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Record Year of Franchise Growth for Huddle House

Huddle House entered new markets across 14 states, including the brand’s first Maryland location and additional growth in New Jersey, where the all-day breakfast concept has one store open and five more in development. Eight of its multi-unit owners signed additional agreements in fiscal year 2017 to open 22 more locations.

Wayback Burgers on a Growth Tear

I’m continually amazed by the number of better-burger players out there, but the herd has stayed strong as the competition has intensified. And, for whatever it’s worth, Wayback Burgers is still expanding like crazy, recently hitting 120 domestic locations and many new international openings in the hopper.

World of Beer’s Pandora-style Beer 'Discovery Engine'

Restaurants and retailers have clearly read the memo that younger consumers want an experience when they spend their precious fun money. The latest innovation is a great one for a summer Friday—World of Beer’s ALEgorithm that it bills as a Pandora-style “beer discovery engine” providing beer recommendations based on personal taste and member engagement.

In Defense of Marketing to Gen X

Gen Xers, usually in the shadow of millennials and baby boomers, are an equally important customer base for restaurants, finds a new NPD Group foodservice study.

Social Media Influencers Present New Marketing Opportunities

Courting social media Influencers is one way restaurant owners can create buzz around new food items or new store openings.

Capitalizing On the Summer Moving Season

For franchised service concepts in the moving segment, summer the opportunity of the year, but to get the most out of the season, it takes a thoughtful approach.

At 900, Smoothie King Vision 'Validated'

When Wan Kim bought Smoothie King in 2012, he had a singular thesis in mind: to be a part of every healthy lifestyle. It seems to be working.

Dunkin’ Heads Into Price Chopper Grocery Stores

As the so-called non-traditional real estate strategy goes mainstream, Dunkin’ Donuts is the latest announcement with a new partnership to open three restaurants in Price Chopper grocery locations in Kansas. It’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing more grocery store tie-ups, among others as restaurant brands seek to go wherever people congregate.

Franchising to Help Chef Service Feed More Seniors

Meet Chefs For Seniors, a four-year-old company out of Madison, Wisconsin, whose professional chefs prepare weekly meals in the home for an elderly clientele. The service, which has corporate locations in its home state plus Illinois and Florida, just launched its franchising initiative in 37 states.

Wyndham Acquires Mid-level AmericInn Brand

As the good times keep rolling in the hotel world, major hospitality brands are continuing to expand their portfolios as healthy business and personal travel continue to fuel record revenue gains and occupancy rates. The latest is Wyndham Hotel Group’s acquisition of Minnesota-based AmericInn hotel and its management company, Three Rivers Hospitality, for $170 million.

Blaze Pizza Gets PE Investment From Brentwood

The move by the Los Angeles-based group also puts two Brentwood partners, Bill Barnum and Rahul Aggarwal, on Blaze Pizza’s board of directors, along with industry veteran Greg Dollarhyde.

IFA’s NextGen Program Goes Live

It’s time once again for one of the very best things in all of franchising: IFA’s fantastic NextGen in Franchising Global Competition is now accepting applicants for the next crop of industry leaders who need a boost in bringing their great idea to market via franchising.

KFC Launches Hilarious Merch Shop

After launching one of its sandwiches into space and publishing its first corporate romance novel (seriously), KFC has launched an online merchandise shop it’s calling KFC Ltd. With Colonel Sanders pillows, a chicken sandwich made with real meteorite and drumstick socks—among many others—this is the real deal.

Southeast Asia Market Remains Ripe for Hooters Expansion

Franchisee Destination Eats, part of Bangkok-based Destination Resorts, is the local partner behind this market expansion and in 2015 signed a 35-location development agreement with Hooters. Led by CEO Gary Murray, Destination Eats also recently opened Hooters locations in Marina Bay and Fusionopolis, Singapore, as well as Jakarta, Indonesia, and Koh Samui, Thailand.

New School of Rock Boss Not Scared of Controversy

The bravest man in franchising may be Rob Price, who accepted the CEO job at School of Rock after Dzana Homan got the boot on June 30. I’ll tell the whole story about franchisee complaints alleging intimidation and more at the music school chain in the next print edition, but Price says he is not fazed by the controversy.

New Owners, New Start for Back Yard Burgers

It took a whole lot of explaining, but Back Yard Burgers has attracted a new majority investor, Axum Capital Partners, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm. “It was hard,” to find an investor to buy out Pharos Capital Group, says CEO Dave McDougall, who had to explain over and over why the brand has 23 company-owned stores and 32 franchised units today, down from a peak of 180 stores in 2007.

Marilyn Monroe Spas CEO Lewis Talks International Franchising

Marilyn Monroe Spas inked its first international deal to bring the salon and spa concept to India. We'll have more on this deal in the August issue of Franchise Times, but first, some interview outtakes.

'Disloyal' Jimmy John's Workers Lost their Protections

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of MikLin Enterprises, a franchisee of 10 Jimmy John’s shops in Minnesota, saying employees there were “so disloyal” they were not covered by labor rules protecting unionization activity.

More From Qdoba 'Zees: We're Not Disgruntled

“We do believe in the brand,” declared Ron Stokes, president of the newly formed Qdoba Franchisee Association and president and CEO of the system’s largest operator, with 55 stores. I called him because the announcement followed the rapid formation of two new franchisee groups for Tim Hortons, in Canada and the U.S., who have multiple grievances against their franchisor, and I wanted to see if the Qdoba situation was similar.

Ordering McDonald’s Delivery With UberEATS

Is delivery faster and more convenient than ordering McDonald’s at a drive-thru? We tested McDonald’s new delivery partnership with UberEATS to see how the fast-food giant’s sandwiches, fries, Happy Meals and so-called artisan burgers weathered the journey to our office with a driver, rather than just driving down the road to get it ourselves.

Amid Franchisor ‘Uncertainty,’ Qdoba Franchisees Organize

By forming an independent franchisee association, Qdoba Mexican Eats operators aim to “protect and enhance their $250 million collective investment” in the brand. This announcement comes as parent company Jack in the Box Inc., concerned that operating two different brands is negatively impacting the company’s value, continues to evaluate potentially selling the Qdoba brand.

Time to Embrace the Lactose Intolerant

For all the R&D that’s gone into gluten-free foods, catering to some that science proves aren’t actually sensitive to anything, it’s time for restaurants and ice cream brands to embrace a hot new crowd everybody’s talking about: the lactose intolerants. From my very personal experience, I can tell you that we’re kinder than those gluten peeps, we’re asking nicely and have fun money to spend with whoever starts bringing dairy-free frozen treats to the mainstream.

We’re On the Cusp of … Something

I’m old enough to remember the Dow Jones Industrial Average first cracking 10K on March 29, 1999. I was a junior in high school, and it felt like the whole country—and me, especially— was on the cusp of greatness. Eighteen years and 11,392 points later, it once again feels like change is afoot.

For U.S. Diners, Experience Is the Influencer

Sixty-three percent of diners agree that visiting restaurants is a form of entertainment for them. For franchise restaurants looking to stand out, particularly as dining dollars are being spread across more off-premise channels such as delivery and carryout, this means focusing on differentiating elements such as convenience, atmosphere and social sharing.

IFA’s Cresanti on D.C. Chaos, Mega ‘Zees & More

Sitting down with IFA Chairman Robert Cresanti for a conversation about working through the current chaos in Washington, the impacts of ever-larger multi-unit franchise groups and where he sees the biggest growth opportunities in the industry’s future.

Putting Culture First, Funky Sausage Concept Dat Dog Expands

COO Bill DiPaola sees franchising as a way for Dat Dog to be viewed as a local restaurant, one where owners have the “touch and relationship with the community.” Restaurants serve a menu of unconventional sausages including those made from alligator and crawfish, plus dozens of toppings.

An Insider's Look at Drug Testing, by Fastest Labs Boss

When it comes to drug testing, David Claflin has seen and heard it all. “I could write a book on it,” says the CEO of Fastest Labs. “We have people that try to trick us every single day. And the funniest thing is when they get caught they just say, ‘OK, you got me.’”

Pickup USA Appeals to Aging Hoopsters, Like Me

After five-plus years at Franchise Times I have finally found the franchise for me: Pickup USA, which offers basketball-based boot camps for fitness and most notably organized, officiated pick-up basketball games for a monthly fee under 59 bucks. Are you kidding me?

Tim Hortons Suit 'Need Not Have Happened,' Attorney Says

A $500-million lawsuit filed this week by Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada didn’t have to happen, says John Sotos, the attorney at Sotos LLP in Toronto who is pressing the case against Restaurant Brands International, the owner of the coffee-and-donuts chain since December 2014.

Jani-King's Win 'A Blow' to DOL, Gardere Lawyer Says

A win for Jani-King of Oklahoma in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor is “a blow to the government’s overall goal to classify franchisees as employees of their franchisors,” declares Carrie Hoffman, one of the attorneys at Gardere law firm who argued for Jani-King.

Walking the Streets of NYC at IFE '17

Those of us on the “show circuit” know the various expos can blend together, with a lot of the same usual suspects. This year’s International Franchise Expo in New York City last week was an exception, with many new concepts, cool new startup companies and a diversity that highlights all that’s great in franchising.

KFC Zinger Heads Into Space

For all the Jetsons episodes that glamorized life in the space age, they never mentioned where George, Jane and company would get access to delicious fried chicken. Here on planet Earth, that problem has allegedly been solved as KFC and space flight experts World View announced they are partnering to launch the Zinger chicken sandwich to the edge of space—really.

Boosting Confidence Is Job One for FranSelect Hire

Barbara Marshall, a newly hired coach at FranSelect, had inspiring words when I reached her last week, to buck up anyone who has ever struggled in school or any aspiring business owner who could use a confidence boost—in other words, quite a lot of people.

Sharp Advice on Franchisee Self Promotion

Ryan McEnaney knows how to pitch a good story, and as the PR director for his family’s fifth-generation business and as a franchisee and communications manager for Frenchies Modern Nail Salon, his skills at weaving a personal narrative pay off in real-world benefits for both of his brands.

DOL Rolls Back Joint Employer Standard a Bit

A short statement by the Department of Labor last week—that Obama-era guidance on joint employer is being rolled back—has franchisors and their attorneys resting more easily. Workers’ advocates, of course, would not be pleased.

Subway's 'Green Room' Aims to Attract Music Festival Crowd

As an attendee of a major camping music festival last summer, there were three big pain points: lack of showers, adequate food and overwhelming heat during the daytime hours. Subway is attempting to tackle at least two of these issues with a summer festival roadshow, offering free mini sandwiches in its air conditioned “Green Room.”

Franchise Chefs Deserve More Credit

Stealing a phrase from Special Agent Dale Cooper, there’s some “damn fine” food in franchising. I would know, because in my three years as a reporter at Franchise Times, I have been on a competitive eating marathon that has exposed me to some extremely tasty food -- and not just for a franchise.

NPC In, DavCo Out as Wendy's Puts to Rest 3-Year Dispute

Wendy’s has resolved its three-year battle with DavCo Restaurants, formerly one of its top franchisees that started with the brand in 1976, by buying 140 restaurants from DavCo and selling them to NPC International of Overland Park, Kansas, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing June 1.

Pet Obsession, Franchising Boosts Pet Supplies Plus

As Pet Supplies Plus CEO Chris Rowland tells it—and as I’ve seen through the increasing number of cats and dogs in family Christmas photos—it’s become an increasing trend for pets to be seen as “members of the family.” He’s has seen the evolution firsthand, through his parents—and his fast-growing retail brand.

Facebook Diving Into Food Delivery

We use it to announce the best and worst news of our lives, to stalk exes and find new love, to read the news of the world and complain about current events—so why shouldn’t Facebook just feed us already? Fear not, socialites, as California-based Facebook has announced plans to add meal delivery to its all-encompassing function set.

Marcato Wins Buffalo Wild Wings Board Battle, Smith to Retire

The contentious proxy battle for the Buffalo Wild Wings board is over, and Marcato is the clear winner. The activist hedge fund of Mick McGuire took three board seats and Sally Smith is set to retire.

Thoughts on Law and Life From Award-Winning Zeidman

Philip Zeidman, longtime Franchise Times columnist and DLA Piper partner, showed off his way with words when accepting the Who’s Who Legal Lifetime Achievement Award last month, including musing about his early days in the profession as a litigator.

Aslam Khan’s Plan for TGI Fridays: Transparency, Accountability

Aslam Khan is known to many as the successful leader of Falcon Holdings, but now he's joining a new wave of successful franchisees turned franchisor leaders at the top of TGI Fridays.

One Day to Go, BWW 'Zees Stand Behind Management

Franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings are still backing corporate in the fight against activist investor Marcato Capital Management, saying in a statement Tuesday that Marcato’s plan to sell off most of the 634 company-owned restaurants to franchisees is “heavily flawed.” The company’s annual meeting is tomorrow.

McDonald’s Accelerates Delivery Rollout with UberEats

Underscoring the seismic shift to delivery in all corners of the restaurant world, McDonald’s is ramping up its trial of third-party delivery with UberEats, doubling the number of U.S. locations delivering Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, and McNuggets.

Most important ‘National Days’ for franchises this summer

Major franchises have taken advantage of more conventional national days to promote their products or offer exclusive deals. Others have had the foresight to actually create their own national holidays.

Two Men and a Truck Goes Long Distance With Value Flex Program

Long distance moving can be a terrifying prospect. To add to the uncertainty of moving to a completely new area, families and individuals ditch their belongings for days at a time, hoping they arrive safely to their new address. Having a verified company they can trust makes that process a little bit easier.

Ace Actively Fueling Store Growth

Ace Hardware is a sleeper in the franchise world—much bigger than many people would suspect with nearly $15 billion in annual global sales, nearly 4,500 U.S. locations and a No. 6 ranking in the Franchise Times Top 200+ list of the largest franchisors. As it seeks to fuel additional growth, Ace announced a new financing program to help owners scale up.

A&W’s CEO On Growing a 98-year-old Brand

Riding in the car with A&W CEO Kevin Bazner on our way to a third-generation restaurant in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to ask more questions than any gracious source should be subjected to. We talked about jazzing up the menu, shifting the marketing message and bolstering the profits of a 98-year-old brand.

McDonald's Ex-Boss Scoops Up PizzaRev, BWW Is Out

PizzaRev has landed a majority investor, and it’s a big name—Cleveland Avenue based in Chicago, a new venture capital firm founded in January by Don Thompson, McDonald’s former CEO who retired from the Golden Arches in March 2015.
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