DBusiness Daily Update: Study: Fast Food Customer Satisfaction Slipping, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Full-service restaurants are the preferred way of dining for most customers. // File Photo
Full-service restaurants are the preferred way of dining for most customers. // File Photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Study: Fast Food Customer Satisfaction Slipping

Customers continue to prefer full-service over fast-food restaurants, and the gap is widening, according to the new Ann Arbor-based American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Restaurant Study 2021-2022.

Customer satisfaction with full-service restaurants is stable with a score of 80 (on a scale of 0 to 100), while the fast-food industry dropped 2.6 percent to 76.

Although they remain the preferred way to dine out, some full-service restaurants had more success than others with the shift to digital, touchless dining.

“The large group of smaller full-service restaurants experiences substantial deterioration in mobile app quality, contributing to a steep decline for the industry overall, which tumbles 8 percent to 78,” says Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI. “Amid the pandemic, restaurants needed to quickly up their game in the mobile arena. With fewer resources, smaller chains and independent restaurants are offering apps that aren’t making the grade per customers. In contrast, positive shifts in both mobile app quality and reliability for several larger chains appear to reflect major app updates for these bigger industry players.”

After securing the industry lead last year, the group of smaller restaurants declined 1 percent to an ACSI score of 80, falling into a three-way tie for the top spot with LongHorn Steakhouse (unchanged) and Texas Roadhouse (unchanged).

Cracker Barrel (unchanged) and Fridays (up 1 percent) are next at 78 apiece, followed by three full-service restaurants with scores of 77: Olive Garden (down 4 percent), Outback Steakhouse (down 1 percent), and Red Robin (down 1 percent).

Chili’s and The Cheesecake Factory both slid 1 percent to 76, ahead of Denny’s and Red Lobster, falling 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively, to 75. Buffalo Wild Wings was next, down 3 percent to an ACSI score of 74.

Applebee’s and IHOP both occupy the bottom spot with scores of 73. The former slipped 5 percent, while the latter dipped 1 percent.

Chick-fil-A leads the industry – and all restaurants – for the eighth straight year with a steady ACSI score of 83.

The group of smaller fast-food purveyors slipped 1 percent to 79, tying ACSI newcomer Jimmy John’s for second place. Domino’s (down 3 percent) and KFC (down 1 percent) followed suit at 78 each.

Four chains scored 77: Chipotle (unchanged), Panera Bread (down 1 percent), Pizza Hut (down 1 percent), and Starbucks (down 3 percent). Three fast food restaurants fell to 76: Arby’s (down 1 percent), Five Guys (down 3 percent), and Papa Johns (down 1 percent).

Burger King, Little Caesars, and Panda Express all dipped 1 percent to meet a stable Subway at 75. Dairy Queen (unchanged), Dunkin’ (down 4 percent), and Sonic (up 1 percent) are next with scores of 74, just ahead of Wendy’s, which stays put at 73.

McDonald’s remained in last place after faltering 3 percent to an ACSI score of 68.

For more information, visit theacsi.org.

Ginosko Development Co. in Novi Completes $105M Deal to Preserve Affordable Housing

Ginosko Development Co. (GDC) in Novi, L+M Development Partners (L+M), and CPC Mortgage Co., both of New York, have closed a $105.7 million transaction to acquire and preserve a portfolio of affordable rental buildings in Michigan totaling 1,370 units.

CPC Mortgage Co. is providing Freddie Mac first mortgage financing as well as subordinate debt to assist in the acquisition. The partnership between GDC and L+M will help preserve the long-term affordability and quality of the properties, which are located in the cities of Detroit, Saginaw, Walker, Center Line, Monroe, Canton, and Pontiac.

“Here you had a minority development company with the creativity and know-how to structure this portfolio located in its own backyard, coupled with the additional financial wherewithal and collective genius of L+M, CPC, and Merchants,” says Amin Irving, founder, president, and CEO of GDC. “I truly do believe these deals reflect the heart of economic and collaborative equality.  Everyone has been an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Jeffrey Moelis, managing director at L+M Development Partners, says: “At L+M, our mission is centered around ensuring communities have access to safe, high quality, affordable housing and we’re proud to extend this commitment to our Michigan portfolio. Preserving our nation’s affordable housing stock has never been more important and as we work to rehabilitate each site, residents will not only receive improved living environments but will also be assured that their homes will remain affordable. We thank our financing partners for helping us advance this plan and look forward to working alongside Ginosko to breathe new life into each of these nine properties.”

The subject properties are:

  • Detroit: 350 rental units
  • Saginaw: 120 rental units
  • Walker: 100 rental units
  • Center Line: 252 rental units
  • Monroe: 200 rental units
  • Canton: 147 rental units
  • Pontiac: 201 rental units

USABC in Southfield Awards $3.5M Battery Development Contract to California Company

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium in Southfield has awarded a $3.5 million technology development contract to Zenlabs Energy Inc. in Fremont, Calif. for a low-cost/fast-charge (LCFC) technology development.

The contract award, which includes a 50 percent cost share, funds a 24-month project that began earlier this year. The program will focus on electrolyte and active material development to form a stable passivation layer on the surface of both the anode and cathode, and address the remaining challenges associated with high-energy, high-power, and low-cost silicon-dominant anode cells for EV applications. This is Zenlabs’ third contract with USABC.

“The low-cost/fast-charge contract award with Zenlabs is part of USABC’s broad battery technology research and development program,” says Steve Zimmer, executive director of USCAR. “Programs like this are critical to advancing the technology needed to meet both near- and long-term goals that will enable broader scale vehicle electrification.”

For more information, visit here.

Newmark Arranges 741,923-square-foot Industrial Lease at Wixom Assembly Park

Newmark in Farmington Hills has arranged the lease for an undisclosed tenant at Wixom Assembly Park.

The tenant will occupy 741,923 square feet of industrial space in the two-phase, five-building, 1.6 million-square-foot industrial park at the former site of the Ford Motor Co. Wixom Assembly Plant.

“We have had strong leasing momentum at Wixom Assembly Park, with two out of the five buildings having been delivered and now fully leased,” says Dan Labes, executive managing director of Newmark “This is a testament to the unprecedented and still-growing demand for bulk warehouse product in this market.”

The first two buildings of the complex, Buildings A and B, have delivered. Buildings C, D, and E are slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2023 totaling more than 1.6 million square feet.

The park can accommodate tenants 50,000 square feet and larger. Each building offers multiple loading docks and plentiful car and trailer parking. Permitted uses include warehouse, distribution, logistics, light industrial, and assembly.

Stellantis Establishing a Primary Care Health and Wellness Center in Toledo

Auburn Hills’ Stellantis will open a comprehensive primary care health and wellness center in Toledo, Ohio, exclusively for the more than 9,500 employees and their families working and living within a 15-mile radius of the facility.

The automaker is collaborating with ProMedica Health System to provide a personalized, comprehensive health and wellness experience supported by a leading and respected health system in a new, state-of-the-art medical center, the company says.

Opening to employees and their families in July, this new health and wellness center provides access to such services as preventative and acute care, chronic disease management, infant/pediatric care, women’s health services, behavioral health services, physical therapy, nutrition and health education coaching, advanced medical diagnostics, virtual care options, pharmacy services, and more.

“As a global automaker and mobility provider with a diverse and talented workforce, Stellantis understands that investing in our employees’ health and well-being is good business,” says Tobin J. Williams, senior vice president for human resources for Stellantis North America. “Our goal in opening this facility is to improve our employees’ access to quality and convenient health care.”

The 12,000-square-foot health and wellness center will feature 13 examination rooms along with eight consultation, lab, and treatment rooms, and a large physical therapy area. It will provide a low- to no-cost option for acute, preventative, and wellness-focused primary care services for all Stellantis employees and their covered family members enrolled in the company’s health care plans.

UAW-represented employees will not be charged any office visit co-pays when they use the services offered by the clinic. And, as a non-traditional medical office, appointment times are expected to be longer to ensure adequate time to address each patient’s medical needs.

“We are excited to be partnering with Stellantis on a top-notch, dedicated family health and wellness center for its northwest Ohio employees,” says Dr. Kent Bishop, president and chief medical officer , ProMedica Physicians and chief medical officer for ProMedica Physicians. “ProMedica’s expert care team is committed to helping Stellantis employees and their eligible family members improve their health and well-being by providing coordinated, customized and convenient primary care and wellness services. With the potential to provide patient cost-savings benefits and encourage a healthier workforce, this new clinic presents a win-win situation for Stellantis and its local employees.”

New Approach Reduces EV Battery Testing Time by 75%

Testing the longevity of new electric vehicle battery designs could be four times faster with a streamlined approach, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have shown.

Their optimization framework could drastically reduce the cost of assessing how battery configurations will perform over the long haul.

“The goal is to design a better battery and, traditionally, the industry has tried to do that using trial and error testing,” says Wei Lu, U-M professor of mechanical engineering and leader of the research team behind the framework, published in Patterns-Cell Press. “It takes such a long time to evaluate.”

With electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers grappling with range anxiety and concerns of charging availability, the optimization system developed by Lu’s team could cut the time for both simulation and physical testing of new and better batteries by about 75 percent. That speed could provide a major boost to battery developers searching for the right combination of materials and configurations to ensure that consumers always have enough capacity to reach their destinations.

Parameters involved in battery design include everything from the materials used to the thickness of the electrodes to the size of the particles in the electrode and more. Testing each configuration usually means several months of fully charging and then fully discharging — or cycling the battery — 1,000 times to mimic a decade of use. It is extremely time-consuming to repeat this test through the huge number of possible battery designs to discover the better ones.

“Our approach not only reduces testing time, but it automatically generates better designs,” Lu says. “We use early feedback to discard unpromising battery configurations rather than cycling them till the end. This is not a simple task since a battery configuration performing mediocrely during early cycles may do well later on, or vice versa.

“We have formulated the early-stopping process systematically and enabled the system to learn from the accumulated data to yield new promising configurations.”

To get a sizable reduction in the time and cost, U-M engineers harnessed the latest in machine learning to create a system that knows both when to quit and how to get better as it goes.

The framework halts cycling tests that don’t get off to promising starts in order to save resources using the mathematical techniques known as Asynchronous Successive Halving Algorithm and Hyperband. Meanwhile, it takes data from previous tests and suggests new sets of promising parameters to investigate using Tree of Parzen Estimators.

In addition to cutting off tests that lack promise, a key time-saving element in U-M’s system is the way it generates multiple battery configurations to be tested at the same time, known as asynchronous parallelization. If any configuration completes testing or is discarded, the algorithm immediately calculates a new configuration to test without the need to wait for the results of other tests.

To review the work of the U-M researchers, visit here.

Ascension Michigan Recognized for Providing High-quality Cardiovascular Care

Ascension Michigan has received seven American Heart Association Get with the Guidelines achievement awards for demonstrating commitment to following up-to-date, research-based guidelines for the treatment of heart disease and stroke, ultimately leading to more lives saved, shorter recovery times and fewer readmissions to the hospital.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke or heart attack, and heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the United States, respectively. Studies show patients can recover better when providers consistently follow treatment guidelines.

Get with the Guidelines puts the expertise of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to work for hospitals nationwide, helping ensure patient care is aligned with the latest evidence- and research-based guidelines. As a participant in the Get with the Guidelines program, Ascension Michigan hospitals qualified for the award by demonstrating commitment to improving quality care.

“Ascension Michigan is committed to improving care for the patients and communities we serve by adhering to the latest treatment guidelines and streamlining processes to ensure timely and proper care for heart attacks and strokes,” says Dr. Doug Apple, chief clinical officer at Ascension Michigan. “The Get with the Guidelines program makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis, which helps us ensure more people in Michigan experience longer, healthier lives.”

This year, Ascension Michigan facilities received the following achievement awards:

AHA Get with the Guidelines – Stroke GOLD PLUS

  • Ascension Borgess Hospital, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
  • Ascension Genesys Hospital, with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
  • Ascension Providence Hospital, Novi Campus, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
  • Ascension Providence Hospital, Southfield Campus, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
  • Ascension St. John Hospital, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite, Advanced Therapy and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
  • Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, Advanced Therapy and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.

AHA Get with the Guidelines – Stroke SILVER PLUS

  • Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital, Warren Campus, with Target: Stroke Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.

Forgotten Harvest Announces New Harvest Heatwave Fundraising Event for Aug. 12

Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park has announced its newest family-friendly fundraising event, Harvest Heatwave, presented by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services from 6-10:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at Beacon Park in downtown Detroit.

Featuring food, drinks, outdoors games, music, and a screening of movie classic “The Sandlot” under the stars, Harvest Heatwave is designed to be an educational and entertaining experience for Forgotten Harvest supporters of all ages.

Proceeds from tickets, sponsorships and auction sales will benefit Forgotten Harvest’s distribution efforts to fight food waste and food insecurity across Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Tickets ($100 adult / $25 children [ages 14 and younger]) for the event are on sale now online and include a meal ticket, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, and access to event activities.

The event will feature a Food Truck Village including Satellite, The Drunken Rooster, a taco truck with a Mediterranean Twist, Nu Deli, and an ice cream station, courtesy of Guernsey Farms Dairy. Lumen will have a pop-up bar for event attendees.

Sponsorship packages begin at $1,000. For questions regarding sponsorship opportunities, contact Erica Marra at emarra@forgottenharvest.org.

An online auction will take place in conjunction with this event. For questions regarding the auction or information on how to donate an item, contact Hank Wolfe Rodriguez at hwolfe@forgottenharvest.org.