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Dealmakers set sights on RFDC

A fountain out front and a font of capital inside, the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference is almost here, presented by our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor.

‘Zors see opportunity in Brazil despite economic turmoil

Franchise brands are looking to the future in Brazil and Uruguay, two South American markets with plenty of potential but in need of some economic growth and development attention to reach it.

Brazil and Uruguay at a glance

Language: Portuguese (Don’t speak to them in Spanish, and print materials in both English and Portuguese) Religion: 65% Roman Catholic

How to protect your intellectual property

Everyone signs a confidentiality agreement at Vitality Bowls, franchisee and employee alike, to guard the brand’s intellectual property. For all three of Living Large’s emerging franchisors, protection is job one.

Why Your Franchise Needs Delivery

Currently, only about a third of the population orders delivery food that’s not pizza; demand for a wider variety of take-out food is consistent in cities, suburbs and rural areas; and, the delivery category as a whole is only scratching the surface of its massive potential as third-party services literally bring more meals, goods and services to more people.

Executive Ladder

Fresh & Healthy Brands hired Hisham Anas as its business development manager for the Middle East and North Africa. Muscle Maker Grill promoted Derek Bogner to VP of franchise operations, Scott Carlock to CFO and David LaPointe to director of corporate operations.

Grandson of CKE’s founder pens poison letters

Jason LeVecke, the grandson of CKE Restaurants’ founder, figures he has nothing left to lose. So he sent a blistering letter in late September to “friends and colleagues,” blasting the leadership of CEO Andy Puzder and the “degrading” ads promoting Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the two fast food brands franchised by CKE.

After Brexit: 'Business as usual' or 'Franchisors should PANIC!'

Of the dozens of newsletters, alerts and other instant analyses of the effect of Brexit, or the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, on franchising, these two headlines above are perhaps the most memorable (and, no, I did not add that emphatic type or exclamation point).

How to attract undecided

Every four years the U.S. government calls upon one of the most influential aggregates of men and women in the country: the Electoral College, 538 men and women, to be exact. It is their responsibility to cast the votes that decide the president and vice president of the United States.

From cafes to recruiting for Patrice ‘zee

It’s been tough this summer finding workers to staff Colorado’s 11,247 restaurants. After all, the state’s unemployment rate is a meager 3.8 percent. So hospitality recruiter Michelle Shriver wasn’t exactly surprised when a client wondered if she could help find reliable hourlies. He hadn’t been the only one to make such a request.

Pizza Hut didn’t deliver our pizza, but did deliver a box we got a kick out of

There was one thing missing when Franchise Times invited its fantasy football team members to demonstrate Pizza Hut’s new flick football box: grease. Which, of course, meant there was no pizza.

Can Domino’s Be Stopped?

It’s that time of year again: leaves falling, temperatures chilling and, once again, Domino’s is the star of the quarterly earnings show. On the eve of my trip to the pizza giant’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’m writing questions and wondering if this high-tech pizza brand can be stopped in light of its 22 consecutive quarters of positive sales growth.

Minimum Wage Is 'Existential' Issue for Restaurant Owners

“I’m going to start at the city halls because that’s where the action is,” said Dan McElroy, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota. He was referring specifically to Minneapolis and St. Paul, where city councils are considering proposals to raise the minimum wage or mandate paid sick and safe leave. But he also noted cities and counties across the United States are increasingly at the center of workforce regulation while the U.S. House and Senate dither.

Massage Heights 'Zee Thinks Workplace Culture Is on Her

Jennifer Burlington, a three-unit Massage Heights franchisee in San Antonio, has a simple yet often overlooked way of finding out what her massage therapists want in the workplace: She asks them. Her approach is instructive for anyone facing a shortage of good employees (which means everyone).

Phil Keiser, CEO of Culver’s, Dies at 60

Phil Keiser, named CEO and president of Culver’s restaurants last year, has died, the company said on Monday.

Franchise Times Launches Food On Demand

It’s a new era in food, with companies like Domino’s designing their own cars and drone technology that’s ready and waiting once regulatory hurdles are cleared. This will impact everything from independent restaurants to the largest players in industry, and we’ve started a brand-new media project called Food On Demand to cover it all.

What I Found in Denver

As previously mentioned here, I flew out to Denver last week to check out Franchise Expo West in its new, mile-high home. Foot traffic at the show was slow, but I enjoyed exploring the city’s excellent downtown while catching up with industry contacts and meeting some new franchise friends.

UPS expands Worldwide Express Plus program to 28 new countries.

According to a company press release, UPS announced the expansion of its earliest morning package delivery service, UPS Worldwide Express Plus™. By expanding its reach to 28 new countries and enhancing service to cover more postal codes in 25 existing countries, shippers can reach the top 20 economies in the world earlier than ever before.

Famous Dave’s hires its fourth leader in four years

Mike Lister, a former operations executive who now owns several Famous Dave’s franchises, will become the company’s new CEO, succeeding Adam Wright, who took the job 10 months ago.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Promotion: Genius or Flop?

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Ann Arbor thought it had a great deal on the docket for University of Michigan football fans. For every point the Michigan football team scored, guests were able to get 1 percent off their check. It was a fun, creative idea until the Wolverines actually took the field and dominated the Scarlett Knights 78-0 last Saturday.

Vanessa C. Fox promoted to corporate vice president & chief development officer at Jack in the Box Inc.

Jack in the Box Inc. announced that Vanessa C. Fox has been promoted to corporate vice president and chief development officer for the company. Since 2014, Fox has been responsible for all company and franchised restaurant development for the Jack in the Box® brand, including Construction, Real Estate and Architecture.

Design Is Secret Weapon for Growth-Minded Franchises

For a story about how architecture can help franchise brands expand, we peeked at the drawing board of Greg Terry, design director at Studio Four Design in Knoxville, Tennessee. He offers these design tips, with more to come in next month’s issue.

Grandson of Founder Criticizes CKE With Poison Pen

The poison pen of Jason LeVecke is rattling management’s cage at CKE Restaurants, the California-based franchisor of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants.

IHG® announces new vice president, of operations, Continental Europe

IHG, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has appointed Michael Zager as Vice President, Operations, Continental Europe. Zager will start his new role effective October 1st and report to Stephen McCall, Chief Operating Officer, Europe.

Pizza Hut unveils The Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

The newest Pizza Hut mash-up combines two of the most beloved foods of all—grilled cheese and pizza.

Marriott to open first hotel in Rwanda

Marriott International today officially opened the doors of its first Marriott Hotel in Rwanda, bringing the signature brand's welcoming service and world-class amenities to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in its nearly 90-year history.

CEO of FASTSIGNS elected secretary of the International Franchise Association

Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc., a sign, graphics and visual communications franchisor with more than 630 centers worldwide, has been elected secretary of the International Franchise Association (IFA).

Going Where My Feet Can Take Me

With this week’s upcoming Franchise Expo West in Denver, I’m packing my bags and building an itinerary to see the best sights in the Mile High City. The one requirement? I’m only going where my feet and public transit can take me. Surprisingly, in such a transit-friendly town, this gives me a lot of options.

Dunkin’ Donuts to Launch Ready-to-Drink Coffee in 2017

Today, National Coffee Day, Dunkin’ Donuts, part of Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN), announced in a press release that it will launch a line of Dunkin’ Donuts branded ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee beverages in the United States in early 2017.

Best Performers in This Year’s Franchise Times Top 200+

In a year with stunning sales drops at some of franchising’s largest brands, it’s equally notable how many brands posted excellent sales growth numbers. Take RE/MAX, for example, which increased its year-over-year sales by 13 percent and moved from No. 11 to No. 8 on our exclusive annual ranking of the largest U.S.-based franchise companies.

Belski Picks Best Debate Stocks on Economics & Politics Panel

As we enter presidential debate season, there are four stocks everyone should own, believes Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, who spoke on an “Economics & Politics” panel in Minneapolis last week.

Applebee’s restaurants now in all 50 states after Hawaii expansion

Applebee's Grill and Bar began with a single restaurant in suburban Atlanta in 1980. It has since grown to one of America's most popular restaurants with over 2,000 locations in 49 states, two U.S. territories and 17 countries, but there has never been a location in Hawaii - until now.

Stacy Anderson promoted to brand president of Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness announced the promotion of Stacy Anderson to the new position of brand president. Anderson, who has served as the company's chief marketing officer since 2012, will lead Anytime Fitness' business unit and steer the continuing evolution of the franchise's business model.

Robots Handle Fed Cash, but a Real Person's at the Top

Business reporters are often told to follow the money, so our edit team decided to do just that when we visited the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis last week. Turns out, you would have to be a robot to actually get your hands on any of that dough, but new President Neel Kashkari has a human touch.

Restaurant Finance Gathering to Draw Strategists, Dealmakers

A fountain out front and a font of capital inside, the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference is almost here, presented by our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor. It runs from November 14-16 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Watching a Potential Hotel Slowdown

Times are good in the hotel business, but for an industry that often pegs its future success on America’s GDP, anecdotal evidence suggests these roaring times in the hospitality business could be slowing down.

Success at FT begins with you, dear reader, in mind

The older I get, the more I try to learn. In my 20s, I knew everything. In my 30s, I figured I could learn a thing or two, and in my 40s, well, I actually figured out there was still a lot I didn’t know. And, instead of finding that terrifying, it was actually liberating. More comfortable in my own skin the older I got, I felt free to ask questions. If I could get a memorable “take away” from a conversation, I considered that a bonus.

Check out our tearable franchise puns

I used to be a franchise lender, but I lost interest.

Delivery work’s not for faint of legs

Tristan Jimerson and Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister delivered sandwiches freakishly fast for Jimmy John’s. No one, Jimerson says, has delivery as dialed in as Jimmy John’s. Since the delivery zone for each store is small, the sandwiches sometimes rode in cars, sometimes in messenger bags via bicycles.

CenterOak bests 97 others to buy Wetzel’s Pretzels

“Wetzel’s is a great business for private equity investors because it has everything they look for,” declares Bill Phelps, who as co-founder and CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels could be considered biased. “It has high cash flow. It has good growth.

Malawi’s Pizza finds early adopters for purposeful plan

Americans sending food abroad has historical roots. During WWI, U.S. citizens curtailed their consumption of wheat and sugar, eating instead fresh produce, in order to send shippable food to Europe for both the allies and our own soldiers. The slogan was “Food will win the war.” There was a similar campaign during the second World War.

Romp ‘n Roll founders don’t regret spurning Shark Tank

Michael and Babz Barnett had their 15 minutes of fame six years ago on the hit TV show “Shark Tank.” Like other contestants, they pitched their concept—a modernized kids’ gym called Romp ‘n Roll—to high-powered celebrity judges, and got the coveted offer.

HB Boys boss never likes to say ‘I told you so’

‘There has to be an allowance for people to make mistakes,’ declares Gary Moore, operator of 58 Burger Kings plus three other brands. Judging from the operation’s success, many more hits than misses are likely.

From five cents to 500 million for Nathan’s Famous

How to last for 100 years? For Nathan’s Famous, it’s the hot dog, stupid. And if you’re Nathan’s boss, Wayne Norbitz, the only way to eat it is plain. ‘That’s the way God intended it to be,’ he says.

Tilted Kilt CEO had us at ‘bacon bar’

Tilted Kilt’s CEO Ron Lynch is rolling out a new prototype for the Celtic-themed sports bar and grill, where the servers are known for their skimpy kilts. It will be lighter and brighter, with less kitschy Old World stuff hanging around. It will re-introduce games, the old-fashioned kind like pool tables, shuffleboards and dartboards. It will have a new lunch menu, with healthier options and smaller portions.

Young talent revs up Safeway Driving

Ann Littmann, a freshly minted VP at Safeway Driving School, is right on message as she describes the mission of the Houston-based franchise. “Safeway is a 43-year-old company, and we were invented to prevent the phone call no one wants to get,” she said, about a tragic car accident involving a young driver.

Pieology fires first in pizza battles

It was the great, unavoidable war. With so much money and interest flowing into the marinara-red-hot pizza category, many industry watchers see Pieology’s recent acquisition of Project Pie as the first move in an eventual wave of consolidation that will trim the number of players in this rocket-fueled restaurant segment.

Krystal offers support for education with Krystal Cruiser Tour

The Krystal Company, known for its small, square burgers, has launched a foundation dedicated to funding important community school programs in its neighborhoods.

Planet Fitness, Inc. announces secondary offering of Class A common stock by selling stockholders

Planet Fitness, Inc. (NYSE: PLNT) ("Planet Fitness" or the "Company") today announced that certain of its existing stockholders (the "Selling Stockholders") intend to offer for sale 8 million shares of its Class A common stock pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-3 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Americans Playing With Less Fun Money

Although I’ve tended toward a generally bullish attitude on our economic future in recent months, a pronounced slowdown in the restaurant category along with reports like this from the SBE Council suggest the American economic recovery is slowing, if not stalling nine years after the technical end of the Great Recession.