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Changing of the guard ushers in new FT editor


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Laura Michaels, left, is the new editor of Franchise Times, replacing Beth Ewen who takes a writing role.

Laura Michaels is the new editor of Franchise Times, charged with leading the talented editorial team in creating engaging and useful content for our readers across all platforms. She was managing editor of FT where she displayed sterling news judgment, impeccable editing skills and a diplomatic and friendly personality that makes her popular with sources and staff members alike, according to Beth Ewen, whom she replaces. Michaels also served as managing editor of Foodservice News, FT’s sister publication, which she quickly established as a go-to resource for chefs, restaurant owners, vendors and servers in the local community. Ewen was editor-in-chief since 2016 and will remain with Franchise Times but in a new role, as senior editor, reporting and writing articles and blog posts from her new headquarters in Chicago where she is relocating to join her husband after his job change. A veteran business journalist, Ewen is co-creator of several high-impact editorial projects for Franchise Times, including Dealmakers and Fast & Serious. Tom Kaiser, meanwhile, takes on a new role primarily as editor of Food On Demand and will also contribute articles to Franchise Times.


End to Papa’s Saga?

It seems the dramatic legal battle within the Papa John’s board may finally end.

According to an SEC filing, John Schnatter will resign from the board of directors once an independent director can be found to replace him or by the April 30 annual shareholders meeting. Schnatter will also drop two lawsuits against the company and will withdraw his bid to be re-elected to the board at the annual meeting. The company will also remove the so-called poison pill it adopted in July to restrict Schnatter from communicating with other board members. The agreement seems to put an end to a nine-month ordeal that started with a report that Schnatter used a racial slur on a media training call. There are seven stipulations for the new independent director outlined in the agreement, the first being that it he or she is not the founder. It also requires the director to be “independent” pursuant to the Nasdaq Stock Market listing rules and is independent of the founder and Starboard, the activist fund that invested $200 million in the company and took three spots on the board.


Bid for Gigi’s

The last time Gigi’s Cupcakes changed hands, in 2016, the franchise founded by Gina Butler sold for $6 million to Key Corp. and its affiliate Fund Corp. Now MTY Franchising USA is offering $2 million cash, and Gigi’s was seeking additional qualified bidders before a planned March 25 auction date.


Tips on Tip-Pooling

As the tipping issue at restaurants rages on between front of the house employees and back, Joel O’Malley of Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis offers a quick refresher course on a complicated topic that’s been tripping up the likes of Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and Pinstripes in Minnesota with lawsuits of late. On tip jars: Move to an electronic system, he advises, so customers have a choice as to who they want to tip and employers know exactly who was working at that time.

And “don’t even try” to dress up a mandatory tip pool to make it look as though it’s voluntary, he says, something many owners do as they try to work around minimum wage increases and other cost pressures.


Another for Authority

With its third buy since being acquired by Apax Partners in September 2018, Authority Brands will fold Clockwork Inc. and its three home service providers into its company. The $300 million acquisition of Clockwork will bring Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Mister Sparky electric and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning under Authority Brands’ umbrella, joining The Cleaning Authority, Homewatch CareGivers, America’s Swimming Pool Company and Mosquito Squad.

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