Personnel Updates

American Blue Ribbon Holdings LLC (O’Charley’s and Bakers Square) CEO Hazem Ouf resigned.

Biscuitville Inc. named Kevin Bennett CFO.

Cafe Enterprises Inc., parent company to Fatz Cafe, announced the hire of Jim Mazany as President and CEO, taking over for Chris Thomas who left the company.

Cosi Inc. named Randy Kominsky as Chief Restructuring Officer.

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. named Jeff Melnick as Brand Leader for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Aaron Ruben as VP of Real Estate and Development for the Gordon Biersch brand. Tom Dargen was promoted to VP of Brewing Operations for CraftWorks.

Culver’s CEO Phil Keiser passed away. Company founder (and recently-retired) Craig Culver will serve as interim CEO.

Dunkin’ Brands Inc. welcomed Dave Hoffman as its new President of Dunkin’ Donuts, US and Canada, only days after his departure from McDonalds.

Famous Brands International named former CFO Dustin Lyman as its new CEO.

Famous Dave’s of America, Inc. has a new CEO, its fourth since 2012.  The company named top franchisee Michael Lister to the post, who takes over for Adam Wright (who resigned and quit the board as well).

Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc. (Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana) CEO Tim Taft retired. COO of Pollo Tropical Danny Meisenheimer will serve as Interim CEO. In addition, Taco Cabana COO Todd Coerver has stepped down and is replaced on an interim basis by Mark Phillips.

IHOP named Nevielle Panthaky as VP of Culinary.

Jack in the Box Inc. promoted Vanessa Fox to VP and Chief Development Officer from her previous role as VP of Franchise Development.

Krispy Kreme CFO Price Cooper resigned.

Larkburger hired Todd Coerver (the one that just left Taco Cabana four paragraphs ago) as its CEO.

McDonalds announced that Dave Hoffmann resigned as President, High Growth Markets and is succeeded in that position by Joseph Erlinger. Hoffman promptly surfaced at Dunkin’ Brands. The company also announced that Chief Field Officer Karen King and Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Erik Hess would leave the company by the end of the year.

Newk’s Franchise Company President and COO Jim Greco stepped down. The company added to the duties of recently appointed CFO Michael Clock as it named him President as well. The COO position will remain unfilled.

On The Border LLC named Monte Batson as its new COO. Batson had been a Regional VP with Bloomin’ Brands.

Palm Restaurant Group named Karen LuKanic as its Chief Marketing Officer.

Papa Murphy’s International Inc. Chairman John Barr resigned. He’s replaced by board member Jean Birch.

Pizza Hut Inc. appointed former Wal-Mart exec Helen Vaid as its first Chief Customer Officer and a member of the leadership team.

Protein Bar (20 units) named former Paper Chase CEO (and current Chairman) as its interim CEO.

Rave Restaurant Group hired Brett Heinen as its new Director of Franchise Development. He’d previously held a similar position for Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

Sharis Cafe and Pies named Keith Wall as its new CFO, taking over for retiring Ray Damron.

Slim Chickens named Mark Mears Chief Marketing Officer. Mears, previously with Noodles & Company, takes over the marketing lead from Co-Founder Greg Smart.

Smashburger Chief Marketing Officer Josh Kern resigned – no explanation was given. In other developments, the company appointed Mark Ramage (formerly of Rave Restaurant Group) as Director of Franchise Development.

Toppers Pizza hired David Biederman, formerly of Smashburger as its new Chief Development Officer.

Zoe’s Kitchen Inc. named Casey Shilling as Chief Marketing Officer.


Financial Focus

Rave Restaurant Group released its Fiscal 2016 results for the year ending 6.16.16, and the results were not good. A net loss of $8.9 million for the year with comparable stores sales -5.1% at Pie Five and -1.0% at Pizza Inn were the low-lights.


Industry Insight

Black-Eyed Pea Restaurants in Texas (Restaurant Acquisition 1 LLC) closed 12 of its 14 remaining locations. Nine unaffiliated Black-Eyed Pea restaurants in Colorado (operated by RMR Colorado LLC) remain open.

Café Rio Mexican Grill opened its 100th location. The company opened its first restaurant in 1997.

Caribou Coffee parent JAB Holding Co. invested in Argo Tea Inc. and will open 40 Caribou Coffee, Argo Tea and Einstein Bros Bagels tri-branded restaurants in the next year.

Cosi, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed 29 of its 74 company-owned stores.

Dos Toros, a 10+ unit NYC burrito chain received a $10 million investment from a group that includes Chopt CEO Nick Marsh. The founders will look to establish a presence in Chicago with the investment.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened its 12,000th worldwide location in Riverside, CA.

Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc. halted plans to break up Pollo Tropical and Taco Cubana into two companies. Current thought is that the company will put itself on the auction block in short order.

Food Management Partners filed for bankruptcy protection for Don Pablo’s parent company Rita Restaurants Inc. That’s bankruptcy number three for Food Management Partners (following Buffets LLC and Zio’s Italian Kitchen).

Friendly’s plans to add drive-thru windows to more restaurants in a bid to boost revenue. Currently seven locations feature a drive thru.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp filed for bankruptcy and will look for a buyer for its Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes chains. As part of the process, the company will close 20 to 30 locations.

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom will refresh its look at all 106 restaurants by the end of the third quarter of 2017.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. closed 9 of its 12 Red Robin Burger Works fast-casual concepts. The three remaining locations (two in Denver and one in Oregon) will be renamed Red Robin Express.

Yum! Brands announced its board of directors formerly approved the spinoff of Yum China Holdings, Inc., which will be a licensee of Yum! Brands in mainland China. Yum! China will begin trading on the NYSE on November 1 under the ticker symbol YUMC.

Yum! Brands plans to increase the overall percentage of its restaurants owned by franchisees to 98% (from the current 77%) by FY 2018.


Mergers and Acquisitions:

Fox & Hound, Champps and Bailey’s may have a buyer as Fun Eats and Drinks LLC (private equity), agreed to a $26.8 million deal with owner Last Call Operating Company. The deal awaits approval by a bankruptcy court.

MTY Food Group Inc. completed the acquisition of the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill chains.

Red Lobster parent company Golden Gate Capital received a $575 million investment from Thai Union Group PCL (owner of the Chicken of the Sea brand) in return for a 25% stake in the chain. The deal comes with an option for another 24% of the company.

Ruggles Green, a five-unit fast casual chain, has been acquired by private equity Hargett Hunter Capital Partners. Jason Morgan of Hargett Hunter will serve as CEO.

sbe Entertainment Group now owns a majority stake in Umami Restaurant Group and plans to ramp up expansion of the 24-unit Umami Burger chain (to the tune of 8 to 10 units a year). Umami Restaurant Group will continue to operate as a stand-alone enterprise.

Twin Restaurant Holding LLC has agreed to sell the Twin Peaks chain to its largest franchisee, La Cima Restaurants LLC. When the deal is finalized La Cima COO Joe Hummel will become Twin Peaks CEO. La Cima was formed in 2011 by former Hooters executives.


Real Estate

Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., the largest Burger King franchisee, acquired three stores in the Raleigh, NC area.

Darden Restaurants Inc. will remodel 60 Olive Gardens in 2017. An additional 150 Olive Garden bars will get a facelift. The company will also switch back to expansion mode with 24 new restaurants planned, including 8 Olive Gardens.

Eureka! will open locations in Kirkland, WA and Boise, ID before then end of the year.

Hal Smith Restaurant Group opened its sixth Red Rock Canyon Grill in Overland Park, KS.

Modern Market added two stores over the summer and has six more scheduled to open in the next 6 to 12 months – in Texas (2), Maryland (1), DC (1) and Arizona (2) – growing its presence outside of its home state of Colorado.

The ONE Group LLC opened its first STK in Canada with STK Toronto.

Papa Murphy’s opened a location in Oahu, HI, its first Hawaii store.

Pieology Pizzeria opened its first South Carolina location in Charleston.

Your Pie, a 30+ unit and growing fast-fired build-your-own pizza chain has opened its second Texas location and first in North Texas (Frisco).