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January 2016

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In this issue

Spinning tales at Lola Red

Creative businesses like Minneapolis-based Lola Red require a fun place to hang your shingle. The PR agency is located above a bar, next to a 24-hour gym, neighbors with a trendy boutique and Whole Foods. Plus the result of climbing two flights of stairs to get to their desks looks good on employees’ Fitbits.

Kono Pizza cuts deal with Walmart

Kono Pizza, the innovative pizza-in-a-cone brand started in 2013, is planning its first store location within a Walmart, as well as an aggressive 10-store expansion deal in the Dallas area. The fast-growing New Jersey-based pizza franchise recently signed a deal to open 10 new locations in the greater Dallas area, as well as signing a lease for the brand’s first Walmart store location in Lancaster, South Carolina, which will be open by the holidays.

PigOut cleans up messy business

When you run a five-star catering business, incorporating a pig roast into the mix is a comparatively messy business. There’s the smoke, the grease and that whole head supervising the operation, which can be a turnoff for squeamish customers.

Postcards from a road warrior

“Mary Jo, if I’m in the office too much, then there’s a problem,” Douglas Solomon, the new vice president of strategic relations for Direct Capital, told me over the phone last fall. I was interviewing him on his new position at the company for our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor.

Taco Bell + booze – burbs = Cantina

By tweaking its menu, ditching the drive-thru and adding alcohol, Irvine-California-based Taco Bell is offering city dwellers a more modern version of itself that aligns with an oft-reported generational shift back toward urban centers.

Freshii takes cue from fast fashion

Once upon a time restaurant companies aspired to be the next McDonald’s. And until recently, they all want to be the next Chipotle.

Rockin’ the role of CEO, at School of Rock

Dzana Homan is School of Rock’s forcefully passionate CEO, focused on growing the chain of music schools and leveraging its power as a cultural tastemaker for today’s young, UP-AND-COMING rockers.

Restaurant designers’ work is never done

Data is the driver behind restaurant remodels these days. At Dickey’s, for instance, they stripped the design ‘down to the studs’ and achieved better profit margins for franchisees. But when one design is finished, another round starts up.

Fast-casual operators zoom in standout space

With sales up more than 10 percent, fast-casual brands are living up to the first half of their name. Smashburger, for one, plans to use its new equity partner to keep the growth going.

‘Unseen hand’ guides Ben’s Pretzels

Leaving his Amish community as his franchise grew was a painful decision. But the founder of Ben’s Soft Pretzels, Ben Miller, and his management team still believe a higher power is guiding their business.

Cold is new hot for cryo fans

Cryotherapy franchises are catching on with athletes and others, but whether it’s a fad or a lasting trend remains unknown. Owners expect to see FDA regulation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A spin around four fitness concepts

The workout: Trainer-led classes, group fitness, heartrate-monitored is how Dave Long describes OrangeTheory classes, with each athlete’s stats displayed on large monitors for all to see. (So much for hiding in the back, where the instructor can’t see you.)

Finance pros tell all at annual RFDC

More than 100 presenters on 26-plus panels bombarded attendees with information at the annual Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented in November by our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor. FT staffers filed these reports.

Famous Dave’s has infamous quarter

The Q3 headlines about Famous Dave’s (NASDAQ:DAVE) aren’t pretty. Turmoil, chaos, dive, darkest hour—this isn’t the fallout anyone wants to see from a quarterly earnings report. But Famous Dave’s might not be in a death spiral, despite falling out of compliance with creditor Wells Fargo.

20 to Watch: What’s trending in 2016

Who will make news in 2016? Franchise Times presents 20 people, brands and trends we expect to make an impact, and we thank the many readers who answered our call for nominations so we could consider a deep pool. As always, the number of newsmakers vastly outstrips our space for this feature—but we’ll keep bringing you new names all year long.

Save Germany for later, experts say

Germany’s mature market may not be the easiest franchise opportunity in the world right now. Germans tend to be risk-averse, which limits the number of entrepreneurs who are willing to leave the comfort of a steady paycheck for a new endeavor with a foreign franchise.

Germany at a glance

Germany has had several different versions of its flag during its tumultuous history. The official colors of the three-equal bands are jet black, traffic red and rapeseed yellow, which is actually gold, not yellow, an important distinction in the German flag lexicon.

Golden Chick bets on Pakistan

Golden Chick’s first two attempts to take its brand internationally were strikeouts, for reasons outside their control. But the Texas-based franchise is betting its third attempt to cross the continents will pay off handsomely, thanks to a new team in place.

Introducing three new brands in Living Large

How to build a bigger and more profitable franchise? It’s a new year, so we’re introducing three new companies to follow throughout 2016: Suite Management Franchising, Young Chefs Academy and Vitality Bowls.

Executive Ladder

Pet Supplies Plus hired David Leonardo as its senior vice president of franchising.

Whack-a-mole: Cities emerge as frustrating target

Aproposal in Minneapolis called for workers’ schedules to be posted 28 days in advance, with fines for employers if changes were made. After the mayor unveiled it with a flourish in October, business owners shouted it down—she neglected to ask any of them to weigh in beforehand.

The rise of the expert witness

The role of an expert witness in franchising disputes has been much in evidence lately. But, since it is a subject with which most franchisors and franchisees are unfamiliar, I decided to detour from my regular column topic and provide some insights for readers.

Make your PR outlast new year’s resolve

You know the article your PR firm landed in that recent edition of a national business publication? That’s the kind of sales tool whose power doesn’t need explanation.

CREAM helps son, dad expand horizons

What do Distributive Education, Australia, and ice cream sandwiches have in common? Armando Martinez Jr., for one thing. And multi-unit franchising, for another.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

FT has news that’s tweet-worthy

Years ago when Twitter was launched, I decided I had had it. It was bad enough I was still trying to figure out Facebook, pop-up ads and click-thrus, and who came up with the word “blog?” I remember asking one of our advertising clients, a guy who was a gifted marketer, what the point of this blogging was anyway.

Loose Ends

Looking for new oddities in my new gig

It takes a serious situation to make me clean out my desk. And such a situation presented itself when Editor Beth Ewen needed more room in her office for another visitor’s chair and my desk would allow that to happen.
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