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National Restaurant Association Urges Action to Stop Mass Closures

The National Restaurant Association put out a dire warning that scores of restaurants were set to close without congressional help.

Restaurant Deal Trends to Watch

Merger and acquisition activity in franchising hasn’t stopped during the coronavirus pandemic—it just might look a little different.

Citing Pandemic, Sizzler USA Files for Bankruptcy

Sizzler, known for its cheap steaks and all-you-can-eat salad bar, is the latest restaurant chain to attribute its financial struggles to the coronavirus pandemic.

Famous Dave’s Expands via Novel Co-Branding Model

A unique independent-franchise co-branding model could be a growth vehicle for Famous Dave's and help struggling casual operators.

Cheba Hut Tweaks Stores for Impending Pandemic Winter

As the restaurant industry returns to the generally slower winter months, Cheba Hut is making some updates to prepare for the first winter with COVID-19.

Collab With Regulators, Driver Training Group CEO Says

When the pandemic first hit, Joe Giammona, CEO of the Driver Training Group, sprang into action to work with Washington’s state government to establish web-based driver education, something the state had never allowed before, as well as virtual licensing.

Convenience, Ice Cream's Appeal Drive Bruster’s Growth

On solid footing heading into 2020, Bruster's Real Ice Cream braced for the worst with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this crisis is yielding far different results than the one more than a decade ago, said CEO Jim Sahene.

Recovery Plateaus, but Delivery Grows in August

While restaurant results are slowly getting better, improving to the highest new levels since February, growth in August was fairly flat.

Steak 'n Shake Auction of 15 Stores Shows Alternative Path

Fifteen corporate-owned Steak 'n Shake restaurants were set to sell September 3 via public auction, a process that can benefit sellers that fail to find buyers for troubled stores in the traditional way, said Harold Bordwin of Keen-Summit Capital Partners, the firm that handled the transactions with NAI Global.

Safe From Spread Launches to Provide Workplace Sanitization

Franchising since May, sanitizing and disinfecting concept Safe From Spread has quickly grown to 17 franchisees operating nearly 40 territories. The company recently inked a contract with NBCUniversal for its operators to sanitize and disinfect locker rooms, studios and production trailers at NFL, PGA, LPGA and NASCAR events.

Pool Service Franchise Sees Spike During COVID-19

Pool Scouts, a residential pool cleaning and maintenance franchise, has seen a same-store network revenue increase of 74 percent during the pandemic as homeowners are spending more time in their pools, according to Pool Scouts president Michael Wagner.

'Instant' Home Buying Gains Favor During COVID

The pandemic is speeding up the movement toward ibuying in residential real estate, in which institutional buyers use technology platforms to buy homes speedily and without seeing them in person. The "instant buying" trend is now being adopted by traditional real estate brokers, too.

Retro Fitness Franchisees Back in the Gym After COVID Closures

Finally able to welcome members back inside their gyms, Retro Fitness franchisees in New Jersey share how they navigated the prolonged COVID-19 closure.

Beauty Trends: Lash Franchises Benefit From ‘Eyelash Effect’

With pandemic mask mandates, beauty trends are changing as lipstick sales are dropping and mascara and eyelash-enhancing service sales are growing. Case in point: An Amazing Lash Studios ‘zee has seen a 46 percent spike in year-over-year client leads since COVID-19 began.

Pizza Inn Operator Battles Shutdown Orders in N.M. With 'Zor's Backing

Michael Moore, a Pizza Inn franchisee in Hobbs, New Mexico, spent the first week of August preparing to open for outdoor dining, going to considerable expense to put up a 30-foot-by-50-foot tent, outfitting servers and more. "We got it open," he said, on Friday, August 7. "We had a court order late that afternoon so we had to shut everything down."

Transaction Data Shows Improving but Uneven Recovery

In a deep look at restaurant credit card data, Capital One shows that the recovery from COVID-19 is going well in some markets and some segments, but others continue to struggle.

Will Tech Torpedo the Human Element? FOD Panel Says No

The talk was all tech at the Restaurants of the Future panel at the virtual Food On Demand Conference last week. But Editor Tom Kaiser ended with a "sentimental" question for the panelists. Does all the technology take the human element out of the dining experience?

What the Experts Say About Restaurants in a Post-COVID World

In a wide-ranging conversation that hit on everything from leadership qualities and customer safety to the future of buffets and the value of drive-thru real estate, industry experts Greg Dollarhyde and Malcolm Knapp offered their take on what lies ahead for the restaurant business in 2021 and beyond.

Advice From Panera & Data Execs to Prep for Foodservice Future

Hear from Panera Bread and data executives on marketing, using data and how to prepare for the future of the foodservice industry.

Penn Station Transforms Comms to Combat Pandemic

Every restaurant company had to rethink core business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Penn Station, that meant a radical communications pivot.

Alinea, Tock Owner Outlines Fine Dining's To-Go Pivot at FODC

What is it like to run a restaurant reservations platform during a pandemic, Food On Demand Editor Tom Kaiser asked the founder of Tock to kick off today's virtual FOD conference. "It took work that was interesting, and made it important," replied Nick Kokonas in a pragmatic and hopeful discussion about third-party delivery and the survival of restaurants.

Postmates Founder, Pioneer in Ride-Sharing for Stuff, Kicks Off FODC

Bastian Lehmann, CEO and co-founder of Postmates, was man of the hour as his keynote address kicked off the third annual Food On Demand Conference today, for the first time in all-virtual format. That's because Uber is set to buy Postmates, in a key example of third-party delivery consolidation that raises many unknowns.

Pandemic Doesn’t Slow Down Original Hot Dog Factory Franchisee

For Aaron Anderson, the motivation to push forward and even accelerate development came from a combination of personal determination, belief in The Original Hot Dog Factory concept and a desire to keep workers employed.

Huntington Franchise Launches Study Hall Amid Chaotic School Restart

Huntington Learning Center is rolling out a new service aimed at families facing gyrating plans for back-to-school: Huntington Study Hall.

Open/Close: Cinnaholic Owner Handles Tough Customers With Kindness

"Cinnamon rolls are essential!" declared Holly Roe, owner of a Cinnaholic vegan bakery in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her actions during the pandemic, particularly how she trains employees to deal with difficult customers, are a model for others as businesses open and close during COVID-19. Seventh in a series called Open/Close.

Open/Close: Broken Yolk ‘Zees Cope With Pandemic Pressures

“There was a time when we were calling the health department every week,” recalls Jim Bailey, a Broken Yolk Café franchisee with two restaurants in Bakersfield, California. Bailey and Jay Marble, who operates a restaurant in Arizona, share their experiences as part of our Open/Close series.

Dunkin’s 800 Closures Not as Bad as They Sound

Along with second quarter earnings, Dunkin’ Brands announced the likely closure of 800 locations in 2020. It’s a shocking number, but not as bad as it sounds.

Open/Close: Salon Suite Franchisees Forge Ahead

Sola Salon Studio franchisees, along with operators of other salon suite concepts, are lobbying officials in California as they face another round of COVID-19-related closures.

Fastsigns ‘Zee Designed & Donated Gown Patterns to Hospital

Melanie Hossler, a Fastsigns franchisee in Augusta, Georgia, noticed a shortage of disposable gowns at her local hospital, so she designed a pattern and got to work.

Open/Close: 2 Days Open After 4 Months Shut, Then Locked Again

The co-owners of a Pigtails & Crewcuts in Los Altos, California, were excited to reopen their kids' haircut salon in July after a four-month lockdown. But the restart was short-lived. Fourth in a series called Open/Close.

Green Home Solutions Touts Ability to ‘Reset Indoor Air Quality’

"PPE, proper protocols, dwell times, spray techniques—these are all things we’re experts at. To leave this in the hands of an employee could leave a business at risk," said Jeff Panella, president of Green Home Solutions.

Fastsigns CEO Fortifies Franchise Leaders in Tough Times

"My thought process is, leaders lead," declared Catherine Monson, CEO of Fastsigns and chair of the International Franchise Association, in a bracing interview with Franchise Times this week about leadership, fear and the courage to rise above it.

Open/Close: Pandemic Raging, BrightStar Owner Buys Anyway

Ari Tiktin, a New Jersey man with a media background, closed his purchase of a BrightStar Care agency on March 30, two weeks after a statewide stay-at-home order was issued. "If it's not difficult, I'm not interested," he joked about the timing. Third in a series called Open/Close.

Despite the Pandemic, Large QSR Operators Still Optimistic

With portfolios primarily made up of quick-serve restaurant brands, three of the largest franchisees in the U.S. are bullish in their outlooks as they and their stores continue to climb out of the hole created by COVID-19 shutdowns.

COVID Spurs Drive-Thru Shift at Cousins

Cousins Subs had been working toward more drive-thru operations for years as the nearly 50-year-old brand remodeled locations, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been another reason to push in that direction.

Domino’s Shows Again: ‘You Want to be in Delivery’

Domino’s just released its second-quarter results, and shows yet again that delivery and digital is the place to be during the shaky COVID-19 recovery process.

Open/Close: Title Boxing Owners Grapple With Second Shutdown

Reggie Orchid, co-owner of two Title Boxing clubs in the Houston area, managed to break even after gyms were allowed to reopen in Texas in May. Then came a spike in COVID cases and another round of shutdowns. Second in a series called Open/Close.

Sola Forms New Holding Company, Acquires Woodhouse Spa Franchise

“There was no intention to pull off the gas pedal and not get the deal done,” said Christina Russell, the CEO of Sola Salon Studios who's now leading Radiance Holdings, which acquired the Texas-based Woodhouse Day Spa franchise.

Berlin's RSG Group Bids $100M for Gold's Gym

With the slogan “Die Fitnesshalle fur Alle” and a banana for a mascot, Rainer Schaller opened his first McFit gym in 1997 in Wurzburg, Germany. Now his company, Berlin-based RSG Group, has placed the winning bid for Gold’s Gym.

iFly Indoor Skydiving Is a Fun Flight Alternative During a Pandemic

Franchise Times tried out iFly Minneapolis, Minnesota’s first indoor skydiving facility, after the chain's post-pandemic shutdown reopening.

Open/Close: Prose Nails Owner Tells How to Navigate Restart

Reopening is a challenge for every franchise, none more so than salons where patrons and staffers get up close and personal. At a Prose nail boutique in Orlando, owner Elsy Romero broke down her steps and missteps when business is starting and stopping due to spiking COVID-19 cases. First in a series called Open/Close.

Digging Through the PPP Loan Data for Restaurants

Data from the $2.2 trillion Paycheck Protection Program is already flowing out of the Treasury department. We dug into the numbers.

Germinator Franchise Launches, Then Comes COVID

It's better to be lucky than good, the saying goes. But in the case of six-month-old Germinator Mobile Sanitizing and Disinfecting, founder Jeff Gill figures he's been both.

More People at Home Means More Business for Neighborly Brands, Exec Says

Home improvement projects have been on the rise since COVID-19 began and people sheltered in place. As a result, Neighborly brands are seeing an uptick in services and franchise sales, yet home energy demands and utility bills have also increased.

COVID Impact Statement Becomes Key Transaction Document

Buying or selling a business in the middle of a pandemic has a lot of oddities, but a COVID impact statement can answer a lot of questions.

Conserva Irrigation Finds Women-Owned Franchises Perform Better Amid Pandemic

Conserva Irrigation is finding that its women-owned franchised territories are some of the most successful within the system, including Vanesa Ellis’s location in Northeast Florida.

NPC International Files for Bankruptcy Protection

The second largest franchise operator in the U.S., NPC International, has just filed for bankruptcy protection in a Texas bankruptcy court.

Title Boxing Prez Finds Courage to Lead

Teaching classes outdoors. Making Title On Demand temporarily free. Adding plexiglass barriers and face shields. These are among the tactics at Title Boxing Club to make it through the pandemic. But President Susan Boresow says the most important element is courage.

Eagle Merchant Partners Steps Into Code Ninjas

Eagle Merchant Partners is taking a stairstep approach to investing in Code Ninjas, its entry into the kids' education space. Poised to take a majority stake earlier this year, the private equity firm switched to a minority investment.

As PPP Winds Down, Other CARES Opportunities Shine

The historic Paycheck Protection Program was a lifeline for a lot of franchise business, but as the program ends on June 30, the COVID-19-era financing questions are changing to how to meet the program’s forgiveness rules and what other finance options are out there.
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