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Delving Into 'Dogs, One Wienerschnitzel at a Time

The crack edit team at Franchise Times is well into a multi-part investigation these days, delving into the world of hot dogs and rating them from A+ to gross. But one brand we don’t have in our fair twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul is Wienerschnitzel—a pity, because it’s the largest franchised hot dog chain, with 320 locations in 10 states. So I called them up to dish about their dog.

Bananas Shares Love With Unlikely Target: CPAs

Certified public accountants don’t get much love, so imagine their delight when Bananas Smoothies offered a free drink made just for them on April 17 and 18.

Update: Growler USA Buys Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli

After reporting on Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli’s brand refresh and big plans for growth for our April issue, today news broke that Centennial, Colorado-based Growler USA has purchased the fast-casual deli concept. As part of the transaction, brands will maintain their individual names and concepts.

Paris by Way of Seoul

Travel to cosmopolitan, huge Seoul, South Korea, and you’ll see a taste of Paris on nearly every street corner, as Paris Baguette Bakery Café is nearly as common there as Starbucks are in New York. Well, truth be told, Seoul has more Starbucks than NYC, but that’s beside the point.

FT's Finance Conference Speakers Are Quotable Bunch

We’ve just sent our May edition to the printer, with full coverage of the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference and its 33 speakers. Here are a few of the quotable quotes from the package, just to whet your appetite.

Parasole Boss Still Roots for 'Humanity' in Restaurants

With all the talk about automation and technology today, people still trump machines. So believes Pete Mihajlov, co-founder of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, who spoke on a panel in Minneapolis about running a restaurant in 2016. What does he think of tabletop kiosks for ordering? “You’ve lost the humanity. You’ve lost the soul,” he said.

Tips for Evaluating Third-Party Delivery Services

Discussing the new-age problem of how to successfully partner with a third-party delivery service, the “Tackling Food Delivery Phenomenon” panel at the Foodservice News Restaurant Business Summit included two independent restaurant operators and Max Runke, general manager of Minneapolis-based Bite Squad, one of the leading national restaurant delivery providers.

New Laws in MS, NC, Leave Two States in 'Mess'

“It’s crazy, right? What a mess for the state,” said Tom Spiggle, a labor attorney representing employees at Spiggle Law Firm in Arlington, Virginia. He was speaking about so-called religious freedom laws signed into law April 5, dictating which genders could use which bathrooms, among other things, in North Carolina and allowing businesses in Mississippi to refuse service to gay people.

Welcome to the Age of Corporate Advocacy

The division of wealth is a major, top-of-mind issue for many Americans. Companies now exert unprecedented influence funding and affecting the direction of our country’s resources and policies. That sounds like a bad thing. At the same time, the raft of wrong-headed “religious freedom” bills have received harsh pushback from many major corporations—undoubtedly a good use of their power. In this world of increased corporate social advocacy on behalf of consumers, is your company ready to play ball?

Swapping Franchises With a Fellow ‘Zee

When two franchisees saw mutual benefits to swapping franchise territories, Two Men and a Truck agreed, helping facilitate an interesting deal. This unusual tale begins in 2001, right after 9/11, when Michael Lacey and his wife pooled all of their resources to get into their first franchising gig.

Back to Future in Panera's Long-Awaited Table Service

“How civilized!” I exclaimed as a staff member at Panera Bread said someone would bring my food to my table—this store in Roseville, Minnesota, being the first in the state to test the new system.

Arby's Cuts Its Energy Bill, Reporter Celebrates

As everybody’s getting in on the no-antibiotics and cage-free craze, I’d love to see more headlines like this gem that arrived in my inbox: “Arby’s Exceeds ‘15% by 2015’ Energy Reduction Goal.”

Snap Together and Other April Fools' Jokes

When Snap Fitness’ Communications Manager Hayley Schnell sent over an email sharing their new dating app, Snap Together, I was pretty sure it was an April Fools’ joke (mainly because the subject line of the email said April Fools), but a journalist can’t be too careful.

Cleaner Restaurant Cleaners on the Way

The ideal restaurant kitchen is a pristine, almost pastoral environment—gleaming vegetables, shimmering equipment and spotless surfaces—but anyone in the biz knows the reality is far different. Pests, toxins, contaminants and dirt all need to be kept at bay, so the bucolic kitchens of our imaginations are also home to a host of harsh chemicals that could pose a danger to food safety and employee health.

'Bidness' in Texas Is a Big Deal

I know every state is proud of itself, but Texas seems especially enamored with all things Texan. I noticed this a couple of years ago when I attended the Houston franchise expo and my hotel’s waffle maker turned out waffles in the shape of Texas. I have never had an Ohio-shaped waffle, nor a California one.

I Found My Thrill on Blackberry Farm’s Rolling Hills

The only restaurant/bar on our concourse at the Knoxville airport was a Ruby Tuesday, which was fitting because we were headed to Blackberry Farm, the homestead/resort of Ruby Tuesday’s founder Sandy Beall. Beall and his wife Kreis took over the 9,200-acre estate in the Smoky Mountains in 1976, where they raised both their family and the bar on luxury resorts.

A Fictional Drinking Game From FT's Conference

We deployed our entire five-person editorial staff to cover the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in March, and over three days, 33 franchisor presentations and two panel discussions on finance, we got a little punchy. What if we created a drinking game, and took a sip every time a presenter uttered a time-worn phrase?

Detroit Could Be Your Best Opportunity

The popular conception of Detroit is about five years behind the curve, and the new reality is that America’s 14th largest metropolitan area is undergoing a resurgence that’s bringing a massive amount of investment to the city, particularly its fascinating, sometimes gritty and beautiful downtown district.

Selling Everything from Skulls to Heirlooms

Mother-and-son duo Debra and David Blue see a lot of unusual stuff as the founders of Blue Moon Estate Sales. Going from one house to the next, appraising items, doing pop-up sale marketing, participating in the downsizing or end of people's lives, the estate sale business is unlike any other—and in this age of "American Pickers" and "Pawn Stars," business is booming.

Focus on Your Brand's Audience

Situational awareness is one of the keys to success in life—whether it’s appropriate behavior at a cocktail party, realizing when an opportunity is knocking on your door or promoting your brand at in-person events. I say this as I pack my bags in the wake of this year’s Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in Las Vegas.

Eating Up the Atmosphere and Food at Franchise Finance & Growth Conference

There’s more to the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference than just learning about 30-plus franchise concepts and the lenders who want—or should want—to fund them. There’s eating.

Moe’s Celebrations Help Drive Profits

Moe’s Southwest Grill stays away from promotions, instead opting for what it calls celebrations to attract customers and get them excited about the brand’s fresh approach to Mexican.

Need Traffic? Create a Holiday

There seems to be a holiday for just about everything, from National Hot Dog Day to Make Up Your Own Holiday Day—seriously, it's March 26.

Del Taco Leads List of Franchise Times Dealmakers Winners

Del Taco today received the Franchise Times Deal of the Year award, for its merger with Levy Acquisition Corp., the shell company controlled by Chicago restaurateur Larry Levy, and its subsequent refinancing of debt and debut on the public markets.

Finding Real Estate Before the Market

Anyone looking to expand knows just how tricky it is to find the ideal space.

Franchise Finance & Growth Conference Has a New Hip Home

One floor above the casino, the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference attracted a sea of suits that conflicted sharply with the more casual, and dare we say, more skimpy, clothing on the main floor. In case you, like my daughter, think I exaggerate, I can back up my observation.

Massage Heights Adds The Gents Place to Stable

I had the opportunity to interview Shane Evans, president of Massage Heights, while at the International Franchise Association annual convention in February, for an upcoming story. At that time she was not quite ready to announce her family-owned brand’s new acquisition. Now the news is out about the purchase of The Gents Place.

Friendly’s Continues Brand Resurgence

After falling on hard times, Friendly's is reviving itself and its restaurants, explains CEO John Maguire during the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference.

Not Changing, but Just Getting Started

As the keynote speaker at this year’s Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference in Las Vegas, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison highlighted the brand’s adherence to core principles while simultaneously preparing for massive additional growth in the United States and abroad.

Gigi's May Be Poised to Live Up to Her Story

Gina Butler was telling the same story on the first day of the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in Vegas today, but the brand she founded, Gigi's Cupcakes, may soon start living up to the tale.

Inventing on a Jet Plane

What do you do on plane rides? If you’re like me, you thumb through a stack of magazines while drifting in and out of an uncomfortable slumber. If you’re Jeff Mateka, founder of Redbox+, you kill time by dreaming up entire new business ideas—successful ones, at that. So the story goes from Lyle Blanchard, franchise development director at the Winona, Minnesota-based company that’s been cleaning up job sites since 2007.

Paragon's Prez Shares His Favorite Types of Borrowers

“We do want to diversify. We don’t want everything in fast food,” says Charles Yorke about the franchisees Paragon Small Business Capital Group likes to finance. We tracked down Yorke, president of the Paragon Bank division in Atlanta, right before heading to the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in mid-March, to learn about one lender’s outlook.

Words of Wisdom from FT's Dealmakers Winners

The Franchise Times Dealmakers cover story for April is on the page and headed to the printer, but meanwhile I’d like to share some notable quotables from the package.

Gloria Jean's Coffees Harnessing Local TV

Originally started in Chicago by Ed and Gloria Jean Kvetko in 1979, Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a 59-unit coffee chain that’s now based in Southern California, largely mall focused and looking to continue the growth it began in 2015.

Checkers & Rally's Slaps Burger King in Wiener War

“Hey Burger King. It’s time to compare wieners.” So declared the full-page ad in USA Today last week, in which Checkers & Rally’s shot back at Burger King after its national rollout of a $1.99 hot dog in February.

K-9, Orangetheory Deals and More Setting Fast Pace

It’s only March, and some notable mergers and acquisitions are already piling up in the franchise space. Here are four catching our attention:

It's All Happening in Detroit

I’m an excitable guy, and usually find something to be excited about for all of my work travels, but I’m especially pumped for my upcoming trip to Detroit. As regular Franchise Times readers know, I’m a big fan of cities and urban franchising—and it’s all happening in the Motor City.

Crazy Ice Cream Chain Branches Out

Combining the novelty of “highly decorated” ice cream stores, model trains and see-through bathroom doors, Florida-based Sloan’s Ice Cream is on the cusp of major expansion in the United States, Kuwait and Dubai.

Why Burger King Is Now Warren Buffett’s Favorite Franchise

In his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett sang the praises of the architects of the Burger King and Tim Hortons merger.

Engineering For Kids Soaring High

It’s one thing to hear about a young franchise with dramatic plans for growth. It’s quite another, in the eyes of this reporter, to hear about a franchise started by a full-time school teacher that’s up to 152 locations and in 22 countries just seven years after it was founded.

Going On a Weekend Gender Bender

This is what I learned in my gender-bending weekend: From a drag queen, it takes just a small safety pin to turn a conservative neckline into a cleavage-baring one. And from a Shakespearean play, women can look amazingly masculine, even without the pincushion codpiece.

Minneapolis May Extend Drive-Through Ban. Is That Bad?

Drive-throughs are a big part of franchising and the American suburban landscape. As illustrated by a new proposal in Minneapolis, many cities are outlawing the construction of new drive-through businesses along with other auto-oriented facilities. Is this a bad thing? Maybe not.

New Option for BrightStar 'Zees, Plus Gyro Shack's Debut

I pick up many juicy tidbits whenever I attend a conference, and this year’s International Franchise Association annual conference in San Antonio is no exception. Here are two, from BrightStar and Gyro Shack:

Smart Response Critical in Crisis, IFA Panelist Says

Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications at Domino's pizza for a couple of decades, has learned many lessons about crisis management that have only grown sharper since the rise of social media. A cardinal rule: “Your response affects your reputation as much as the incident itself,” he said at a panel on the topic Sunday at the International Franchise Association’s annual conference in San Antonio.

For Franchisees, Multi-Unit Growth Means Letting Go

Growth is the name of the game for franchisees, but making that move from one-unit operator to multi-unit franchisee is no small task, as attendees of a franchisee growth session at the annual IFA Convention learned.

Enjoying a Wet Willie in Houston

As I took a drink of my multi-colored Superman frozen daiquiri from the Wet Willie’s booth at last week’s Franchise Expo South, I wondered why others weren’t also giving away booze, regardless of the company. The sugary, colorful and surprisingly potent concoction was the perfect break from the show, and a pleasant gateway for the conversation I had with the franchised company’s CEO, William Dickinson.

Pet Franchise Is for the Birds

People who don't work for pet franchises imagine those who do spend all day playing with dogs, yammering with birds and getting treats. And that may not be too far off the mark.

Expo Show Psychology

There’s always interesting stuff to see at the big franchise shows. Having just returned from the 2016 Franchise Expo South in Houston, I saw it all, but my favorite encounter was with a guy whose booth was directly across from ours.

Second Mover in Healthcare Franchising Proves the Trend

Well, that didn’t take long. Nurse Next Door, a Vancouver-based home care franchise, announced this week a deal with St. Joseph Health in California, in which the not-for-profit St. Joseph will become a franchisee of a for-profit healthcare brand, and will open 26 franchise territories with an additional 12 as options to build out in the future.

No Rich Kids for QSR International's Prez

Speaking of Franchise Times Dealmakers winners, whom I had fun interviewing all week, I’ve already heard some gems that I’m looking forward to sharing with readers in our April issue. Here’s one from QSR International's president that I couldn’t wait to tell: