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Liberty Tax, IRS Partnership Leads to Significant Decline in Tax Refund Identify Theft

Ruby Tuesday Plans Charitable Donations on National Lemonade Day

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza Introduces Seven New Sandwiches

Record Year of Franchise Growth for Huddle House

Huddle House entered new markets across 14 states, including the brand’s first Maryland location and additional growth in New Jersey, where the all-day breakfast concept has one store open and five more in development. Eight of its multi-unit owners signed additional agreements in fiscal year 2017 to open 22 more locations.

Wayback Burgers on a Growth Tear

I’m continually amazed by the number of better-burger players out there, but the herd has stayed strong as the competition has intensified. And, for whatever it’s worth, Wayback Burgers is still expanding like crazy, recently hitting 120 domestic locations and many new international openings in the hopper.

World of Beer’s Pandora-style Beer 'Discovery Engine'

Restaurants and retailers have clearly read the memo that younger consumers want an experience when they spend their precious fun money. The latest innovation is a great one for a summer Friday—World of Beer’s ALEgorithm that it bills as a Pandora-style “beer discovery engine” providing beer recommendations based on personal taste and member engagement.

In Defense of Marketing to Gen X

Gen Xers, usually in the shadow of millennials and baby boomers, are an equally important customer base for restaurants, finds a new NPD Group foodservice study.

Social Media Influencers Present New Marketing Opportunities

Courting social media Influencers is one way restaurant owners can create buzz around new food items or new store openings.

Capitalizing On the Summer Moving Season

For franchised service concepts in the moving segment, summer the opportunity of the year, but to get the most out of the season, it takes a thoughtful approach.

The youngest generation of Michigan’s Schostak family steps up

The fourth generation of Michigan’s Schostak family is taking over, trying new ideas while relying on the leadership of their elders and learning from some brutal franchise-life stories.

Ranking the top 200 franchised restaurant owners in the U.S.

Each year, our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor, surveys the largest restaurant franchisees in the country and pores over publicly available data to prepare this exclusive listing: a ranking of the top 200 franchised restaurant owners in the United States.

Despite mall malaise, Cinnabon rides sugar high

Cinnabon isn't sweating the struggle of malls as it adds units and refreshes its design. President Joe Guith foresees a day of reckoning for overbuilt malls, but 'there will be centers that survive and we will be there.'

Some restaurant owners thinking inside the box

Shipping containers are seeing a new life as pop-up shops, restaurants and destination retail. Subway, Taco Bell and Checkers are three franchises getting into the game. One advantage? They’re easy to pick up and move.

How Arby’s cracks the big city code, in The Urbane Franchisor

Profit remains the best reason brands should invest the time, effort and money it takes to bring their concepts into the most urban places in the country. A lot of people live under those sky-scraping rooftops.

BWW fight may be done but activists far from it

The dust is far from settled, but the Buffalo Wild Wings board is quite different than it was at its last shareholder meeting due to an aggressive activist investor campaign. The shakeup is one of a handful of activist attacks in franchising and part of a trend that is sure to accelerate, analysts say.

Pickup USA founder’s still got game

Jordan Meinster loves to play pickup basketball, except for all the things he hates about it. “It’s too crowded, and there’s no organization to it, and people are arguing about foul calls,” he says, drastically understating the cacophony of fouling and swearing at the typical neighborhood park. “It’s an inefficient process.”

'It’s time to grow,’ vows Cousins CEO

Recent history hasn’t been kind to Cousins Subs, which peaked at approximately 140 units, but shrank down to 100 units during a seven-year period to right-size the Wisconsin-based sandwich brand known for its “better bread.”

From odd phone call to ousted CEO—25 days of discord at School of Rock

On June 6, rabble-rousing blogger Sean Kelly says he received a phone call from Craig Tractenberg, a prominent franchise attorney with Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia, who allegedly threatened to expose negative personal information about Kelly unless he deleted blistering criticism from anonymous franchisees about School of Rock’s CEO Dzana Homan.

New owners for Back Yard Burgers, plus more posts

It took a whole lot of explaining, but Back Yard Burgers has attracted a new majority investor, Axum Capital Partners, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm.

At 900, Smoothie King Vision 'Validated'

When Wan Kim bought Smoothie King in 2012, he had a singular thesis in mind: to be a part of every healthy lifestyle. It seems to be working.

Frenchies quells novices’ pedi fears

Lost limbs and panic attacks were at the top of my list of fears as fellow reporter Nick Upton and I prepared to sit down for our first-ever pedicures—but it was a long list. What if there was a “no boys allowed” sign on the front door? If I passed out in the chair, would they sell my organs? And what were they going to say about my feet? They aren’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

DoodyCalls takes tail end of pet jobs

Picture the ideal summertime backyard scene: burgers on the grill, wind chimes clinking in the breeze and you suddenly step in a mound of Bandit’s poop, blasting you out of a blissful trance. Looking around, your little slice of heaven now resembles a war zone.

OrangeTheory owner hits books, then gym

Dylan Patel owns two OrangeTheory units and one Hand and Stone—yet he’s only 21. Although the early days were ‘the worst,’ his operation is clicking now.

Why restaurants should copy the Cubs

What do restaurants and Major League Baseball have in common? Plenty, says Tom Ricketts, owner and chairman of the Chicago Cubs.

Boston’s adds execs to tackle identity, add units

Fresh faces at the top are aiming to execute an ambitious growth plan at Boston’s. Job No. 1 is to answer this question: Is it a pizza place or a sports bar?

Working up a mental sweat at the IFE

Inside the massive, glass-encased Javits Center in New York City, this reporter was struck by the compelling new concepts on display at the International Franchise Expo in July, rather than the typical list of usual suspects.

How to buy influence, plus trivia and new words to use

Every brand wants to be cool. Witness Denny’s getting into food delivery and the two goofy guys in crowns arguing Burger King’s value proposition (is it just us, or do they seem like a less engaging clone of Sonic’s odd couple?)

La Vida hopes Marilyn Monroe Spas draws globally

Citing its country’s growing middle class, master franchisee La Vida aims to capitalize on an American icon’s enduring association with glamour as it expands Marilyn Monroe Spas in India.

Saudi Arabia at a glance

The only national flag to display an inscription as its principal design, the green Saudi flag (a traditional color in Islamic flags) puts the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script above a white saber.

Emerging brands learn lessons after hiring headaches

Finding employees who will focus on the member experience is a priority for Blink Fitness, while at Spray-Net some wrong hires have resulted in a reset before expansion can continue. Watermill Express says its ‘zees are the experts.

Back from the precipice, yes, but still it’s wise to watch your step

Anyone who has followed franchising developments in recent years knows of the joint employer issue—the effort to treat the employees of franchisees as also the employees of the franchisor, with the extensive legal and managerial consequences that would flow from such a change in the law.

Leads at first byte, or how to find success at franchise matchmaking

With 7.5 billion people on Earth, there is truly someone for everyone. We just have to find them, or at least to be ready to welcome them when we finally cross paths.

Foreign investors fuel Rodizio owner

The great thing about franchising is that it gives just about anyone (after a financial vetting) the chance to make good of someone else’s idea. In the case of Terry and Jackie Chan, 36 and 41, respectively, make that three ideas.

Passing on life lessons, whether welcome or not

Back when son Ben, who’s in his 20s now, was in high school, he enrolled in a journalism class as an elective. I was delighted! Visions were dancing in my head: The two of us would discuss journalism best practices. We’d talk about story leads and sources. He and I would come up with interesting story ideas. Maybe I could help him decide which stories were relevant to cover for his assignments.


Potbelly (NASDAQ: PBPB) is the latest franchise targeted by activist investors. The acceleration of activist activity (described more on page 31) means it could have some interesting days ahead.

For one brief, shining moment my eyes were amazing, then grass hit

I am not the kind of person who judges people on their eyelashes. I have suffered for years from mascara giving me a black eye (I like to rub my eyes … hey, I stare at a computer screen all day), so I know not to judge an eye by its cover.

Dunkin’ Heads Into Price Chopper Grocery Stores

As the so-called non-traditional real estate strategy goes mainstream, Dunkin’ Donuts is the latest announcement with a new partnership to open three restaurants in Price Chopper grocery locations in Kansas. It’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing more grocery store tie-ups, among others as restaurant brands seek to go wherever people congregate.

Franchising to Help Chef Service Feed More Seniors

Meet Chefs For Seniors, a four-year-old company out of Madison, Wisconsin, whose professional chefs prepare weekly meals in the home for an elderly clientele. The service, which has corporate locations in its home state plus Illinois and Florida, just launched its franchising initiative in 37 states.

Wyndham Acquires Mid-level AmericInn Brand

As the good times keep rolling in the hotel world, major hospitality brands are continuing to expand their portfolios as healthy business and personal travel continue to fuel record revenue gains and occupancy rates. The latest is Wyndham Hotel Group’s acquisition of Minnesota-based AmericInn hotel and its management company, Three Rivers Hospitality, for $170 million.

Blaze Pizza Gets PE Investment From Brentwood

The move by the Los Angeles-based group also puts two Brentwood partners, Bill Barnum and Rahul Aggarwal, on Blaze Pizza’s board of directors, along with industry veteran Greg Dollarhyde.

IFA’s NextGen Program Goes Live

It’s time once again for one of the very best things in all of franchising: IFA’s fantastic NextGen in Franchising Global Competition is now accepting applicants for the next crop of industry leaders who need a boost in bringing their great idea to market via franchising.

KFC Launches Hilarious Merch Shop

After launching one of its sandwiches into space and publishing its first corporate romance novel (seriously), KFC has launched an online merchandise shop it’s calling KFC Ltd. With Colonel Sanders pillows, a chicken sandwich made with real meteorite and drumstick socks—among many others—this is the real deal.

Southeast Asia Market Remains Ripe for Hooters Expansion

Franchisee Destination Eats, part of Bangkok-based Destination Resorts, is the local partner behind this market expansion and in 2015 signed a 35-location development agreement with Hooters. Led by CEO Gary Murray, Destination Eats also recently opened Hooters locations in Marina Bay and Fusionopolis, Singapore, as well as Jakarta, Indonesia, and Koh Samui, Thailand.

New School of Rock Boss Not Scared of Controversy

The bravest man in franchising may be Rob Price, who accepted the CEO job at School of Rock after Dzana Homan got the boot on June 30. I’ll tell the whole story about franchisee complaints alleging intimidation and more at the music school chain in the next print edition, but Price says he is not fazed by the controversy.

New Owners, New Start for Back Yard Burgers

It took a whole lot of explaining, but Back Yard Burgers has attracted a new majority investor, Axum Capital Partners, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm. “It was hard,” to find an investor to buy out Pharos Capital Group, says CEO Dave McDougall, who had to explain over and over why the brand has 23 company-owned stores and 32 franchised units today, down from a peak of 180 stores in 2007.

Pie Five Heading East with New Development Deal

Pie Five Pizza Co. - the fast casual restaurant known for its customizable pizzas prepared and ready to enjoy in five minutes - is putting a new spin on the phrase "in a New York minute."

Quaker Steak & Lube Announces New Vice President Of Franchise Services To Spearhead Aggressive Franchise Expansion Nationwide

Quaker Steak & Lube®, known for its award-winning food, including Best Wings USA and more than 20 sauces, announced today that industry veteran Bruce Lane has joined its executive team as vice president of franchise services. TA Restaurant Group, which acquired Quaker Steak & Lube in 2016, appointed Lane as part of its aggressive strategy to reinvigorate the 43-year-old brand and grow Quaker Steak & Lube into a nationally recognized concept through franchising.

Slapfish to launch in Albuquerque before Balloon Fiesta

Slapfish, the nation’s largest fast casual seafood restaurant chain, has started construction at its newest location at Holly Center in Albuquerque. With a target opening date of late September, Albuquerque diners will soon be enjoying Instagram-famous Lobster Rolls and Chowder fries at Slapfish.

Pizza Press Giving Away 1,000 Pizzas for Florida Grand Opening

Orlando pizza fans have reason to celebrate as Southern California's fastest growing build-your-own pizzeria, The Pizza Press, is opening its first Florida restaurant in Celebration off US 192. The Pizza Press, known for its high quality ingredients, wide array of local craft beer, and fun 1920s newspaper theme, will open a location at 6079 West Irlo Bronson Highway 192 in Celebration on Saturday, July 8th.

Culver's Honors Wisconsin Roots with Limited-Time Pub Burger

Driving to Wisconsin to taste world-famous cheese made by a renowned cheesemaker isn't always practical. Going to Culver's for the Wisconsin Big Cheese Pub Burger, a three-cheese ButterBurger® inspired by some of the state's most iconic cheeses, is.