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...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Sbarro will close 155 out of 400 stores that it owns and operates in North America, largely in mall food courts.

The Journal notes that Sbarro "struggled after taking on debt as part of a 2007 buyout by investment firm MidOcean Partners. It closed more than 150 restaurants in the two years before its April 2011 bankruptcy filing. MidOcean didn't retain ownership following Sbarro's bankruptcy exit in 2012."

Even after the closings, there will be more than 800 Sbarro owned and franchised units globally.

Feel bad about the people who are going to get laid off, and the holes that now will exist in a bunch of malls. That said, it isn't a huge culinary loss except to those who like heavy, greasy, generally tasteless pizza and pasta dishes. However, on a positive note … at least nobody has accused Sbarro employees of peeing in the sink or picking their noses and putting it on the pizza.

Advertising Age reports that "Mondelez International is going on a digital-marketing binge as the maker of Oreo and Trident finds a better return on investment online than from TV ads, executives said today at a financial conference.

"The company's goal is to grow mobile and digital from about a quarter of its media budget to more than half of all spending by 2016, Mark Clouse, the company's North American president said at the annual meeting of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York."

• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) says that more than 130 supermarket chefs, representing 30 different retailers, submitted recipes for the annual FMI Supermarket Chef Showdown before the November deadline and now await their selection among the semi-finalists on April 15.

The top-25 finalists will compete live in front of celebrity judges in a special kitchen stadium created on the convention floor at FMI Connect on June 11, 2014 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The chef’s recipes varied across five established categories that include: Healthy Meals; Family Meals; Ethnic Meals; Dessert; and Side-Dishes/Mini Meals/Snacks.

• The Washington Business Journal reports that Ahold-owned Giant Foods has signed a deal with BrightFarms Inc. to supply produce to its stores from an "urban greenhouse" in the District of Columbia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BrightHouse has been signing a series of deals with companies like Roundy's, Schnucks and Cub Foods to provide products from similar locations around the country.

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets has said that it plans to open more than 60 stores in the US Midwest over the next five years. Fresh Thyme is described as "the result of a merger between the former Sunflower Farmers Market, a chain of groceries based in Phoenix, and Sprouts Farmers Market, a group of more than 160 stores throughout the West and Southwest."

According to the story, "Chris Sherrell, Fresh Thyme's president and CEO, previously held the same title at Sunflower. His LinkedIn profile says he is based in Phoenix, but Fresh Thyme's site says the company will move to the Midwest, most likely Chicago. Company executives were not immediately available for comment. According to information on Fresh Thyme's site, the new company's investors are leaders of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retail giant Meijer Cos."
KC's View: