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Learning on the job never ends, and never gets old

I’m older. I’ve figured some things out. It’s not like I’m back at the first Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, the dealmaking event put on by our sister publication, The Restaurant Finance Monitor, every November. I was a mere youngster back then, and was one of the few women in the room at the time, and for the next few years after that, as well.

The rest is gravy for poutine champions

It only took 10 minutes for Joey “Jaws” Chestnut to snatch victory from the jaws of Matt “the Megatoad” Stonie during the 7th Annual Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, October 1.

More standouts from our Top 200+ project

In a year with stunning sales drops at some of franchising’s largest brands, it’s equally notable how many brands posted excellent systemwide sales growth numbers.

Burger 21 mixes up its store models

This world’s a cruel place, and even well-intentioned, high-quality restaurant concepts will fail with so many new competitors. This dog-eat-dog mantra applies doubly in overheated categories like pizza, burritos and, of course, better burgers.

Design makes a difference for four firms

Consider the plight of an architect working with a brand that’s starting to franchise. On one hand is the founder. “They’ve put their heart and soul and passion into creating the brand and the culture,” says Greg Terry, design director at Studio Four Design in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nature’s Table was healthy before it was cool

Rich Wagner’s life has gotten easier in recent years. As the co-founder and senior vice president of Nature’s Table, a 68-unit healthier-eating fast-casual concept started in Florida in the late 1980’s, he’s seen the concept pick up some momentum as Americans have generally started favoring healthier and more transparent restaurants.

Fish sticks & rice fueled Two Maids founder

The name Two Maids and a Mop makes perfect sense for a residential cleaning service, until you begin to hear about the franchisor’s extreme thriftiness while growing the business, and you start to do the math. And then you can’t help worrying, which maid gets the mop?

How dirty grout inspired a franchise

Jeff Gill sat with his head in his hands, unsure of what he was going to do next. It was the early 2000s, and he had bought a business opportunity called Chips Away, which repaired paint chips and bumper scuffs on high-end cars.

‘Don’t quit’ is motto for Shoney’s operator

‘What truck just hit me’ is a question many multi-unit operators ask. But for Rory Smith of Shoney’s, the answer is always to get up and press on.

Valerie Daniels-Carter, the ultimate do-good franchisee

If there had been an opening in our cover story line-up earlier than November, I would have been the one to break the news that Valerie Daniels-Carter is the coolest woman in Wisconsin. As it was, e-magazine PureWow chose Daniels-Carter back in September to represent Wisconsin in its state-by-state listing of cool women doing impressive things.

For MidiCi, 329 units sold but none open

Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s, has a great story to tell at first glance: More than 300 MidiCi pizza franchises, his second brand, have flown out the door since 2015. But not a single one has opened. Can this operation be sustained?

Where to find camu camu fruit

When acai berries and mangosteen are key parts of your menu, hunting them down is a challenge. ‘The tricky thing is you want stuff to show up the same way every day,” says a CoreLife exec.

‘Crossover’ is watchword when planning LTOs

Timing is everything when chefs create limited-time offers. ‘We’re not the leader of the pack but we don’t want to be an ankle biter,’ said Buffalo Wings & Rings’ chef. Add the mandate to be ‘operationally feasible,’ and it’s tough.

Four fast-casual concepts enter U.S.

The concept: Paris Baguette has built an iconic image worldwide with more than 3,700 locations, most of them in South Korea.

Building the World of Beer

In 2011 Minnesota passed the Taproom Bill, allowing breweries to sell beer onsite and fueling the growth of a local industry that’s ballooned from fewer than 30 in-state breweries to more than 100 in just five years.

Who pays is challenge for senior care

It’s not only the American population that’s aging. The demographics have galvanized U.S.-based senior care franchises who have set their sights on global expansion and pursued a variety of strategies to get there.

Looking for space in all the odd places

A Doc Popcorn in a car wash? Why not, when the aroma of caramel corn is a sure-fire draw. As the land grab continues for restaurant brands, more franchises are going the non-traditional route.

New tone at IFA as franchisees storm Capitol Hill

When Robert Cresanti replaced Steve Caldeira as president and CEO of the International Franchise Association in the fall of 2015, a cooling vibe washed over the industry-leading association as it switched from red-faced partisanship to a calmer, more bipartisan approach.

What’s your plan for business succession?

Despite common misconceptions, succession planning is not necessarily solely about retirement. Rather it’s about opening doors for franchise owners and helping them take advantage of emerging business opportunities.

Ten cases rise to top for two attorneys

There were no blockbusters this past year in franchise legal cases, but rather a number of decisions that illuminated the need for attorneys to be vigilant, according to two franchise attorneys.

But what if the numbers are misleading?

Charles Modell, a deservedly-so prominent franchisor lawyer, in his guest column in the September issue of Franchise Times, correctly opined that a thoroughly prepared financial performance representation is a pivotal piece. A carefully prepared Item 19, which has a reasonable basis and full and fair disclosure of the material facts and assumptions underlying it, is key information that a prospective franchisee seeks to obtain and can help a franchisor lawfully sell franchises.

High-tech traffic counters dig deep

Continued innovation in site selection tools is making it easier for franchise groups to identify high-traffic hot spots. In the past five years, site selection firms have stepped up their game in delivering traffic count data that is more accurate, timely, granular and hyperlocal.

Moe’s has ‘exemplary’ Item 19

In 2007, Focus Brands of Atlanta purchased Moe’s Southwest Grill from Raving Brands, headed by Martin Sprock who also founded Planet Smoothie, for an undisclosed sum.

Hotels gobble up urban fixer-uppers

The sparkling new Embassy Suites in my hometown feels like it’s always been here, because the building has been for more than a century. Melding old with new, the lobby has snowy marble floors accented by super-mod wood accents. Over the fireplace swims a school of fish, an installation from a local artist.

Scoreboard

From a high stock price of $43 in 2006 to Chapter 11 bankruptcy and delisting in September, Cosi serves as a tough lesson—namely, restaurants need to make money to grow.

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.