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Gender reveal lasagna at Villa Italian Kitchen


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It’s a boy! for this expectant couple, according to Villa Italian Kitchen’s new Gender Reveal Lasagna.

You’ve heard about parties where baby’s gender is revealed with a pink or blue cake hidden underneath the frosting. Villa Italian Kitchen has gone one better—or weirder, depending on your point of view. “We were brainstorming about what events would bring families together and Voila! We came up with gender reveal lasagna!” says Stephanie Beamer, division VP of franchise and catering for Villa Restaurant Group. Asked if she thought she’d ever utter a phrase like that, she laughed. “You know never, ever, ever.” Villa Italian Kitchen wanted a way to launch the latest “amped-up” version of its eight-year-old catering service, and held a brainstorming session or two to come up with ideas. “We were talking about hospitality, our family,” she says. “I have nieces, they do these gender reveal parties. One of my nieces did blue fireworks. There are so many weird things out there,” and they thought their cheese lasagna would be the perfect vehicle. The Gender Reveal Lasagna Catering Package features one cheese lasagna with a secret pink or blue interior, a tray of garlic rolls and a choice of salad for $139.99. Guests who share their reaction can win prizes.


Sonic in Alaska

Sonic inked a new development deal in Alaska, with a transplant from the South. Larry Clark and Cameron Johnson signed on for a five-location deal and rights to the state of Alaska. Clark, who also owns a security company based in Wasilla, Alaska, said he’s been thinking about bringing the brand to his back yard for a while. “One of the biggest challenges so far is supply lines, getting things set up in a timely manner,” said Clark. “Ninety percent of goods come to Alaska by sea barge from Seattle. And sometimes they can’t make it.”


Papa & Starboard

It’s been eight months since Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned from his position as chairman, part of the fallout after he admitted to using the N-word in a preparatory conference call with media trainers. But the Papa John’s management team and its new partner, Starboard Value, are hoping things will quiet down now after a $200 million infusion and new board makeup puts the company on a real track forward. “There is a lot of energy coming with the investment and the partners who are tied to that investment,” Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie told Franchise Times. “This process enabled us to find a terrific partner who brings new expertise and leadership to help drive the organization forward.”


Financing Option

Massage Envy franchisees have a new financing option via Ascentium Capital, a direct lender specializing in equipment financing. The national finance program will offer monthly payments, deferred structures and other options. Franchisees can finance furniture, fixtures, signage, point-of-sale technology and lighting. Also, working capital is available for marketing and inventory.


ICR Tackles Labor

 The labor challenge stood out as one of the dominant areas of concern at the ICR conference in January. Domino’s pointed to a “fortressing” strategy as one way to keep up location growth, enhance quality and keep drivers happy. Essentially, Domino’s aims to put more locations into existing markets by placing them near the edge of two delivery radii. “Our product gets to the customer faster at a higher quality,” said CEO Richard Allison. “And there will be more deliveries per driver per hour.” Management at  Carrols Corp., the largest Burger King franchisee, said the first thing it does when acquiring a new restaurant is add employees. CFO Paul Flanders said it means better economics for acquisitions by about 2 percent. For Cheryl Henry, COO of Ruth’s Chris, tackling the labor challenge means preparing employees better. "The more we can invest into training employees the more invested they are and the longer they stay,” she said.

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