Personnel Updates

Bravo Brio Restaurant Group Inc. announced Brian O’Malley will take over as CEO for the resigning Saed Mohseni effective Dec. 28. Connie Collins, currently VP of operations, will be promoted to take O’Malley’s place as COO.

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. has promoted Diana LaRocca to the newly created position of Chief Marketing Officer.

Famous Dave’s announced Dave Anderson is returning to the company as part of a management and organizational overhaul in recent months.

Muscle Maker Grill announced Robert Morgan has been promoted to President and CEO.

Papa Murphy’s International Inc. has named former Wendy’s International executive Brandon Solano as Chief Marketing Officer, effective Nov. 30. Solano replaces Chas Hermann, who was serving as Papa Murphy’s interim CMO.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea announced Umami Burger CEO Paul Clayton is joining the company in early November as President, Retail.


Financial Focus

100 Montaditos emerged from federal bankruptcy protection with a reorganized and consolidated U.S. business, and plans to restart growth.

Quaker Steak & Lube has filed for bankruptcy protection and will be put up for sale.

Zaxby’s Franchising Inc is working on an initial public offering of around $200 million that could come as early as the first quarter of 2016.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Kahala Brands has acquired Maui Wowi, giving the franchisor its 17th brand and its fourth smoothie brand.

Marriott International Inc. recently announced it will acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Chicago-based 10-unit Intelligentsia Coffee. Under the deal, Intelligentsia will continue to operate as a separate brand.

Stone-Goff Partner, a New York private equity firm, has acquired a majority stake the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille.

York Capital Management has signed a definitive agreement to buy Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc. Michael Archer is investing as well, and will become the company’s CEO. Current Chairman and CEO Bob Hartnett will leave his post.


Industry Insight

Caribou Coffee says it won’t open any more locations with Bruegger’s Bagels, but recently started opening hybrid stores with Einstein Bros. Bagels instead.

Domino’s announced that it would launch 100 custom pizza-delivery vehicles in 25 markets across the U.S. The vehicles, known as the Domino’s DXP, are modified Chevrolet Sparks outfitted with a warming oven and extra storage areas in the front and back. Some of the markets receiving a DXP include Boston, New Orleans, San Diego and Detroit.

Freebirds World Burrito debuted a new prototype restaurant at The Colony in Dallas, TX, that features what executives call a “modern farmhouse aesthetic.”

Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. closed seven Joe’s Crab Shack locations in the third quarter. Two of the closed locations will be converted to Brick House Tavern + Tap restaurants.

Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. instated a no-tipping policy at its Joe’s Crab Shack restaurants.

Johnny Rockets recently announced agreements for 49 new restaurant locations in Italy, Paraguay and Canada.

McDonald’s Corp. announced plans to refranchise a total of 4,000 restaurants by 2018, and is planning for a long-term goal to be 95-percent franchised.

Newk’s Eatery debuted a new prototypical look with the opening of a restaurant in Lafayette, LA. The company said its “Generation Two” design is aimed at new markets and prepares the brand for adapting to planned changes in the future such as digital menu boards and expanded grab-and-go takeout areas.

Newk’s Eatery has announced a new development agreement that will bring 10 Newk’s locations to southeastern Florida in late 2016.

Qdoba Mexican Grill changed its name to Qdoba Mexican Eats. For a transition period the former name will remain in play across most of the more than 600-unit chain as the company evaluates design elements that will be used going forward.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. will close 11 Lime Fresh Mexican Grill locations and is selling another eight locations in Florida to Rubio’s Restaurants which plans them to convert them to Rubio’s Coastal Grill locations.

Taco Bell said its more than 6,000 U.S. restaurants would stop using eggs laid by caged hens by Jan. 1, 2017, years ahead of the deadlines set by its bigger rivals.

TGI Fridays completed its refranchising initiative, leaving the chain with ownership of about 10 percent of domestic units.

Tommy Bahama Group opened a Tommy Bahama Restaurant Bar & Store in Honolulu on Oct. 30. The three-level, 19,200 sq. ft. flagship is located at 298 Beachwalk Dr.


Real Estate

Dunkin’ Brands recently announced plans that it will develop 46 new Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Georgia over the next several years, with six franchise groups.

Flynn Restaurant Group LP has acquired 47 Panera Bread locations in Northern California and Washington. All but two of those locations were acquired from the franchisor in a refranchising deal that also includes six more locations under development and expected to open next year.

Noodles & Company will close 16 underperforming restaurants before the end of the year to focus resources on brand awareness initiatives. Seven restaurants have closed in Texas, including six in Austin and one in Lubbock. Of the remaining nine to close later this year, several are in the Washington, DC area.

Potbelly plans to expand into California and Toronto. The company said it could open several hundred units in California, all of which would be run by franchisees, and plans to open the first Canadian Potbelly restaurant next year.

Starbucks Corp. intends to open 1,800 new stores globally during fiscal 2016, with licensing driving a large portion of the growth. This includes 700 stores in the Americas.


Technology News

McDonald’s is installing digital menu boards at restaurants nationwide that will make food recommendations based on the weather.

Starbucks is picking JPMorgan Chase as the company that will handle payment processing at its stores. The company will no longer use Square. Chase will start deploying in more than 12,000 U.S. Starbucks stores immediately, but the entire transition will take until next spring.