RESTAURANTS: Milkshake Cum Laude

Milkshake Cum Laude

"Fast food used to be a bootstraps business -- you started out as a fry cook and then became president. No longer." So says Professor Don Smith of Washington State University, who holds what may be the first endowed chair for the study of the fast-food industry, thanks to a $250,000 grant from Taco Bell. A former executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Shakey's pizza- parlor chain, Smith says the booming $60 billion industry is suffering a shortage of skilled managers.

To help fill the gap, Smith teaches such diverse subjects as market psychology, distribution systems and new-product development. Within...

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