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Burger Business reports that fast feeder Jack in the Box last week "quietly moved its menu and its dining experience a notch more upscale, small shifts that will result in the repositioning of the brand up and away from many QSR competitors ... The new Buttery Jack burgers are quarter-pound beef patties puddled with melted garlic-herb butter like a fine steak and served on a new bakery-style signature bun.

"Two varieties - both at top-tier prices - are available: The $4.49 Classic Buttery Jack has creamy tomato sauce, green leaf lettuce, fresh tomatoes and Provolone cheese; the $4.79 Bacon & Swiss Buttery Jack has creamy bacon mayo, hickory-smoked bacon and Swiss cheese."

The story notes that Jack in the Box’s plans "to refine its food and the experience of eating it. Later this year, food will start being served in baskets by crew in new uniforms, for example."

CEO Len Comma suggested to analysts late last year that this is just the beginning:

“I think what you can expect to see over the next couple of years is that we will focus holistically on executing the brand in a way to drive more consumer loyalty or affinity to the brand. And that will have to be done through a combination of things,” he said. “One, I think we really have to look at our menu very carefully to decide how we can generate a greater consumer value proposition. And I think when you look at the equities that we have on our existing menu and look at the innovation that we have been able to achieve over the last handful of years, I think we have a golden opportunity to up the ante with our menu and really take both taste and quality to a new level.”
KC's View:
I have to be honest here. I don't have a Jack in the Box anywhere near me, so I can't sample the new products anytime soon. And it's been a while since I've been to a Jack in the Box; it's probably been since college, and I have a vague memory of the milkshakes there being an inexpensive hangover cure.

That said ... I have to wonder if this is the kind of move that McDonald's needs to make. Under five bucks may be a top-tier price in the fast food business, but it seems reasonably affordable as an upscale option ... and a focus on taste strikes me as the best way to go in such a competitive marketplace.

I also think it is notable that the folks at Jack in the Box seem to understand that this is not an overnight transformation. it is going to take years. That's going to be McDonald's other problem ... because there are a lot of folks out there who will expect changes to take place overnight. That ain't gonna happen.