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Mourners Say Goodbye to Landmark Arby’s Sign

"Oh Arby’s sign, the meats, the meats are calling..."

Paul Brown's Strategic Balancing Act at Inspire Brands

Paul Brown has begun his balancing act at the helm of Inspire Brands, which is now one of the largest owner-operators of restaurants out there with 1,700 company restaurants and 4,600 locations when including franchise operations.

‘Music Paradigm’ Teaches Better Way to Wield Baton

I play the flute, trombone, piano and organ and sang in a symphonic choir, and my alternative career path, albeit never followed, was to be an orchestra conductor, so the Music Paradigm presentation today at the IFA’s annual conference was right up my alley.

Young and Fresh, NextGen Finalists Make Their Pitches

All were young, fresh and impressive, but otherwise the 20 finalists competing in the NextGen competitition (said to be culled from 900 applicants from around the world) at the International Franchise Association annual convention Sunday were individually brash, confident, soft-spoken, intellectual, nervous, sloppily dressed or perfectly prepared.

By Operators, for Operators—a Sneak Peek of FT Zor Awards

Charlotte Haigler Proctor likes to tell prospective franchisees, “I hope you’re not considering being an absentee owner.” She is one of the super-smart franchisees our edit team has been interviewing for the last several weeks, preparing stories for our March cover package, the Franchise Times Zor Awards. Here’s a sneak peek.

10 Win Prestigious Franchise Times Dealmakers Awards

Franchise Times today announces winners of the 2018 Franchise Times Dealmakers awards, the sixth annual project recognizing the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising.

Continental Hotel Occupancy Still Rising, Shining

Even after several years of revenue and occupancy gains, new hotel construction and brand rollouts, U.S. hotel occupancy is still increasing as North American hoteliers in general see widespread gains in bookings across all travel segments.

U.S. Restaurants Improve Sustainability Efforts

A new study from the National Restaurant Association shows that, on the whole, the U.S. restaurant industry is boosting sustainability efforts, which include energy-saving equipment, food waste reduction and water conservation.

Meet the New Parent of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings

With its $2.9 billion acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings a done deal, Arby’s Restaurant Group renamed itself Inspire Brands Inc., the new multi-concept operator encompassing Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and R Taco.

Sentinel Capital Sells Huddle House

Sentinel Capital Partners sold family dining brand Huddle House Inc. to family office Elysium Management this week. The private equity firm acquired the Atlanta-based restaurant franchise in 2012 and had since helped guide it through a turnaround and roll out a remodeling program. The chain added 36 new locations to the map in fiscal year 2017—a record year of franchise expansion for the brand.

The Gents Place Touts Growth, Investment From Dallas Cowboys Owner

Men’s grooming concept The Gents Place closed out its first full year of franchising having signed agreements that will bring 11 new locations to markets including Austin, Chicago, Houston and San Antonio. And to top it all off, the brand received a significant investment from Blue Star Innovation Partners, an investment venture for growth-stage companies founded by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Report: Franchise Sector to Outpace Overall Economy in ‘18

The franchise sector is expected to grow faster than the rest of the U.S. economy, according to a new report from the International Franchise Association, which was unveiled Monday at the Washington Post’s State of the Union Preview and delivered by Fastsign’s CEO Catherine Monson.

Super Bowl at Minus 10? Bold North Says Bring It On

Since the largest franchise of them all—the National Football League—is in Minneapolis, also the world headquarters of Franchise Times, I’ve been talking with sources all week who have the same question: What in the world do people do when the Super Bowl will take place on a day forecast to be 10 degrees below overnight with a high of big fat zero on February 4 itself? So let me explain.

Fazoli’s Trumpets Great Year-End Numbers

Things have been going very well at Fazoli’s as the country’s largest quick-service Italian chain continues its long growth streak in the wake of some dark times several years ago. The Kentucky-based company just announced an increase in same-store sales and foot traffic, as well as the signing of six new development agreements for new stores in several different states.

MVS Pet Care Starts First At-Home Vet Service

As the owner of two dogs who are terrified of going to the vet, I am very excited to hear a company called MVS Pet Care is launching what it calls the first professional franchise network of house call veterinarians. This is a great idea, and definitely a game-changing idea for certain pet owners, which is a fast-growing part of the U.S. economy.

With New App, 7-Eleven Joins the Delivery Game

As part of a “significant digital transformation,” convenience-store chain 7-Eleven is testing delivery and in-store pickup ordering at select Dallas stores with its new 7-ElevenNOW smartphone app.

In FT Undercover, we check out three hotel lobby bars so you don’t have to

Any hotel lobby bar with a Mary Pickford on the cocktail list is OK by us. That is one of the $12 offerings at the Normandy Kitchen & Bar, under the Best Western Plus brand. We were told Best Western Plus was a must to check out, and when we visited the newly renovated place, it did not disappoint.

New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez talks hot yoga, broke athletes, J-Lo and fear

Buckets of sweat poured off my head at the TruFusion hot yoga class in Las Vegas, where I stood at the back of the room heated like a sauna and “modified” my moves, meaning barely did them at all, whenever the instructor, a former Rockette, looked the other way. Why was I there? Because if it’s good enough for A-Rod and J-Lo, it’s good enough for me.

Left behind, Patel sisters now rocking the Planet

Kalpana, the third youngest of four Patel sisters who are all Planet Fitness franchisees, was super stressed on “expiration date” at her big-box gym in Vancouver, Washington. That’s when you send out mailers with an expiration date, and on that day in particular the gyms have a lot of sign-ups.

‘Silo it’ when married to franchising

The old refrain is never work with family and never borrow from friends. But for those stubborn folks who opt to ignore that advice, it’s quite possible to thrive at work and home—it just takes a little effort.

Meet the new CEO at Ruby Tuesday in FT Online

In December, Kyanna Isaacson, age 26, opened her first Jersey Mike’s store as a majority owner, a shop she was awarded by the chain’s founder in 2016, right after she was named manager of the year at the chain’s annual conference.

Power trio backs DMK Burger Bar

The first franchisee of DMK Burger Bar, Carolyn Michael in Chicago, is a big fan of the food created by Chef Michael Kornick, a five-time James Beard award nominee with a pedigree in fine dining.

Math helped Fitlife Foods add up

Fitlife Foods founder David Osterweil spent six years trying to get his freshly prepared meals retail concept ready to franchise—and the effort included a whole lot of math.

Work until your toes bleed, in The Boss

I grew up in New York City, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who escaped the communist regime in Hungary in 1956. My mom was 9. I was raised by Holocaust survivors, so our life was work, work, work. My dad was not in the picture. My family left a lot behind. My brother is an actor. We lived in Queens.

Conserva aims to save world, one sprinkler at a time

Newly under the umbrella of Outdoor Living Brands, Conserva Irrigation is a social franchise putting saving money ahead of its conservation ideals. Its goal is to save ‘billions upon billions upon billions’ of gallons of water.

Fleet Clean heals self-made wounds

Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg, warns an old English idiom. Fleet Clean CEO Scott Marr has a new idiom for the franchise industry: Don’t kill it, but you can sell it. That’s exactly what he did to pay off debt and kick-start the franchise arm of his mobile vehicle-washing business.

Please No, Burger King

Burger King launches another mega-burger that begs the question: are we heading into another caloric QSR arms race? This reporter hopes not.

Sampling four young poke concepts

Travels to Hawaii inspired Joann Chung and husband Derek to open Pokeatery, a counter-service restaurant where customers create their own version of poké bowls (pronounced po-kay), the raw fish salad commonly made with ahi tuna. Time-strapped lunch customers are the target, Chung says, and she notes Pokeatery is different from other poké concepts because “we’re seeing a lot of the concepts expanding their menus to more general Japanese, but we’ve chosen to stick to poké. We want to do our one thing really well.”

Wayback Burgers Celebrates Juicy Growth

On the heels of what it called a “monstrous and prosperous” Q4, Wayback Burgers is trumpeting its rapid growth and franchise development throughout 2017, in hopes of continuing the momentum throughout the new year.

Fast food returns to playing offense

Aggressive words such as arsenal, ammunition, entrench often pop up in business discussions, but read through the recent quick-service restaurant earnings calls and it’s clear the segment is again marching to war. Now, however, QSR is on the offensive, taking share back from fast casual and further eroding casual dining traffic.

Follow the system for Smoothie sailing

Craig and Dianne LeMieux are area developers for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, with more than 60 locations under their purview and two cafes of their own. ‘If you follow it, it works,’ declares Craig about the franchisor’s model.

New research shows who’s leading the pack in delivery

It’s tough to make money from delivery, expert panelists say, but they offered advice anyway, at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas in November. Here is a roundup of three of the most popular panels on the topic.

Good, bad or ‘oh my gosh’ franchises

Suppose you join a franchise system as COO and within a handful of weeks the CFO leaves, the CEO leaves, the VP of ops resigns, the training team resigns and the director of IT says goodbye. Meanwhile, your 250-some franchisees feel ignored as you’ve poured time and treasure into building corporate stores, and your cash on the balance sheet has dwindled from $16.8 million to $6.1 million in just six months.

Big storms, little labor drive up costs

Operators planning to build or renovate existing stores in the coming year will likely need to budget for higher costs. The construction industry is feeling the pinch from a shortage of workers, which has been further exacerbated by increased demand from the surge in post-hurricane rebuilding efforts.

First-timer’s guide to the airport biz

Airports are intimidating places, whether you’re a smuggler slinking through the security line, an aviophobe mustering up the courage to walk the jetway or a first-time retailer or restaurateur trying to make it big-time on the global stage.

Corripio Group puts ‘an experience’ first in DR

Franchisees of Title Boxing Club and SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt share their approach to expanding U.S. brands in Latin America. Corripio Group is adding Title to its holdings of Burger King, Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme and more.

Country Profile describes a maturing market in DR

A white cross divides the flag into four rectangles: blue on the left upper and right lower corners and red on the top right and bottom left. A small coat of arms is at the center of the cross and above the shield a blue ribbon displays the motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Fatherland, Liberty).

Follow the money to sort out brands’ prospects

Investors and ‘strong net worth’ partners support franchise growth at restaurant concepts DMK Burger Bar and Huey Magoo’s, while device repair brand Digital Doc benefits from an established parent company.

Once gung-ho about Hortons, Show Me Hospitality is now ‘stuck in mud’

Over the long holiday weekend this past Thanksgiving, Show Me Hospitality’s President Eric Sigurdson had the sad task of closing two of his six Tim Hortons restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri. By Christmas Eve he had shuttered all stores.

Not over ‘til it’s over, and joint employer issue is far from end game

Tired of reading about the “joint employer” doctrine and how it affects franchising? Well, I’m afraid that’s just too bad, because it’s still with us and may continue for some time to come...and, maybe, all over the world.

If success is a cycle, our take offers new paradigm for franchise sales

The one question I am asked with the greatest frequency is, “How many franchises can I expect to sell?” But what most people do not realize is they are asking the wrong question. Instead, they should be asking, “How many franchises should I sell?”

Jimboy’s, Del Taco fuel growth for two, while dad helped Which Wich operator

Americans have been consuming tacos since at least the 1920s. Yet their popularity in restaurants didn’t explode for another 20 years, with the advent of pre-fried tortillas and a new real estate strategy.

Tough crowd (my family) gives this issue 3 stars

As regular readers of this column may already know, I like sports. I wasn’t really raised watching them, although my dad is an avid sports viewer. I became a sports fan later in life because I was trying to fit in to a family of guys who watched sports—a lot: one of whom I married, the other two I was raising. Be interested and be part of the conversation.

Scoreboard

Overall, the franchise sector outperformed the S&P 500 in 2017. That’s a great thing, but it doesn’t mean everyone in the franchise world had a great year on the market.

Executive Ladder

Buffalo Wild Wings hired Tim Scheiderer as director of protein supply chain. He will be responsible for oversight and day-to-day management of the restaurant’s protein procurement. Cary Fairless is the new president of Rainbow International at Dwyer Franchising.

Pet Wants Is Exception to Slow-to-100 Rule

My recent blog post pointing out how few franchises make it to 100 units in a year or two, as so many young franchises claim they will, drew many responses, including some who thought I was being too negative to point out the statistics from Franchise Grade. But the president of Pet Wants Franchise System, Scott Hoots, called the numbers “sobering” and added his brand “had the opposite problem.”

HomeVestors Names Ugliest House of 2017

We Americans love dramatic renovations, and HomeVestors—the brand behind We Buy Ugly Houses—has named The Ugliest House of the Year after Americans voted on five house makeovers completed by company’s independently owned and operated franchises.

Resales Another Opportunity for New Franchise Owners

Buying an established franchise means everything is in place and you can hit the ground running with a mature business. But the same advantages can also be disadvantages, so due diligence is crucial say panelists at Franchise Expo South.

Dear Subway, You Stink. Love, Freshii

A franchisee revolt at Subway over its $5 footlong promotion and declining sales has prompted Freshii to publish an open letter yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, offering a “sincere proposal,” as the letter said. One can only imagine Subway's response.

Tony Roma's Opening First U.S. Franchise in Six Years

After six years without any new U.S. locations, Tony Roma's is back on the gas with West Palm Beach Opening.