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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.

Two Sides to Franchising Cannabis: Part 1

Twenty-three U.S. states allow some form of legal marijuana use, primarily for medicinal purposes, while four states and Washington, D.C. have legalized its use for recreational purposes. With this growing cohort of states, the legitimacy of the cannabis industry is also rising as entrepreneurs examine how franchising can help them grow this still-untamed industry.

Traffic Softens, RPI Stays Positive as Restaurants Remain Hot

Same-store sales and customer traffic levels softened in May, but the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) remains very positive.

'Destroyed' by CrossFit, Massage Heights Co-Founder Heads to Games

There are some who hit the gym a time or two each week, unless happy hours, dinners out and summer barbecues get in the way. Then there’s Wayne Evans. The co-founder of Massage Heights, Evans is hooked on CrossFit, and is set to compete in the Reebok CrossFit games next month.

Non-traditional is the New Black, Maybe

Some journalists call out trends far too prematurely, but two recent interviews have me wondering if non-traditional restaurant locations (stadiums, airports, universities, etc...) are a new trend heating up the franchise world.

Centre Lane Plans Investment to Grow Saladworks

Saladworks has a new owner, Centre Lane Partners, which invested in the fresh-tossed salad restaurant chain that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in February. Centre Lane plans to invest “substantial capital” to accelerate the company’s growth nationwide,

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza snags private equity infusion

On the heels of the recent BDO report cementing the strength of the fast-casual and pizza segments comes news that Atlanta-based Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint received a new minority investment from S&S Group, LLC, a private equity firm out of Washington, D.C. that also invested in Five Guys.

Kneaders Bakery and Café seeks rapid, methodical growth

Kneaders Bakery and Café has embodied the “stick to what you know” philosophy throughout its rapid yet methodical expansion. Now a 35-unit franchise, Gary and Colleen Worthington opened the first Kneaders in 1997. Their son, James Worthington, has progressed from dishwasher to CEO. Worthington promptly learned that – even for him - it would be the Kneaders way or the highway.

Settling into Franchising

Last week’s International Franchise Expo marked the six-month mark for my career in the franchise world. It feels good knowing my new-guy smell is starting to wear off, and I now have relationships with excellent people in all corners of the franchise world. To quote Jim Morrison, “This is the best part of the trip.”

Attorney to SBA: Slap Back Franchisors' Heavy Hand

Here’s another take on the problem of defining a “small” business, for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. Small Business Administration loan—a problem detailed in this blogger’s column in the June/July issue of Franchise Times. It's from Jeffery Haff, Dady & Gardner.

Service Brands is Biggest Purchase Yet for Dwyer Group

CEO Mike Bidwell said Dwyer Group would ramp up acquisitions after last year’s purchase of the franchisor by The Riverside Co. Looks like he meant it: Waco, Texas-based Dwyer bought Service Brands International this week, a multi-concept system that includes Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect Painters.

Protein Prices Stabilize as Fast-casual, Pizza Segments Outpace Industry

It’s no shock to anybody following the recent restaurant buzz, but the fast-casual and pizza segments are outpacing the overall industry, according to accounting firm BDO’s Q1 2015 Restaurant Benchmarking update. Even better, protein prices appear to stabilize after significant increases in recent months.

Driven Brands acquires 1-800 Radiator

Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group continued its buying spree today with the acquisition of 1-800 Radiator, the largest franchised automotive parts distributor in North America. The purchase was through Roark’s Driven brands portfolio, which it added to its stable this past April.

Wingstop is the latest: $110 million+ IPO and counting

Food couldn’t be much hotter these days, especially up-and-coming brands that are expanding nationally and going public to great fanfare. Today’s latest foodie IPO is Dallas-based Wingstop, which is on track to raise no less than $110.2 million on its first day on Wall Street.

Time Is Ripe for Trade Mission Applications

If it appears the franchise trade mission calendar is stacked in favor of the fourth quarter or thereabout, it is. The Southern China mission is August 21-28, Central America is September 20-25 and the Nordic countries will be visited October 18-24.

Gatti's Pizza gets scooped up

As the popularity of pizza chains continues to rise, Austin, Texas-based Gatti’s Pizza has been acquired by Sovrano, LLC, out of Fort Worth, Texas—one of several franchised restaurant brands to attract private equity investment in recent years.

Obituary: Wendy's Franchisee Mike Givens

Michael Jon Givens, a longtime multi-unit Wendy’s franchisee in the Twin Cities area, died in April of cancer at 58. In his online obituary, Givens, whose company FourCrown won several honors from the Wendy’s system, including Best Franchise Group in 2003, and induction into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame in 2006, was described as an intentionally quiet man, “because he never wanted anything to be about him.”

Watching the Weather

Blaming the weather for disappointing quarterly results can be a red herring in some cases, but El Niño may soon start having a serious impact.

Article is First 'Scholarly' Blast at NLRB on Joint Employer

A new Franchise Law Journal article minces no words when criticizing the National Labor Relations Board for its claim that McDonald’s is the “joint employer” of its franchisees’ staff.

Freshii Case May Show How to Avoid 'Joint Employer' Status

Franchisors can take heart from recent guidance on the Freshii case, in which the National Labor Relations Board said Freshii was NOT a joint employer with its franchisee.

More Info on Fastest-Growing Sandwich Chains

Our June/July issue features a story about fast-growing sandwich chains, and here’s some more interesting info that we couldn’t fit into print, about Capriotti's and Potbelly's, two of the fastest-growing chains according to Technomic, and Quiznos, whose sales declined.

Deadline Extended for South China Trade Mission

The doors are about to close on the trade mission to South China and Taiwan. Sponsored by the International Franchise Association and Franchise Times magazine and implemented by the U.S. Commercial Service, the franchise trade mission will include stops in Guangzhou and Fuzhou, China, and Taipei, Taiwan, August 24-28.

Pet Wants Gains Backer to Roll Out Franchise Plan

Pet Wants has landed a new investor and partner, the Franchise Funding Group, to help the Cincinnati-based pet food company develop a national franchise system.

Frisch's Last Two Family Execs Gain Exit Via NRD

Frisch’s Restaurants is the first acquisition for NRD Partners, the Atlanta-based private equity fund launched last August by CEO Aziz Hashim. It’s the first private equity owner in Frisch’s history. NRD is buying all outstanding shares for $34 per share, a 21 percent premium compared to the closing price May 21, or about $175 million total.

Q&A with Jack and Claudine Halpern of My Elder Advocate

At age 65, former nursing home executive Jack Halpern has seen the horrors of America’s elder care structure up close and personal. After becoming motivated to leave the system and dedicate his career to changing the status quo, he and his wife, Claudine, are working to launch 100 locations of My Elder Advocate.

EGS Receives Presidential Award for Continued Export Successes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker presented Edwards Global Services with the President’s “E” Star Award for Export Service at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

To Kick Off Swimsuit Season, a Waxing the City Study

From the “things we wish we didn’t know” file comes a new study from Waxing the City: While most young waxers start off smoothing their lower regions and chests, later in life “they are compelled to head north to groom more visible features.”

Home Franchise Concepts Reaches Milestone in Veteran Discounts

Home Franchise Concepts, parent company of Budget Blinds among others, achieved its goal of giving $1 million in discounts to U.S. military veterans through its Million Dollar Franchise program.

Despite Media Ban, FT Writer (and Shareholder) Attends McDonald's Meeting

McDonald's held its annual meeting today, but all the fun was getting there. State and local police cars with flashing lights lined streets leading into McDonald's Oak Brook, Illinois, campus. Despite the media ban, I managed to get inside, thanks to a handful of McDonald's shares I'd purchased in the 1980s.

Call for Nominations of Franchises Who Give Back

Roark Capital Group and the International Franchise Association’s Educational Foundation are seeking nominations of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers who are making a difference in their communities. Winners in five categories—“We reserve the right to have more to recognize (than just first place),” Roark Managing Director Steve Romaniello says—will be feted at IFA’s annual meeting in September.

Q&A with Christopher Fountain, CEO of FranConnect

Talking about the future of franchising and CRM with Christopher Fountain, the new CEO of FranConnect.

Twin Peaks revokes Waco zee’s franchise after shootout

If Waco was a person rather than a city, nobody would be able to say they “didn’t see it coming” after the news of a motorcycle gang shootout at the Twin Peaks sports bar over the weekend.

Data Breaches Likely Coming to a Franchise Near You, Attorneys Warn

“If data privacy and security is not keeping you up at night—it should,” said Leonard MacPhee, a partner at Perkins Coie and moderator of a panel on the topic at the International Franchise Association Legal Symposium in Chicago last week.

FT Columnist Zeidman Scores Burton Award for Legal Writing

Long-time Franchise Times columnist Philip Zeidman, a partner at DLA Piper in Washington, D.C., will receive a 2015 award for legal writing from the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement.

Q&A with Rui Barros, of Wyndham Hotel Group

After 16 years with the company, Rui Barros is the new president and managing director of North America franchise operations for Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey-based Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest based on the number of hotels.

"Greater" Day at Bojangles as BOJA goes public

On the day of its IPO, Bojangles CEO Clifton Rutledge says the fast-casual segment remains hot due to elevated consumer tastes.
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