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U.S. bars, restaurants ultimate World Cup winners

Top 10 hot dog toppings Sporting events drive on-premise alcohol sales Few restaurants hiring summer help Restaurants are leaders in overall job growth Habit Burger tops Consumer Reports survey

In a feat of blasphemy, ketchup has beaten out relish and cheese as a preferred hot dog topping, according to sales data released by JJ's Red Hots. Based on two years of orders dat the Charlotte-based hot dog shop, here are the  top 10 hot dog toppings:

1. Mustard
2. Onions
3. Chili
4. Slaw
5. Ketchup
6. Relish/pickles
7. Bacon
8. Sauerkraut
9. Cheese
10. Hot relish

On the heels of a U.S.-Portugal World Cup match recording the most U.S. viewers of any soccer match ever, new research shows just how much bars and restaurants can capitalize on sporting events.

Research from Mintel shows that over half (56 percent) of consumers have consumed an alcoholic drink away from home in the past month, helping push on-premise alcohol sales 5.4 percent over 2013 levels. Mintel forecasts continued growth, with on-premise alcohol sales expected to reach $105 billion by 2018. But opportunities remaih: 30 percent of repondents said they have chosen to drink at home and 20 percent at someone else's house while watching a sporting event.

Key findings:

  • Men are far more likely than women to attach drinking to an activity like watching sports at home (37% vs. 23%), while women are more likely (46% vs. 42%) to drink at social gatherings at someone else's home.
  • Beer drinkers are more likely than consumers of any other alcohol type to drink while watching a sports game at home (36% vs. 30% of overall sample).
  • Millennials are the most likely generation to have consumed alcohol at a pub/brewery (27%) over the past month (vs. 20% of overall sample and 18% of baby boomers).
  • Midwesterners are more likely than any other region to have visited a neighborhood bar in the past month (25% vs. 20% overall, 17% for the West Coast).

Summer jobs at local restaurants will be hard to come by for student workers this season. A new poll of small business owners by Employers, a small-business insurance specialist, shows only one in five (19 percent) are planning to hire student workers this summer.

Most small businesses that are hiring this summer are looking to fill clerical or office work positions (42 percent) or need help with construction work or manual labor (41 percent). Only 13 percent plan to fill restaurant or foodservice positions.

Small businesses that plan to hire students this summer don’t anticipate much difficulty finding employees. Three-fourths of them said they expect finding a student worker to be easy. Small businesses value students because of their flexible schedules (33%), lower pay rate (27%) and ability to bring fresh ideas (14%).

On the other hand, restaurants continue to be among the leaders in overall job growth.

The industry added a net 32,800 jobs in June and more than 173,000 jobs during the first six months of the year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, restaurant employment was up 3.1 percent on a year-to-date basis through June 2014, nearly double the 1.7 percent gain in total U.S. employment.

Quick-service restaurants added jobs at a strong 4 percent rate, putting the segment on pace to post job growth of at least 4 percent for the third consecutive year. The full-service segment added jobs at a 2.9 percent rate through the first five months of 2014. The snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment, which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops, added jobs at a robust 6.1 percent rate on a year-to-date basis through May 2014.

The Habit Burger Grill captured the No. 1 spot in the burger category in Consumer Reports'  latest fast food survey.

The survey, which appears in the August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, reflects a reader survey involving 96,208 meals at 65 chains. The findings show that Americans are spending more than ever to dine out—topping $680 billion per year—but are demanding more for their money, higher-quality fast food and greater variety than can be found at the national chains.

The Habit currently operates in California, Arizona and Utah in the fast casual better-burger segment, offering a signature Charburger. There also are two Habit Trucks in L.A. and Orange County.

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