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Fireman Capital Boosts Anytime Fitness Operator Bandon

Bandon Holdings, the biggest franchisee in the Anytime Fitness system with 38 gyms, has gained a majority investment from private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners that will allow the Texas-based partnership to become even larger.

After Curves, Gary Findley Loves the Franchising Ride

“That Curves ride was a ride I’ll never see again, but now here I am, 56 years old, two grandbabies, but I still love what I do. I love, love, love franchising,” says Gary Findley, the subject of next month's The Boss column in Franchise Times with outtakes featured here.

Greene Turtle, But Not McD’s, Says Goodbye to Straws

It’s the final straw for The Greene Turtle, and that’s a good thing, is how Greg Pitkoff of Grip Communications cleverly put it, with the 46-unit sports bar and grill announcing its restaurants would go straw-free as of yesterday, May 23.

Robin Autopilot Puts Robo-Mowers to Work in U.S.

Justin Crandall, co-founder of Robin Autopilot, doesn’t want you mow the yard. He’d prefer you install one of his robotic lawn mowers instead.

International Deal Could Add 2,000-plus Pizza Huts to the Map

Pizza Hut already says it has more restaurant locations in the world than any other pizza company: nearly 17,000 in more than 100 countries. Now the brand is planning another international push, this time with Madrid-based pizza giant Telepizza Group.

Tough Mudder Bootcamp Forges Ahead, Opens Flagship

In the six months since we brought you the story about rough-and-tumble Tough Mudder expanding into the fitness business, the brand has crossed some impressive milestones as it prepares to open its new flagship location in Massachusetts.

The Culpability Question in RMH Franchise Bankruptcy

The second-largest Applebee's franchisee filed for bankruptcy protection, dragging a ‘zor-‘zee spat out into the open.

El Pollo Loco Verdict Makes ‘New Law,’ Attorney Says

A California court’s $8.8 million jury award to El Pollo Loco franchisees Michael and Janice Bryman in early May breaks new ground in franchise law, said their attorney, Robert Zarco of Zarco Law in Miami, although the franchisor said it will appeal the verdict and outside attorneys don’t necessarily see it the same way.

Denny’s Targets the ‘Everyman’ in International Expansion

“Denny’s has been off again, on again with international,” said Steve Dunn, the company’s chief global development officer. Now the brand is focusing its efforts on finding experienced operators in countries and regions where Denny’s is already in demand.

King’s Bierhaus Partners With Fransmart

At the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference, I was extremely impressed by Philipp Sitter of King’s Bierhaus, a German beer and bratwurst concept based in Houston. As he seeks to grow beyond its single company unit, I was pleased to see news that the brand partnered with Fransmart to aid its expansion.

Main Squeeze Juice Co. Partners With Marques Colston

Main Squeeze Juice Co. and former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston have announced a partnership to open a flagship store on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Colston and his wife, Emily, will also assist the brand’s executive team to support its national expansion plans.

Dwyer Group Brands Finally Acting ‘Neighborly’

Dwyer Group CEO Mike Bidwell says a longstanding company vision to market a family of brands is in place, and he's gearing up for a nearly $2 billion year.

NLRB Move on Joint Employer Could ‘Accelerate’ Resolution​

The National Labor Relations Board said last week it may take up the joint employer issue and resolve it by means of rulemaking, a move that many in franchising say they’d welcome.

Cooking Commodities: More Brands Buying Whole Ingredients

Some brands are going beyond fresh, using whole ingredients right from the farm, fishery or field.

Edgy Ads, Low Food Costs, All Part of Teriyaki Madness

Teriyaki Madness CEO Michael Haith’s presentation started with a rap on Asian food: “Teriyaki madness, you’ve got to have this, if you haven’t had this, teriyaki madness," (repeat again and again at a staccato cadence).

With a Whoosh, Sub Zero Creates Spectacle and a Treat

“I’ve been waiting for this presentation all day,” said a man in the front row as SubZero Ice Cream founders Jerry and Naomi Hancock hauled in their equipment—three gallons of cream, a stainless steel bowl, a big blue cooler on wheels and, most unusually, a 50-liter tank of liquid nitrogen at a cool minus-350 degrees F.

ZIPS Dry Cleaners CEO Wants to See Your Dry-Cleaning Bill

Drew Ritger wants to see your dry cleaning bill. Go ahead, take it out and see how much it cost to get your jacket or shirt cleaned.

Smoothie King Catches the Fitness Wave

You might not know it at first blush, but Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim is a hilarious and entertaining guy, which I learned over dinner a few years back in the company’s previous home in New Orleans. His presentation at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference was funny and direct as the company rides a wave of enthusiasm for health and fitness across the globe.

Black Bear Charging Eastward

Twenty-three years after starting the company with $15,000 that came, in part, from selling his boat, Black Bear Diner CEO and co-founder Bruce Dean never thought he would be here at the helm of a successful brand that’s suddenly breaking out and epitomizing the American Dream.

Del Taco's ‘QSR Plus’ Position Continues to Pay Off

The repositioning of Del Taco as a “QSR plus” concept is working, says CFO Steve Brake, and last week the Lake Forest, California-based Mexican brand reported its 23rd consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth for company-owned restaurants.

Never Sell a Deal You Wouldn’t Sign Yourself, NRD’s COO Says

Susan Beth brings an operator’s mindset to her COO role at NRD Capital, winner of a Franchise Times Dealmakers award at a gala luncheon today, for the private equity firm’s acquisition of Ruby Tuesday last December. So her advice for other dealmakers is no surprise.

Wendy's Strives to Delight the Customer, Engage the Operators

Wendy's Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle kicked off the franchise presentations at Franchise Times' Finance & Growth Conference.

Testing Cupping, Float Tanks, Elements Massage Aims to Innovate

While other franchised massage brands are leaning heavily toward skincare and other beauty services, Elements Massage wants to innovate, says CEO Jeremy Morgan.

For Honey Do Founder, Corporate Stores Lead to Product Rollout

Brad Fluke, CEO and founder of The Honey Do Service, which sends general contractors to your house to take care of all homeowner needs, owns two corporate stores for two good reasons, he told the audience at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference today.

Wing Zone to Re-Brand as WZ Eats After Tough Year

After a “brutal year in the wings business” in which product prices soared and Wing Zone closed 17 stores, the 25-year-old franchise born out of a Florida frat house is re-branding as WZ Eats, CEO and co-founder Matt Friedman announced at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference today.

‘Radical’ Change Leads to Salsarita’s Growth, FGC Speaker Says

Phil Friedman bought Salsarita’s in 2011, and for a while operated it just as it was. But about four years ago he decided a complete overhaul was in order. “I thought it needed a radical change,” he told the audience at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference today.

Tim Hortons Prez Touts Plan to Change Narrative

When Alex Macedo took the president’s role at Tim Hortons in December 2017, he stepped into the midst of franchisee dissent on both sides of the border. Starting the first week of May, he’s trying to change the narrative by taking management’s story to the public and to the franchisees.

Togo’s Sprucing the Place Up

Togo’s, the California-based sandwich chain known for meaty sandwiches, has announced a systemwide refresh of the brand complete with a new anthem, “True to the Sandwich,” and a new Pretzelrami signature sandwich.

Nine Free Franchise Ideas

After four years at Franchise Times there are a few concepts I’m still waiting for. Perhaps they don’t yet exist, but I want them—and this is an industry based on giving the people what they want. Here are nine free franchise ideas in the food, retail and experiential categories.

Judge Mulls Proposed McDonald's/NLRB Settlement

More than three years have passed since the National Labor Relations Board’s bombshell in late 2014, when it said it would hold McDonald’s liable for alleged workplace violations along with its franchisees as a “joint employer.” Now a federal judge is considering a proposed settlement.

Sweetfrog Acquires 5 NY Hoopla Frozen Yogurt Shops

In its first deal as part of an acquisition and rebranding strategy announced last year, Sweetfrog Frozen Yogurt acquired five New York-based Hoopla Frozen Yogurt locations in Camillus, Middletown, New Hartford, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie.

Subway’s CEO, Who Stepped Up After Tragedy, to Retire

Suzanne Greco’s retirement from Subway, announced yesterday, ends her tenure as chief executive of the world’s largest restaurant company, a position she took after the death of her brother and company founder Fred DeLuca in 2015 left the company reeling.

Juice It Up’s New Owner, Britt Capital, Likes to Buy and Build

Juice It Up is the second acquisition in 12 months for Britt Private Capital, a young family office founded by Chris Britt that allows the West Coast-based financier to shed the stricter time requirements of private equity funds.

Market Force Releases Massive QSR Preferences Study

A new, large-scale consumer study conducted by Market Force Information reveals America’s favorite quick-service restaurant chains in five popular food categories: burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, pizza and chicken. The study found In-N-Out is America’s favorite burger chain, Wawa ranked first for sandwiches, Chipotle for Mexican food, Pizza Ranch for pizza and Chick-fil-A for chicken.

New Wyndham Property Boosts Newark’s Renaissance

There are few news tidbits I enjoy more than a franchise business contributing to a city’s turnaround. The latest example of that is TRYP by Wyndham opening its latest hotel in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey, which has been seeing significant revitalization through business development and its blooming art and cultural scene.

More From Our Cover Subject, HFC’s Shirin Behzadi

Check out more from my conversation with Shirin Behzadi, CEO of Home Franchise Concepts, in which we cover everything from doing what's best for franchisees to taking ownership of your work.

TGI Fridays CEO to Talk Growth at Finance Conference

Aslam Khan, the mega-franchisee at Falcon Holdings who took the chief executive job at TGI Fridays last year, will reveal his growth plans for the legacy chain at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference May 7-9. His much-anticipated talk follows a months-long listening tour with franchisees to hear their concerns.

Orangetheory Continues to Accelerate Growth in Q1

In announcing its first quarter growth numbers today, Orangetheory Fitness noted its 61 new studio openings throughout the world, along with the franchise's 54 signed lease agreements and 34 franchise agreements.

China, Saudi Arabia Up Next as Sylvan Learning Expands Overseas

Sylvan Learning is taking its tutoring programs to China, where the franchise has plans to develop 200 locations over the next 10 years. In Saudi Arabia, franchisee Haitham Ahmed is set to open his first Sylvan location this month, with a goal to open at least 10 total.

Who Will Do Our Stuff For Us?

As more of our economy is digitized and desk based, American consumers increasingly rely on the manual labor of others to enable our cushy lifestyles. With almost-crippling labor shortages in everything from quick-service restaurants to handyman-style companies that clean, care, repair and renovate, who’s going to actually do this work as the labor pool shrinks even more?

Marco’s Opens 900th Location in Puerto Rico

It’s truly hard to imagine what life is like for our fellow Americans down in Puerto Rico, who are still grinding their way through many lingering aftereffects of Hurricane Maria’s devastation. On a brighter note, Marco’s Pizza has announced that its 900th location has opened in the island city of Bayamόn—a minuscule piece of good news on an island that was already in dire straits before the hurricane ever made landfall.

Restaurants Expect High Traffic for 4/20 Offers

A lot of hungry, funny smelling people are out and about today and restaurants are taking full advantage.

Relationships First, Then Advocacy, Believes Primrose CEO

Jo Kirchner, CEO of Primrose Schools, believes effective advocacy starts long before a leader pushes to get something done. “The key is building trusted relationships, and before they’re needed,” she told Franchise Times. Kirchner received the Bonnie LeVine Award from the International Franchise Association.

A Traffic-Driving Veggie Burger? ‘Impossible’

The days of veggie loaf, bean patties and cardboard with corn are coming to an end.

Clean Juice Is ‘First and Only,’ as Founder Will Tell FFGC

Different is good for Landon Eckles, co-founder of Clean Juice, who will present his brand’s story at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference, May 7-9 at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

With ‘Hotspots’ Launch, Domino’s Delivers to Parks, Beaches

With its announcement Monday of the launch of Domino’s Hotspots, the pizza chain will now deliver to more than 150,000 outdoor locations that don’t have a traditional addresses—parks, beaches, sports fields and landmarks such as the Las Vegas welcome sign or the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Court Speaks: 7-Eleven Operators Are Not Employees

A U.S. District Court judge for central California rejected a claim that 7-Eleven’s franchisees are actually employees, dismissing Haitayan et al. v 7-Eleven Inc. with prejudice, meaning the suit cannot be brought to trial again.

KFC Offers Personal Financial Program to Employees

KFC has been in the news recently for its out-there ads, but the brand recently launched a program to help its employees with personal financial planning that sounds even crispier to this reporter. The KFC Foundation, an independent non-profit organization funded by KFC franchisees, is partnering with MyChange, a charitable offering for employees at participating U.S. restaurants.

Middle America Stars in Hardee’s ‘Re-Launch’

In a new ad campaign, Hardee’s is being “re-launched” with messaging directed right at the brand’s Middle America niche.

Nominations Open for Franchising Gives Back Awards

Now in its fourth year, the IFA and its Educational Foundation are seeking nominations that highlight the charitable efforts of franchisors, franchisees and industry suppliers. One winner in each of five categories will receive a Gold award presented on stage during the Franchising Gives Back Celebration and Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on September 10.