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Alexius Aims to Upend Traditional Legal Billing

Kevin Hein spent 20 years in traditional law firms, most recently at Faegre Baker Daniels in Denver specializing in franchise law, but he’s now joined with an upstart firm called Alexius that provides defined legal services for a fixed fee rather than all-encompassing work for the almighty billable hour.

Heavyweights Tell How to Avoid 'Unforced Errors'

Amit Pamecha and Joe Bourdow have seen it all in franchising, mistakes and triumphs alike, and have now joined with two other partners to form Premier Franchise Advisors. Their goal is to help franchises and private equity firms avoid the former and achieve the latter. FT asked them to share lessons learned.

Wendy’s Sassy Twitter Clash

That sassy red-head Wendy has been showing her frosty side on social media, as the legacy hamburger chain’s Twitter account has become the subject of mass media articles in recent days.

Cashing in On Backyard Dirty Work

Bryan Weinstein is the founder and CEO of Bar-B-Clean, a California-based grill cleaning business whose franchisees encounter more gross stuff than I could find in the darkest recesses of the Franchise Times company refrigerator.

Franchise Times Top 10 Stories of 2016

As we move into 2017, it’s time for a little year in review. It’s been another strong year at Franchise Times, and the editorial content here was booming with features, special projects, and franchise news items.

Inside the Wide-Sweeping Chalak Mitra Group

Chalak Mita Group Managing Director Pushpak Patel gives a glimpse inside the well-diversified company built on the trust between best friends at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. The group is growing every which way from QSR to hotels and even a Jamaican cricket team.

M&A Update: The Market Bears What the Market Bears

Partner and attorney Derek Ladgenski of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP discusses the “active” M&A market at the 2016 and his outlook for 2017 at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. And what’s going to happen when interest rates ticket up? Ladgensky says nobody really knows, “all you can do is get ready.”

Area Director and Multi-Unit Owner Bill Mapes Talks Jersey Mike’s

Area director and multi-unit franchisee Bill Mapes discusses what kind of franchisee Jersey Mike’s is looking for, and how the company looks for people who fit the company values before they’re in the system.

Right-Sized Rent Metrics the 'Single Most Important Factor' for Restaurants

What can a restaurant do in this landlord’s market? Jim Haslem of CS Advisors has more than three decades of experience negotiating leases and seeing what works at restaurants. He explains how to get to the right rent metric at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

BoeFly Webinar Tackles Issues Around New SBA Rule

All the gnashing of teeth over the SBA Registry rule change may be for naught, since the four points the SBA has pulled out into an addendum are best practices most franchisors are already doing. Or so said a panel of franchisors and lenders that discussed the rule change on a webinar today presented by BoeFly.

GPS Hospitality acquires 194 Burger King locations in Southeast

When a franchise operator announces 200% growth through a single deal, it’s generally a second location. At GPS Hospitality, it means nearly 200 additional restaurants.

GNC revamp looks to replace “old broken model”

Vitamin and supplements brand GNC Holdings announced last week that it will launch a bold new company revamp, closing all U.S. corporate stores on December 28. After adding a new pricing structure and tech enhancements, the company will reopen December 29 with the launch of One New GNC.

‘Authentic Feel’ Drives Concept Creation at The Briar Group

What started with a few Irish pubs in Boston has grown to become The Briar Group, a collection of 14 restaurant concepts ranging from casual bar to upscale dining. And as CEO Austin O’Connor tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels, location and authenticity are what drive growth.

Culinary Innovation, Franchisee Partners Key to Popeyes’ Growth

Ranked No. 46 on Franchise Times’ Top 200+, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen continues its expansion. And with about 90 percent of the growth coming from existing franchisees, “that speaks volumes about the strength of the company, the strength of the brand,” Director of Franchising Renee Lewis tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels.

When Selecting Tenants, the Management Team Matters, Says Spirit Realty Capital SVP

It’s a $10 billion real estate investment trust, but Spirit Realty Capital also sees itself as a capital provider to help franchisors and ‘zees grow their business, says April Ronchetti Little, senior vice president of acquisitions. That makes selecting tenants with strong management teams a priority.

Freddy's CEO Bill Simon Remembered for 'Steady Vision'

Bill Simon, co-founder, president and CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, age 61, died December 17 after a battle with cancer, the Wichita, Kansas-based company announced today. “He led the company through unparalleled growth with a steady vision, and encouraged everyone he encountered to maximize their potential,” the company said.

BurgerFi CEO Commits to Food Transparency

All-natural burgers, fries, sides and buns have become the new normal at North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi. Winograd talks supply chain challenges in sourcing better ingredients across its growing network.

Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Talks Casual-Dining Competition

With increase competition from grocery stores and fast-casual restaurants, Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Brad Smith on the concept’s recent rebranding aimed at luring millennial diners.

Large-Scale ‘Zee Bullish on Restaurant Market

Tom Kaiser talks with Roland Spongberg, president and CEO of WKS Restaurant Group is bullish on the restaurant market going forward, and expounds on his plans for adding 12 new restaurants in 2017.

Checking In on Famous Dave’s

Famous Dave’s, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based barbecue chain, has struggled mightily in recent years as the casual dining segment has slowed and the company has cycled through a succession of CEOs and other top-level management.

Delivery's Changing the Game. Is Your Brand Ready?

Some brands are setting themselves up to be left out in the cold as more companies spring up to bring meals, groceries, clothes and other daily items right to the consumers, with no need to hop in the car to visit an actual storefront.

Tips From a Franchise Road Warrior On How to Be Grounded When You're in the Air

International travel always sounds glamorous, but it’s hard on the body and the mind (not to mention the spouse left with all the domestic work). Here are some tips from Raja Joshi of Golden Chick on how he survives trade missions and other trips abroad.

Dusting Off Another Franchise Trade Mission Adventure, This Time in Three Airports

Remember the old 'How many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb?' joke? I don’t know the answer to that one, but at the Mumbai airport it takes five workers to dust a light fixture. More on the franchise trade mission to India/Sri Lanka.

Marcato, Mick McGuire Again Urge Big Change at Buffalo Wild Wings

Earlier this week, Marcato Capital CEO Mick McGuire, sent another inflammatory statement to franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings that, among other things, urged a radical increase from the company’s current 49 percent franchise standing.

Captain D’s Threads Needle Between New, Old Customers

Captain D’s has a new look, which will be complete by the end of 2017, and a new-ish line of grilled products, and Chief Development Officer Michael Arrowsmith describes the tricky business of appealing to new customers while keeping the old, with Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Fast-Fashion Provides Blueprint for Freshii’s Ambitions

Matthew Corrin, founder of Freshii and a former employee of the high-end fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, discusses why he likes to follow fast-fashion players like Zara in his brand’s development of menus. “If you’re not staying cutting edge you’re not staying relevant,” he told Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Remodel Plan for Huddle House is ‘Great, Lofty Goal’

Christina Chambers joined Huddle House, the venerable casual dining chain, last August, along with a new management team backed by private equity investor Sentinel Capital, and one of the biggest initiatives was a remodel program. “So taking a brand that is 52 years old and making it new again, which is about as hard as it sounds,” she told Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.

Alamo Drafthouse is Rare Theater to Enforce 'No Texting'

Everybody who hates when people text at the movies (in other words, everybody over the age of 35) should check out Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, a growing chain of movie theaters with restaurants that absolutely don’t allow it.

Demonetization Hits a Low Note With Indians and Trade Mission Delegates

Just weeks before the latest franchise mission board planes to go to India, the prime minister demonetized the two bills that account for 85 percent of the cash spent on a regular basis.

Picked for Labor, Puzder Called Government 'Coercion' too Heavy

“The weight of government coercion has become so heavy, it is no longer possible to ignore,” declared Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, who was reportedly picked today to be secretary of labor by President-elect Donald Trump. We didn’t have to go far to learn his views, because Puzder was a keynote speaker last month at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented by FT’s sister publication.

It's Christmas Time In Sri Lanka

Americans think we know how to decorate for Christmas, but we can’t hold a candle to the décor at the Cinnamon Grand in Sri Lanka. Here's the next installment in Editor Nancy Weingartner's adventures on the South Asia franchise trade mission.

Getting to a Franchise Trade Mission is Half the Fun

Editor at Large Nancy Weingartner joined the franchise trade mission to India and Sri Lanka the first week in December. Here is the first installment of her adventures in international franchising.

Technology Plays Key Role in Driving Sonic’s Sales

Sonic is a chain of drive-in restaurants, and its CFO Claudia San Pedro says interactive touchscreens in each of 18 to 24 stalls at each unit is one key to drive sales growth.

Easy-to-Operate Stores Is Differentiator for Wayback Burgers

Scott Milas chatted with Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. They discuss Wayback Burgers franchise, which touts a relatively low $300,000 to $400,000 cost to get a unit started and a stripped-down operating plan.

New SBA Rule Upends Franchise Lending in December Surprise

After waiting for months for new rules from the U.S. Small Business Administration, lenders and franchisors just received them in a surprise notice—and they’re upending the usually routine business of making government-backed loans to franchisees.

Food on Demand Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

After working on our Food on Demand media project, this editor's holiday gifts will not only be delivered by a third party, they'll be reoccurring. And her gift to you is an informative e-newsletter on this demanding and disruptive new trend for restaurants and the foodservice industry.

Freshii Expands Down Under, Inks Walgreens Partnership

Freshii, the Toronto-based fast-casual brand with a focus on healthy eating, announced a master franchise agreement that will add 20 new locations in Australia. In addition, it has inked a new retail partnership with Walgreens, its second big-name non-traditional partnership after signing a similar deal to add locations within Target stores.

Chronic Tacos Goes Transparent

In unveiling a range of new sustainable practices, California-based Chronic Tacos is the latest franchised brand to turn its transparency mantra into a marketing message with its new “Nothing To Hide” campaign.

Judge Puts New Overtime Rule on Hold

In a last-minute decision, a judge in Texas has put the nationwide overtime rule on hold just days before it was set to go into effect December 1, 2016.

Three Franchisors Banking on Trump

Whatever side of the aisle you’re on politically, most agree that the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States was a surprise. Like most industries (and people), franchising is trying to asses the implications of our next president, and his agenda that promises to be a significant departure from what we’ve seen under the Obama Administration.

Wall Street's Outlook for the Restaurant Industry

It's been a volatile year for restaurant stocks, especially many franchised restaurant brands. But since the election, most stocks on the Franchise Times watch list have seen a dramatic lift.

Zingerman's Boss Outlines Strategy of 'Sharing Lavishly'

The founders of Zingerman's Deli shared their strategy of "sharing lavishly" at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference Wednesday, an antidote to all the laments over a rising minimum wage heard elsewhere at the conference.

Craveability and Customization Appeal to New Breed of Restaurant-goers

To stay current and relevant in this overcrowded restaurant environment, eateries need to maximize value with a focused menu, serve craveable food and give a sincere nod to customization, according to Larry Reinstein, president of LJR Hospitality Ventures.

The Art of Curating Restaurants

Americans are more familiar with the concept of a food court than with a food hall. And while “there’s no meaningful difference” between the two versions of a collection of restaurants under one roof, one is associated with fast food and pit stops for shoppers, while the other, a British term, conjures up visions of trendiness.

Food Halls Could Serve as Urban Opportunity

Instead of fighting over the same box everyone else wants, many brands are looking seriously at shared spaces such as food halls.

Bringing All-American Brands to International Markets

As a franchise reporter for two years now, I’m continually amazed by the amount of research, brainpower, cultural/regulatory awareness and personal time spent traveling to bring U.S.-based brands to overseas markets.

Rising Employee Costs? Don’t Cut Your Way Out

With more cities adopting higher minimum wages across the country, and talk of a nationwide wage increase, franchisors and franchisees of restaurant brands have some real decisions to make. Primarily, where does the money come from to pay employees wages that are much higher in some municipalities?

What Can Independents Learn From Chain Restaurants?

The session was titled “Revenge of the Independents: How Multi-unit Independents and Chefs Are Shaking Up Legacy Chains.” But as the discussion progressed on the last day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, it became clear independents actually look to emulate chains in some ways.

Why CKE's Andy Puzder Thinks the Government Doesn't Understand Job Creation

By the time CKE’s CEO Andy Puzder was introduced on the second day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, no introduction was needed.

Restaurant Founders Share Success Strategies at RFDC

Launching Freshii, the Toronto-based fast casual restaurant concept focused on health and wellness, was “scrappy and at times quite painful,” founder Matthew Corrin told those gathered for the founders panel at RFDC. “But now we maximize every dollar we spend."
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