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A McCafe in the Czech Republic.
Burger King has opened a standalone concept called The Dessert Bar in London that offers ice cream and baked goods but no burgers. It’s apparently an answer to McDonald’s McCafé, which the chain is testing as a standalone brand in Paris.
According to a report in MarketingWeek, The Dessert Bar opened in the Westfield London Shopping Center in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood. The menu includes the BK Fusions ice cream treats and mini pancakes that the chain already sells in UK plus brownies, cakes, cookies and muffins. MarketingWeek quotes Sarah Power, Burker King UK’s marketing director, as called the dessert shop the “next stage of the company’s expanding restaurant portfolio.” That portfolio also includes the seven Whopper Bars (four in the U.S. plus three overseas). The chain reportedly tested the Dessert Bar concept in Benidorm, Spain, earlier this year.
McDonald’s recently told analysts that it is now the No. 1 coffee seller in the UK, and it will pad that lead with the addition of espresso drinks this month. McCafé sales account for 6% of U.S. sales, the company says. “We do see coffee as a point of leverage and growth for us as we move forward,” McDonald’s President-COO Don Thompson told analysts in October.
The opening in October of a tiny (100 square meters) standalone McCafé in the Defense district of Paris, across from a traditional McDonald’s, signaled the chain’s intent to test the elasticity of the cafe concept. With coffees and baked goods, a standalone McCafé can set up shop in small spaces and challenge Starbucks, which is expanding its own baked- goods menu here and in Europe.
McDonald’s operates more than 1,200 McCafés in Europe. In the UK, the menu includes brownies and doughnuts, but in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and other markets, McCafés offer a broad range of sweets foods. In Germany this spring, McCafés added cupcakes named for New York City neighborhoods.
These chains’ interest in sweets and baked goods shouldn’t be surprising as there has been a steady flow of research indicating that dessert sales are a business opportunity on the rise. Chicago-based Technomic’s 2010 Dessert Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers have consistently eaten more dessert over the past three years. Only 1% of its sample says they don’t eat dessert. “Bite-size/mini desserts” ranked No. 4 on the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 “What’s Hot” trend list. And research from Mintel finds that 24% of consumers said they’d like to see more bite-sized desserts on fine-dining menus.