Personnel Updates

Ballard Brands (PJ’s Coffee, WOW Café) promoted Peter Boylan to the role of President. David Mesa steps into Boylan’s former role of Chief Development Officer.

Black Bear Diner named Tim Kaliher, formerly VP of Operations for O’Charley’s, to the newly created position of COO.

Bloomin’ Brands announced that Outback Steakhouse President Jeff Smith is retiring. Gregg Scarlett, Bonefish Grill President, replaces Smith at Outback while David Schmidt (VP Operations) assumes the role of President at Bonefish.

Jamba Juice named Rachel Phillips-Luther as Chief Marketing Officer. Phillips-Luther recently served as Chief Marketing Officer for Zoes Kitchen.

McDonald’s announced that Chief Administrative Officer Pete Bensen will retire in September and that it will have “additional organizational changes in the coming weeks.”

Muscle Maker Grill appointed Scott Carlock to the newly created position of CFO. Carlock had been CFO at Cosi, Inc.

Naf Naf Grill, a 19-unit fast-casual Middle Eastern concept, named Stacey Snyder Murray as VP of Branding. Murray comes to the company from a branding role with Hyatt Hotels Corp.

Noodles & Company has cleaned house. Chairman and CEO Kevin Reddy, Chief Marketing Officer Mark Mears and Exec VP of Operations Phil Petrilli all left the company within a matter of weeks.  CFO Dave Boennighausen takes over as CEO on an interim basis, and Victor Huetz (VP roles with Buffalo Wild Wings and Starbucks) joins the company as COO. Mears’s duties will be absorbed by the marketing team.

Rave Restaurant Group appointed board member Clinton Coleman as interim CEO, taking over for departing CEO Randy Gier. Grier and Rave part ways by mutual agreement.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers named company President Denny Marie Post as its new CEO.

Ruth’s Hospitality promoted Cheryl Henry to President and COO. Michael O’Donnell sheds the President title but continues to serve as Chairman and CEO.

sbe Entertainment Group announced that Michele Caniato would join the company as Chief Brand Officer.

Shula’s Steak Houses announced two hires, both from Spectra Food Services & Hospitality. Mark Healey was appointed Exec VP and Kristen Thompson was appointed VP of Marketing & Public Relations.

Starbucks plans to realign C-suite roles and responsibilities effective 9.1.2016. Cliff Burrows Group President, US and Americas will become President of the newly formed Siren Retail Group overseeing the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room concept, Starbucks Reserve-only stores, Teavana retail operations and the new Princi Bakery Café brand. John Culver, currently Group President China and Asia Pacific, becomes Group President, Starbucks Global Retail.

Starbucks announced that Leanne Fremar, formerly of Under Armour, will join the company in October as its new Creative Director.

Sun Capital Partners named John Maguire as its new CEO for Johnny Rockets. In addition, Maguire will continue to serve in his current capacity as Friendly’s CEO.

Taco John’s President and CEO Jeff Linville stepped away from the company. Jeff Creel, formerly the CFO, replaced him as President.

Tijuana Flats named Larry Ryback its new CEO. Ryback most recently served as President and CEO of True Food Kitchen.

Yogurtland named John Wayne Carlson VP of Development and Chad Bailey as Senior Director of Marketing.


Financial Focus

Brinker International reported FY16 (FYE 6.29.16) results. Comp sales for Chili’s and Maggiano’s were down 2.4% with total traffic at those stores down 3.7%. Fourth quarter results were better than expected, though, and early FY17 performance leaves room for cautious optimism that the tide may turn.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. released its FY16 (FYE 5.31.16) earnings statement and announced its “Fresh Start” initiative that will close 95 underperforming company-owned stores by September. The FY16 damage included year-over-year decreases in total revenue (3.1%) and same-store sales (1.4%) and a net loss of $50.6 million.


Industry Insight

Applebee’s much-hyped focus on steaks and its new wood-fired grills failed to halt a same-store sales slide that reached its fourth straight quarter in August.

Bloomin’ Brands, fresh off a miserable second quarter, promised same-store sales would rebound as it moves away from a root cause for all the misery (in the opinion of corporate leaders) – the proclivity amongst casual chains to rely on discounts.

Chipotle made it official – its Tasty Made burger concept will debut in Lancaster, OH in the fall.

Craveable Hospitality Group is the new moniker/brand of the company formerly known as David Burke Restaurant Group. 2017 plans include a new Brooklyn steakhouse.

Domino’s opened store number 13,000 (worldwide) in Auburn, WA.

Emeril’s Restaurants will open Meril in New Orleans. Meril will be Emeril’s thirteenth restaurant, the fourth in New Orleans, when it opens its doors in September. It marks the first New Orleans opening for the company and chef in almost 20 years.

Firehouse Restaurant Group Inc. opened its 1,000th Firehouse Subs location in Rowland Heights, CA. The company plans to add another 50 locations by the end of the year.

Fox & Hound and Champps parent company, Last Call Operating Company, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Grill Concepts, Inc. (Daily Grill) opened Laurel Point, an upmarket casual seafood restaurant, in Studio City, CA. A second “Points Restaurant,” Wewatta Point, is scheduled to open in Denver in 2017. The company also plans to open three new Public School locations before the end of the year (Addison, TX; Denver, Atlanta).

Ignite Restaurant Group plans to close eight Joe’s Crab Shack locations in the third quarter 2016. The chain’s current store count is 127, down from 138 at the same time last year.

Kneaders Bakery & Café opened its 50th store, a new Phoenix location.

Kripsy Kreme is no longer a publicly-traded company after its acquisition by JAB Holding Co. was finalized in July.

Logan’s Roadhouse Inc. filed for bankruptcy and will close 18 stores.

Noodles & Company plans to streamline its menu and reduce new store openings (35 to 40 for 2016 and 10 to 15 for 2017 versus 49 in 2015), in addition to overhauling the C suite (see “Personnel Update” above), in a bid to right the ship.

Panera announced that it would expand delivery service by approximately 100 locations in the third quarter, building on the current count of 195 company-owned and franchised cafés with delivery.

Subway has a new logo.

Tasty Burger Corp. has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., objecting to its use of the Tasty Made name and trade dress for the company’s initial foray into the better-burger market.

Texas Roadhouse, Inc. continues to grow its Bubba’s 33 concept having added three stores in the first half of its fiscal year with four more openings planned in the next six months.

Wingstop, Inc. reported that online orders accounted for 16.9% of domestic sales for Q2, a new high-water mark for the company.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Diversified Restaurant Holdings, the largest Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, plans to spin off its Bagger Dave’s restaurants (19).

MTY Food Group completed its acquisition of Kahala Brands. Kahala COO Jeff Smit will oversee US operations of the combined entity.


Real Estate

&pizza the 15-unit DC-based chain moves farther from home this fall with its first Philadelphia location. Three new DC stores are also on deck.

Bar Louie signed a franchise development agreement to open five new locations in the Houston area with the first to open by the end of the year.

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza opened its new flagship restaurant in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, FL.

Blue Ribbon group has four new restaurants lined up for 2016 and 2017. The first to open will be a Blue Ribbon Sushi in Miami (South Beach) in the fall. For 2017, NYC gets a new concept from the group, Blue Ribbon Federal Grill, along with another Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken location. Las Vegas (The Cosmopolitan resort and casino) will be home to a third front for the original Blue Ribbon Brasserie concept.

Bojangle’s signed a franchise deal that will strengthen its presence in southern Alabama and southeast Mississippi.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos opened its 10th restaurant and 1st franchised location (all New Jersey), partnering with the family behind Mangia Brick Oven Pizza.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened in Vegas, its first Nevada location.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group will open two Del Frisco’s Grille locations in Tennessee before the end of the year.

Fazoli’s will open 25 new restaurants in the next year, including its first two Chicago locations.

Fogo de Chão will open four new US stores in the second half of 2016 – King of Prussia, PA; Dunwoody, GA; Dallas Uptown, TX and Tysons, VA.

Fiesta Brands has opened 17 new Pollo Tropical locations in Florida, Georgia and Texas in the first half of the year. Similar numbers, with an emphasis on Florida and Texas, are expected for the second half of 2016.

First Watch opened a restaurant in Plano, TX, the first of seven locations planned to open in the Dallas/Fort Worth area before the end of 2016.

Free Range Concepts opened its third Bowl & Barrel, a food-and-drink focused boutique bowling venue, at Houston CityCentre.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop reached the 100-store mark in August with the opening of its third Oklahoma City location.

The Halal Guys opened its first Las Vegas location in August bringing the company’s US bricks-and-mortar total to 14 locations, and that’s just the start. Development rights have been sold for 340 more US and 50 Southeast Asia locations.

Holler & Dash (by Cracker Barrel) expands beyond Alabama with location number three in Celebration, FL (October) and location four in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, TN (November).

J. Alexander’s Holdings will open the 12th Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill in Chapel Hill, NC before the year is out.

Jollibee, the Filipino QSR, opened its first Midwest location in Skokie, IL. The 34th US location expected 7,000 customers on opening day.

Krispy Kreme franchisee Chicagoland Restaurants broke ground on the first of eight planned Chicago locations. The opening is scheduled for November.

Malawi’s Pizza – Pizza with a Purpose will open its first East Coast location this fall in Fredericksburg, VA. The three-unit concept donates a nutrient-dense meal to a child in Malawi, Africa for every pizza purchased.

PizzaRev opened its first Massachusetts location (Cambridge) bringing its total number of stores to 43.

Ruby Tuesday no longer has a presence in Illinois as franchisee RT Midwest Holdings abruptly closed all 10 of its locations in the state.

Sub Zero Ice Cream opened a new corporate headquarters / retail mothership in hometown Provo, UT.