Personnel Updates

Benihana Inc. named Tom Baldwin President and CEO. Baldwin most recently served as Morton’s CEO.

Boudin Bakery named Clarice Turner CEO of its Boudin SF restaurant group.

Chipotle announced that Mark Crumpacker has returned to work as Chief Creative and Development Officer following his June indictment on drug charges. In other news, the company appointed former Costa Coffee executive Jim Slater and Manager Director, Europe.

Cosi Inc. fired President and CEO R.J. Dourney and announced that CFO Miguel Rossy-Donovan resigned to pursue another opportunity. Patrick Bennett, a member of the board, will serve as Interim CEO. James O’Connor and Edward Schatz of turnaround firm The O’Connor Group Inc. will fulfill CFO duties on an interim basis.

Culver’s Franchise System Inc. announced that VP of Marketing David Stidham has resigned.

Dig Inn named Irene Cook, a former Panera Senior VP, as its new COO.

Fiesta Restaurant Group President and CEO Tim Taft will retire at the end of the year.

Fox Restaurant Concepts named Christine Barone (former Senior VP at Starbucks) to the newly created position of CEO of True Food Kitchen in advance of spinning off the concept in 2017.

Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs promoted COO Scott Ford to President. Ford will also retain the COO role.

Granite City Food & Brewery named Phil Costner CEO to replace the retiring Bob Doran. Costner announced that Jim Macchitelli joined the company as VP of Marketing and Dave Brantner was promoted to Executive Chef.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar Inc. named Jeff Chandler CEO.

Hungry Howie’s hired Ardag Tachian (formerly with Mooyah Burgers) as its new Director of Franchise Sales.

Kneaders Bakery & Café promoted Neil Checketts to the new position of COO.

McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres will retire at the end of year. Chip Kempczinski, current Exec VP of Strategy, Business Development and Innovation will succeed him.

The Melt hired former Pei Wei CEO Ralph Bower to replace founder and chairman Jonathan Kaplan as its CEO. Kaplan remains chairman of the board.

Newk’s Franchise Company hired Michael Clock as its new CFO.

Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza named Marty Morgan CFO.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. promoted Sami Siddiqui to President, Tim Hortons Canada, from his position as head of finance for the chain. He takes over for David Clanachan who becomes Chairman RBI Canada.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill named Holly Wagstaff-Bellomo, formerly of Noodles & Company, as its new VP of Marketing.

Ruby Tuesday President and CEO JJ Buettgen resigned. The company named board member Lane Cardwell as interim CEO.

Salad and Go, a six-unit drive-thru and walk-up concept in Arizona, named Bobby Shaw CEO.

The Wendy’s Company named former Proctor & Gamble man E.J. Wunsch as the company’s General Counsel and a member of the senior leadership team. Wunsch reports to CEO Todd Penegor.

Which Wich named Ric Scicchitano to the newly created position of President. Scicchitano had been an Exec VP with Corner Bakery Café.


Financial Focus

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. reported solid if unspectacular year-end results (FYE 7.29.16) – same store restaurant sales were up 2.2% from the previous year.


Industry Insight

Buffalo Wild Wings will focus on urban US markets and international locations to continue its recent history of growth.

Chipotle has a new investor whose presence won’t make life any easier for management. Pershing Square activist investor Bill Ackman purchased 9.9% of the company.

Fox & Hound, Champps and Bailey’s all shuttered storefronts in an attempt by parent company Last Call Operating Company to stay in business as it looks for a buyer. Store counts by chain decreased from 48, 23 and 9 to 37, 14 and 4, respectively.

Luke’s Lobster, of sustainable lobster roll fame, plans to open 6 new restaurants before the end of the year, bringing total store count to 25.

McDonald’s parted ways with Publicis and Leo Burnett after 35 years, awarding its entire advertising and media program ($800+ million spend in 2015) to Omnicom Group.

Mooyah Burgers opened its 100th unit in August. All but a handful of its restaurants are franchised.

Olive Garden sold the full allotment (21,000) of its Never Ending Pasta Passes in one second. Priced at $100, the sales brought in $2.1 million for the company.

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (15 units) is testing Asian-inspired wraps using tortillas from parent company Chipotle.

Silver Diner Inc. (15 units) won an investment from private equity firm Goode Partners LLC to boost its expansion aspirations.

Subway purchased a Vancouver-based technology firm, Avanti Commerce, in its continuing effort to develop its mobile ordering and payment capabilities.

Zio’s Italian Kitchen, owned by Food Management Partners, added to the growing list of companies filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this year.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Cicis was acquired by investment firm Arlon Group. The current leadership group remains in place.

Jimmy John’s sold a majority interest in its business to Roark Capital, the owner of Arby’s and other chains. Jimmy John’s leadership team will remain in place.

MTY Food Group fresh off of its acquisition of Kahala Brands has agreed to acquire Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill from B.F. Operations Holdings. The deal is expected to close within the month.

Wetzel’s Pretzels changed hands as previous private equity owner Levine Leichtman Capital Partners sold to new private equity owner CenterOak Partners.


Real Estate

Applebee’s opened in West Oahu, the first of seven planned locations in Hawaii. With the West Oahu store, the chain has a presence in all 50 states.

Back of the House, Inc. the San Francisco group behind Super Duper Burgers (10) and seven additional concepts is readying The Bird a fast-casual organic fried chicken concept.

The Big Salad, a small Michigan-based concept, opened in Houston, the first of two planned Texas locations.

The Cheesecake Factory is set to open its first NYC branch at the end of October in a Queens mall.

Cowboy Chicken (currently 21 units) will open its first locations in Georgia (Atlanta) and Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) by the end of the year.

Dig Inn, a 12-unit New York-based fast-casual serving nutritious, local fare, plans to open a half-dozen new restaurants in New York and Boston in the first half of 2017.

Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with new franchisee Elias Saman in plans to open 15 new locations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul South metro area.

El Meson Sandwiches, the Puerto Rican mainstay with two new Orlando stores, is readying a third Orlando location. Plans call for opening two additional company stores followed by the possibility of franchising the concept on the mainland in 2018.

Fresh Brothers, a 15-unit California pizza chain, will add 3 stores in Southern California this year and 8 to 10 units in 2017 on the heels of significant capital investment by Nolan Capital Inc.

Friendly’s and its franchisees have opened four restaurants this year with and additional opening planned for New Hampshire before the year’s end. These new stores mark Friendly’s first expansion in almost a decade. The company plans on opening at least four new stores in 2017.

Goodfellas Pizzeria, a Lexington, KY-based casual concept with four locations (including one in Cincinnati) will open restaurants in Lexington (the third for the city) and Indianapolis before the end of the year.

Hot Harry’s Fresh Burritos opened location number seven and its first in Connecticut (New Britain).

Kona Grill opened its first Hawaii restaurant in Waikiki’s International Market Place. Another opening is set for October – Kona Grill’s first Alabama location.

Mod Pizza will open an additional 40 to 50 new stores systemwide and open for the first time in Kansas and Ohio by the end of the year, bringing its total store count to more than 190. In other news, the company signed 11 new leases in the Houston market.

The Organic Coup, a four-unit San Francisco Bay Area organic fried chicken concept has three additional stores planned for the area expected to come online in short order.

Panda Restaurant Group opened the first mainland US location of Uncle Tetsu (a Japanese bakery concept) in Arcadia, CA following its early 2016 opening of a store in Hawaii. The company will serve as master US franchisee for the 80-unit international chain.

Planet Hollywood will reopen its Disney Springs location this fall after a $25 million renovation.

Real Mex opened a new Chevys in Northridge, CA – its first new store (under any banner) in nine years.

Salad and Go, a six-unit drive-thru and walk-up concept in Arizona, plans to open two more Arizona stores by the end of the year and nine total through 2017 before expanding into neighboring Texas.

The Shipyard Brewing Company opened its sixth Sea Dog Brewing Co. restaurant, the first in New Hampshire. A seventh location (on Treasure Island, FL) is on tap for fall 2016. It will be the third Florida location for the concept.

Southeast Restaurant Group, a 23-unit TGI Friday’s franchisee, acquired 8 Taco Bell stores in New Orleans, Covington, Mandeville and Slidell, LA from Taco Bell Corp.

Southern Rock Restaurants, the largest McAlister’s Deli franchisee, acquired 12 stores in the greater St. Louis area, bringing its total to 63 locations. The company also announced that it planned to open and acquire additional stores in the South and Midwest.

Sweetgreen opened its first Chicago location.

Texas de Brazil opened its first California restaurant in Irvine.

Uncle Maddio’s signed an agreement with current Knoxville, TN franchisee to add three additional stores to the one currently open in the city.