Fast Food | St. Louis Public Radio

Fast Food

Michael Kupstas is president and CEO of regional fast-food chain Lion's Choice, which has been around for more than five decades.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Several years ago, restaurant industry veteran Michael “Kup” Kupstas was happily enjoying retirement when the appeal of Lion’s Choice prompted a change of plans. He wound up reentering the workforce in 2017 as the regional fast-food chain’s president and CEO.

“It was really the similarity of an experience I had early on [in a previous role] with Panera, to be honest,” Kupstas said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, explaining what impressed him about Lion’s Choice. “I think what makes certain brands stand out is that they are able to differentiate dramatically in a really crowded field.”

Kupstas told host Sarah Fenske that he was also drawn to the “loyal, fanatic fans” and the employees of Lion’s Choice, which Food & Wine magazine recently deemed Missouri’s best fast food.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating fast food restaurants over hiring practices.

At issue are so-called no-poaching agreements. That’s where restaurant franchisees are prohibited from hiring people away from other franchise owners.

St. Louis Native Helped Create Happy Meals

Nov 19, 2014
McDonald's Chicken McNugget Happy Meal
McDonald's

Two things are certain: Kids like toys and nearly every story has a St. Louis connection. Case in point: The genesis of McDonald's Happy Meal.

In the 1970s, St. Louis native Joe Johnston went to work for a Cleveland marketing agency. That's where he had a hand in changing fast food.

St. Louis Fast Food Workers Join Strikes Around U.S.

Sep 3, 2014
Striking fast food workers in south St. Louis, MO.
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Many St. Louis fast food workers will walk off the job Thursday as part of a national call for a $15-an-hour wage and for union rights.

National organizers behind #StrikeFastFood say workers in more than 100 cities will strike, but St. Louis workers won’t be picketing here.

Striking fast food workers in south St. Louis, MO.
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Fast food workers around the globe and in St. Louis went on strike Thursday. Workers, wearing black T-shirts that say "Show Me $15," rallied in front of a Wendy's in south St. Louis. The workers are asking for $15 an hour, about double what many workers currently receive. 

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Raising the minimum wage would be a big help for people like Shnette Hooker, an employee at a McDonald’s in Spanish Lake. Hooker said, it would allow people “to save a little money,” “take care of their kids” and “get off the assistance that everybody is on.” 

But more than just that, Hooker said boosting the minimum wage is a matter of fairness.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2013 - Proponents of boosting wages for fast-food workers and other minimum-wage workers held a public hearing Monday at St. Louis City Hall to publicize a study showing how many fast-food workers rely on public assistance.

The event organized by Jobs with Justice’s Workers’ Rights Board featured employees saying how wages at fast-food restaurants aren’t high enough to stay off of public assistance -- such as Medicaid or food stamps.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 26, 2013 - While fast food workers continue their push for a $15 hourly wage, polls find that a majority of Americans would support an increase of some type in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 23, 2013 - Is $15 an hour to flip burgers or toss pizzas a realistic demand? When was the last time the federal minimum wage -- $7.25 per hour -- was adjusted? Who are America's minimum-wage workers? What is a living wage?

The Beacon has been looking into the many issues surrounding the recent protests by fast food workers demanding higher wages and the right to organize. Here you will find background information about some of the issues behind their demands and the growing debate over the federal minimum wage.

Fast-food workers demonstrate for higher wages as part of a national effort.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2013: Just as she did in May, Shermale Humphrey was on the picket line at noon Monday to protest the low wages and few benefits that she and others receive as they flip hamburgers and serve customers at the region's fast-food restaurants.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 21, 2013 - Seven weeks after the local protests by fast-food workers in early May, activists reaffirm their belief that the two-day pickets did more than highlight the fight over restaurant workers’ low wages.

“St. Louis has developed a national reputation for strong community support,’’ said Martin Rafanan, community director for STL735, the name for the local effort to increase the minimum wage above the state’s $7.35 an hour.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 9, 2013 - A work stoppage that began Wednesday morning with four employees at a Jimmy John’s in south St. Louis is slated to spread to at least two dozen other fast-food restaurants on Thursday, organizers say, as part of a national push to unionize fast-food workers and increase the minimum wage.

Erin Williams

Fast food workers and supporters donned ponchos and held signs today as they rallied for change in the Central West End as part of the STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign.

Protesters marched between Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Domino’s Pizza as they seek a pay increase for employees to $15 an hour and the right to unionize without backlash.

One of the protesters was Kenta Jackson, a shift leader at Church’s Chicken who makes $8.50 an hour. She didn’t tell her manager she wouldn’t be at work, but isn’t worried about the repercussions.