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Wingstop announces appointment of new independent board member

Wingstop Inc. today announced the appointment of seasoned public company director and former McDonald’s executive Lynn Crump-Caine to its board of directors.

Franchise Times Top 10 Stories of 2016

As we move into 2017, it’s time for a little year in review. It’s been another strong year at Franchise Times, and the editorial content here was booming with features, special projects, and franchise news items.

Del Taco introduces mobile app test in Sacramento

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. has announced the test on its mobile app developed by the brand’s online ordering partner, Olo. Although the free app is currently available for download by iOS and Android users nationwide, the app’s full functionality will be limited to the Sacramento test market.

Don’t mess with MOD: How to build a fiercely loyal workforce

‘If you treat people like they matter they will do anything,’ says Kory Harp softly, belying his burly looks to explain why he believes the culture at MOD Pizza is a precious treasure. He and others in the MOD Squad, as more than 3,000 employees and eight franchise partners are known, are determined to keep that enviable culture alive even as the chain expands nationwide. Founders Scott and Ally Svenson have their backs, insisting they care much more about purpose than pizza.

Jersey Mike’s tops this year’s Fast & Serious list

The No. 1 franchise on this year’s Fast & Serious list—designating the fastest-growing franchises over three years, in order to ensure sustainability—ironically talks more about being methodical than pushing to the max. “We’re very diligent—some people would call it slow, but we try to be real thoughtful about it,” says Hoyt Jones, president of Jersey Mike’s, the sub sandwich chain that requires a full-week training for every franchisee in New Jersey headquarters. Learn his growth strategies, plus those of 39 more franchise bosses who are intent on growing quickly but only in ways that can last.

Wisdom from the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference

Political pundits, restaurant CEOs and financial wizards shared advice and philosophies at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented each November by the Restaurant Finance Monitor, FT’s sister publication. Here are some highlights, with many more online at franchisetimes.com.

Apple Pie Capital strives for new finance normal

‘If I can do so much on the internet, why can’t I do my financing?’ That simple question drove Denise Thomas to start ApplePie Capital, which a couple of rounds of funding and a couple of years later is marrying tech with money.

Spray-Net, Blink Fitness and Watermill Express tackle challenges

Spray-Net, Blink Fitness and Watermill Express are the emerging franchises we will follow all year as they tackle their challenges. Our first installment of Living Large for the new year examines how the brands work to increase revenue and control expenses at the unit level.

Backing away from the ledge after Trump

After the election I had this reaction, like a popular majority of the voting public unless in fact 2.8 million of those votes were illegal: UUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH. But I didn’t think I could fill this column with that word, so I began moving through the seven stages of grief.

Proposal by Euro parliament: a realistic solution?

It is rare that the European Parliament has anything to say about franchising. Recently though, that august institution spoke up, in the form of a study published by one of its committees, looking at the impact of regulation on franchising in Europe. While it is not the official position of the parliament, it cannot safely be ignored.

When social media meets SEO

Over the years, I have heard dozens of franchise salespeople lament the social media efforts of their franchisors. They often feel the money spent on social media is wasted when it comes to franchise lead generation. And while there are numerous ways that a franchisor can ineffectively utilize social media, savvy franchisors have found that social media, done right, can have a profound impact on their franchise marketing efforts.

After Wendy’s purchase, JAE banks on ‘The Machine’

Back in September, Pompano Beach, Florida-based JAE Restaurant Group announced it was now one of South Florida’s largest employers, having acquired 97 Wendy’s re-franchised restaurants within a year.

Astrological signs and your bathroom habits

Most likely the last time bathroom humor was top of mind for the team at Fish Consulting was when they were in the third grade (junior high, maybe high school, for the boys). But when their client, Mr. Rooter, wanted to create consumer buzz around the plumbing brand, Fish drilled down and asked themselves, “How can we make this sexy?” according to Andie Biederman, senior account executive for the south Florida PR/advertising agency.

India’s cash dearth upsets trade mission

Problems due to India’s prime minister’s demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes didn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to what the average Indian has had to put up with, but it was still upsetting to members of the franchise trade mission in December, as FT’s Nancy Weingartner reports

Dream email sparked Dog Haus deal

A massive development deal for Dog Haus started with a simple email on the franchise’s website— you know, that generic contact form that rarely coughs up a promising lead.

Erbert and Gerbert’s franchisee aims high

Spend just two minutes on the phone with Aubrey Janik, age 23, and you’ll quickly have an appreciation for her outsized share of ambition and fearlessness. She’s got a two-, three- and five-year plan, and if it all works out, franchising may have found its newest up-and-coming star.

Fear is relative for Best in Class CEO

Failure is a subjective term for Hao Lam. The founder and CEO of Best in Class has had life-changing failures—10, he says—including running from gunfire and being sent to a Vietnamese prison on several occasions.

DQ boss likes the word ‘accountable’

This operator grew from seven locations to 180, all in the Dairy Queen brand, while still in his early 30s. But his advice for other young operators is to make one unit profitable before adding another.

What happens when technology weds capital

Lending tech, insurTech, blockchain, oh my! The financial world is changing dramatically, but what on earth does it mean for business owners who don’t live in the cloud?

Public transit adds to Denver’s zip

Stepping off the sleek, new A-line train that swept me from the gates of DIA into the heart of downtown Denver—23 miles away—I was easily impressed by the Mile High City.

High standard of living attracts attention in Taiwan

Business ownership is revered in Taiwan, where entrepreneurs are seeking well-known franchise brands they can develop and where U.S. franchisors can test their concepts before launching in mainland China.

Taiwan, at a glance

Location: In Southeast Asia, Taiwan borders the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea just east of mainland China. Size and name: The island is about the size of Maryland and Delaware combined. Officially known as the Republic of China.

After a year of vitriol, a dose of inspiration

The year 2016 was a stressful and vitriolic one—at least if you watched the news. From every which way, it seemed all the loudest voices were intent on tearing down other people. As the old (really old) Simon & Garfunkel song laments, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”


There are headless companies among us! Four public restaurant companies are currently without a permanent CEO, fallout from a transformative era and a difficult year for the industry.

Executive Ladder

Executive Vice President and COO of Midas, Mike Gould, retired after 36 years with the business. Focus Brands promoted Paul Macaluso to president of McAlister’s Deli. SpeedPro Imaging appointed Ryan Reeves as its vice president of franchise sales. Reeves previously held directorial positions at McAlister’s Deli and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

Why I never skirt the issues when covering bigwigs or trade missions

Most people who go to Vegas lose their shirt. I lost my skirt.

Inside the Wide-Sweeping Chalak Mitra Group

Chalak Mita Group Managing Director Pushpak Patel gives a glimpse inside the well-diversified company built on the trust between best friends at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. The group is growing every which way from QSR to hotels and even a Jamaican cricket team.

M&A Update: The Market Bears What the Market Bears

Partner and attorney Derek Ladgenski of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP discusses the “active” M&A market at the 2016 and his outlook for 2017 at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. And what’s going to happen when interest rates ticket up? Ladgensky says nobody really knows, “all you can do is get ready.”

Area Director and Multi-Unit Owner Bill Mapes Talks Jersey Mike’s

Area director and multi-unit franchisee Bill Mapes discusses what kind of franchisee Jersey Mike’s is looking for, and how the company looks for people who fit the company values before they’re in the system.

Right-Sized Rent Metrics the 'Single Most Important Factor' for Restaurants

What can a restaurant do in this landlord’s market? Jim Haslem of CS Advisors has more than three decades of experience negotiating leases and seeing what works at restaurants. He explains how to get to the right rent metric at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

DineEquity, Inc. announces first co-branded IHOP and Applebee's restaurant to open in Detroit

DineEquity, Inc. announced plans today for a new location in Detroit that will for the first time leverage both its category leading brands, IHOP® restaurants and Applebee's Grill and Bar® in one restaurant destination to be at Millander Center in Detroit.

Marriott International’s Residence Inn brand now present in all 50 states

After its latest opening in Wyoming, Marriott International announces that its extended-stay brand, Residence Inn, now touts a presence in all 50 states.

BoeFly Webinar Tackles Issues Around New SBA Rule

All the gnashing of teeth over the SBA Registry rule change may be for naught, since the four points the SBA has pulled out into an addendum are best practices most franchisors are already doing. Or so said a panel of franchisors and lenders that discussed the rule change on a webinar today presented by BoeFly.

GPS Hospitality acquires 194 Burger King locations in Southeast

When a franchise operator announces 200% growth through a single deal, it’s generally a second location. At GPS Hospitality, it means nearly 200 additional restaurants.

GNC revamp looks to replace “old broken model”

Vitamin and supplements brand GNC Holdings announced last week that it will launch a bold new company revamp, closing all U.S. corporate stores on December 28. After adding a new pricing structure and tech enhancements, the company will reopen December 29 with the launch of One New GNC.

Taco Bell announces plans for additional 45 restaurants across Spain by 2020

Taco Bell—the world’s largest Mexican-inspired restaurant chain—announced that the brand, in collaboration with its franchisee, Casual Brands Group of Madrid, will begin building an additional 45 restaurants across Spain and add more than 900 jobs to the local economy

‘Authentic Feel’ Drives Concept Creation at The Briar Group

What started with a few Irish pubs in Boston has grown to become The Briar Group, a collection of 14 restaurant concepts ranging from casual bar to upscale dining. And as CEO Austin O’Connor tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels, location and authenticity are what drive growth.

Culinary Innovation, Franchisee Partners Key to Popeyes’ Growth

Ranked No. 46 on Franchise Times’ Top 200+, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen continues its expansion. And with about 90 percent of the growth coming from existing franchisees, “that speaks volumes about the strength of the company, the strength of the brand,” Director of Franchising Renee Lewis tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels.

When Selecting Tenants, the Management Team Matters, Says Spirit Realty Capital SVP

It’s a $10 billion real estate investment trust, but Spirit Realty Capital also sees itself as a capital provider to help franchisors and ‘zees grow their business, says April Ronchetti Little, senior vice president of acquisitions. That makes selecting tenants with strong management teams a priority.

Freddy's CEO Bill Simon Remembered for 'Steady Vision'

Bill Simon, co-founder, president and CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, age 61, died December 17 after a battle with cancer, the Wichita, Kansas-based company announced today. “He led the company through unparalleled growth with a steady vision, and encouraged everyone he encountered to maximize their potential,” the company said.

BurgerFi CEO Commits to Food Transparency

All-natural burgers, fries, sides and buns have become the new normal at North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi. Winograd talks supply chain challenges in sourcing better ingredients across its growing network.

Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Talks Casual-Dining Competition

With increase competition from grocery stores and fast-casual restaurants, Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Brad Smith on the concept’s recent rebranding aimed at luring millennial diners.

Large-Scale ‘Zee Bullish on Restaurant Market

Tom Kaiser talks with Roland Spongberg, president and CEO of WKS Restaurant Group is bullish on the restaurant market going forward, and expounds on his plans for adding 12 new restaurants in 2017.

Checking In on Famous Dave’s

Famous Dave’s, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based barbecue chain, has struggled mightily in recent years as the casual dining segment has slowed and the company has cycled through a succession of CEOs and other top-level management.

Delivery's Changing the Game. Is Your Brand Ready?

Some brands are setting themselves up to be left out in the cold as more companies spring up to bring meals, groceries, clothes and other daily items right to the consumers, with no need to hop in the car to visit an actual storefront.

Captain D’s introducing low-calorie Captain D-Lites menu

Captain D’s, the leading fast casual seafood restaurant known for serving freshly prepared seafood for more than 40 years, is reintroducing its Captain’s D-Lites menu to make it easy for consumers to stick to their New Year’s resolutions as 2017 approaches.

Tips From a Franchise Road Warrior On How to Be Grounded When You're in the Air

International travel always sounds glamorous, but it’s hard on the body and the mind (not to mention the spouse left with all the domestic work). Here are some tips from Raja Joshi of Golden Chick on how he survives trade missions and other trips abroad.

Dusting Off Another Franchise Trade Mission Adventure, This Time in Three Airports

Remember the old 'How many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb?' joke? I don’t know the answer to that one, but at the Mumbai airport it takes five workers to dust a light fixture. More on the franchise trade mission to India/Sri Lanka.

Marcato, Mick McGuire Again Urge Big Change at Buffalo Wild Wings

Earlier this week, Marcato Capital CEO Mick McGuire, sent another inflammatory statement to franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings that, among other things, urged a radical increase from the company’s current 49 percent franchise standing.

Panera Bread appoints Blaine Hurst president

(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Panera Bread Company has named company veteran Blaine Hurst President effective Monday, December 12, 2016, following the resignation of Drew Madsen for personal reasons.