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August 2017

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In this issue

The youngest generation of Michigan’s Schostak family steps up

The fourth generation of Michigan’s Schostak family is taking over, trying new ideas while relying on the leadership of their elders and learning from some brutal franchise-life stories.

Ranking the top 200 franchised restaurant owners in the U.S.

Each year, our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor, surveys the largest restaurant franchisees in the country and pores over publicly available data to prepare this exclusive listing: a ranking of the top 200 franchised restaurant owners in the United States.

Despite mall malaise, Cinnabon rides sugar high

Cinnabon isn't sweating the struggle of malls as it adds units and refreshes its design. President Joe Guith foresees a day of reckoning for overbuilt malls, but 'there will be centers that survive and we will be there.'

Some restaurant owners thinking inside the box

Shipping containers are seeing a new life as pop-up shops, restaurants and destination retail. Subway, Taco Bell and Checkers are three franchises getting into the game. One advantage? They’re easy to pick up and move.

How Arby’s cracks the big city code, in The Urbane Franchisor

Profit remains the best reason brands should invest the time, effort and money it takes to bring their concepts into the most urban places in the country. A lot of people live under those sky-scraping rooftops.

BWW fight may be done but activists far from it

The dust is far from settled, but the Buffalo Wild Wings board is quite different than it was at its last shareholder meeting due to an aggressive activist investor campaign. The shakeup is one of a handful of activist attacks in franchising and part of a trend that is sure to accelerate, analysts say.

Pickup USA founder’s still got game

Jordan Meinster loves to play pickup basketball, except for all the things he hates about it. “It’s too crowded, and there’s no organization to it, and people are arguing about foul calls,” he says, drastically understating the cacophony of fouling and swearing at the typical neighborhood park. “It’s an inefficient process.”

'It’s time to grow,’ vows Cousins CEO

Recent history hasn’t been kind to Cousins Subs, which peaked at approximately 140 units, but shrank down to 100 units during a seven-year period to right-size the Wisconsin-based sandwich brand known for its “better bread.”

From odd phone call to ousted CEO—25 days of discord at School of Rock

On June 6, rabble-rousing blogger Sean Kelly says he received a phone call from Craig Tractenberg, a prominent franchise attorney with Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia, who allegedly threatened to expose negative personal information about Kelly unless he deleted blistering criticism from anonymous franchisees about School of Rock’s CEO Dzana Homan.

New owners for Back Yard Burgers, plus more posts

It took a whole lot of explaining, but Back Yard Burgers has attracted a new majority investor, Axum Capital Partners, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm.

Frenchies quells novices’ pedi fears

Lost limbs and panic attacks were at the top of my list of fears as fellow reporter Nick Upton and I prepared to sit down for our first-ever pedicures—but it was a long list. What if there was a “no boys allowed” sign on the front door? If I passed out in the chair, would they sell my organs? And what were they going to say about my feet? They aren’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

DoodyCalls takes tail end of pet jobs

Picture the ideal summertime backyard scene: burgers on the grill, wind chimes clinking in the breeze and you suddenly step in a mound of Bandit’s poop, blasting you out of a blissful trance. Looking around, your little slice of heaven now resembles a war zone.

OrangeTheory owner hits books, then gym

Dylan Patel owns two OrangeTheory units and one Hand and Stone—yet he’s only 21. Although the early days were ‘the worst,’ his operation is clicking now.

Why restaurants should copy the Cubs

What do restaurants and Major League Baseball have in common? Plenty, says Tom Ricketts, owner and chairman of the Chicago Cubs.

Boston’s adds execs to tackle identity, add units

Fresh faces at the top are aiming to execute an ambitious growth plan at Boston’s. Job No. 1 is to answer this question: Is it a pizza place or a sports bar?

Working up a mental sweat at the IFE

Inside the massive, glass-encased Javits Center in New York City, this reporter was struck by the compelling new concepts on display at the International Franchise Expo in July, rather than the typical list of usual suspects.

How to buy influence, plus trivia and new words to use

Every brand wants to be cool. Witness Denny’s getting into food delivery and the two goofy guys in crowns arguing Burger King’s value proposition (is it just us, or do they seem like a less engaging clone of Sonic’s odd couple?)

La Vida hopes Marilyn Monroe Spas draws globally

Citing its country’s growing middle class, master franchisee La Vida aims to capitalize on an American icon’s enduring association with glamour as it expands Marilyn Monroe Spas in India.

Saudi Arabia at a glance

The only national flag to display an inscription as its principal design, the green Saudi flag (a traditional color in Islamic flags) puts the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script above a white saber.

Emerging brands learn lessons after hiring headaches

Finding employees who will focus on the member experience is a priority for Blink Fitness, while at Spray-Net some wrong hires have resulted in a reset before expansion can continue. Watermill Express says its ‘zees are the experts.

Back from the precipice, yes, but still it’s wise to watch your step

Anyone who has followed franchising developments in recent years knows of the joint employer issue—the effort to treat the employees of franchisees as also the employees of the franchisor, with the extensive legal and managerial consequences that would flow from such a change in the law.

Leads at first byte, or how to find success at franchise matchmaking

With 7.5 billion people on Earth, there is truly someone for everyone. We just have to find them, or at least to be ready to welcome them when we finally cross paths.

Foreign investors fuel Rodizio owner

The great thing about franchising is that it gives just about anyone (after a financial vetting) the chance to make good of someone else’s idea. In the case of Terry and Jackie Chan, 36 and 41, respectively, make that three ideas.


Potbelly (NASDAQ: PBPB) is the latest franchise targeted by activist investors. The acceleration of activist activity (described more on page 31) means it could have some interesting days ahead.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

Passing on life lessons, whether welcome or not

Back when son Ben, who’s in his 20s now, was in high school, he enrolled in a journalism class as an elective. I was delighted! Visions were dancing in my head: The two of us would discuss journalism best practices. We’d talk about story leads and sources. He and I would come up with interesting story ideas. Maybe I could help him decide which stories were relevant to cover for his assignments.

Loose Ends

For one brief, shining moment my eyes were amazing, then grass hit

I am not the kind of person who judges people on their eyelashes. I have suffered for years from mascara giving me a black eye (I like to rub my eyes … hey, I stare at a computer screen all day), so I know not to judge an eye by its cover.
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