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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.

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.

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.

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.

From the Cutting Room Floor, More Fast & Serious

We interviewed 40 C-level execs to put together our Fast & Serious package, which you can read in full in our January issue, but we gleaned a lot more that we weren’t able to include. So, here are three more thoughts on growing a franchise brand, sustainably.

I Heart Mac & Cheese, and Short Ribs, and Crispy Chicken….

We’re suckers for good food photos, so our thanks goes to I Heart Mac & Cheese, a Boca Raton, Florida-based brand that just launched a national franchise program and has many beautiful photos plus a dauntingly long menu that seems destined to shrink—or whose name seems destined to expand.

At Rachel’s Kitchen, a Shaq Sighting

Retired NBA star and Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal stopped in for breakfast at Rachel's Kitchen, a bistro franchise concept in Las Vegas.

Who will win the 2nd Annual Franchise Times Zor Awards?

Show your enthusiasm for the best franchises in the industry with the Franchise Times Zor Awards recognizing the best companies in 10 hot industry segments. This interactive awards program allows our readers to vote for their favorite brands in each of 10 categories

MOD Pizza Raises $33 Million in Equity Capital to Fuel Growth

This latest funding round brings MOD Pizza's total equity capital raised to more than $185 million, financing the company said will help it bolster its presence in existing U.S. markets and in the United Kingdom.

Patrick Doyle Out as Domino’s CEO

After eight years as Domino’s president and CEO, Patrick Doyle announced he is leaving the company on June 30 after several years of massive sales growth that brought the Michigan-based global pizza giant over the $10 billion mark in annual revenue.

Pizza Hut Developing Fully Autonomous Delivery Vehicles With Toyota

Pizza Hut delivered a surprise at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show with the announcement that the pizza giant has partnered with Toyota on the development of fully autonomous delivery vehicles with Toyota.

From the Bomb Cyclone's Eye, a Warm Invitation

As the rest of the country experiences the bomb cyclone, which we here in Minnesota simply call winter (sorry, rest of the country), we’d like to invite you up to the perfect event for a minus-11 day: The Pirtek Snocross National, scheduled for today and tomorrow at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, a Minneapolis suburb.

So You Say You’ll Have 100 Units in a Year or Two?

If I had a dollar for every young franchisor that says they’ll get to 100 units in a couple of years, I’d have a whole lot of dollars. In fact, I edit such predictions out of the stories we publish in Franchise Times because they almost never come true. A new report by FranchiseGrade backs me up.

New Data Shows Troubling Trends for Pizza Hut

Changing consumer trends and increased competition are wreaking havoc in certain restaurant segments, and even though the pizza category remains hot, new consumer research shows Domino’s eating Pizza Hut’s lunch as the great pizza wars rage onward.

Orangetheory ‘Zees: ‘We Don’t Feel Like Anyone Competes With Us’

Orangetheory Fitness tops this year’s Franchise Times Fast & Serious list, its 218 percent unit increase over the past three years evidence of CEO Dave Long’s smart growth strategies, one of which is a commitment to the area representative model.

Code Ninjas Predicting Rapid Growth

Code Ninjas, a new franchise dedicated to teaching kids software coding, announced a major milestone with 100 franchise agreements in development with 53 franchisees in 23 states. Noting that parents are “increasingly willing to pay for their children to learn while having fun,” the Texas-based children education brand is one of several brands seeing an uptick in interest in one of franchising’s hottest categories.

Watching Old Habits Come Back to the Fore

I first became a business reporter in 2005, and it's disconcerting seeing some of the same worrying trends both in the auto realm and also within the greater business community.

Church’s Chicken Sells 70 Restaurants to New Operator

Continuing a national trend of franchisors offloading corporate-run restaurants, Church’s Chicken announced the sale of 70 restaurants to a new franchise operator with a goal of helping the company accelerate its reimaging program and expanding local influence in two of the brand’s most important markets.

Top 10 FT Stories of 2017

From Jimmy John to Antonio Swad, we dove into our Google Analytics to compile this year’s most-read stories on FranchiseTimes.com. As always, there were a few surprises, but 2017 was the year of the mega-deal as highlighted by our web traffic.

Dwyer Group Home-focused Brands on the Rise

There’s no better time to say “Look how good I’m doing!” than late December, and Dwyer Group is happy to announce that its 19 brands produced record growth during 2017 as many categories outside restaurants and retail ride the wave of widespread economic growth.

High AUVs Help Broken Yolk Café Attract ‘Zees

Valerie McCartney is the VP of franchise development for Broken Yolk Café, which in recent years has expanded beyond its home state of California to Arizona, Florida and Illinois. It’s the brand’s “wow” average unit volume that really stands out, McCartney tells Franchise Times Managing Editor Laura Michaels, because “at the end of the day, people want to make money.” Broken Yolk is also opening its first fast-casual format restaurant.

Captain D’s, Qdoba Attract New Owners in Separate Deals

Captain D’s sold to Sentinel Capital and Qdoba went to Apollo Global Management this week, in separate franchise deals that come amid the usual flurry of end-of-the-year mergers and acquisitions.

DMK Burger Bar Sets Sights on Nationwide Expansion

Franchise expert David Grossman joined with DMK Burger Bar co-founders David Morton and Michael Kornick to launch a franchise expansion plan for the Chicago-based premium burger concept. He talks with Franchise Times Managing Editor Laura Michaels about scaling the brand to “bring it to small cities and neighborhoods across the country.”

Welcome News in Browning Re-Do, but Don’t Relax Just Yet

“In welcome news for franchisors,” as a Gray Plant Mooty attorney put it in a franchise law alert today, last week the National Labor Relations Board decided to “expressly overrule the controversial joint employer standard espoused two years ago” in the Browning-Ferris Industries case. But anyone doing a happy dance should probably keep it brief, as Mike Gray said.

Restaurant Operators Should Cater to Couch Potatoes in 2018

With the changing workforce, the ease of online shopping and the surge in streaming entertainment, there are fewer and fewer reasons to leave the house, and as market research company NPD notes, “the most popular place to eat out [in 2018] will be in the home.”

Six ProCuts ‘Zees Settled With Regis, FDD Shows

Whatever happened to the remaining ProCuts franchisees—six people who owned nine stores and invested more than $3 million into them—who sued Regis Corp., the franchisor of both Supercuts and ProCuts, back in 2015, saying they were owner/operators in a dead system? They settled with the franchisor for $1.305 million in total, the Supercuts FDD shows.

Subway Defends $4.99 Footlong as ‘Best Short-term Option’

The franchisor-franchisee relationship can be a contentious one—that’s not news to anyone—but the Subway system is particularly prickly right now.

A&W Launches Expanded Franchising Push

After previewing its strategy in a recent Franchise Times cover story, A&W Restaurants announced an expanded, multi-faceted franchising strategy that builds on its success since being acquired from YUM! brands. The centerpiece of the campaign is an all-new franchise information website.

Last Call for Dealmakers Entrants as Past Winner Strikes Again

Elie Khoury, one of FT’s Dealmakers of the Year award winners in 2017, is back at it with an acquisition of 18 Taco Bell corporate restaurants in New Orleans and other southern Louisiana cities. The news provides the perfect reason to point out that nominations for this year’s project are due by year end and can be made via the Dealmakers button on the home page.

For Jersey Mike’s Manager-Turned-Owner, a Terrific Day

Yesterday, 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 last year, right after she was named manager of the year at the chain’s annual conference. Judging by the smile on her face in the photo, she’s excited. “There’s really no words that I can explain everything,” said Isaacson when reached the day before her store opening, in Valencia, California.

Ray Titus, UFG Launch Titus Center for Franchising

Seeded by a $1.5 million gift to Palm Beach Atlantic University, United Franchise Group founder and CEO Ray Titus has helped form the Titus Center for Franchising that will teach franchise-specific coursework to college students interested in pursuing a career in the franchise industry.

Casual Dining in the Age of Fast Casual

John Nicolopoulos from RSM sat down with Tom Kaiser to discuss whether the restaurant industry has moved too far into fast casual when research shows many consumers wanting an experience on the side.

Melt Shop Seeks ‘Zees Like Five Guys’ for Operators

Josh Morgan is operating partner at Aurify, parent company of the Melt Shop that has just begun franchising. Melt Shop has eight corporate locations and about six years of perfecting the brand before the rollout, not to mention lines down the street at its flagship location in Manhattan. Morgan described the brand’s ideal franchisee—“hard-core operators” like those in the Five Guys concept—in an interview with FT’s Beth Ewen at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. He should know, as Aurify is also a franchisee of Five Guys.

New Design Yields 30% Sales Bump for Huddle House​

Michael Abt, CEO of Huddle House, concedes the family and casual dining segment is a tough one lately, but his brand has found its niche. “We’ve got a 54-year history of going into small towns. 74 percent of our restaurants are in counties with 45,000 population or less,” he told Franchise Times Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen, in an interview at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. The Evolution design is yielding a 30 percent bump in average unit volumes, too, which helps him make the case.

It’s the Biscuits, Behind Bojangles’ Latest Deals

Randy Icard heads up development for Bojangles, and he’s signed a number of franchise agreements in the Southeast recently. “We’ve got a lot of traction and a lot of movement right now in the state of Florida,” he said. All-day breakfast—and the homemade biscuits, especially— is a huge attraction, and their restaurants do 38 percent of their business by 11 in the morning. “We’ve made biscuits from scratch every 20 minutes from day one,” Icard told Beth Ewen of Franchise Times, at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

FASB Clarifies Confusing Revenue Recognition Language

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which sets U.S. GAAP standards, has clarified key language around its new revenue-recognition guidelines.

Entire Nation Grateful for Applebee’s $1 Long Islands

Could there be anything more soothing and perfectly timed than the current Applebee’s special offering $1 Long Island Iced Teas? The answer is no, and judging from my social feeds, this is one of the most effective and widely shared LTOs in recent memory. We all owe Applebee’s our deepest gratitude in this difficult time.

Beverage Innovation Next Up at PizzaRev, Backed by Cleveland Ave

Ed Yancey considers Cleveland Avenue, a private equity firm created by former CEO of McDonald’s Don Thompson in Chicago, as an incubator for innovative restaurant concepts. Cleveland Avenue invested earlier this year in PizzaRev, a 40-plus-unit pizza chain in Los Angeles. “It’s a great concept, and we have the capability to expand its growth,” said Yancey, who sat down with Franchise Times Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in early November.

Chapter 11 Closed, Quaker Steak & Lube Gets Back on Track

Quaker Steak and Lube was bought out of bankruptcy by TravelCenters of America about 18 months ago, and for several months newly promoted VP of Operations Bruce Lane has been working on relationships with franchisees and making the restaurants more profitable. Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen sat down with Lane at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Vegas to learn more about the growth plan.

For Anytime Fitness in Bangkok, a Blessing

It’s not every day that a Buddhist monk blesses your franchise, but that’s what happened last week at the first Anytime Fitness gym to open in Bangkok.

Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby's Announce Merger

Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. and Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which ARG will acquire BWLD for $157 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $2.9 billion, including BWW’s net debt.

IHOP Launches Online Ordering, Starts Delivery Test

Working with Amazon and DoorDash, IHOP is rolling out delivery in select cities in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Utah as it aims to bring pancakes to guests the company said don’t always have the time or desire to sit down in the restaurant.

Picture the Food Scene Before McDonald’s Was McDonald’s

Today it’s hard to believe that McDonald’s didn’t always exist as the original disrupter of the nation’s food scene, but a recent talk by author Lisa Napoli on the subject paints the picture that seems especially appropriate to share today, on the eve of our No. 1 food holiday.

Exit for Amazing Lash Studio Founders In Sight

It’s time for the founders of Amazing Lash Studio, Vietnamese immigrants Edward and Jessica Le, to exit their franchise and reap some of the rewards, says Heather Elrod, president and COO of the eyelash extension franchise now based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She announced earlier this month Amazing Lash is seeking strategic alternatives including a sale for the brand founded in 2010 in Houston, and now with more than 300 studios awarded and 160 of those open and operating.

Survey Answers Some Key Third-party Delivery Questions

How the various third-party delivery providers stack up is a big question in the restaurant space. According to a new cache of data from mystery shopping and survey firm SeeLevel HX, things are fairly even in an ever-changing segment of the industry.

Strategic Buyers, Legacy Brands Looking Abroad

Sales are mediocre, traffic is down but some internationally minded restaurant groups are not worried. That’s because while there are challenges in the U.S. market, there is an incredible amount of opportunity abroad.