That’s Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol speaking to NPR’s Marketplace; listen to the just-broadcast interview. The Yum fast-Mexican division is among employers holding job fairs around the nation with the goal of getting 100,000 more young people on the payroll by the year after next. Taco Bell accounts for 6,500 of Yum’s 43,000 restaurants worldwide with a combined 505,000 employees.
Niccol, 42, has been CEO since January 2015. He learned some of his earliest lessons as a teenager running a lawn-mowing service with friends, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pricing varied by location, and to get a contract, marketing was a must — an idea he took to future jobs. “At the time you do it, you don’t realize how it’s influencing you going forward,” he said. “I think it carries on with you in the subconscious.”
TEXAS ROADHOUSEshares tumbled $2.87 a share, or 5.9%, to close at $46.11 after Jefferies and two other investments firms downgraded the stock. They traded as low as $45.45 during the session; more than three million shares changed hands, five times average volume. The steakhouse chain’s shares have been on a tear since February; even with today’s decline, they’re up 22% from a year ago vs. a much smaller 4.3% in the S&P 500 index.
AMAZON‘s plans to deliver packages by small, unmanned drones took another step forward when the British government gave the retailer permission to start trials over rural and urban areas — a move that could bring the service to the U.K. ahead of the U.S. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority’s permission means Amazon can explore three key innovations for delivering packages weighing up to 5 lbs.: beyond line-of-sight operations; testing sensor performance to make sure drones can identify and avoid obstacles, and flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones. “This announcement,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, “strengthens our partnership with the U.K. and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world” (press release). Funny video, top, shows how Prime Air could work.
The move puts pressure on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which recently rebuffed requests by Amazon, Google and other drone makers to advance their plans. The tech giants and other manufacturers have aggressively lobbied the FAA to authorize the devices to significantly reduce costs to transport goods by UPS and FedEx, freight and trucks (New York Times). That has big implications for Louisville, where UPS employs more than 22,000 workers at its Louisville International Airport hub, making the shipper the city’s single-biggest private employer. Amazon itself employs 6,000 at two Louisville area distribution centers. More news about the U.K. plan.
Also yesterday, Amazon launched its Prime membership service in one of the world’s biggest markets: India (TechCrunch).
PIZZA HUT: In the U.K.’s Ashford, the newly refurbished Pizza Hut has reopened with a contemporary new cocktail bar and full drinks menu, as part of a nationwide drive to freshen all the chain’s stores with a more modern look. The remodeling cost about $1 million, and all workers have been trained in cocktail making (Kent and Sussex Courier). The Japanese company that’s leasing robots to Pizza Huts across Asia is expanding the program to sell insurance in Japan. The robots, dubbed Pepper, greet customers and take orders; they’re leased for $836 a month in a service managed by iPhone manufacturer Foxconn (Daily Mail).
But in the U.S., don’t worry: Pizza Hut is still hiring humans. In San Diego, shift manager applicants are asked: “Do you have a friendly, outgoing, and positive can-do attitude? Do you have what it takes to WOW a customer every time?” (Craigslist).
GE: Louisville Metro Police arrested a 43-year-old Louisville man who they said was caught by a General Electric employee trying to sell more than $7,000 worth of stolen appliances online. Terrance Qualls is accused of advertising a refrigerator valued at $2,799 for $700 on an online classifieds website, according to an arrest citation released today. A GE employee noticed the item and asked about buying it (Courier-Journal).
PAPA JOHN’S yesterday presented a $41,000 check to WHAS’s Crusade for Children. The Louisville-based pizza giant raised the money in a promotion where customers got a 20% discount while 20% of the order was donated to the charity benefiting special-needs children (WHAS). Meanwhile, in New York’s Queens borough, Papa John’s says it’s hiring delivery drivers in help-wanted ads saying they’ll earn $600 or more a week working a “safe area” (Craigslist).
TACO BELL CEO Brian Niccol has joined the 11-member board of directors of Harley Davidson (press release). Last year, directors of the motorcycle manufacturer got paid $235,000 to $290,000, depending on committee assignments, according to the 2016 shareholder’s proxy report. They also received a clothing allowance of $1,500 to buy Harley-Davidson brand apparel and accessories, plus an unspecified product discount available to all U.S. employees.
UPS: In Beaumont, Texas, Anna Gabrielle Van Hook, a 26-year-old woman hurt in a fatal crash last month, is now seeking $1 million from the shipper in a lawsuit accusing a UPS driver of traveling at an unreasonable speed on June 17, causing a chain-reaction crash involving multiple drivers. The accident started when a UPS truck hit a Mercedes from behind, and the driver of that car struck Van Hook’s car. A 45-year-old passenger in the Mercedes was killed (Enterprise).
KFC: In Swaziland’s Manzini, police are investigating allegations that a KFC restaurant manager locked two employees in a walk-in freezer for more than 20 minutes last week, before they were rescued by a co-worker who heard them banging on the door. The employees say it all began when their boss asked them to go into the freezer to retrieve some supplies (Swazi Observer).
A sports reporter who also aggregates Taco Bell news once a week for USA Today is clearly uncomfortable with negative news swirling around the Yum unit. The writer, Ted Berg, was especially unhappy with an incident last Saturday where a Taco Bell cashier in Phenix City, Ala., refused to serve two Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
“These are emotional times, the nature of which extends far beyond the scope of This Week in Taco Bell,” he writes, apparently deadly-seriously. “But this site believes firmly that Taco Bell is for the people, and that no hungry would-be Taco Bell consumer of any race, creed or occupation deserves to be denied Taco Bell unless he or she represents an obvious and imminent hazard to the safety or well-being of the other patrons or Taco Bell employees.”
Berg continues: “There’s a lot to be made of what’s going on in our world right now, and perhaps a lot that needs to be done about it. But we don’t need to make any of it about Taco Bell. Taco Bell should be a sanctuary from the never-ending onslaught of heartbreaking and awful and terrifying news we seem to face daily, not the source thereof. That those two cops wanted Taco Bell better helps me identify with and understand them, as I also want Taco Bell.”
Despite the warm welcome, Berg assured readers the visit “will not color the content of the ruthless Taco Bell journalism I aim to provide.”
Berg says This Week in Taco Bell is “the Internet’s foremost source of aggregated Taco Bell content.” But we haven’t launched Boulevard publicly yet; that’ll be Aug. 1. And then, of course, we’ll grab the top mantle for our minute-by-minute, wall-to-wall, scorched-earth coverage.