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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.

Tony Roma’s CEO Talks Expansion at RFDC

Since its April 13 deal with GEM Hospitality to bring Tony Roma’s to West Palm Beach, Florida, the brand has added new franchisees in Tennessee, Colorado and Idaho, growth CEO Bradley Scher says is a direct result of the brand transformation undertaken in 2016 with a complete overhaul of the restaurant atmosphere, service platform and menu following extensive consumer research.

CFO Role Is Not Like Yesterday’s, RFDC Panelists Say

Chief financial officers do much more today than pay the bills and make sure payroll goes out on time, said a panel of CFOs who opened the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference Monday in Las Vegas. “The role has become much more strategic over the last 10 years,” said Tony Laday, CFO of Fogo de Chao.

Third-Party Delivery No Longer Optional

Forget whatever you’re hearing about the tax bill, smaller-format locations or hot trends in M&A. There is one dominant trend in the restaurant world that everybody is paying attention to and it’s third-party delivery. This subject is everywhere on the agenda and in soda break conversations at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. It’s almost as inescapable of blue suits, which are clearly in the running for second place.

What the Heck Is Securitization?

Securitization has been a hot topic for other industries in the past. But now, some of the biggest franchised brands are turning to securitization to finance their companies.

Bobby Flay Announces Franchise Plans for ‘Burger Palace’ Concept

“I’m really just a burger guy, that’s what I want to eat,” says Bobby Flay, speaking this morning at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas. Cheeseburgers are what he craves after a long night in the kitchen and are at the core of Bobby’s Burger Palace, which is poised for rapid expansion following Flay’s announcement today that he’s going to start franchising and licensing the fast-casual concept.

Founders Cite Highs, Lows of 3 Restaurant Brands

The founders of Walk-On's, Culver's and Toppers revealed some alternative names for their brands, on a panel today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

Are Malls the New Four-Letter Word?

During the second day of RFDC in Las Vegas, Stephen Polanski from Buxton spoke all about the changing world of shopping malls and what that means for the restaurant and retail brands that are heavily invested in malls or curious about which centers are worth expanding into in this era of changing consumer tastes.

The Kids Are All Right, Toppers Founder Says

For any boomers or Gen X-ers who love to hate on the “kids today,” the founder of Toppers Pizza has a few words for you: knock it off. “I meet so many 20-year-olds in my business, and these people can do anything. They are special people,” Scott Gittrich told me in an interview today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

Chicago Next as Wingstop Expands Delivery Test

Wingstop will continue its exclusive partnership with third-party delivery service DoorDash, said Charlie Morrison, CEO of the Dallas, Texas-based chicken wing franchise.

House Passes Bill to Roll Back Joint-employer Ruling

The Save Local Business Act, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), passed by a vote of 242-181. No Republicans opposed the bill, and they were joined by eight Democrats: Reps. Ami Bera, Lou Correa, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Stephanie Murphy, Scott Peters, Colin Peterson, and Kurt Schrader.

Regis Partners with Buxton on Consumer Analytics

Regis Corporation, the franchisor behind Supercuts, Cost Cutters, Pro Cuts, Roosters and many others in the haircare industry, announced an industry-exclusive agreement with LSMx, a Buxton local store marketing application, to beef up its marketing for company and franchise salons.

Shelly Sun Honored by Alma Mater

BrightStar Care CEO and Co-Founder Shelly Sun—arguably one of the nicest people in all of franchising—was recently named 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by her alma mater, Haslam College of Business.

Person in Mirror May Be Emerging Franchisor's Worst Enemy

Most speakers urge their audiences to turn off their phones and focus on the presentation, but not Philip Schram. “Take out your smartphone. Go on the photo app. Put it in selfie mode. Point the camera toward you,” he urged attendees at the IFA’s Emerging Franchisor Conference in Phoenix Tuesday morning.

Harrowing Start for The Joint's CEO Led to Cultural Do-Over

Suppose you join a franchise system as COO and within a handful of weeks everyone resigns, cash dwindles and franchisees complain. If you're Peter Holt of The Joint Corp., you view it as an opportunity to re-build the culture from the ground up, he told the crowd at the IFA's Emerging Franchisor Conference today in Phoenix.

Key Restaurant Credits at Risk in Tax Plan

Tax reform is grinding along in D.C., and some key tax credits are at risk in a new plan.

Huey Magoo’s Starts Spreading Its Wings

The chicken tender-focused restaurant chain was bought by former Wingstop execs last year and has opened three locations since April.

Super 8 Partners with Human Hug Project for Veterans

Super 8 has partnered with Human Hug Project, an organization founded by combat veterans to bring awareness to PTSD and dole out hugs to at-risk veterans. With this partnership, the company is committing to help the founders, Ian Michael, Gino Greganti and his wife, to accomplish their goal of hugging veterans at every VA Medical Center in the United States.

Don’t Be Like Papa John

I’ve never met Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, but his recent decisions as CEO have exposed the company and its shareholders to needless ire. There are a lot of valid external reasons that could be blamed for lowering future sales projections, but pointing to something as divisive as NFL players taking a knee is absurd.

Some Hail Return of Directory to SBA Loan Process

The U.S. Small Business Administration is creating a directory of franchise systems eligible for government-backed loans, and at least some lenders are hailing the move as good for the process of speeding loans to franchisees.

3 National-Alamo ‘Zees Get Termination Notices; Attorneys Cry Foul

Alaska Sales & Service has built a $12-million business as a National-Alamo car rental franchisee since 1967. Corpat has been in the game since 1986 and posts $47 million in annual sales. And Midwest Car boasts $90 million a year from a franchise started in 1968. All three received termination notices effective January 14, 2018, from their franchisor, known as NACRS or National-Alamo Car Rental System, which their attorneys say are without cause and so constitute an unlawful breach of contract.

Pro Image Sports Giving Franchise to Fan of World Series Winner

One diehard Houston Astros or Los Angeles Dodgers fan will win a free Pro Image Sports franchise to bring the largest sports fan gift shop to their town. The company will waive its $30,000 franchise fee to a dedicated fan of the winning World Series team.

Arby’s Goes Big in Chicago, Including Downtown

Arby’s has signed development agreements to build 25 new restaurants in the Chicagoland area over the next five years, including the downtown area, creating nearly 700 jobs in the process. The company has made the Windy City a priority growth market for the brand, seeking to triple its footprint in the metro.

Order Food Without Leaving Facebook

Several franchise brands and Facebook are coming together to capitalize on consumers’ desire for convenience by offering food ordering directly on the social media site or app.

Office Pride Giving Away a Franchise to Honor Veterans

Many franchises offer significant discounts and deals to U.S. military veterans looking to break into franchising. Completely waiving the franchise fee in a Veterans Day contest, however, is certainly a new angle.

United PF Continues March to Buy Planet Fitness ‘Zees

United PF Partners, winner of a Franchise Times Dealmakers award in 2016 for its complicated and ambitious formation, has added two more acquisitions of Planet Fitness franchisees, in Phoenix and New Orleans, to increase its operating club count by 11 clubs to 78 across 10 states.

Most Franchises Struggle to Grow, but Then There’s the 20%

We routinely write about young franchise concepts because everybody likes to know what’s new in franchising, but a study released today by Franchise Grade shows how long the odds are for those so-called emerging brands. Just over 30 percent of brands that started four years ago had one or fewer locations, the study said.

More of the Multi-unit News You Need to Know

Twice a month I’m plucking the key details from dozens of multi-unit development agreements to give you everything you need to know to stay informed and, of course, keep an eye on what the competition is doing.

Hand & Stone Massage CEO Links Skincare to Sales Growth

Though it’s smaller in unit count by nearly 900 than the industry giant that is Massage Envy, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa leads the segment in sales growth percentage for 2016.

Muscle Maker Jumps On Reg A+ Bandwagon

T-shirts and pop-up ads are among the tools Muscle Maker Grill is using to promote its upcoming initial public offering via a new option known as Reg A+, said Bob Morgan, CEO of the franchised restaurant chain seeking just under $20 million. Regulation A+, passed as part of the JOBS Act in 2016, allows any qualified investor to buy shares in an IPO, in the past something that was effectively reserved for institutions and high-rolling insiders.

Goodbye (Public) Ruby Tuesday

NRD Capital is set to take Ruby Tuesday private in a deal that values the storied casual diner at $335 million.

Culver's Founder Took Long Path to Roark Buy

Craig Culver inked a deal last Friday with Roark Capital, the private equity firm that bought a minority stake in the 640-unit Culver’s chain, but it’s a move Culver had resisted for years.