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Great Harvest's Shot at Panera Goes to FTC

Well, you can’t say Eric Keshin lacks chutzpah, as the president of Great Harvest Bread Co. sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission this week requesting it and the Justice Department look into the purchase of Panera Bread by JAB Holding Co. and examine it on anti-competitive grounds.

Break Your News Bubble, Columnist Bruni Begs

Have you been outside your news bubble today? I ask because that’s what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni challenged us all to do, in a recent talk he gave in Minneapolis called “Media in the Age of Misinformation.”

Hiring Is Tough & You’re (Probably) Doing It Wrong

The CEOs of Harri and Hireology share some valuable insight on what everyone’s doing wrong, and how innovation is leading to a smarter hiring process that can dramatically reduce the amount of time and money wasted on attracting sub-par candidates.

Dairy Queen's Impressive Growth Streak

For a brand that’s nearly 80 years old, Minneapolis-based Dairy Queen is growing at a snappy clip, exceeding many of its QSR competitors. As part of the lead-up to brand owner Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, DQ provided a quick update of its recent progress. The numbers are impressive, and not just for a brand that’s as old as Tina Turner, Chuck Norris and Sir Ian McKellen.

You Can Try This at Home, but Meditation Studios Are Currently in Vogue

The trials and tribulations of multi-tasking as an intellectual properties litigator brought Hamid Jabbar to the mat, first as a yoga instructor and then as a meditation guide. The 37-year-old is one of the instructors at a new franchise, Current Meditation, in Phoenix.

NFL Vet Donnell Thompson Signs With Del Taco

There’s no denying the trend of active and retired athletes getting into franchising. Former NFL player Donnell Thompson is the latest with the announcement that he signed a development agreement to build five new Del Taco locations on the east side of Atlanta, further supporting the brand’s recently announced expansion plans in the Southeast U.S.

From Popeyes Former CEO, Words of Encouragement

“Work transition, particularly when it is unexpected, brings with it a range of emotions, the primary one being a sense of loss,” writes Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen until it was sold March 27 and she lost her job, as she put it, in an unusually candid and insightful blog post that might buoy others in her shoes.

Crummy Cross-Sales Prompts Launch of Neighborly

A sad statistic—only 2 percent of customers had used more than one of the 13 service franchises owned by The Dwyer Group—has led to the launch of a new umbrella company, called Neighborly.

Opportunities for Franchisors as Malls Evolve

There’s a lot of hand-wringing about what can get millennials off the couch (or their phones) and into stores. As many legacy retailers close locations by the dozen or hundreds, let’s concede that most retail is in for a bumpy ride. That doesn’t guarantee the end of malls. Focus on what people actually need in a given week and move forward. Franchising can be a big part of this next phase of indoor shopping centers.

Baymont’s New Partnership Employing People With Disabilities

Wyndham’s Baymont Inn & Suites recently completed a subtle rebranding that included adding new Hometown Host positions to bring local flavor and welcoming faces into its hotels to make its guest experiences more memorable. Taking the concept a step further, Baymont partnered with workforce development firm The Arc@Work to allow people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to fill some of the Hometown Host roles.

Olympian Quest Comes to End for Zerorez Operator

A Zerorez franchisee in Minnesota who took on the U.S. Olympic Committee over free speech rights has had his day in court—and lost. “Unfortunately, the court decided on Tuesday, April 4, to dismiss our case,” said his lawyer, Aaron Hall of JUX law firm in Minneapolis, via email.

Submarina Still Docked in Bankruptcy Court

Last September, CEO Bruce Rosenthal told Franchise Times he expected to exit the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization process for Submarina, the Houston-based sandwich chain he owns, by the end of that month. Reached today by phone, he’s still waiting, with his plans to again start growing the company on indefinite hold.

Eight Apps to Improve Your Restaurant Operations

Technological advances in the restaurant industry can help owners increase sales, make their restaurants more productive, and give their business a competitive edge. Unfortunately, most hardware-based systems are expensive and tricky to set up.

El Pollo Loco, Firehouse Seek Multi-Unit Operators With Aggressive Incentives

It's not easy to expand a restaurant through franchising in a chosen market. Every time a new market opens up in Texas, you’ll have a prospective franchisee say, “How about Virginia?”

Panera: You’re Welcome

In winter of 2000, I was putting Panera on a path to being one of the most expensive restaurant acquisitions in history by a group of highly caffeinated Luxembourgers.

Frisch's Big Boy Loses His Checkered Pants

Frisch's Big Boy, the statue that invites hungry diners into the restaurant, has gotten a makeover. Gone is the paper hat—all the better to see his Elvis-like hair—and the bright-red lips. Striped overalls have replaced the vintage red-and-white checked version. He's also stronger. Instead of using two hands to show off the Big Boy hamburger, he holds it high over his head.

Quaker Steak & Lube Pumps Up Rebirth

After being purchased by TravelCenters of America last spring, Quaker Steak & Lube is stepping back on the gas and looking to get back on a road to growth after traveling through bankruptcy in 2015.

It’s About Time: Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. Marketing Matures

Yeah, yeah, yeah—sex sells. But it’s certainly not a sophisticated approach when a major international brand resorts to scantily clad models and junior-high-level sexual innuendo to sell its products. I suspect I’m but one of many in the franchising industry breathing a sigh of relief as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. finally, mercifully announce a new marketing approach that’s focused on food quality, innovation and its history as a QSR pioneer.

Domino’s Expands Robot Delivery Service to Europe

Last September we covered Domino’s first foray into robot delivery with the Domino’s Robotics Unit, or DRU, as it tested delivery of its pizzas to customers in Australia. Now Domino’s customers in Germany and the Netherlands will be able to test out the service—as long as they live within a one-mile radius of certain Domino’s pizza shops.

BurgerFi Jets Into First Airport Location

Non-traditional is the new black in franchising, as more restaurant and retail brands are finding new places with guaranteed foot traffic: transit stations, airports, stadiums and college campuses to name a few. BurgerFi is the latest to hop on this train with the upcoming opening of its first non-traditional location at Terminal One at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.

Sears Fades While Retail, Restaurants Retreat

Last year’s talk of a restaurant recession has morphed into broader, more sustained hard times for many of the best known retail and restaurant brands, led today by the apparent demise of Sears that’s been a very long time coming. The 'Trump bump' appears over, oil prices are back in the toilet, mortgage applications are falling, interest rates are rising, institutional investors fear U.S. stocks are overvalued and we have officially entered a new wave of economic uncertainty.

In Boardroom Shuffle, Puzder Exits CKE, KFC’s Marker Takes Over

Jason Marker will take over as CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings, replacing Andrew Puzder, who served at the head of the company since 2000. Puzder, who served through the Great Recession, plotting a new course for growth, became a household name as President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee.

Former Wingstop Execs Look to ‘Strike Gold’ With Huey Magoo’s

Andy Howard, along with fellow former Wingstop execs Michael Sutter, Wes Jablonski and Bill Knight, bought Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders in November 2016 because, as Howard said, “the sky’s the limit of what we can do with this little brand.”

Converting Consumers from 'Buds' to Craft Suds

No matter the region or the demographic, craft beer is growing. By the end of the year, there will be a projected 6,000 breweries providing more than 100,000 types of beer.

Wendy’s Innovates on Real Estate

Showing off gleaming, modern pictures of its reimaged store concepts, Wendy’s director Angela Coppler said the prohibitive cost of building new restaurants has led the brand to convert former Burger Kings, retail storefronts and even banks as it seeks to add new locations without breaking the piggy bank of the third-largest QSR hamburger player or its franchisees.

Where's Wahlberg? Celebrity Cache Found on Big Screen at FFGC

The celebrity Wahlberg brothers, who also star in a reality show about the behind-the-scene antics at Wahlburgers, are the star power behind the brand that prides itself on serving chef-driven food on a bun.

Jimmy John's Leads List of Franchise Times Dealmakers Winners

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches today received the Franchise Times Deal of the Year award, for attracting Roark Capital as a majority investor and cashing out Weston Presidio, its original private equity partner, for a handsome return in a more than $2-billion transaction.

Batteries+Bulbs Highlights the Value of Investing in Retail at FFGC

In an agenda dominated by food brands, Russ Reynolds, CEO of Batteries +Bulbs, shed some light on why his retail brand is a good financing fit for the lenders attending the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference at the Encore in Las Vegas, March 13-15, 2017.

Moe's Digital Drive-thrus Pushed by Off-premise Growth

Historically, QSR has gotten the bulk of off-premise dollars via the drive-thru. But fast casual is catching up with new technology.

Amid Slump, Ruby Tuesday Explores All Options

Times are tough in the casual dining segment, as evidenced by slumping same-store sales by many restaurants, changing consumer habits and a massive onslaught of fast-casual competitors. The latest player in this category to struggle is Ruby Tuesday, which announced it is “exploring strategic alternatives in order to maximize shareholder value,” including a potential sale or merger.

Marco’s Pizza Sets Sight on 200 More Stores Over 2 Years

Speaking Monday, March 13, during the first day of the Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference in Las Vegas, President Bryon Stephens noted Marco’s Pizza has more than doubled its store count since 2012, to 815 locations in dozens of states. And more growth is in sight.

Franchisors Highlight Capital Needs at FT Conference

Dunkin Brands has significant capital needs in 2017: $2.5 million for Baskin Robbins remodels; $6 million for Baskin Robbins new builds; $99 million for Dunkin’ Donuts remodels; and $263 million for Dunkin’ Donuts new builds. As told by Dunkin’s Jason Maceda, vice president of finance, it was the most obvious reason explaining lender interest at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference that opened yesterday in Las Vegas.

Timing Is Everything When Seeking Growth Capital

“Rather than the ‘when,’ it’s far more important to focus on ‘who’ you are partnering with and how the deal is structured,” says NRD Capital Managing Partner Aziz Hashim, about getting funding for franchise expansion. He was speaking to Living Large columnist Poornima Apte, who details in an upcoming print edition how and when three emerging franchise brands should seek capital to foster growth,

Greene Turtle Thinks Casino-Based Model Is Good Bet

The Greene Turtle has opened its first casino-based restaurant at the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Maryland, along with a new, 24-hour fast-casual eatery called Greene Turtle Express. Tom Finn believes the firsts for the company hold promise for more such expansion.

A Bermuda Short Story

Bermuda is an odd choice for a franchise writer to be visiting, since there is more public art than franchises. The government prohibits foreign franchises, with the exception of franchised hotels, our cab driver gleefully told us.

Boston Markets Phasing Out Antibiotics

The latest franchisor to jump on the train is Boston Market, which will serve antibiotic-free rotisserie chickens by the end of Q1 2018. According to the Colorado-based chicken chain, its goal is serving 100 percent antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken as soon as possible—with currently more than 75 percent of its chickens being raised without the use of antibiotics.

Arby’s Opens NYC Restaurant, Serves Up Venison Sandwiches

Last year Arby’s made headlines when it began testing venison sandwiches in select locations around the country. States like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota were able to get in on the deer meat craze for a limited time, and the sandwiches sold out almost immediately.

McDonald's Previews 'Experience of the Future' With Delivery, Curbside Pickup

McDonald’s included a pack of surprisingly bold McNuggets with its Investor Day in downtown Chicago earlier this week as the fast-food giant unveiled plans for meal delivery, app-based mobile ordering, curbside pickup and a “more modern, more exciting restaurant environment” as part of its new Experience of the Future restaurant concept that’s already delivering sales gains in markets outside of the United States.

Four Foods Adds Soda Shop to Growing Stable

Four Foods Group has scooped up another company, The Soda Shop, from founders Chase Wardrop and Dylan Roeder, who will both retain equity in the company and serve as division presidents.

Accounting Change Is More Dramatic Than Most

A new accounting rule will change when franchisors can recognize revenue from initial franchise fees—stretching it out for the life of a development agreement rather than when the first location opens—and could mean a big hit to income statements. So warns Kevin Hein, a franchise attorney at Alexius in Denver.

Domino’s Hits Another Homer With Q4 Results

As reported in its Q4 2016 financial results, Domino’s Pizza grew domestic same-store sales 12.2% during the quarter, while international sales shot up 4.3%. It also opened a record 1,281 stores during the year, which includes 171 net new domestic locations.

All the Advice That Fits in a Four-Hour Workweek

Would you take advice from the man who wrote the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek”? If so, then Tim Ferriss’ keynote talk at the International Franchise Association annual convention was for you. (The conference was Jan. 31-Feb. 2, and if I hadn’t cut my work week to four hours since then, I might have posted this blog earlier.*)

Dealmakers Winners Prove Quotable in Interviews

“When we find an opportunity, we sort of jump all over it, and it demonstrates to folks how serious we are to grow.” So says Barry Dubin, chief development officer at KBP Foods, one of the Franchise Times Dealmakers award winners I’ve been interviewing over the last week. Here are a few more:

Trend Transformations Rides HGTV Wave

It’s somewhat crazy that 'Fixer Upper,' 'Flip or Flop' and 'Property Brothers' are so popular their stars’ lives have become tabloid fodder. For Trend Transformations, an international flooring and home hard surface restoration franchise tied up with Tarek and Christina El Moussa, the drama surrounding their divorce has been outweighed by the visibility gains for their company.

Food Halls: The Big Retail Trend of ‘17

With as many as 150 new food halls predicted to open in the next few years, these modern day food courts with higher-end food offerings are the bright spots offsetting tough times in the retail scene as many big-name brands are facing what may be their darkest year in business.

SBA Tweaks Lending Rule, Relieving Some Franchisors

The Small Business Administration temporarily tweaked its new procedures governing lending to franchisees, to the relief of many franchisors and bankers who maintained the new rules would chill franchise lending.

Puzder's Withdrawal Pains Franchise Supporters, but Cheers Workers' Group

Just one day before his long-awaited confirmation hearing for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder became the lone cabinet nominee to date to not get the nod, a blow to his many supporters in the franchising community who hoped the CEO of CKE Restaurants would set the department on a pro-business track. But at least one workers' group cheered.

New Stats on Women in Franchising

I’m all about encouraging diversity in franchising, and was pleased to see some new statistics on women in franchising from Franchise Business Review. On the whole, FBR’s numbers point to a clear majority enjoying operating the business, while barely more than half feel their work/life is balanced.

Additional 30,000 Temps Power Valentine’s Day Surge at Edible Arrangements

At Edible Arrangements, Valentine’s Day is the single biggest day of the year.

A&W Getting Back in the Game

With fond memories of A&W root beer floats with my parents and brother when I was a kid, I’m happy to hear the news that the brand is back on the gas five years after its sale by Yum. For the first time in more than 10 years, A&W is reporting systemwide revenue and store count growth, as it kicks off a new franchise sales initiative.
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