Personnel Update

Barnes & Noble, Inc. appointed Frederic “Fred” D. Argir as VP and Chief Digital Officer reporting to Jaime Carey, COO.

Bojangles’ Inc. announced that Jayson Romeo was named VP of Information Technology and Strategic Planning.

CB Franchise Systems named Edie Ames President and COO. In her new role, Ames will oversee operations for The Counter and its 4-unit fast-casual sister concept, Built Custom Burgers.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants appointed John Inserra as the company’s President and COO, effective this fall.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. named Todd Burrowes as President of LongHorn Steakhouse, effective 7/28/15.  Burrowes is rejoining the brand after spending the last two years as President and COO of Ruby Tuesday, Inc. He is succeeding Valerie Insignares, who departed the company last week to pursue other interests.

DineEquity added Adrian Butler as CIO and Jim Anhut as Senior VP of Development, effective 8/17/15.

Evolution Hospitality appointed Will Loughran as Senior VP of Operations.

Famous Dave’s of America Inc. named Abelardo “Abe” Ruiz the company’s COO.

FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated hired Thomas C. Hendrick as Executive VP and Chief Investment Officer.

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., parent company of Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical, named Willie Romeo its first Corporate Director of Off-Premise Consumption. Romeo was elevated to his new position from his previous role as Pollo Tropical’s Director of Franchise Operations.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts appointed John Miller as Senior VP of Design and Construction; Justin Milazzo as Director of Food and Beverage; and Laura Fairweather to the newly created position of Director of Public Relations for the Americas.

Golbon announced that industry executive Rick Weis has joined the organization as Director of Member Development, Northeast Region and Pamala Padilla as Director of Procurement.

Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. announced Ruben A. Rodriguez as its next CEO, effective 9/22/15. The company’s current CEO, Kimberly K. Schaefer, will assume the role of Chief Brand Officer through the end of this year and will transition to Great Wolf’s board in early 2016.

Hilton Worldwide announced that William Margaritis will become the company’s Executive VP of Corporate Affairs starting in late August, based in the company’s global headquarters in McLean, VA. 

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants hired Tom Riley as VP of Development Eastern Region based in Washington, D.C.

King’s Seafood Co. tapped in-house celebrity Chef Damon Gordon to serve as Director of Culinary for Water Grill restaurants.

Logan’s Roadhouse announced that John Laporte has been named CIO, responsible for all company strategic IT plans and processes. Laporte was mostly recently VP of Information Technology for the El Pollo Loco restaurants.

Long John Silver’s appointed four new members to its executive team: Peter Czizek as VP of Culinary Innovation, Margo Mize as Senior VP of Marketing, Toni Bianco as VP of Operations, and Marilyn Nicholson as VP of Media and Promotions.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corporation, promoted Katie Falvey to VP of Real Estate and named Laurie Hobbs VP of Marketing. In her new role, Hobbs will provide executive leadership and management of operational areas including marketing, e-commerce, customer relationship marketing, advertising, social media and public relations.

Newk’s Eatery named Scott Stanford VP of Human Resources.

On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina appointed Ashley Zickefoose as Chief Marketing Officer, effective 9/8/15.

Papa John’s International, Inc. promoted COO Steve Ritchie to the position of President and COO, reporting to Founder, Chairman, and CEO, John Schnatter.

Pizza Studio hired John Theuer as CFO.

Restaurants Unlimited Inc. CFO Jim Eschweiler has been promoted to President and CEO.

Roy’s Restaurant named Mario Cernadas COO.

Ruby Tuesday, Inc. appointed Brett Patterson to the role of Ruby Tuesday Concept President and David Skena as Chief Marketing Officer, effective immediately.

Schlotzsky’s appointed Monte Jump to VP of Global Marketing.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill named Ryan Esko CEO. Esko replaces Chris Artinian, who left Smokey Bones to pursue other opportunities.

Snap Kitchen named David Kirchhoff as CEO.

Sonic Corp. appointed Andrew “Drew” Ritger, Jr. as Senior VP for Development and Lori Osley Senior Director of Franchise Sales and Development Marketing.

Soupman, Inc. announced Chairman, Jamieson Karson, has joined the company as CEO.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced that Mark Vondrasek has been promoted to the role of Senior VP of Commercial Services.

Subway announced its Global Chief Marketing Officer, Tony Pace, will leave his position to create a marketing consulting firm, effective 9/30/15. Subway’s former Senior VP of Global Marketing, Chris Carroll, has returned to the sandwich chain to lead marketing, but was not named Chief Marketing Officer.

Sysco Corporation announced the following promotions and changes: Paul Moskowitz was promoted to Executive VP of Human Resources; Scott Charlton was promoted to Executive VP of Supply Chain; and Russell Libby was named Executive VP of Administration and Corporate Secretary. The company also named Joel T. Grade as Executive VP and CFO of the company, effective 9/1/15.

TGI Fridays’ announced that current President and CEO, Nick Shepherd, will be stepping down from that role by mid-October. The Board has launched a search for the successor, which will be led by Sentinel Capital Partners.

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. announced a COO transition. John G. Inserra, the Company’s current COO, has notified the Company of his decision to depart, but will remain and assist during the transition and onboarding of a new COO. The Company has already commenced a search for a new COO.

Tijuana Flats Holdings LLC promoted Monique Yeager to the newly created position of Chief Marketing Officer.

Wienerschnitzel announced Ted Milburn as Director of Franchise Development.

Wyndham Hotel Group promoted Mark Robertson to VP of Revenue Management, North American Managed Hotels and Chris Lawler to Senior Director of Performance Support.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. completed the acquisition of all 26 Arby’s locations owned and operated by franchisee Trefz and Trefz. Including locations across Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, the company said. Arby’s assumed official management of those units on 7/27/15 and 600 employees of the former franchisee have transitioned to employment under Arby’s.

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. announced that it completed the acquisition of five Burger King restaurants in SC. Four of the restaurants are located in Rock Hill and one restaurant is located in Fort Mill.

Chanticleer Holdings Inc. acquired another burger chain. The Charlotte, NC-based operator of Hooters of America restaurants said that it has reached a deal to buy eight-unit Portland, OR, concept Little Big Burger. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is the company’s fifth purchase of a burger concept in less than two years, and fourth in less than a year.

Golden Gaming’s $341M merger with MN-based Lakes Entertainment was finalized, creating a publicly traded casino, tavern, and slot machine route operation with business interests in NV and MD. The transaction turned family-owned Golden Gaming into Golden Entertainment. The company’s tavern division has 48 locations under five brands. Golden also owns three casinos in Pahrump. Through Lakes, the deal brought Golden ownership of the Rocky Gap Casino Resort inside Rocky Gap State Park near Cumberland, MD. Golden Entertainment has 2,100 employees in NV and will be headquartered in Las Vegas.

GPS Hospitality acquired 60 BURGER KING restaurants across MI from TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants. The newly acquired eateries stretch across the Lower Peninsula and include areas such as Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Pontiac. The MI acquisition marks the largest single market purchase to date for GPS Hospitality and brings the total number of franchise locations across the US to 196 total.

Jamba Juice Company announced the completion of a refranchising agreement for 73 stores in the San Jose/Easy Bay and Sacramento markets. The Company expects to sell the remaining 27 company locations in the San Diego market by the end of 2015.

Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. acquired 15 Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurants in Toledo, OH. The company estimates the acquisition will add approximately $19.0M in annual sales and be accretive to consolidated earnings and EBITDA going forward. The company plans to install POS upgrades and transition the back-of-house systems over to the Meritage operating and accounting system protocol. The Wendy’s restaurant system is going through a major brand re-imaging and new building design termed “image activation” with the goal of having 60% of the system renovated by the end of 2020.

Penn National Gaming was granted approval by The Nevada Gaming Control Board for its $360M purchase of the Tropicana Las Vegas. The final ruling on the transaction is expected 8/20/15. Penn plans to spend $200M upgrading the property over four years.

Sun Holdings completed a trio of transactions for a total of 84 Burger King restaurants throughout TX, and owner Guillermo Perales said he has 20 more units under contract.

TravelCenters of America LLC completed one of its previously disclosed acquisitions of 33 convenience store locations in northern IL. These locations offer branded gasoline, and a wide selection of groceries, fresh to-go food prepared on site and quick serve restaurants, and most include car washes. TravelCenters expects the convenience stores at these locations, which average approximately 3,400-sq-ft in size, will be rebranded as Minit Mart convenience stores and the sites will undergo improvements in the coming months.


Financial Focus

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, a portfolio company of KarpReilly LLC, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in AZ. Cornbread Ventures LP has made a stalking horse bid for Z’Tejas and offered to pay roughly $4M, including $1.38M credit, $2.34M cash plus the assumption of debt, for the restaurant chain, a bankruptcy court filing dated 7/22/15 said. A deadline for competing bids and sale objections is set for 9/15/15, while an auction is scheduled for 9/17/15. The Z’Tejas sale hearing is slated for 9/25/15.


Industry Updates

BurgerFi announced its first international development agreement in Europe with hopes to open a location in central London before the end of the year.

Dairy Queen opened a new DQ Grill & Chill restaurant at the Marina Mall in Salmiya, Kuwait. The opening of this location makes Kuwait the 27th country outside the U.S. and Canada with a DQ presence.

Domino’s opened its 12,000th store in the world today in Oklahoma City.

Dunkin’ Donuts debuted a store in Iceland and announced the company’s upcoming entry into Poland with a projected 40 new locations.

Gene & Georgetti, a landmark in Chicago’s fine-dining scene, has opened another branch after 74 years as a single-restaurant operation. The Durpetti family’s second steakhouse is located in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, IL. Paired with the restaurant is a new events venue run by the Durpettis, The Estate by Gene & Georgetti. Three private dining rooms can host groups of 10 to 125 people. The restaurant measures 3,600-sq-ft and seats 240 guests. In addition to the Gene & Georgetti menu, the new outlet features small plates and sliders in its bar.

Hurricane Grill & Wings announced the brand’s international expansion plans with a development agreement for 25 restaurants in Europe that will be split up between 5 countries, the first of which is Italy.

Ignite Restaurant Group stated the company will move its headquarters outside Beltway 8 in Westchase later this year and will move into an entire 50,000-sqe-ft Class B building at 10555 Richmond Ave. in the fourth quarter. The new space will include a 3,000-sq-ft test kitchen.

Jamba Juice Company exceeded its initial refranchising goal with closed deals representing 150 stores. The company expects deals for 74 additional stores to be refranchised for three CA markets by the end of 2015 and the Chicago/Midwest market by the first quarter of 2016. At the end of 2015, the company expects to be at 90%+ franchise organization.

LM Restaurants Inc. closed New Bern Subs due to a realignment of its growth strategy. New Bern Subs was the only fast food restaurant left in the LM Restaurant portfolio.

McDonald’s announced plans to open more than 100 restaurants along the autobahn, a German expressway, during the next four years. The company is also considering opening a location in Iran, and is accepting applications from potential franchisees in the country. The company does not have a timeline for opening restaurants in Iran. Additionally, the company will open a restaurant/entertainment location in Orlando, FL. The location will feature Create Your Taste custom burger ordering, an open-design pizza and pasta kitchen, and new tech highlights, including an energy management system.

Menchie’s opened its newest store and first airport location in San Jose, CA, in Terminal B of the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Pei Wei Asian Diner — the fast casual offshoot of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro — opened its first college location on Arizona State University’s campus in Tempe.

Pizza Hut closed its longest running US shop. The restaurant, located at 1121 Moro St. Manhattan, KS, opened nearly 55 years ago in 1960.

Rita’s Italian Ice announced it will enter the convenience and gas channel nationwide with two area development agreements calling for 60 units by 2025—the first of which opened its doors last month in Newbury Park, CA, at the Chevron Extra Mile convenience store and recently celebrated its grand opening.

Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen opened at the mixed-use residential and shopping destination, The Rim, in San Antonio, TX.

Sloan’s Ice Cream announced the company will expand the brand into Kuwait as part of a major development deal. This marks the concept’s second multi-unit franchise agreement in the Middle East this year, joining the five-shop deal struck for the United Arab Emirates.

Starbucks announced it is building a store that will feature stadium-styled “grandstand” seating from which customers can view a huge projector screen in its Grand Bazaar Shops location in Las Vegas. The store is due to open at the end of August.

Ted’s Café Escondido opened a restaurant in Lee’s Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, MO – its 10th location overall. This marks Ted’s second restaurant outside of OK and second in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. announced that its subsidiary has completed a management agreement to open an STK in Toronto—marking the company’s first location in Canada. Planned to open in 2016, the restaurant will be located in the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Bloor-Yorkville, home to the city’s luxury shopping, restaurants, and hotels.

Union Square Cafe’s original space, at 21 East 16th Street, will close its doors in December 2015.

Wendy’s announced the company is partnering with First Kitchen, a Japanese fast food chain, to combine the two brands at the same outlets. A challenge for Wendy’s when it re-entered the Japanese market was finding locations that were profitable, and this partnership enables it to utilize First Kitchen’s 130 already established restaurants. If the test is successful, it may expand to more First Kitchen locations.

Wok Box announced plans to open 44 stores across FL this year, with 24 in South FL. The chain’s first FL location is slated to open in Coral Springs in August.


Real Estate

Another Broken Egg Cafe announced the signing of a landmark franchise agreement to open a dozen restaurants throughout the San Diego area over the next five years.

Applebee’s announced the company is now 100% franchise-owned after parent DineEquity Inc. sold off its remaining 23 corporate-owned locations in the Kansas City, MO, area. DineEquity has sold 502 locations since acquiring Applebee’s in 2007. Additionally, the company is seeking growth opportunities throughout WA during the coming 18 months.

Baskin-Robbins announced that it is seeking Los Angeles entrepreneurs to develop new and existing ice cream shops in Southern CA specifically in Glendora, Long Beach, Oceanside, and Pico Rivera, as well as San Diego.

BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. opened its first TN location in Murfreesboro.

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza announced the company will open its first WA location in September.

Bojangles announced the company will open between 59 and 63 stores in fiscal 2015. The restaurant chain initially planned to open 50 to 57 stores this year, including in WV and KY where it has a pipeline of 90 restaurants in development.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opened its first NE location Lincoln.

Carolina Ale House brand announced the company will open at least three more locations in Chapel Hill, NC, VA, and FL before the end of this year.

Chick-fil-A, Inc. announced the grand opening date and local franchise owner of its first freestanding restaurant in New York City. The restaurant, located at the corner of West 37th Street and 6th Avenue in the city’s Garment District, is set to open 10/3/15. The three-story, 5,000-sq-ft restaurant will be Chick-fil-A’s largest in the country and will be independently owned and operated by local resident Oscar Fittipaldi.

Chipotle stated the company will roll out two new store prototypes in the Kansas City, MO, area and will introduce two designs with smaller footprints by the end of this year (Wichita, KS, and Dallas, TX). If successful, the prototypes could be implemented in all of Chipotle’s new restaurants.

Del Taco announced expansion plans into the Southern region of the US with a recently-signed ten store development agreement for the Knox County, TN, area by 2021, with the first restaurant slated to open in 2016.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced the company will continue its CA expansion by building 26 new locations in San Francisco and Fresno (Clovis, Visalia, and Tulare). The first restaurants under both of the deals are expected to open in 2017. Additionally, the company announced it will open Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas.

Fuddruckers, a TX-based heritage brand, opened its first KS location with a fast casual restaurant at 1705 Village West Parkway in Kansas City.

Golden Chick announced the company is seeking growth opportunities throughout AR, GA, MO, OK, SC and TX during the coming 18 months.

Grabbagreen announced that it will expand its footprint into the Eastern United States with a 34-store development agreement with the first location slated to open in Greensboro, NC. This announcement follows multi-unit deals in Dallas, TX, and Phoenix, AZ, since Grabbagreen launched their franchise efforts in April. The company also mentioned it is opening soon in Southern CA. The deal will bring 80 Grabbagreen stores to Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties over the next several years. An additional 15 stores will be developed in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. announced it is expanding its paw print to the state of CO. Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will be a first-class destination resort, providing families with more than 380,000sq-ft of entertainment offerings and lodging amenities to enjoy. Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will also feature several dining options and food outlets, including the brand’s signature Lodge Wood Fired Grill restaurant and bar, and Hungry as a Wolf handcrafted pizza and pasta. The resort is expected to open in late 2016.

Hooters of America announced expansion plans for Hooters domestic growth, which includes plans for over 50 new franchise locations in the next five years.

Hot Head Burritos announced the company is expanding its national footprint with plans to enter the Las Vegas market, OH, and Movi, MI.

Huddle House announced plans to open the region’s first Huddle House restaurant early next year and a second location in late 2016 in South TX. The new South TX Huddle House restaurants will be freestanding locations that reflect the 51-year-old chain’s dynamic new look and branding. It will seat up to approximately 100 guests and both locations will be open 24-hours.

Jamba, Inc. announced an acceleration of its retail growth plan with a development agreement that will yield 25 new locations in key NY markets. Jamba offers flexible retail formats ranging from full-size, traditional stores to several smaller formats that lend to placement in a broad set of locations. The 25 new locations will be comprised of a variety of Jamba formats, and will be built in Manhattan and Long Island with plans to open the first four to six locations by early 2016.

Jersey Mike’s Subs opened its first UT location in Cottonwood Heights.

Johnny Rockets announced further expansion plans into college and university campuses through its Express prototype. Johnny Rockets Express, a quick-service prototype ideal for universities, airports, malls and other entertainment destinations, offers flexible floor plans with options ranging from a 150-sq-ft, free-standing kiosk to a 1,100-sq-ft restaurant.

Kona Grill stated expansion plans for locations in Miami, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Las Vegas, NV; and Friendswood, TX, outside of Houston opening later this year.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts announced an agreement to sell its Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, MO.

MGM Resorts International’s announced its $1.3B casino resort in Prince George’s County, MD, is under construction. MGM National Harbor will span 1M-sq-ft and is expected to open toward the end of 2016.

MOD Pizza opened its first NC store in Raleigh and announced the company will open five locations in Houston, TX.

Modmarket announced the company will expand to one or two new markets per year starting in 2016, opening 10 to 15 locations annually. The farm fresh fast-casual chain intends to keep new restaurants under company ownership rather than through a franchise model due to the concept’s complexity.

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes opened its first OH location in Cleveland.

Papa Murphy’s announced the company will open as many as 115 additional domestic stores in the near future. Between 15 and 20 of these new stores will be company-owned.

Piada Italian Street Food stated the company will open its first MN location inside Mall of America; it’s slated to open before the holiday season.

Pie Five Pizza opened its first IN location in Indianapolis and announced the company will add 25 locations in Branson and Springfield, MO; Tucson, AZ; and Albuquerque, NM. The first location is set to open next year in Branson, MO.

Pizza Hut mentioned the company is seeking growth opportunities throughout CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, upstate NY, western PA, RI, VA and VT during the coming 18 months.

PizzaRev, a fast-casual pizza concept backed by Buffalo Wild Wings, announced plans to develop the brand in Reno, Carson City, and Sparks, NV. The brand will enter five new states before the end of the year, including NV, CO, OH, MA, and NY.

Portillo’s stated the company will open its first FL location in March 2016 in Brandon, but other locations — including a possible expansion into Central FL — could follow.

Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen announced plans to expand the brands’ footprint in HI.

Smashburger announced the company will open a location in Shakopee, MN, with more restaurants planned for Rochester, St. Paul, Wayzata, and Blaine, MN. Additionally, the company announced partnerships for new airport locations. Smashburger has partnered with global restaurateur HMSHost, the largest airport food and beverage operator in the country to introduce the brand’s fresh, made to order burgers at the following venues:

  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Located at the Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport in the Center Core Food Court in Terminal B. The location is slated to open in December 2015.
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport – Located at Charlotte Douglas International Airport between terminals D and E in the “Connector” Food Court. The location is slated to open in 2016.
  • San José International Airport – Located at San José International Airport in Terminal B at Gate 22. The location is slated to open in 2015.

Smoothie King stated the company is aiming to sign 105 new deals in 2015 and is spearheading the initiative by seeking qualified prospects in Philadelphia to open 40 new locations.  The juice and smoothie innovator plans to have 1,000 locations by the end of 2017. Additionally, the company plans to expand by 53 locations in the Greater Boston area in the next six years.

Sonic Corp. announced the company will reach a new development milestone by entering its 45th state, RI. Notable recent openings include upstate NY; San Diego and Sacramento, CA; as well as small towns like Norton, KS.

The Halal Guys signed a deal to bring 50 franchised units to Southern CA. The first location is anticipated to launch in mid-September at 3033 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA.

The Melt announced expansion into CO marking its first market expansion outside of The Melt’s home state of CA. The chain’s first of five planned CO locations opened today at Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, CO, with four other Metro Denver locations set to open before the end of the year.

Tijuana Flats stated the company will continue expanding at its current pace of about 14 restaurants a year while looking to new areas such as TN and KY. It will also open additional locations in current markets.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint stated the company is expanding to two new locations this week, on pace to open a new unit every 10 days and meet its goal of 300 restaurants in five years.


Green Initiatives

Chick-fil-A‘s NY location, which is still under construction, will be one of the few quick-service restaurants in New York City built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) specifications with water and energy efficiency features, air quality control and waste diversion efforts, among other initiatives. It will be among the first Chick-fil-A locations to feature an “InSinkErator” food waste disposal system, which spins and separates liquid from solids. The technology will reduce the volume of the restaurant’s organic waste by 80%. The restaurant will also recycle all cardboard and plastic used in back-of-house operations, and provide napkins, tray liners and Kid’s Meal bags made from 100Y recycled materials. All beverages will be served in compostable paper cups.

Ikea completed installation of solar panels atop its 380,000-sq.-ft. St. Louis store opening 9/30/15. Once the other components are mounted, connected and operational, the project will be the largest rooftop solar installation in the state of MO. The store’s 259,000-sq.-ft. solar array comprises a 1.28-MW system, built with 4,085 panels, and will produce approximately 1.78 million kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent to reducing 1,227 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). This array represents the 42nd solar project for Ikea in the US, contributing to the Ikea solar presence at nearly 90% of its US locations, with a total generation goal of 40 MW. Consistent with the goal of also being energy independent by 2020, Ikea has installed more than 700,000 solar panels across the world and owns approximately 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada, with 104 more being built in the US Other specific US sustainable efforts include recycling waste material, energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, eliminating plastic bags from the check-out process, phasing-out the sale of incandescent light bulbs, facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs, and by 2016 selling only L.E.D. bulbs. Ikea also has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 13 stores, with a roll-out planned for more locations.