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Culinary Innovation, Franchisee Partners Key to Popeyes’ Growth

Ranked No. 46 on Franchise Times’ Top 200+, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen continues its expansion. And with about 90 percent of the growth coming from existing franchisees, “that speaks volumes about the strength of the company, the strength of the brand,” Director of Franchising Renee Lewis tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels.

When Selecting Tenants, the Management Team Matters, Says Spirit Realty Capital SVP

It’s a $10 billion real estate investment trust, but Spirit Realty Capital also sees itself as a capital provider to help franchisors and ‘zees grow their business, says April Ronchetti Little, senior vice president of acquisitions. That makes selecting tenants with strong management teams a priority.

Freddy's CEO Bill Simon Remembered for 'Steady Vision'

Bill Simon, co-founder, president and CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, age 61, died December 17 after a battle with cancer, the Wichita, Kansas-based company announced today. “He led the company through unparalleled growth with a steady vision, and encouraged everyone he encountered to maximize their potential,” the company said.

BurgerFi CEO Commits to Food Transparency

All-natural burgers, fries, sides and buns have become the new normal at North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi. Winograd talks supply chain challenges in sourcing better ingredients across its growing network.

Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Talks Casual-Dining Competition

With increase competition from grocery stores and fast-casual restaurants, Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Brad Smith on the concept’s recent rebranding aimed at luring millennial diners.

Large-Scale ‘Zee Bullish on Restaurant Market

Tom Kaiser talks with Roland Spongberg, president and CEO of WKS Restaurant Group is bullish on the restaurant market going forward, and expounds on his plans for adding 12 new restaurants in 2017.

Checking In on Famous Dave’s

Famous Dave’s, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based barbecue chain, has struggled mightily in recent years as the casual dining segment has slowed and the company has cycled through a succession of CEOs and other top-level management.

Delivery's Changing the Game. Is Your Brand Ready?

Some brands are setting themselves up to be left out in the cold as more companies spring up to bring meals, groceries, clothes and other daily items right to the consumers, with no need to hop in the car to visit an actual storefront.

Tips From a Franchise Road Warrior On How to Be Grounded When You're in the Air

International travel always sounds glamorous, but it’s hard on the body and the mind (not to mention the spouse left with all the domestic work). Here are some tips from Raja Joshi of Golden Chick on how he survives trade missions and other trips abroad.

Dusting Off Another Franchise Trade Mission Adventure, This Time in Three Airports

Remember the old 'How many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb?' joke? I don’t know the answer to that one, but at the Mumbai airport it takes five workers to dust a light fixture. More on the franchise trade mission to India/Sri Lanka.

Marcato, Mick McGuire Again Urge Big Change at Buffalo Wild Wings

Earlier this week, Marcato Capital CEO Mick McGuire, sent another inflammatory statement to franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings that, among other things, urged a radical increase from the company’s current 49 percent franchise standing.

Captain D’s Threads Needle Between New, Old Customers

Captain D’s has a new look, which will be complete by the end of 2017, and a new-ish line of grilled products, and Chief Development Officer Michael Arrowsmith describes the tricky business of appealing to new customers while keeping the old, with Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Fast-Fashion Provides Blueprint for Freshii’s Ambitions

Matthew Corrin, founder of Freshii and a former employee of the high-end fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, discusses why he likes to follow fast-fashion players like Zara in his brand’s development of menus. “If you’re not staying cutting edge you’re not staying relevant,” he told Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Remodel Plan for Huddle House is ‘Great, Lofty Goal’

Christina Chambers joined Huddle House, the venerable casual dining chain, last August, along with a new management team backed by private equity investor Sentinel Capital, and one of the biggest initiatives was a remodel program. “So taking a brand that is 52 years old and making it new again, which is about as hard as it sounds,” she told Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Alamo Drafthouse is Rare Theater to Enforce 'No Texting'

Everybody who hates when people text at the movies (in other words, everybody over the age of 35) should check out Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, a growing chain of movie theaters with restaurants that absolutely don’t allow it.

Demonetization Hits a Low Note With Indians and Trade Mission Delegates

Just weeks before the latest franchise mission board planes to go to India, the prime minister demonetized the two bills that account for 85 percent of the cash spent on a regular basis.

Picked for Labor, Puzder Called Government 'Coercion' too Heavy

“The weight of government coercion has become so heavy, it is no longer possible to ignore,” declared Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, who was reportedly picked today to be secretary of labor by President-elect Donald Trump. We didn’t have to go far to learn his views, because Puzder was a keynote speaker last month at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented by FT’s sister publication.

It's Christmas Time In Sri Lanka

Americans think we know how to decorate for Christmas, but we can’t hold a candle to the décor at the Cinnamon Grand in Sri Lanka. Here's the next installment in Editor Nancy Weingartner's adventures on the South Asia franchise trade mission.

Getting to a Franchise Trade Mission is Half the Fun

Editor at Large Nancy Weingartner joined the franchise trade mission to India and Sri Lanka the first week in December. Here is the first installment of her adventures in international franchising.

Technology Plays Key Role in Driving Sonic’s Sales

Sonic is a chain of drive-in restaurants, and its CFO Claudia San Pedro says interactive touchscreens in each of 18 to 24 stalls at each unit is one key to drive sales growth.

Easy-to-Operate Stores Is Differentiator for Wayback Burgers

Scott Milas chatted with Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. They discuss Wayback Burgers franchise, which touts a relatively low $300,000 to $400,000 cost to get a unit started and a stripped-down operating plan.

New SBA Rule Upends Franchise Lending in December Surprise

After waiting for months for new rules from the U.S. Small Business Administration, lenders and franchisors just received them in a surprise notice—and they’re upending the usually routine business of making government-backed loans to franchisees.

Food on Demand Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

After working on our Food on Demand media project, this editor's holiday gifts will not only be delivered by a third party, they'll be reoccurring. And her gift to you is an informative e-newsletter on this demanding and disruptive new trend for restaurants and the foodservice industry.

Freshii Expands Down Under, Inks Walgreens Partnership

Freshii, the Toronto-based fast-casual brand with a focus on healthy eating, announced a master franchise agreement that will add 20 new locations in Australia. In addition, it has inked a new retail partnership with Walgreens, its second big-name non-traditional partnership after signing a similar deal to add locations within Target stores.

Chronic Tacos Goes Transparent

In unveiling a range of new sustainable practices, California-based Chronic Tacos is the latest franchised brand to turn its transparency mantra into a marketing message with its new “Nothing To Hide” campaign.

Judge Puts New Overtime Rule on Hold

In a last-minute decision, a judge in Texas has put the nationwide overtime rule on hold just days before it was set to go into effect December 1, 2016.

Three Franchisors Banking on Trump

Whatever side of the aisle you’re on politically, most agree that the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States was a surprise. Like most industries (and people), franchising is trying to asses the implications of our next president, and his agenda that promises to be a significant departure from what we’ve seen under the Obama Administration.

Wall Street's Outlook for the Restaurant Industry

It's been a volatile year for restaurant stocks, especially many franchised restaurant brands. But since the election, most stocks on the Franchise Times watch list have seen a dramatic lift.

Zingerman's Boss Outlines Strategy of 'Sharing Lavishly'

The founders of Zingerman's Deli shared their strategy of "sharing lavishly" at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference Wednesday, an antidote to all the laments over a rising minimum wage heard elsewhere at the conference.

Craveability and Customization Appeal to New Breed of Restaurant-goers

To stay current and relevant in this overcrowded restaurant environment, eateries need to maximize value with a focused menu, serve craveable food and give a sincere nod to customization, according to Larry Reinstein, president of LJR Hospitality Ventures.

The Art of Curating Restaurants

Americans are more familiar with the concept of a food court than with a food hall. And while “there’s no meaningful difference” between the two versions of a collection of restaurants under one roof, one is associated with fast food and pit stops for shoppers, while the other, a British term, conjures up visions of trendiness.

Food Halls Could Serve as Urban Opportunity

Instead of fighting over the same box everyone else wants, many brands are looking seriously at shared spaces such as food halls.

Bringing All-American Brands to International Markets

As a franchise reporter for two years now, I’m continually amazed by the amount of research, brainpower, cultural/regulatory awareness and personal time spent traveling to bring U.S.-based brands to overseas markets.

Rising Employee Costs? Don’t Cut Your Way Out

With more cities adopting higher minimum wages across the country, and talk of a nationwide wage increase, franchisors and franchisees of restaurant brands have some real decisions to make. Primarily, where does the money come from to pay employees wages that are much higher in some municipalities?

What Can Independents Learn From Chain Restaurants?

The session was titled “Revenge of the Independents: How Multi-unit Independents and Chefs Are Shaking Up Legacy Chains.” But as the discussion progressed on the last day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, it became clear independents actually look to emulate chains in some ways.

Why CKE's Andy Puzder Thinks the Government Doesn't Understand Job Creation

By the time CKE’s CEO Andy Puzder was introduced on the second day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, no introduction was needed.

Restaurant Founders Share Success Strategies at RFDC

Launching Freshii, the Toronto-based fast casual restaurant concept focused on health and wellness, was “scrappy and at times quite painful,” founder Matthew Corrin told those gathered for the founders panel at RFDC. “But now we maximize every dollar we spend."

One Small Step at a Time for Astronaut Kelly, Speaking at RFDC

“It’s great to be here,” said astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly, to open his keynote address at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today. “After being in space for a year it’s great to be anywhere with gravity.”

RFDC Speaker Tells How to Survive 'Sugar Water Revolution'

Goodbye, Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla. Hello, probiotic-infused drinking vinegars. That’s the gist of the beverage forecast from George Hiller, Hiller & Associates, who presented on “The Sugar Water Revolution” at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today.

Hewitt, Williams Agree on This: No One Saw Trump Coming

“Anyone who tells you they saw it coming is lying—the data was not there to support the outcome,” said Hugh Hewitt, a radio commentator and a conservative political analyst on NBC, speaking, of course, about Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, along with Juan Williams, a Democrat who opines for Fox News.

Fast & Serious Execs Share Mottos That Drive Growth

C-level officers of the smartest-growing franchises are sharing their wisdom with our reporters, as we prepare our exclusive Fast & Serious ranking for the January issue. Here are a few of my favorites so far, with many more to come.

Franchising in the Age of Trump

A changing U.S. administration will likely represent a major course change at the International Franchise Association now that several of its most pressing issues are teed up for a more favorable outcome under the future President Trump.

Arby's Attracts Parikh Brothers With 50-Store Deal

The Parikh brothers added a new brand to their restaurant portfolio, inking a development agreement this week to open 50 new Arby’s restaurants over the next eight years, and purchasing 18 corporate-owned Arby’s restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

It’s No Fantasy: There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

I wasn’t really complaining when I wrote last month’s Franchise Times column about our fruitless quest to have a medium Pizza Hut box delivered at work so our FT Fantasy Football league could play the chain’s flick football game.

Crunch Time at Franchise Times

As we prepare for our annual Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas next week, it’s the busiest time of the year here at Franchise Times. With more interviews on my plate than any other month thus far in 2016, here’s a look at what we’re working on as our nation collectively bites its nails on Election Day.

Cubs Historic Win Opens Floodgate for Freshii Offer

“It was just electric!” exclaimed David Grossman, the diehard Cubs fan and master franchisee in Chicago for Freshii, who was in Cleveland for Game 7 of the World Series when the Cubs reversed the curse and won it all. By this morning, applications were still flooding in for Freshii’s offer to waive the $30,000 franchise fee for a rabid Cubs fan—if the Cubs went all the way.

Dinnertime Was Source of Innovation for Chicken Salad Chick

Stacy Brown’s entrepreneurial roots go back to family conversations around the dinner table, said the CEO and founder of Chicken Salad Chick, an Auburn, Alabama-based franchise. She was on a recent conference call to prepare for a Restaurant Finance & Development Conference panel in Las Vegas on November 15.

Checking in on Captain D’s

From countless interviews every year, I write about a lot of brands. Some of these stick with me—for a variety of reasons—while others fade to background knowledge. One restaurant brand I’m still itching to try and that I enjoy following is Captain D’s, a 50-year-old seafood brand based in Tennessee.

A Pre-Election Economic Update

A cold shadow has fallen over America as we enter a new moon phase this Halloween weekend. Election jitters have people drawing the shades and staying close to home. This autumn is more foreboding than most, but rosy economic numbers offer a sharp contrast to our current period of angst and uncertainty.

Dog Haus Deal Started With Dream Email

Usually huge development deals never actually get completed, especially when an emerging brand with just 21 units is the franchisor, but a massive contract to build 300 Dog Haus locations in 12 states over the next seven years just may be the exception, if co-founder Andre Vener’s math holds up.