The week that was: 03/16/14

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Long live the Kings

Upgrading from white bread to multigrain toast on turkey clubs is one element of a culinary revamp meant to draw investors to the Kings Family Restaurant chain, founded by Hartley C. King. The chain has introduced a new menu stocked with pretzel bun sliders, an upgraded macaroni and cheese, and a meatloaf cupcake topped with mashed potatoes. The plan is to show that the chain, which is for sale, can compete with fast casual restaurants such as Panera Bread for consumer dollars. In 2012, Kings closed two locations and posted $51.2 million in sales, down 5 percent from $54 million the previous year.

Barriers to entry level

The rite of passage that once was an after-school job has become a privilege for the shrinking pool of teens able to snag employment. A Brookings Institution report showed that at the start of the recession in 2000, the seven-county southwestern Pennsylvania region had an unemployment rate of 40.2 percent for 16- to 19-year-olds. By 2012, the rate had fallen to 35.1 percent, the second lowest decline in the country. Economist and report coauthor Andrew Sum said the lack of work as a teenager affects future career advancement.

Layoff and hiring

Highmark Inc. announced Wednesday that it laid off 100 employees nationally, including 40 in Pittsburgh. The positions eliminated encompassed "a variety of health plan operation areas." More than half of the positions eliminated will eventually be re-established through new hires. Highmark has laid off more than 250 people in the last two months.

Legal leap

Future lawyers seeking options post-undergrad have a little more reason to think locally, according to U.S. News and World report. Duquesne, which made the list for the first time last year, moved up from 144th to a five-way tie for 121st in the magazine's annual ranking. The University of Pittsburgh Law School, which fell from 69th to 91st last year, moved up to 81st, tied with nine other schools. Ken Gormley, dean of Duquesne Law School, said the ranking is likely due to its commitment to maintaining admissions standards and Pitt Law School Dean William Carter attributed the jump to increased job placement success and steady LSAT scores.

Quote of the week:

"The Girl Scouts are very invested with connecting the dots for girls with real women who have real careers. And those women don't look like Barbie. And that's OK because neither do our girls."

-- Christy Uffelman, partner in Align Leadership Pittsburgh, about the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania's decision not to promote the national Girl Scouts' partnership with Barbie manufacturer Mattel.

Deborah M. Todd:, 412-263-1652 or on Twitter @Deborahmtodd.

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