Personnel Updates:

American Blue Ribbon Holdings announced the hiring of three strategic leadership positions at O’Charley’s: David Ellis, VP of Marketing; Bill Powell, Senior Director of Culinary; and Kim Zimmerman Florence, Director of Learning & Development.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. announced the appointment of Michael P. Huseby to CEO.

Barton Creek Resort & Spa announced the appointment of Riaan Nel as Director of Food and Beverage, John Boulware as Director of Finance and Tom Moore as Director of Engineering.

Bennigan’s named Yedid and Lucas Dudley as Training Manager and Franchise Operations Manager, respectively; Don Holly was promoted to Director of Operations; and Kathy McGee was named VP of Supply Chain Kogistics and Administration.

Bloomin’ Brands Inc. promoted Michael Kappitt to Chief Marketing Officer.

Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc. announced Clifton Rutledge was appointed as CEO effective 1/24/14. Rutledge joins Bojangles’ from Whataburger and succeeds current CEO Randy Kibler, who will remain active as Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. Bojangles’ also promoted its Senior VP of Company Operations Kenny Avery to COO.

Boneheads’ hired Brett Sheley as Director of Franchise Sales and Brooke Humphries as Marketing and Franchise Support Coordinator.

BR Guest Hospitality announced that James Gersten has been appointed as CEO/President, succeeding Stephen Hanson, who is stepping down from his role to pursue other opportunities.

Buffalo Wild Wings named Amy Smith its next Director of Culinary Innovation; Smith most recently was at Logan’s Roadhouse.

Capital Restaurant Concepts co-founder Paul Cohn resigned.

Carlson has appointed David Berg as COO.

Crumbs Bake Shop, Inc. announced that CEO/President Julian R. Geiger resigned effective 12/31/13. Edward M. Slezak was appointed as interim CEO in addition to his current roles as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary.

Darden Restaurants announced the following personnel changes to occur following the separation of its Red Lobster business: Kim Lopdrup, currently Darden’s President, Specialty Restaurant Group and New Business, has been selected to serve as CEO of Red Lobster following the separation; Harald Herrmann assumed the role of President of the Specialty Restaurant Group in January. Salli Setta, who was appointed as President of Red Lobster in July, will continue in that role. If the business separation is a spin-off, Brad Richmond will become CFO and CAO of Red Lobster upon completion of the transaction.

Destination Hotels & Resorts announces the appointment of Ed Simon as VP of Sales and Jim O’Donnell as Director of National Sales for the Northeast region.

DineEquity, Inc. announced the appointment of Daniel del Olmo as President, International; he was most recently at Wyndham Hotel Group.

Farmer Bros.’ VP/Controller Hortensia R. Gomez will leave the company effective 1/24.

First Watch announced the hiring of Joe Genovese as VP, Franchise Development;  Genovese joins First Watch from Starbucks Coffee Company.

LaSalle Hotel Properties promoted Ian Gaum to Chief Investment Officer.

Marco’s Franchising LLC has named Cathy Hull as the company’s first Chief Marketing Officer; Hull comes to Toledo, Ohio-based Marco’s from Fazoli’s LLC.

Marriott International, Inc.‘s named Karin Timpone Global Marketing Officer.

MOD Pizza hired Brad Baker as VP Design and Construction, Greta Pass as VP Real Estate, and Steve O’Neill as Director Operations Services.

Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced the appointment of Saul V. Reibstein, as Senior VP and CFO. Penn National also promoted Jay Snowden to COO/Senior VP and announced that effective 1/6/14, William J. (“B. J.”) Fair was appointed Senior VP, Chief Development Officer.

Pier House Resort & Spa hired Maria Manso as the new Executive Chef.

Sage Hospitality announced its first Chief People Officer, Lisa Donovan.

sbe Entertainment promoted Philip Spee to Director of Operations-Restaurants.

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced the appointment of Aaron Glick to VP of Global Brand Management.

Smallcakes: A Cupcakery announced the appointment of Nadia Saqr as CEO for its U.S. franchises.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced the appointment of Anthony Ingham as VP, North America Brand Management, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels Worldwide and Le Méridien

The American Hotel & Lodging Association Inducted John Fitzgerald as Chairman, elected Mark Carrier as incoming Corporate Secretary/Treasurer and appointed Brian Crawford as VP of Governmental and Political Affairs.

The Broadmoor promoted John Rovie to VP of Sales and Marketing; Pepper Dombroski replaces Rovie as Director of Sales at the Broadmoor.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek hired Luke Mathot as Director of Food and Beverage.

The Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association hired Eric D. Terry as its President, succeeding Executive Director Barry Hawkins.

Tropical Smoothie Café hired Lisa Wenda as its first Chief Marketing Officer.

Whataburger announced two promotions: Pam Cox has been promoted to the role of VP of Communications for Whatabrands and David Wilson, formerly CIO will now serve as Senior VP and Chief of Staff for Whatabrands.

Yogurtland has promoted COO Huntley Castner to CEO, replacing founder, Phillip Chang, who will become Chairman.

Yum! Brands, Inc. announced it has appointed David Gibbs, 50, as President of its Pizza Hut business in the U.S., and Jason Marker, 43, as General Manager of its KFC business in the U.S.


Financial Focus:

Diversified Restaurant Holdings reported preliminary unaudited revenue of $108,900,000 for the year ending 12/29/13.

F&H Acquisition (aka Fox & Hound Restaurant Group) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; the company, which owns and operates restaurants under the Fox and Hound, Bailey’s and Champps brand names intends to use Chapter 11 to expedite a sale of substantially all corporate assets.

Ignite Restaurant Group reported preliminary unaudited revenue of $760,700,000 for the year ending 12/30/13.

Moe’s Southwest Grill finished 2013 with $526 million in systemwide sales.

The Wendy’s Company reported preliminary unaudited revenues of $2,487,410,000 for the year ending 12/29/13.


Mergers & Acquisitions:

PJ United was sold to management and TPG Growth.

Roark Capital Group announced that an affiliate has acquired a majority stake in CKE Inc., operator of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and the Red and Green Burritos brands.

Texas Land & Cattle and Lone Star Steakhouse restaurant chains have been acquired by Day Star Restaurant Group, a newly formed corporation owned by the restaurants’ executives. Scott Smith, chairman and CEO of Texas Land & Cattle and Lone Star Steakhouse, and Tim Dungan, president and CFO of both chains, own Day Star.

The Bailey Co. sold its 47 Arby’s restaurants in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming to U.S. Beef Corp.

The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. announced that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Allen Brothers, Inc. (and its subsidiaries), based in Chicago, IL.


Industry Insight:

AFC Enterprises, Inc. announced that it has changed its corporate name to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. and its NASDAQ ticker symbol will change to “PLKI” effective at the start of trading on January 21, 2014.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels recently opened stores in Thailand, Turkey, Brunei, India, Vietnam and the Bahamas; in the coming year, it will expand into Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China and continue expansion in Israel, Indonesia and Guatemala and countries where it already has a foothold.

Buffalo Wild Wings opened a location in Mexico.

Buffalo’s Cafe, a family-friendly restaurant with classic American-inspired cuisine, opens its first location in Doha, Qatar.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop debuted its 100th restaurant.

Chanticleer Holdings Inc. has expanded its franchise agreement in Brazil and plans a spring opening in Rio de Janeiro.

Darden Restaurant Inc. announced plans to separate the Red Lobster business through either a spin-off to shareholders or a sale to another entity; the company will also forgo future acquisitions for the foreseeable future.

Denny’s, Inc. announced that it has signed a franchise agreement for the development of 30 new Denny’s restaurants in nine countries in the Middle East over the next ten years.

DineEquity, Inc. announced that it has opened the first IHOP restaurant in Saudi Arabia.

Flippin’ Pizza has signed a master franchise agreement for more than 25 locations across various countries in the Middle East.

Hilton Worldwide is now trading on the NYSE as HLT.

Jamba Juice Company announced that the Company has entered into a master franchise development agreement for 80 Jamba Juice stores across the Middle East region over the next ten years. The first Jamba Juice store is expected to open in Dubai in 2014.

Johnny Rockets opened its first location in Pakistan.

Krispy Kreme opened its first locations in Taiwan and Delhi, India.

Lombardi Family Concepts closed Café des Artistes in One Arts Plaza in Dallas.

Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes recently opened its first location in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Middle East.

Pizza Patron announced that it is suspending its franchise program indefinitely.

Starbucks celebrated the opening of its first store last week in Monaco.

The Cheesecake Factory opened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Wingstop Restaurants, Inc. announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Richardson, Texas, to “The Crossings II” professional building at 5501 LBJ Fwy. in Dallas.


Real Estate:

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza announced an agreement to develop 30 Blaze Pizza franchise units in Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Corner Bakery Cafe signed three multiunit restaurant agreements with its existing franchise partners that will add 18 locations in ID, MD, NY, and WA.

Darden Restaurants plans to reduce unit growth, primarily at Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Godfather’s Pizza is seeking franchisees in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets and will have franchise representatives in those cities 1/28 and 1/29.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. struck a development agreement to open 10 doughnut shops in Houston during the next five years.

McAlister’s Deli announced plans to develop seven restaurants in New Jersey

Pie Five Pizza Co. has a franchise agreement to open 38 locations in Northern VA, suburban MD and DC.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. announced that its namesake chain would close 30 of its 779 units over the next quarter.

SONIC Drive-In announced expansion plans in the state of New York with a franchise agreement bringing eight new Drive-Ins to Buffalo, N.Y. within the next six years. Sonic also announced expansion plans for the state of California with a franchise agreement slated to bring 10 new drive-ins to the Los Angeles market in the next seven years.

The Wendy’s Company plans 60 new restaurants and 350-400 remodels this year.

Uncle Maddio’s signed its first franchise agreement for TX, with five locations slated for Austin; other key expansion markets include Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Woody’s Bar-B-Q is opening four locations in Detroit and is hoping to expand into CO, west coast FL, KY, TN, and Canada.