Personnel Updates:
AFC Enterprises(dba Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen) named CMO Richard Lynch as Chief Global Brand Officer.
Applebee’s Services, Inc. announced today that Steve Layt has been named Senior VP, Operations; he most recently was COO and Exec VP of Buffets Holdings, Inc.
bd’s Mongolian Grill named Joe Phraner to succeed Rodger Head as President and COO.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s named Gene Savage its next Director of Franchise Sales and Development.
Brooklyn Water Enterprises Inc. hired David Ross as Chief Development Officer.
Caesars Entertainment: announced the following title changes: Jonathan S. Halkyard’s title was changed from Senior VP and CFO to Exec VP and CFO; John W. R. Payne’s title was changed from President of Enterprise Shared Services and Central Division to President of Enterprise Shared Services; and Thomas M. Jenkin’s title was changed from Western Division President to President of Operations.
Captain D’s Seafood named former Burger King VP Jonathan Muhtar as its new Chief Marketing Officer.
Carlson Restaurants promoted Ricky Richardson to COO of T.G.I. Friday’s.
Cosi, Inc. announced the appointment of Carin L. Stutz as the company’s new CEO and President beginning 1/1/12; she was most recently at Brinker International.
Gosh Enterprises (dba Charley’s Grilled Subs) named Mike Cassar VP of Marketing, replacing James Pa.
Hooters of America, LLC has named Sam Rothschild as COO; he was most recently Senior VP of Operations at Applebee’s.
Kona Grill, Inc. appointed Marci Rude to the position of VP of Development.
Le Duff America Inc., owner of Bruegger’s, announced that co-CEO James Greco stepped down as of 12/27/11; David Austin will continue to lead Bruegger’s in his role as President.
Margaritas Management Group named Bonnie Monahan as CFO; she was most recently with Dunkin’ Brands.
Marriott International Inc.’s CEO J.W. “Bill” Marriott will step down from the role on 3/31/12; he will be succeeded by Arne Sorenson as CEO but will remain as Chairman.
MI Developments Inc. announced the appointment of Tom Heslip as CEO; he replaces Bill Lenehan, who had served as MID’s Interim CEO
MTR Gaming Group Inc. announced that Joe Billhimer has become the Company’s Exec VP and COO. In addition, Fred Buro has become the Company’s VP and Chief Marketing Officer.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced that Wayne Smith has been named General Manager of Hollywood Casino Joliet effective in early January 2012. He succeeds Jon Johnson.
Rita’s Water Ice Franchise Co. LLC’s new Chairman is Thomas Christopoul and Jonathan Fornaci is the new President and CEO, effective immediately; most recently, Fornaci served as President of Straw Hat Pizza.
Starbucks Coffee Company announced that Paula Boggs will retire as general counsel and secretary on 4/2/12.
Stellar Restaurant Group (dba Boloco) announced that Christine San Juan will join its team as VP of People Development, leading personnel development and training; she comes from Bertucci’s.
Subway has named Joe Chaves its Director of Operations and Rebecca Audet Director of Worldwide Training.
Twin Peaks Restaurants promoted Lindsay Fulmer to Front of House Training Coordinator.
Financial Focus:
Carrols Restaurant Group has filed a registration form with the SEC to spin off its Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropicalbrands as Fiesta Restaurant Group. Once the transaction occurs, certain personnel changes are anticipated: Joseph Zirkman, Michael A. Biviano and James E. Tunnessen will resign their positions at Carrols, and Paul Flanders and Timothy LaLonde will resign their roles at Fiesta.
Majestic Star Casino emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with Wayzata Investment Partners as the primary shareholder.
Perkins & Marie Callender’s Inc. emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy; Wayzata Investment Partners is the majority stockholder.
Round Table Pizza’s reorganization plan was approved by a bankruptcy judge and the company will emerge from chapter 11, maintaining ownership under the existing employee stock ownership plan trust.
The Wendy’s Company announced it will transfer its stock listing to The NASDAQ Stock Market on 12/27/11 and will continue to trade under the ticker symbol WEN.
Mergers & Acquisitions:
A&W Restaurants Inc. was acquired by A Great American Brand LLC, a group formed by domestic and international A&W Restaurants franchisees.
BR Guest Hospitality purchased the Strip Housesteakhouse brand from The Glazier Groupand will operate the restaurants in New York and Las Vegas; The Glazier Group will continue to operate the remaining locations.
Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen acquired Grandy’s Country Cookin’; Grandy’s will operate as a separate subsidiary of Captain D’s.
Falconhead Capital LLC says it has taken a controlling stake in Rita’s Water Ice Franchise Co. LLC.
First Watch Restaurants Inc. was sold to Freeman Spogli & Co.; senior management will remain.
Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc’s franchise development subsidiary has acquired Buffalo’s Franchise Concepts Inc. (dba Buffalo’s Café).
Metz Culinary Management acquired S & S Food Administrators.
Morton’s Restaurant Group entered into an agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Fertitta Entertainment; the transaction is expected to close in February.
NPC International Inc. was sold to an affiliate of Olympus Partners; NPC International is the nation’s largest U.S. Pizza Hut franchisee with more than 1,150 locations.
Tasti D-Liteannounced the acquisition of Planet Smoothie, LLC, a franchise system with more than 100 units in operation, mainly in FL and GA.
Industry Insight:
AJC International’s new corporate address is 1000 Abernathy Road NE, Suite 600, Atlanta, Georgia 30328; the phone and fax numbers are unchanged.
Bennigan’s Franchising Co. has inked a master franchise agreement to open 10 new Bennigan’s in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey. The first restaurant is expected to open in 2012.
Dunkin’ Donutsopened its 10,000th restaurant with a location in Xi’An, China.
Johnny Rocketssigned a franchising agreement that calls for five restaurants in the next five years.
Orange Leaf Holdings opened its first Australian location.
Red Mangoreported a franchise agreement in Mexico.
Round Table Pizza announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with the Mesa Group to develop 20 restaurants in Vietnam; the first Round Table restaurant will open in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2012.
Starbucks Coffee Company entered another five new Chinese cities, bringing the total to 13 new cities in Mainland China.
The Wendy’s Company announced plans to consolidate its World Headquarters in Dublin, OH and will close its Atlanta Restaurant Support Center operations in late 2012.
The Wendy’s Company announced a return to Japan with the opening of a restaurant in Tokyo; it is the first of an anticipated 100 restaurants that will open in the country within the next five years.
Yum! Brandshas outlined major expansion plans in India for KFC and Pizza Hut with plans to grow the KFC count to 500 by 2015 and Pizza Hut to 250 in that same time frame.
Real Estate:
CiCi’s Pizzahas partnered with strategic site modeling company Birchwood Resultants to add another 500 restaurants in the next eight to 10 years.
Dave & Buster’s opened its first MA location; the company plans to open 20 new arcade-restaurant locations across the country over the next five years.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit opened its first CT location.
Dunkin’ Donutswill open 10 restaurants in the Baton Rouge market by 2018.
HuHot Mongolian Grill plans to have more than 50 restaurants open by the end of 2012, which is a 25% increase from 2011; new locations are planned for CO, IA, MN, NC, UT, and WI.
McDonald’splans to add at least 10 restaurants in Manhattan within the next three to five years.
Muscle Maker Grill has opened its first TX location;  the first of 10 scheduled to open in the Austin and Dallas areas over the next five years.
Penn Station East Coast Subs has signed nine multi-unit deals this year for a total of 62 new restaurants in MI, MO, TN, KY, OH, and NC.  The company will open in Columbia MO, Bowling Green KY, Grand Rapids MI, Chattanooga TN, and Lansing MI, for the first time next year.
Pizza Patrónhas executed a development agreement to bring 20 stores to the Highway 99 corridor of the Fresno CA area within the next 48 months.
Round Table Pizza Inc. plans to open 10 new domestic locations in 2012.
Smashburgerhas signed lease agreements to open its first two Canadian locations; the first is expected to open in Calgary in 2012 and there are plans to expand to another 10-15 units in the Calgary and Edmonton markets.
Subway Restaurants plans to open 2,500 restaurants in 2012; the company is expanding in nontraditional spaces such as convenience stores, department stores, train stations, museums, hotel lobbies and movie theaters.
Woody’s Bar-B-Qis offering a 2,500-3,000-square-foot fast-casual model and 1,000-1,500-square-foot fast-casual express model to franchisees instead of the larger 5,000-6,000 casual diners it previously offered.
Green Initiatives:
MGM ResortsInternational has earned top honors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for outstanding achievement in food waste recycling programs at the company’s Las Vegas Strip resorts. The company will be presented with the EPA’s 2011 WasteWise Gold Achievement-Food Recovery Award as part of the agency’s annual competition, which recognizes public and private entities for their environmental sustainability efforts.
Starbucks is about to open a Seattle-area store made mostly out of four upcycled shipping containers; the take-out-only prototype may be followed by more container-based stores.
US Foodsrecently activated a 905-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system at its Phoenix AZ division. The solar array is the foodservice distributor’s third installation, including a panel in San Francisco and La Mirada CA, and one of the largest rooftop installations in Phoenix. It is expected to provide 15 percent of the division’s power needs annually.