meat plant-based patty at one of 28 test restaurant locations in London, Ontario

  • McDonald’s just finished testing another plant-based protein in Australia.
  • The chain has debuted McVeggie and McPlant menu items in markets around the world.
  • There are no updates about when McDonald’s US might add plant-based items.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

McDonald’s continues to debut plant-based options around the world, with the notable exception of the US.

The fast-food chain just finished a test of the McVeggie burger in Australia as demand for plant-based options continues to rise. The patty is made of Australian-grown potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, and onions, and served on a bun with lettuce, cheese, pickles, mayonnaise.

McDonald’s has been experimenting with plant-based menu items for over a year now. In September 2019, the chain announced a test run for a separate offering – the “PLT” burger, a plant, lettuce, and tomato sandwich – in some Canadian locations, with an expanded test in January 2020. The burger was made in partnership with Beyond Meat, which has also partnered with Dunkin’, TGI Fridays, and other chains.

Read more: These 10 food and consumer startups that have raised the most cash, signaling an IPO or M&A could be near

McDonald’s discontinued the Canadian test with no plans to continue, leading to a 10% dip in Beyond stock price. Beyond has since announced multi-year deals with both McDonald’s and Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands.

In November, it announced the McPlant line of plant-based meats including burgers, chicken substitutes, and other items. McDonald’s President of International Business Ian Borden called it a “proven, delicious-tasting product.”

“When customers are ready for it, it will be ready for them,” Borden said, indicating that it would test in some markets in 2021.

The McPlant is made from pea and rice proteins and has been rolled out in test runs in Denmark and Sweden this year.

McDonald’s still doesn’t have plant-based options in the US, though competitors including Burger King, Carl’s Jr, and Shake Shack have rolled out their own versions. A McDonald’s US spokesperson told Insider that right now plant-based is a global option that countries can add to menus “if customer demand is there.” There are no new updates about plans for a plant-based product in the US, McDonald’s said.

There’s reason to expect they will make it to the US eventually, though. CEO Chris Kempczinski told the New York Times that the chain continues to invest in plant-based product development, despite the fact that those items are more expensive than meat.

The McPlant name also indicates that McDonald’s sees a future in the product, as Kate Taylor reported for Insider. According to internal marketing guidelines, McDonald’s only adds the “Mc” prefix to words that “enhance the value and uniqueness of our brand.”

“It’s not a matter of if McDonald’s will get into plant-based,” Kempczinski said in November. “It’s a matter of when.”

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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A McDonald’s manager had a gun pulled on them after 2 customers complained about the amount of salt on their fries

jetcityimage/Getty Images
A McDonald’s Restaurant.

  • Two individuals were arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at a McDonald’s manager in Texas.
  • Police said the incident occurred after a verbal altercation about the salt on their fries.
  • The pair were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following the incident.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texas police arrested two individuals for allegedly pointing a gun at a McDonald’s manager in a dispute over the amount of salt on their fries.

The alleged incident occurred on July 4 at a McDonald’s restaurant north of Houston, The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office said in a statement.

Authorities said that video surveillance and multiple witnesses caught the suspects pointing a firearm at the manager during a verbal dispute at the drive-thru section of the restaurant.

Davion Guillory, 23, and Trykia Cohen, 25, were later charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

After the altercation, the pair drove off, but authorities were able to track down the car and detain them, per the police statement. Constable Mark Herman said that each individual was bailed on a $10,000 bond.

Herman added that Cohen was already out on probation for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon when the incident occurred.

McDonald’s did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment. Guillory and Cohen could not be reached for comment.

In a separate incident in July, a McDonald’s manager in Missouri lost an eye after an ex-employee’s father attacked him with a rake.

In another incident, police in Memphis said they arrested two customers for starting a shooting at Burger King because their chicken sandwich had too much hot sauce in it, Insider reported.

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Fast-food workers are leveraging the labor shortage to demand higher pay on the anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase 12 years ago

mcdonald's strike workers
  • Fast-food workers across the country are striking to demand a $15 minimum wage.
  • Strikes and rallies are planned for the anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase.
  • The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fast food and restaurant workers are planning actions across the country for July 20, the anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage was increased in the US.

Fast-food workers will strike in nine cities to demand a higher wage, according to Fight for $15, the worker advocacy group which organized the strikes. The demonstrations are planned for Asheville, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Flint, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and St. Louis, Missouri.

At the same time, restaurant workers will hold protests and rallies to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.

“Twelve years without a raise in the minimum wage is way too long. I’m going on strike today because I can’t afford to wait any longer for $15/hr – not while costs are going up and I’m still recovering from the devastation of the pandemic,” a McDonald’s worker in Houston, Martha Osorto, told Insider in a statement via Fight for $15. “I show up every day to do my job, and now it’s time for the Senate to do its job and raise the minimum wage so that all of us, regardless of where we live or work, are paid enough to survive.”

Retail workers are in a unique position right now, with more leverage than at any time in recent history. Restaurants can’t keep locations staffed at pre-pandemic levels, so they have to compete for workers with sign-on bonuses and other perks. The labor shortage in many sectors of the economy is a boon to some dissatisfied retail workers who are suddenly able to shop around for new jobs.

Restaurant workers quit at record levels in April, the most recent month for which there is data, and it’s another sign that employers are going to have to work harder to attract and retain workers. Many venues are so desperate that they’re posting signs pleading with customers to be patient because they don’t have enough workers.

Read more: Travis Kalanick said CloudKitchens would transform restaurants forever. Restaurant operators say it’s been a mixed bag, at best.

The quit rate, which refers to the percentage of people who voluntarily leave their jobs over the period, reached 5.6% in April for the foodservice and accommodations sector. That number is an all-time high for the industry, according to Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, and it was more than twice the rate of the economy as a whole, not counting farming jobs.

There are already some signs that the tide may be turning in workers’ favor. In May, Chipotle announced that it would raise the average wage to $15 per hour, an increase of $2. The chain was looking to fill 20,000 positions and received 24,000 applicants shortly after announcing higher wages. Meanwhile, smaller perks like paying potential employees for interviews hasn’t yielded the same results, hammering home the message that the only way to attract workers right now is to pay them more.

McDonald’s also 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 wage 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. These changes will only impact about 5% of McDonald’s workers, however.

The federal minimum was last increased in 2009, to its current level of $7.25. Some states have higher minimums, but in 2019, 392,000 workers earned the federal minimum wage, and 1.2 million earned less, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Juliana Kaplan reported for Insider.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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I compared McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich to Chick-fil-A’s, and I thought they were almost identical

chick fil a mcdonalds thumb
McDonald’s has come out with an undeniably good chicken sandwich that’s similar to Chick-fil-A’s.

In February, McDonald’s replaced its buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich with a new lineup of sandwiches.

mcdonalds chicken sandwich before and after
McDonald’s buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich (left) and the new crispy chicken sandwich.

On February 24, McDonald’s launched its newest lineup of chicken sandwiches: the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, the Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Immediately, fans and industry experts began to notice that the new offerings seemed very similar to Chick-fil-A’s and Popeyes’ iconic chicken sandwiches. Insider’s Kate Taylor previously reported on a leaked menu that revealed McDonald’s plans to release a new chicken sandwich, saying that the chain was planning to “take a page out of Chick-fil-A’s playbook.”

Former McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz told Insider “it’s very apparent” that McDonald’s is following Chick-fil-A’s lead with its sandwich. “It comes in a foil bag just like Chick-fil-A, from what I understand it has a very similar flavor profile,” he said.

The description for the McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich described it as a “southern style fried chicken sandwich” with crinkle-cut pickles and a toasted, buttered potato roll. Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich also comes on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips. 

However, I wasn’t going to assume that the sandwiches were identical — I had to try them for myself.

I tried the new McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich and compared it to Chick-fil-A’s original chicken sandwich.

mcdonalds chick fil a chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

Both sandwiches came in a foil and paper bag. They also both stayed warm, despite half an hour passing between the time I picked them up and when I finally got them home. 

The sandwiches were similar in size, though Chick-fil-A’s bun and chicken fillet looked ever-so-slightly bigger.

mcdonalds chick fil a chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

I noticed that each sandwich had a very different bun. McDonald’s bun was harder and slightly denser, while Chick-fil-A’s was softer and slightly bigger than the fillet inside.

I’ve had the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich countless times, but I tried to go into this taste test with a fresh perspective.

chick fil a chicken sandwich
Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

The chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A cost me $6.85, making it slightly more expensive than the McDonald’s sandwich. 

Chick-fil-A has been consistently voted as one of America’s most beloved fast-food chains, and customer loyalty is high. 

“Chick-fil-A has very strong brand loyalists,” former McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz told Insider. “I’ve sat in panels when I was doing chicken work. They will try the food, but when you tell them it’s not from Chick-fil-A they’ll say, ‘Well, I think it’s great but I’m not going to buy it because I am a Chick-fil-A consumer.'”

However, Haracz explains that “there are some people who might go to Chick-fil-A strictly for the flavor” alone, and if McDonald’s can match that, they may be swayed.

Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, which comes served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips, is a favorite among customers.

chick fil a chicken sandwich
Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

According to a report by Edison Trends, Chick-fil-A received more online chicken sandwich delivery orders than any other brand in most of 2020, cornering around 45% of the total online order market share.

The bun was light and fluffy and the chicken breast was the perfect thickness.

popeyes chicken sandwich
Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

Chick-fil-A’s chicken breast was flakier as opposed to juicy. Looking at both of the sandwiches, the fillet itself also looked slightly bigger. The breading was thinner and clung to the chicken breast well, which gave it a great texture. 

However, I was slightly disappointed by Chick-fil-A’s pickles — they didn’t have the strong briny flavor or crunchiness I usually look for.

Next up was the newcomer: the McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.

mcdonalds chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.

The McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich cost $5.99 at my local chain in Brooklyn, New York.

The chicken fillet was thick – right off the bat, it looked really similar to sandwiches I’ve had from other chains.

mcdonalds chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.

I’ve been a fan of McDonald’s chicken sandwiches for years, but I could already tell that I was going to like this new sandwich a lot more.

The sandwich came with a few whole pickle chips on top of the chicken fillet.

mcdonalds chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.

The bun held the contents of the sandwich together perfectly, and in terms of size, I thought McDonald’s did a great job at nailing the bun-to-chicken ratio. 

Biting in, I was immediately impressed.

mcdonalds chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.

The breading of the sandwich had a slight sweetness to it. However, it was perfectly balanced out by the tart, crunchy pickles, which had a strong briny flavor. The chicken was thick, juicy, and flavorful.

The only aspect of the sandwich I wasn’t totally in love with was the bun — though it was a good size, I thought it was slightly too thick. I’m of the opinion that a sandwich bun’s sole purpose is to hold everything together, without overpowering the other ingredients. I think this thicker potato bun slightly missed the mark on that.

It was really hard to say which one I liked more. However, I have to give props where props are due – McDonald’s has come out with an undeniably good chicken sandwich.

mcdonalds chick fil a chicken sandwich
McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.

So, how similar were the two sandwiches? Pretty similar, in my opinion. If I was to do a blind taste test, I might not even know which was which, unless one was slathered in Chick-fil-A sauce. However, this is not to say that McDonald’s is in any way actively trying to copy or imitate Chick-fil-A’s most iconic offering.

The fact is that there is a trend in what consumers across the board are looking for in a chicken sandwich, whether they’re ordering from Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Popeyes, or any other chain.

Judging by the success of the chicken-war competitors, consumers want a Southern-inspired flavor with juicy, flavorful chicken and tart and crunchy pickles. McDonald’s definitely delivered on all counts.

As far as this food reporter is concerned, the new McDonald’s chicken sandwich stacks up well against fan favorites — and might even be a new go-to menu item.

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Wendy’s launched a popup ‘Rick and Morty’-themed restaurant – see inside

  • Wendy’s opened a “Rick and Morty” themed pop up restaurant in LA this month.
  • The chain is also selling two themed drinks through August at 5000 locations.
  • The Adult Swim show has collaborated with Wendy’s before, and also has a history with McDonald’s.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A Panorama City, California Wendy’s was converted into Morty’s for the weekend of June 18 through June 20.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant exterior
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

The popup had a special themed menu only available for the weekend.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

It was the only Wendy’s serving the limited edition Pickle Rick Pickle Frosty.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

Every detail reflected the theme, including all the packaging.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

Even employee uniforms were updated for the event.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

The restaurant’s drive-thru was transformed into an LED “Rick and Morty” experience.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

Giant inflatable characters tied the whole thing together.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

Coca-Cola and Wendy’s also released two limited edition drinks available through August 22: Mello Yello BerryJerryboree and Mello Yello Portal Time Lemon Lime.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

The show’s fifth season is integrated with the promotion. The drinks launched with the season premiere, and will stay throughout its run to the season finale.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

“We love finding authentic ways to connect with this passionate fanbase and are excited to extend the Rick and Morty experience into our menu, incredible content and great delivery deals all season long,” Carl Loredo, Wendy’s CMO, said in a statement.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

The popup seemed to be a success, with fans driving from long distances and waiting as many as seven hours to experience the drive-thru.

Wendy's launched a Rick and Morty popup restaurant
Wendy’s Rick and Morty LA popup.

Source: Ad Age

McDonald’s famously collaborated with “Rick and Morty” in 2017 to sell Szechuan McNugget sauce, but demand far outpaced supply and the promotion descended into chaos at some locations.

McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

Source: Insider

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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A McDonald’s manager lost an eye after an-ex employee’s father assaulted him with a rake in Missouri. It marks the latest in a series of violent attacks at fast-food chains.

A McDonald’s manager lost an eye after being attacked by a fired employee’s dad, KPLR reported.

  • A McDonald’s manager lost an eye after being attacked by an ex-employee’s dad, KPLR reported.
  • The victim was beaten with a 5-foot-long rake and now wears a prosthetic eye.
  • A Missouri man has found guilty of the attack and is facing 30 years in prison.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Missouri man faces 30 years in prison after he was found guilty of attacking a McDonald’s manager with a rake. The victim subsequently lost an eye and now wears a prosthetic one, KPLR reported.

The incident, which took place in Chesterfield, Missouri, on January 9, 2019, occurred after a dispute involving the defendant, Kendell Cooks, who said his daughter was fired by the manager in question.

There has been a recent uptick in violent attacks taking place at fast-food and drink chains. This month, police said they arrested two customers for a shooting at a Memphis Burger King restaurant after they were reportedly served a chicken sandwich with too much hot sauce, per Insider’s Grace Dean.

In another similar incident, a Florida man was accused of pulling a gun on a Starbucks employee, who turned out to be the local police chief’s daughter, over not having cream cheese for his bagel.

The McDonald’s attack in Chesterfield, Missouri, led to Cooks, 38, being charged on three counts of first-degree assault, armed criminal action, and a felony count of property damage.

It all began after a McDonald’s employee – Cooks’s daughter – was dismissed by her manager, Jeffery Jackson, for reportedly not wearing the standard work attire and using improper language in front of customers, per KPLR.

Cooks claimed the manager shoved his daughter out the restaurant door but this was contradicted by video footage, according to St. Louis County Circuit judge Nellie Ribaudo.

Following the firing, Cooks and several others then drove to McDonald’s and beat Jackson, who was sitting in his car during a lunch break. They used a 5-foot-long rake obtained from nearby trash as weapons.

KPLR reported that the attack was filmed in part on Jackson’s dashboard camera, and that glass and blood was found inside the victim’s car after the offense.

Jackson had to undergo five surgeries to repair his vision but still ended up losing an eye, per KPLR. “It was a very dangerous crime, a life-threatening crime,” Sam Alton, chief of staff for Wesley Bell, the prosecuting attorney of St. Louis County, told the outlet.

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Protesting workers at a McDonald’s in France who occupied a closing restaurant turned it into a food bank serving hundreds of thousands

A McDonald's restaurant sign is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in Del Mar, California April 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
A McDonald’s restaurant sign is seen at a McDonald’s restaurant in Del Mar, California

  • A McDonald’s in Marseille, France, became a food bank after staff occupied it to resist shutdown.
  • Known as “L’Après M” or “the after M,” it has served thousands of residents in recent years.
  • It has fed countless locals, especially in the pandemic, in a neighborhood hard-hit by poverty.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At one McDonald’s in Marseille, France, everyone eats for free. Locals don’t pay a dime – or euro – for food there because the location is now a food bank.

The restaurant originally opened with government backing in 1992 in a majority-Muslim neighborhood grappling with poverty and eventually employed 77 people, according to Vice. One of them was manager Kamel Guemari, who had been working there for more than 20 years since starting as a 16-year-old, according to NPR.

The location was one of six franchises that frequently changed hands. In 2018, its franchiser said he would sell his five other locations to a fellow McDonald’s franchiser. This particular store, however, would be sold on its own and turned into a halal restaurant, NPR reports.

Closing the branch would mean shutting off a major source of employment for the neighborhood. One of the food bank’s organizers told Vice that, with the McDonald’s gone, the only other place for residents to find work was a local hypermarket.

So Guemari took drastic action. In August 2018, he locked himself in the restaurant, drenched himself in gasoline and threatened to light himself on fire, Forbes reports. In the coming weeks, other employees would join him in occupying the McDonald’s to protest its planned closure.

When the pandemic hit, the workers stepped up to feed residents. They dubbed the location “L’Après M,” or “the after M,” to represent the new life it has taken on after serving as a McDonald’s. Farmers, shops and organizations donated food to L’Après M, while locals chipped in cash to fund its operations, according to Vice.

The food bank served at least 100,000 people in its first five weeks of operation, according to Vice.

Earlier this month, Marseille’s government announced it would buy the building, saving it from closure over its illegal occupation, according to The Washington Post. Besides distributing food, the food bank hosts a variety of events today, in line with its community-building mission.

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Companies like State Farm and McDonalds say they support LGBT rights, but their franchisees and agents sometimes have other ideas

A McDonalds’ restaurant sign is seen as the restaurant is closed due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on April 19, 2020 in Southampton, England.

  • Insider investigated the campaign finance records of Arkansas lawmakers who sponsored anti-transgender legislation.
  • Several visibly LGBT-friendly companies, their agents, and franchise owners gave money to the laws’ sponsors.
  • McDonald’s franchise owners and State Farm agents donated a combined $107,000 to the Arkansas legislators.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The franchisees and agents of companies like McDonald’s and State Farm directed vast sums to legislators that backed some of the most anti-LGBT legislation passed this year.

Arkansas was one of several states across the US that enacted legislation restricting trans women from playing on women’s sports teams during the 2021 legislative session and was the only state to pass legislation that aims to remove access to medical care and punish those who treat trans youth.

Insider pored through campaign finance records from the Arkansas Secretary of State for the 76 members of the Arkansas legislature who sponsored House Bill 1570 or Senate Bill 354. We then digitized the records to identify key corporate supporters and found that several corporations that position themselves as LGBT allies have agents, employees, and franchise owners that donated to the sponsors of Arkansas legislation using their company’s name and branding since 2018.

State Farm Insurance, for example, frequently takes part in local Pride Month events and proudly touts the company’s support on its website. State Farm public affairs specialist Michal Brower told Insider that the company does not donate directly to state legislators.

“State Farm does have a Federal PAC (SFF PAC), which allows our employees and agents to collectively provide funds to individual candidates across party lines,” Brower said. “The SFF PAC does not provide contributions to state-level candidates or legislators in Arkansas, past or present.”

But while the company itself did not send money to Arkansas legislators, several of its individual agents donated $72,000 through a separate political action committee: the Arkansas State Farm Association PAC. The two surviving PAC officers did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Much like State Farm, McDonald’s also proudly positions itself as a supportive ally of the LGBT+ community through various digital campaigns and media sponsorships, but McDonald’s franchise owners donated a combined $35,000 to 52 of the sponsors of the anti-trans legislation since 2018 through the McDonald’s Local Owner Operators of Arkansas PAC.

The company promotes on its Diversity and Inclusion webpage that it received a perfect score in each of the last five years on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. McDonald’s did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

LGBT advocates told Insider that corporate support on Pride Month is inadequate if the company continues to finance the sponsors of deleterious legislation.

“Corporations can’t celebrate Pride with us in June and expect us to look the other way if they fund anti-LGBTQ campaigns, legislators, and activist groups,” GLAAD Rapid Response Manager Mary Emily O’Hara told Insider. “Being a corporate ally means speaking up for what’s right and helping fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination all year long. It’s not just throwing a rainbow on some packaging one month out of the year.”

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