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Speed Was Key to Closing Gigi's Sale to FundCorp

Who says cupcakes are dead, the rise and fall of Crumbs notwithstanding? Not FundCorp, the Texas private equity firm that bought Gigi’s Cupcakes from founder Gina Butler earlier this month.

Staid to Sexy for Surfside, New PizzaRev Operator in Miami

Chris Mellgren, CEO of Surfside Coffee, built his Dunkin’ Donuts operation in and around Miami to 68 stores in a mere two years. Now he’s signed with PizzaRev to add 45 restaurants in the same locales, in a move that could be called stable to sexy.

Making Money in America’s Most Walkable Cities

Judging from anecdotal surveys of millennials and appreciating home values (that are rising faster in areas with higher WalkScores), it’s clear the next waves of American growth will happen in the densest, most pedestrian-friendly cities in the country.

Sign of the Times as McDonald’s Moves Downtown

As the 800-pound gorilla of the restaurant industry moves its headquarters from the Chicagoland suburbs into a new downtown campus, the rest of the franchise world—’zors to multi-unit ‘zees—needs to think about its own location and how that impacts employee recruitment and retention.

Mr. Mac’s, Latest Mac and Cheese Concept, Begins Franchising

When asked if he thinks that macaroni and cheese could be one of the next big restaurant categories, Patrick Cain of Mr. Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese said, “I do, but don’t tell anybody.” Given the popularity of the cheesy staple and millennials’ limitless craving for nostalgia, it’ll be hard to keep it a secret for long.

Who Wins Social? NetBase Ranks Restaurant Brands

Ben & Jerry’s came in No. 1 with the most positive social mentions in 2015, followed by Wingstop and then Applebee’s, according to NetBase’s first Social Media Industry Report 2016: Restaurant Brands.

UFC Champ Edgar to Open New Jersey Gym

Frankie Edgar, the former UFC lightweight champion and current featherweight contender, will take his fighting skills to the business arena this weekend for the grand opening of a signature UFC Gym in North Brunswick, New Jersey.

Arby's Lynch Nabs (Much-Deserved) CMO of the Year

With some offbeat but undeniably effective Arby’s advertising in his back pocket, Arby’s CMO Rob Lynch has been a key part of the brand’s revival—and he just received some well-deserved recognition being honored as Chief Marketing Officer of the Year by PR World Awards.

As Feds Meddle, Kure Bets on Future of Vaping

I’ve seen the booths for e-cig and vape shops at franchise shows for years, but never had much interest, assuming the category was bound to be taken down by regulations or, worse yet, studies showing them to be as dangerous as some have predicted. With more data, and even more uncertainty, I’ve changed my mind and am digging into this industry for an upcoming feature in Franchise Times.

The Lawyer's Coloring Book: Color My Suit Gray, My Money Green and My Underpants Important

If today’s flood of adult coloring books chose law firms as a subject, a rainbow of Crayola colors would be required to adequately capture a law firm’s vibe. This was not the case in the 1950s, when the only crayons needed were gray for the men’s suits, white for their faces and mahogany for their desks.

Mix-and-Match Value Meals on the Rise in QSR

Ever since Wendy’s created the first official value menu in October 1989, franchises such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s have created value and dollar menus of their own to give consumers fast and cheap options.

Driven Brands Focuses on Fleets Amid Shared-Car Rise

Americans love and need cars, but that’s all set to change thanks to the inevitable rise of autonomous cars (closer than you think) and cars on demand through the likes of Uber and Lyft, which is definitely already here and rapidly attracting investment from established oil and auto stalwarts.

Title Boxing Bags New International Name and All-star Investment Team

When Title Boxing Club seeks overseas investors, it will have a smaller box and a new title—Everlast Fitness—and an all-star cast of investors, including football great Drew Brees.

Why We Want to Win Whataburger's Coloring Contest

What an idea Whataburger had: A coloring contest for adults in honor of National Burger Month in May. Although Franchise Times’ editorial staff is known more for their writing skill than their coloring aptitude (hey, we write colorful stories), we decided to enter the burger chain’s Facebook contest in hopes of winning the grand prize: $2,500.

Memorial Day Economic Snapshot

Just like the dentist says, regular checkups are best. I’m talking economic indicators, rather than whatever might be going on with your molars. As we head into the first big summertime holiday of 2016, here’s some fodder for friends and family who might tell you America is no longer great: car sales, residential home sales and weekly unemployment gains are in record positive territory.

Starbucks Ups 'Experience Retail' Ante With Reserve Roastery

There’s experiential retail—today’s mandate that every store or restaurant must offer an experience, not just food or drink or jogging pants—and then there’s the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, which I visited after talking with the MOD Pizza folks last week for an upcoming story.

Arby’s Makes Middle East Move Amid Urban Push in U.S.

The chain just announced an agreement with Kharafi Global to open 25 locations in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the next seven years. It’s the first international move for Arby’s since 2010 when it inked a development agreement to open 100 restaurants in Turkey over 10 years.

Eating Gluten Free at Today's Top Franchises

Last Friday, I walked in on a personal dietary nightmare. It was lunch during my first day as an intern at Franchise Times, and the entire staff was dining on an array of pizza, bread and cheesy salad from Davanni’s.

Flying Around with Drew Brees—No Big Deal

“This is totally normal,” I joked to myself while following insanely popular Saints QB Drew Brees through the kitchen of a restaurant before walking into a wild mob scene inside. The restaurant, the New Orleans-themed Walk-On’s sports bar.

Menchie's to Freshii: Froyo Is too a Good Business

From the “least surprising development” file comes this: Menchie’s CEO Amit Kleinberger believes the frozen-yogurt business has staying power, and his PR person shot back this reply to Freshii CEO Matthew Corrin’s potshot at the industry a mere three days after I posted it last week.

Talking UberEats With Jason Droege

Could there soon be an Uber for everything? I had the chance to sit down with the man whose actual title is Head of UberEverything after he spoke as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Signature ’16 keynote presentation Sunday, May 22, during the annual NRA Show in Chicago.

Exploring America’s Walkability Capital

So much of America is sadly dedicated to the car, which contributes to urban sprawl and obesity, but there are more and more places that are geared toward pedestrians. None are more famous (or older) here in the United States than the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Freshii CEO Makes Play for Unprofitable 'Zees

“Cupcakes are dead. Froyo is finished. Juice is next.” So declares the CEO and founder of Freshii, Matthew Corrin, who yesterday released an open letter to franchisees, urging them to ditch their “unprofitable frozen yogurt and juice bar” franchises “around the world” and convert to a Freshii. Until July 4, he’ll even waive the franchise fee for those who convert.

Thanks to Arby's, We, too, Got the Meats

There is such a thing as a free lunch—isn't there? Who could resist meats liberally stacked on a star-cut bun to make up 15 Bourbon Bacon & Brisket sandwiches from Arby’s.

Yum Brands' Novak Exclaims Over Recognition in New Book

David Novak is on a mission to combat the “global recognition deficit,” as he calls it, and to turn the world on to “the awesome power of recognition.” His words carry more clout than many: He is the co-founder and former CEO of Yum Brands, and just launched OGO, also known as O Great One.

Dinner in the Sky Still Airborne, Despite Vegas Setback

It seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea—strap guests onto a platform, hoist them 200 feet in the air and serve them dinner. But Dinner in the Sky, as the concept is known, has reached its 10-year anniversary and is in 56 countries—although the first permanent location, planned for Las Vegas, is closed for now.

Artificial Intelligence Is the Next (Really) Big Thing in Retail

With huge advancements in artificial intelligence, individuals and companies alike should prepare for a massive leap in everyday convenience, capabilities and labor savings in the near future.

JAB buys U.S. exposure in $1.35 Krispy acquisition

JAB nabs Krispy Kreme and a foothold in U.S. retail for $1.35 billion.

Something to Add to Your Bucket List: KFC Finger-Licking Good Nail Polish

In the United States, KFC diners will just have to be content with licking the chicken grease off their fingers in order to get the same effect their counterparts in Hong Kong can get by polishing their nails with KFC’s latest promotion: chicken-flavored nail polish.

Gearing Up to Explore NOLA

Mother Nature didn’t cooperate the last time I visited New Orleans. It didn’t just rain, it poured, seemingly every time I left my hotel to explore the city. Even so, I still got a taste for the signature food, architecture and history of this amazing city. I also had the chance to pilot speedboats on the bayou and eat frogmore stew with Phil Robertson of transgender bathroom backlash fame—but that’s another story altogether.

ERA Focusing on 18-Hour Cities

ERA Real Estate CEO Charlie Young was recently chatting with a friend who floated an investment idea his way. Specifically, she asked him about investing in real estate in some college towns throughout the Southeastern U.S.

To Speak Up or Not? Two PR Pros Weigh In

Two PR pros advise whether franchise execs should take a stand when controversial issues arise, like the new laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi.

Feasting With the Sharks

Through reporting, networking and Franchise Times’ own events, I get to see a lot of companies pitch the virtues of their concepts to industry experts, developers and financiers. This morning, I got another taste of that chum as part of a local event modeled (and named) after ABC’s popular Shark Tank show.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Seattle Case

A group of franchisees and the IFA won’t get their day in the Supreme Court in their lawsuit against the City of Seattle over a mandated minimum wage, now that the high court yesterday refused to take up the case.

Carlson Hotels Sends Radisson & Friends to China

Carlson Hotels Inc., the Minneapolis-based parent company of Radisson, Park Plaza, Quorvus Collection and other hotel flags, has been sold to China’s HNA Tourism Group amid a wave of consolidation in the red-hot hotel industry.

Chipotle Takes It on the Chin

Being a reporter in a restaurant-led industry, there’s no shortage of executives that confess their business model or store ambiance is an awful lot like Chipotle’s. After the burrito colossus reported awful quarterly results in the wake of its many food safety travails this week, I predict those days of endless Chipotle adulation have come to a screeching halt.

Living the High-Up Life

As the supply of single-family homes gets even tighter in most metros, expect to see an increase in the pace of large-scale condo and apartment developments to meet the demand that remains insatiable following the Great Recession.

Bruster’s Brings Real Ice Cream to South Korea With a Cherry on Top

South Koreans like their ice cream. How does Bruster’s Real Ice Cream’s CEO Jim Sahene know that? Well, for one thing, there are about 50 million people residing in the southern part of Korea and 1,200 Baskin-Robbins locations already open.

Delving Into 'Dogs, One Wienerschnitzel at a Time

The crack edit team at Franchise Times is well into a multi-part investigation these days, delving into the world of hot dogs and rating them from A+ to gross. But one brand we don’t have in our fair twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul is Wienerschnitzel—a pity, because it’s the largest franchised hot dog chain, with 320 locations in 10 states. So I called them up to dish about their dog.

Bananas Shares Love With Unlikely Target: CPAs

Certified public accountants don’t get much love, so imagine their delight when Bananas Smoothies offered a free drink made just for them on April 17 and 18.

Update: Growler USA Buys Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli

After reporting on Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli’s brand refresh and big plans for growth for our April issue, today news broke that Centennial, Colorado-based Growler USA has purchased the fast-casual deli concept. As part of the transaction, brands will maintain their individual names and concepts.

Paris by Way of Seoul

Travel to cosmopolitan, huge Seoul, South Korea, and you’ll see a taste of Paris on nearly every street corner, as Paris Baguette Bakery Café is nearly as common there as Starbucks are in New York. Well, truth be told, Seoul has more Starbucks than NYC, but that’s beside the point.

FT's Finance Conference Speakers Are Quotable Bunch

We’ve just sent our May edition to the printer, with full coverage of the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference and its 33 speakers. Here are a few of the quotable quotes from the package, just to whet your appetite.

Parasole Boss Still Roots for 'Humanity' in Restaurants

With all the talk about automation and technology today, people still trump machines. So believes Pete Mihajlov, co-founder of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, who spoke on a panel in Minneapolis about running a restaurant in 2016. What does he think of tabletop kiosks for ordering? “You’ve lost the humanity. You’ve lost the soul,” he said.

Tips for Evaluating Third-Party Delivery Services

Discussing the new-age problem of how to successfully partner with a third-party delivery service, the “Tackling Food Delivery Phenomenon” panel at the Foodservice News Restaurant Business Summit included two independent restaurant operators and Max Runke, general manager of Minneapolis-based Bite Squad, one of the leading national restaurant delivery providers.

New Laws in MS, NC, Leave Two States in 'Mess'

“It’s crazy, right? What a mess for the state,” said Tom Spiggle, a labor attorney representing employees at Spiggle Law Firm in Arlington, Virginia. He was speaking about so-called religious freedom laws signed into law April 5, dictating which genders could use which bathrooms, among other things, in North Carolina and allowing businesses in Mississippi to refuse service to gay people.

Welcome to the Age of Corporate Advocacy

The division of wealth is a major, top-of-mind issue for many Americans. Companies now exert unprecedented influence funding and affecting the direction of our country’s resources and policies. That sounds like a bad thing. At the same time, the raft of wrong-headed “religious freedom” bills have received harsh pushback from many major corporations—undoubtedly a good use of their power. In this world of increased corporate social advocacy on behalf of consumers, is your company ready to play ball?

Swapping Franchises With a Fellow ‘Zee

When two franchisees saw mutual benefits to swapping franchise territories, Two Men and a Truck agreed, helping facilitate an interesting deal. This unusual tale begins in 2001, right after 9/11, when Michael Lacey and his wife pooled all of their resources to get into their first franchising gig.

Back to Future in Panera's Long-Awaited Table Service

“How civilized!” I exclaimed as a staff member at Panera Bread said someone would bring my food to my table—this store in Roseville, Minnesota, being the first in the state to test the new system.

Arby's Cuts Its Energy Bill, Reporter Celebrates

As everybody’s getting in on the no-antibiotics and cage-free craze, I’d love to see more headlines like this gem that arrived in my inbox: “Arby’s Exceeds ‘15% by 2015’ Energy Reduction Goal.”
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