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Seven Brands Agree to Excise Poaching Verbiage

No sooner had one prominent franchise attorney, Amy Cheng of Cheng Cohen, told Franchise Times that franchisors should not unilaterally yank anti-poaching clauses out of their contracts—than seven franchise brands did just that. The chains are Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s, in a settlement with Washington state's attorney general.

Back to Drawing Board in NLRB/McD’s Deal

An administrative law judge nixed as “inadequate”and too narrow in scope the proposed settlement in the long-running saga between McDonald’s and the National Labor Relations Board over the joint employer issue.

Black Bear Diner Launches "Bears Brew Back" Program in Nicaragua

Bruce Dean, co-founder of Western family restaurant chain Black Bear Diner, has always had an interest in the political and social issues in Nicaragua, where the company sources the majority of its coffee. Using the success of his company to help the communities growing this coffee, Black Bear Diner has launched “Bears Brew Back.”

New Owners Coming for Tilted Kilt

Sports bar franchise Tilted Kilt is about to have new owners following the announcement of an acquisition by ARC Group. ARC, the owner, operator and franchisor of Dick's Wings & Grill, is set to purchase Tempe, Arizona-based Tilted Kilt, with plans to lay out a refined strategy and action plan for the brand over the next 60 to 90 days.

Data Dive Gives a Glimpse at the McDonald’s Playbook

Ahead of McDonald's second-quarter earnings, some data shows how the QSR giant is maintaining its lead over the rest of the segment.

Franchised Education Growth Continues With Learning Experience Acquisition

From janitor to CEO of early-education franchise The Learning Experience, Richard Weissman is no stranger to impressive growth in the education industry. After “significant interest” from multiple holding companies, TLE was recently acquired by Golden Gate Capital—the next step in its consistent progress.

High Bluff Takes on the Turnaround of Quiznos, Taco Del Mar

There are a handful of new multi-brand operators out there, pooling resources to take on the big challenges in the restaurant space, including turning around tired brands. The private equity firm High Bluff Capital Partners is doubling down on the model and seeks to return both Quiznos and Taco Del Mar to growth.

Fleet Feet Runs From 'Retail Apocalypse' With New Experiences for Consumers

As online conglomerates take over the retail world, brick-and-mortar stores are scrambling to find ways to lure consumers into their stores. North Carolina-based Fleet Feet, formerly Fleet Feet Sports, is overcoming this trend by combining a rebranding effort with new features such as an app mimicking the millennial favorite Bitmoji.

Difficult Job a Perfect Fit Says Edible's New CEO

Here’s a daunting job description: Become the first CEO other than the legendary founder for a 19-year-old franchise involving fresh-cut fruit arrangements with more than 1,200 units. Reverse declining same-store sales and promote a new brand, launch a new prototype store and enter into an entirely new category of offerings. For Mike Rotondo, it sounded perfect.

RBI Bets Big on China’s Burgeoning Coffee Market

Restaurant Brands International announced a deal to build 1,500 Tim Hortons locations across China in the next 10 years.

Now at 400 Units, The Little Gym Continues to Evolve

“While children are the same today as they were when The Little Gym was first founded, moms are not,” said Alex Bingham, CEO of The Little Gym. Evolving to meet the needs of parents is what's helped The Little Gym not only stay relevant but continue to grow.

Anti-Poaching Probe Ushers in Long, Hot Summer​

So much for summer vacation for the eight franchises targeted by 11 attorneys general in an investigation announced Monday into anti-poaching clauses they may have in their franchise agreements. That’s the wry comment made by Carl Zwisler of Gray Plant Mooty in Washington, D.C., when reached Wednesday. He and partner Mark Kirsch say they are representing a number of franchise brands targeted in the probe, who will need to provide detailed answers to the attorneys general in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Winging It On an Electric Bird

I just spent an extended lunch hour careening down the streets of downtown Minneapolis on an electric scooter and nothing will ever be the same—my life, your life, urban mobility and that persistently challenging last-mile problem faced by delivery companies and transit services.

IHOP Reverts to Roots, Everyone Is Now Dumber

Tweeters clutched their digital pearls when IHOP announced it was changing its name to IHOB to highlight burger offerings, but it was quickly apparent that this was done in jest, rather than actually legally changing its name. A few weeks after the fact, are you more likely to visit an IHOP outside of breakfast/brunch hours? I am not.

Putting the HEART in Franchised Auto Care

Brian Moak, president of HEART Certified Auto Care, realizes how most people feel about getting their vehicles serviced—that red-faced, ashamed feeling of being talked into something they either don’t want or don’t need. After buying the Illinois-based auto repair chain from his father in 2009, Moak began his quest to build a brand that rivals the largest names in the car repair world.

New Home for Home Franchise Concepts Boosts Training Features

Home Franchise Concepts prides itself on consistently training its franchisees, and with the move to new company headquarters in Irvine, California, the franchisor plans to further increase its level of support.

New Education Support Keeps Employees From Feeling ‘Stuck’

The tuition help and education benefits of yesteryear were a little clunky, but new options keep employees engaged and working.

Newly Posted Videos Show Gamut of Franchising Talent

What is the per capita consumption of seafood in the United States? Which franchise CEO’s wife believes that breathing counts as exercise? And which franchise brand developed its own video game? You can find these and many other fun facts in our newly posted coverage of 54 presenters at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in May.

FAT Brands Completes Hurricane Grill Acquisition

We first brought you the story of Andy Wiederhorn and FAT Brands acquiring Hurricane Grill & Wings as part of our coverage for the Franchise Times Dealmaker of the Year. Now we’ve got the rest of the details as the parent company has completed its purchase of the Florida-based restaurant franchise.

Cody’s Owner Looks to Leverage Strong Reputation at Home

Shane Morrison’s eye is fixed firmly on growth for the three restaurant brands he operates, which he said all have the right operations, culture and concept positioning to outperform the competition. One of them, Cody's Original Roadhouse, is bucking the downward trend in casual dining, says Morrison.

Your Pie Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary With a Bang

Your Pie, based in Athens, Georgia, with 56 stores, is running two months of promotions in celebration of its 10-year anniversary that culminate in a grand prize of $5,000 toward a trip to Ischia, Italy, where it all began.

Privacy Rules Mean Pivot From ‘Push’ to ‘Pull’ Marketing

New privacy rules could change marketing outcome as customers demand more control and better security.

Pearle Vision ‘Zee Puts Money in Stores, Not Toys

“The key to franchising is re-investing in the business,” declares Mike Arends, a long-time Pearle Vision franchisee in Minnesota with four stores, including a newly remodeled store in Eden Prairie Center that I recently visited to report a story about the brand. You could call his attitude a dream for the franchisor and instructive for other franchisees.

New 10 Point Capital Looks to Invest Own Money, Too

One criterion stands out to Tom Wells, co-founder of new private equity firm 10 Point Capital, when deciding which deals to do. “We have the lens of wanting to invest our own money, personally,” he said, along with that of family offices and high-net-worth individuals. 10 Point Capital has made its first deal, taking a minority stake in Phenix Salon Suites, founded by Gina and Jason Rivera.

Taco Bell Signs Deals for 400-plus Restaurants in Brazil, Spain

With its first-ever master franchise agreements, Taco Bell is in global expansion mode. The Irvine, California-based Mexican chain signed deals with franchisee groups in Brazil and Spain that call for the development of more than 400 total restaurants over the next decade.

Select Marriott Hotels Have a New Permanent Guest: Alexa

As emerging technologies become more and more a part of our everyday lives, the hospitality sector is following suit. Starting this summer, Marriott International is rolling out Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality, a version of the Amazon Echo specifically for hotel rooms.

Culver’s New CEO Pulls His Punches

Two years after Culver’s CEO and President Phil Keiser died, the brand’s new leader, Joe Koss, has struck a balance between comforting his team and franchise community, while also continuing the burger chain’s slow and steady growth that has taken the system from 40 restaurants in the mid-1990s to more than 660 locations today.

Early Name for Modern Acupuncture Didn’t Hit the Spot

Shane Sender isn’t a typical regional developer for Modern Acupuncture, the fast-growing franchise that’s our cover story in August. He's also got a funny story about the evolution of the franchise's name.

Jamba Juice Deal Adds NFL Star Power

NFL players Vernon Davis and Mohamed Sanu announced this week they’re working together to bring more Jamba Juice stores to the Washington, D.C. area.

Learning Rx Boss Is Hands-On in Work, Life

Learning Rx CEO Kim Hanson has a big job on her hands—“My target is to take the 100,000 brains we’ve trained to 300,000 brains,” she told me during an interview at the International Franchise Expo, but that doesn’t keep her from other handiwork. She creates beautiful pottery, from yarn bowls to mugs to funky vases.

KFC to Join Vegetarian Bandwagon?

Buzz about KFC’s efforts to create vegetarian options in the UK and Ireland markets have delighted many, but disappointed some. Are fast-food chains responding to meatless markets in Europe, but not the U.S.?

Eco Efforts Are Part of the Nature’s Table Package

“Without the meaning, we’re just selling a commodity.” That’s how Rich Wagner thinks about the eco-conscious efforts of his brand, Nature’s Table, which is nearing 70 locations and continues to work toward reducing its carbon footprint.

New Quiznos Owners See Strong Brand Foundation

High Bluff Capital Partners, the new owners of “substantially all of Quiznos’ assets,” have quite a job ahead.

Consumers Are 'Passionate About Potholes'—and so Is Domino’s

Domino’s is changing the marketing landscape with a new initiative launched last week: filling actual potholes to aid the delivery and carryout experience.

Was That Ad Written by a Robot?

Just about every marketer knows the joy of tweaking and testing online ads. But what if artificial intelligence could do it instead?

Others ‘Create Holes Every Day,’ and PatchMaster Will Fix Them

Raise your hand if you have a hole in your home’s drywall. Yep, Kathleen Kuhn thought so, which is why the president and CEO of HouseMaster launched a new franchise called PatchMaster.

Try, Try Again Is Melt Shop Founder’s Motto

How hard could it be to create the perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Spencer Rubin, founder of the Melt Shop whom I recently met in his New York City flagship store, says it’s far more difficult than you might think.

Hotel Building Spree Continues, Hilton Adds 40 New Hotels

As the current hotel boom approaches the decade mark, there’s no end in sight as most major hoteliers continue adding new rooms, remodeled properties and entirely new builds. Following an impressive first quarter, Hilton—13th on the Franchise Times Top 200+—is opening an average of four properties per week.

More Growth as Code Ninjas Inks 33-unit Deal

A screen of text, brackets and semicolons wasn’t going to hold the attention of kids, even those interested in coding, so David Graham took a different approach in creating his startup franchise, Code Ninjas.

Wendy’s Embraces Vine-ripened Tomatoes

Will the next next battle in the QSR freshness war be over tomatoes? If it is, Wendy’s has quite a lead on the rest of the industry.

Taco Bell ‘Zee Adds 25 More Units

Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Taco Bell franchisee Burgerbusters added 25 units of the quick service Mexican chain to its growing portfolio, bringing its total Taco Bell count up to 142.

A&W Looking Good, Still Growing at 100

Making it to 100 is a gift for anything or anyone, and A&W Restaurants is looking unusually spry as America’s first and oldest restaurant chain approaches the century mark. The food and treats brand expects to open 12 new units this year after adding 15 franchise locations in 2017.

A Notebook Full of Stories from the IFE

When the founders of Cinnaholic got an offer on Shark Tank four years ago, they took the money on the TV show itself but didn’t sign the contract afterward. Why? “Different visions. They didn’t want to franchise,” said Marty Welch about the Shark Tank judges. Welch was one of many engaging individuals exhibiting at the International Franchise Expo in New York City last week.

‘Big Ambitions’ as Harvest Acquires Dwyer Group

One every four months. That’s the number of acquisitions, or 11 in total, the Dwyer Group made since August of 2014 when The Riverside Co. acquired the franchisor. Harvest Partners of New York is the new majority investor, announced June 4.

Manna Buys Growth Without Giving Up Equity

When a large franchisee wants to make a big acquisition, it typically means giving up equity.

Planning Protest, Tim Hortons Zees ‘Will Not Be Intimidated’

A group of Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada plan to gather June 20 at the head office of parent company Restaurant Brands International to protest RBI’s termination of franchisee Mark Kuziora, the named plaintiff in GWNFA’s lawsuit against the brand that seeks more than $500 million in damages.

More International Buzz for Mosquito Squad With Indonesia Deal

After launching in East Africa earlier this year, tick and mosquito control franchise Mosquito Squad added another international deal to its development lineup, this time in Indonesia.

Dinner with the New Famous Dave

Having dinner with “Famous” Dave Anderson is a treat; there are just not many people as excited about food as he is. And with a new look for the restaurant and some delectable new menu items, there’s a lot to be excited about as the 24-year-old brand gets a refresh.

Small Business Optimism Hits Record High

Are you having a good day? If so, you’re in good company, as small business sentiment has reached a new high driven by the strongest local economic outlook on record, a “firmer hiring environment” and a stronger backdrop for investment according to MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Domino’s new Hotspots get Major Marketing Push

Domino’s put a huge marketing push behind Hotspots, the 150,000 new non-traditional addresses to which Domino’s will deliver, including a new national TV spot and the company’s first-ever print ad in the New York Times.