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Smaller Brands Take up Slack when Franchise Giants Stumble

For the first time since the Franchise Times Top 200+ list began in 1999, some of the very largest brands in franchising stumbled, as readers will learn when we publish the massive annual project October 1. But we couldn’t help but give you a sneak peak at the flip side as well—many smaller brands picked up the slack with some eye-popping statistics.

Papal Knot is Philly Preztel Factory's Tribute to Pope

As Pope Francis wraps up his time Friday in Washington, D.C., and prepares to head to Philadelphia for the weekend, the folks at Philly Pretzel Factory are gearing up, too. They’ve created a special pretzel dubbed Papal Knots, and hope the pontiff will want a sample.

Latin America Trade Mission: Transporting brands to Costa Rica

If international expansion’s not for sissies, then international trade missions aren’t for whiners.

The Value of Playing it Safe

While in VW’s case it took a crack team of West Virginia scientists to uncover its years of deceit, while 500,000 of its sporty little diesels spewed excessive NOx into the air, many brands—especially foodservice—are one little discovery, disgruntled employee or news story away from public scorn.

A Strange, Rusty Rebranding

People hate change, and I am one of them. Whether it’s a new version of a car or a company I like changing their name, I’m often skeptical and longing for things the way they used to be.

Native Grill Lands Private Investment Deal to Fuel Growth

Dan Chaon, CEO of Native Grill & Wings, put together an unusual group of private investors, including himself, to purchase the system this week and set it up for more rapid growth.

Plaintiffs' Attorney Lends Star Power to Seattle Lawsuit

There was “a little bit of star power” in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, in the form of plaintiffs' attorney Paul Clement, in the latest chapter of the IFA v. Seattle lawsuit over the mandated $15 minimum wage.

Subway's Fred DeLuca dies at 67

Fred DeLuca, the co-founder of the largest restaurant chain by units in the world, Subway, died Monday at the age 67, just weeks after celebrating his company’s 50th anniversary.

DLA Piper Adds Practical Take to Browning Ferris Ruling

Multiple law firms have weighed in since the August 27 Browning Ferris ruling, and I’m passing along yesterday’s effort by DLA Piper attorneys because it is among the most measured.

People Trump Numbers when Reporting Top 200+

Franchise Times Top 200+ is all about the numbers, of course—who is up and who is down. But to me, and I believe to many business readers, the more telling story is why.

Hotel Execs See Ongoing Good Times

I’m fascinated by the hotel business, and find my interviews with hotel executives to be consistently interesting. With their fingers on the pulse of both business and leisure, those in the hotel world have a unique perch to analyze the economy. As part of our coverage for the Franchise Times 200, I interviewed heavy hitters from Hilton and Marriott.

Crazy Genius Seeking the Same

No personality type makes a better interview than the crazy genius. See Elon Musk’s Late Show appearance with Stephen Colbert for a good, timely example. Some people just aren’t like the rest of us, and are able to use their unique smarts to leave the world a better place.

High Times as FT Prepares News-Packed Top 200+

What takes five months to research, eight researchers and writers to report, and 500 franchise brands with up to 15 data points each to compile? The Franchise Times 200+, in preparation now to publish October 1.

Healthy Vending Machines (Finally) Sprouting Up

Working in offices for 12 years, I’ve never understood what’s going on inside of those breakroom vending machines. Why are our employers feeding us Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Reese's Pieces and Doritos? Seriously, if they’re trying to kill us, what’s with the paychecks?

Marilyn Monroe Spas raises $20 million

The beauty of Marilyn Monroe—the spa concept, not the legendary seductress—is that the founders know how to both operate spas and raise money.

NLRB's Browning Ferris Ruling Could Apply in 'Crazy Ways'

Another bombshell came from the National Labor Relations Board yesterday, when it ruled Browning Ferris Industries qualifies as a “joint employer” alongside one of its subcontractors for the purpose of negotiations with unions.

Smoothie King 'Zee Glad to be Afloat on Katrina Anniversary

Ten years ago, David Magri’s Smoothie King business was underwater—literally—as the levees in New Orleans broke after Hurricane Katrina passed through. This weekend, marking the 10th anniversary of the storm, he is relieved to say he and the city are back on their feet.

Looking Forward to Las Vegas

After joining Franchise Times in December, this year’s Restaurant Finance Development Conference will be my first look at our very impressive event designed to help national restaurateurs grow their businesses.

Bad Beard or Good Beard is in Eye of Beholder

What's up with young people in foodservice and their beards? Turns out the question is on the minds of restaurant owners/operators these days, illuminating the latest generation gap between millennials and their elders.

Have We Reached Peak Burrito?

Like Peak Oil (then again, gas sure is cheap), Peak Burrito means that society’s appetite for burritos is matching the current number of companies building new burrito-centric restaurants. These sour cream and guac-dipped good times cannot go on forever, can they?

Going to America's Not Every Canadian Franchisors' Dream

We hear a lot about U.S. companies going to Canada as their first international destination, but not as much about Canadian companies crossing the border to set up development schedules in the U.S.

'Open Book' by Arooga's Helps Secure 50-Unit Development Deal

Arooga’s signed a big development deal this week that—if completed—will double the size of its footprint, adding 50 restaurants over eight years in Florida and five counties in the greater Atlanta area.

At Back-to-School Time, New STEM Classes Boost Sylvan

A new STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and math) is a hit for Sylvan Learning, and attendees at its conference starting Sept. 1 will get a chance to ask questions about the latest offerings.

Don't Place Your Brand Equity in One Basket

Creepy as he may look—seriously, that outfit—nobody's accusing Ronald McDonald of sexual indiscretion. Let the ugly Jared Fogle situation be a cautionary tale for brands to avoid putting their eggs in one basket and steer clear of making a singular, fallible person the face of the brand.

Taco John's Operator Sees her Role as a Calling

Plenty of restaurant operators gripe about young workers. Then there’s Tamra Kennedy, who owns nine Taco John’s restaurants in Minnesota and Iowa. She views her role as an employer as a calling, and shared her refreshing philosophy at the Faegre Baker Daniels Franchise Summit in Minneapolis last week.

Faster and Better May Not Cut it, Faegre Speaker Says

If you think the world’s spinning faster these days, here’s the best proof we’ve seen, courtesy of Gerry O’Brion, founder of What Big Brands Know in Denver. At the Faegre Baker Daniels Franchise Summit, he showed two videos and asked the audience if they could spot any differences.

Q&A: Fatburger CEO Andy Wiederhorn on Impacts of Higher Minimum Wages

Andy Wiederhorn has been the CEO of Beverly Hills, CA-based Fatburger since 2006. Watching the debate on higher minimum wages, he has a dire warning for franchisors, operators and customers.

Seeking International Inspiration

As a franchise reporter, many interesting story ideas cross my desk in a given day. A Croatian burger-and-fries concept claiming to have created healthier fries with plans to expand throughout the world is certainly a recent notable.

Talking Collaboration in Minneapolis

Many people rag on millennials for our various proclivities and preferences, but you can’t bemoan a generation that wants to avoid becoming a voiceless cog in an uncaring machine.

Carl's Jr. Hopes for Knockout with UFC Champ Rousey Ads

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are trading babes in their ads for the “femininely badxxx” body of Ronda Rousey, the Ultimate Fighting Championship star who won an epic title fight last weekend in 34 seconds.

Fun Doesn't Cut it When Considering Franchises

Calling all prospective franchisees: Misty Young, operator of the Squeeze In restaurant chain in California who is also executing a massive development agreement for Rita’s Italian Ice, wants you to get out of ‘la-la’ land and get serious about analyzing your business prospects.

Who Cares About SBA Bottleneck? Those Trying to Close Loans

The current wrangling over U.S. Small Business Administration loans may seem abstract, but the plight of Amanda Purser, an SBA loan closer for Yadkin Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina, shows the real toll.

Franchising as a Lifeline

It’s not easy gathering financing when you’re young and on the move, but social mobility is what franchising is all about and we all need to encourage that.

Some Big Guys Struggle as Economy, Franchisors Expand

There are plenty of well publicized threats to franchising, including rising minimum wages in several states and cities, but unique fundamentals have the United States poised to continue its role as the globe’s healthiest economy and the destination for international investment.

New Bills in Congress Take Run at Franchising Rules

A bill designed to “bring about transparency” in the Small Business Administration loan process would require first-year revenue estimates in the documents franchisors must give franchisees, according to sponsor U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minn.) It was one of two bills introduced yesterday, both of which were blasted by the International Franchise Association.

My Money's on Ramen

As recent articles claim, Asian food is now the world’s fastest growing category. With QSR players taking notice, namely Chipotle’s fledgling ShopHouse chain, it’s no stretch to predict that noodles are set to become a larger player in the American quick-service game.

New York's Wage Hike, a Seattle Copycat, Doubles IFA Ire

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But to the International Franchise Association, New York’s new minimum wage mandate—a copy of Seattle’s—is nothing but a second example of discrimination.

Right at Home Rewarded for Exporting Excellence

When the average person thinks of exports, franchising isn’t the vehicle that first comes to mind. But thanks to the interest of some hard-working, out-of-the-box thinkers at the U.S. Commercial Service, franchising is becoming a popular way to increase exports, as can be witnessed in the proliferation of franchise trade missions in the last few years.

Finding the Perfect Real Estate

When looking for the ideal location for your business, you can't let perfect become the enemy of the good.

Giordano's moving past bankruptcy and into expansion

Only four years after applying for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011, Giordano’s Pizzeria is headed toward accelerated growth, as a result of a combination of new management and old recipes.

'And Other Duties as May Be Assigned'

There are two pathways for U.S. Commercial Service officers —domestic and overseas. But sometimes that pathway merges as it did recently when Ryan Kanne, director of the Minneapolis U.S. Export Assistance Center was called upon do take up temporary duty in Bogota, Colombia.

SpinFire's Owners, Including Redskins' No. 88, Detail Game Plan

Another day, another new fast-casual pizza chain to cover, or so it seems to this blogger. But SpinFire of Arlington, Virginia, believes it has two secret weapons in its co-founders: No. 88 for the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Pierre Garcon; and the founder of Paisano’s Pizza, Fouad Qreitem.

With a Hit on its Hands, Taco John's Resists Temptation

It’s Taco John’s second year to test limited-time-offer tacos from April to August, and this year is a bigger hit than last, said CEO Jeff Linville. The trick now will be to resist the clamor to make the LTOs permanent.

WellBiz Sale to KSL Capital was a Long Time Coming

It’s been a long wait for Jeff Jervik, CEO of WellBiz Brands, and his management team to turn around their two chains, Fitness Together and Elements Massage, and get them sold. After seven years of heavy lifting, KSL Capital Partners purchased WellBiz this week for undisclosed terms, and will pump in growth capital.

Meeting New York's Halal Guys

I’m working on a few future stories with an international focus, underscoring how important immigrants are to the franchise world. On the restaurant side, immigrants are a source of new ideas to broaden the American palate. One example that I’m anxious to try was The Halal Guys, on display at the International Franchise Expo in New York City last month.

Trouble at Twin Peaks: Takeaways from the Chaos

I previously wrote about the collective shock over the shootout at the Twin Peaks sports bar in Waco, Texas. Turning my fascination into action, I’ve since interviewed several crisis managers, franchisor lawyers and the Twin Peaks CEO and its own crisis manager to discuss what franchisors should do to prepare for the unexpected.

For Menchie's CEO, Crowded Category has Room for MidiCi

Amit Kleinberger started franchising frozen-yogurt chain Menchie’s in 2008, even though everybody else was doing it, too. Now he’s trying his hand at a newly popular category: artisan pizza, made to order, but he believes his new brand MidiCi will not be an also-ran.

Diversified CEO Targets Under-Performers to Acquire

Michael Ansley, CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings, just completed a purchase of 18 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, in St. Louis, to add to his portfolio of 42. He prefers to control a market when making acquisitions, he told this blogger, and wants to find stores that are under-performing on the top line, the bottom line, or both.

Two Sides to Franchising Cannabis: Part 2

Jeremy Carr is the CEO of BlazeNow and owner of Exhale Med Center in West Hollywood, Calif., one of the leading dispensaries in the LA metro. Carr told me it’s the highest rated shop in the area, and those Google reviews show the level of enthusiasm for this outlet and the category as a whole.

Diversified Gains new Wings, Backed by Citizens

Diversified Restaurant Holdings is the new owner of 18 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in St. Louis and becomes the largest BWW franchisee, backed by $155 million in financing from Citizens Bank.
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