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August 2020

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In this issue

How 5 operators in Texas get going after COVID-19 closures

Tune Up sues the state of Texas to preempt a second shutdown. Smoothie King looks to acquire if the right brand comes along. But billion-dollar restaurant franchisee Sun Holdings is playing it safe. When it comes to reopening, a visit with five operators in Dallas reveals multiple ways to get started again.

Franchise Times Restaurant 200 ranks the industry’s biggest operators

The Restaurant 200 reflects many of the major trends in the restaurant industry, one being the big continue to grow. But the industry is facing real change and difficulty even at the top. These year-end 2019 numbers serve as one final benchmark for the industry before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

Restaurant 200 profile: Inside the playbook at WKS

What does it take to jump 19 spots on the Restaurant 200? A big acquisition helps. WKS Restaurant Group bought 97 Denny’s locations in 2019, which contributed to sales growth in 2019 of $169 million and sent the company from No. 36 on the 2019 rankings to No. 17 this year.

Air Force vet relies on resiliency to grow Marco’s Pizza

Stephanie Moseley didn’t get into Marco’s Pizza to own just one unit. But the Air Force veteran’s growth plans nearly took a nosedive as she cycled through managers at her first restaurant in Newport News, Virginia, where sales struggled for months and she had to rely on the resiliency ingrained in her since childhood to keep pushing forward.

COVID-19 forces young casual dining concepts to take a detour

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing consumer behavior and the economics of restaurant operations, which in turn is forcing a new breed of casual dining brands to adjust just as they got up to speed.

Hit hard, breakfast brands hope experience is irreplaceable

When COVID-19 hit and dining rooms were shut down, breakfast and brunch brand Another Broken Egg Cafe struggled with how to stay open and keep staff employed. Morning meal customer transactions have suffered the steepest declines during the pandemic, reported The NPD Group, with those transactions falling by 18 percent at major restaurant chains in June.

How American Family Care clinics stormed the COVID-19 field

A well-timed lunch with an insurance company. A quick dash to launch telemedicine. A new service for employers eager to safeguard their workplaces. Plus, two franchisees making their own bold moves. How American Family Care moved to the front lines in the pandemic.

Testing out pandemic pivots at three retail brands

To weather pandemic shutdowns, Mainstream Boutique stores took to hosting Facebook Live shopping events where employees model clothing items and give customers advice on how to style them with different outfits. Customers can purchase clothes by registering for CommentSold on Facebook, an add-on that allows users to simply comment “sold” with the item number, the size they’re looking for and the color.

Still going strong, Jazzercise finds the fountain of youth

Remember high-cut leotards over thick, peach-colored pantyhose complete with sweater-knit legwarmers? No? Well, come along anyway on a trip down memory lane for this story about Jazzercise.

Hounds Town CEO shares how he knows the ‘dog brain’

Born in Brooklyn, Michael Gould wasn’t exposed much to nature until he was 10 years old, when his family moved to Long Island and he became “mesmerized by any living creature.” Drawn especially to dogs, Gould eventually helped create the New York Police Department’s K-9 unit in 1982 and became the department’s canine training officer.

CityRow CEO finds inspiration in female founders

Who would play you in the biopic about your life? Gal Gadot. She played Wonder Woman so, what else do I need to say? And she’s stunning. I’m partial to the strong female lead. She’s Israeli and she served two years in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces); she’s so badass.

Anago franchisee pushes operators to strategize

One-on-one business strategy meetings helped Andrew Navarro connect with his franchisees after he took over Anago’s Philadelphia market, where he’s continued to grow sales.

Dave’s Hot Chicken comes to Canada

Dave’s Hot Chicken lives up to the hype, says Blair Bitove, who’s leading development of the brand in Canada for master franchisee Obelysk Food. Craveable food, plus an approach that takes into account neighborhood nuances, are what she believes will help the concept succeed.

Country Profile: Norway offers affluent consumers

Red with a blue cross outlined in white, the colors recall Norway’s past political unions with Denmark (red and white) and Sweden (blue).

Four takes on how the pandemic is reshaping real estate

Will a rise in vacancy rates mean more opportunities for some franchise brands? Or could the increasing number of bankruptcies among retailers mean a hastened demise of malls? Four experts offer their takes on what’s next for real estate.

Restaurants look for ways to embrace remote operations

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40 percent of CFOs responding to a January 2020 survey by financial advisory firm BDO said they were putting investment dollars to work to bring on more digital tools. Such tools, from inventory management, communication apps, digital checklists and deeper point-of-sale integration all bring greater efficiencies on a good day, but now they can provide an important look at unit-level operations.

How franchises should handle COVID-era data privacy

As businesses are starting to reopen, most brands are implementing new technologies and procedures to keep employees and customers safe, such as taking temperatures and using social distancing apps. Dave’s Hot Chicken is even using a hand-scanner technology called PathSpot to determine if employees are properly washing their hands. But how should brands navigate the potential data privacy issues that can arise from collecting employee health information?

Using HR to strengthen culture for employees and franchisees

Part of building a successful franchise means developing people, and young brands are taking human resources functions beyond hiring to help franchisees cultivate strong teams.

Son of Carl’s Jr. founder gets into Dave’s Hot Chicken

Joe Karcher is building his own restaurant legacy, albeit as a franchisee of restaurants, not founding them, as his father, Carl N. Karcher, did 64 years ago when he opened the first Carl’s Jr. restaurants in California. Joe Karcher, along with his son Alex, are among the newest franchisees of Dave’s Hot Chicken, a Los Angeles-based concept that in less than six months of franchising inked deals for more than 100 units. The Karchers signed on to open five restaurants in the Portland, Oregon, market under their JCK Birdz company, making Dave’s Hot Chicken their fourth brand.

Operator group calls out discounts, memberships, even socks in lawsuit

The cost of socks, which every customer of an Urban Air Adventure Park must buy, isn’t the biggest-ticket item that a group of franchisees is criticizing in a lawsuit against the franchisor. But it may be the most irritating, like a pebble in a shoe.

New strategies abound as global franchises find their footing

Since mid-March, when most countries decided to close shop, to varying degrees, for the unforeseeable future, the world has grappled with balancing public health restrictions with the corresponding economic impact as they addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. There now appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel as economies have commenced and progressed through various reopening phases.

Emerging trends provide direction for franchise development

In January’s Franchise Times, I wrote about black swan events and brand resilience. The pandemic has inflicted astonishing global economic damage and negatively impacted many facets of humanity. We have all settled into new routines, determined to persevere. This column is focused on franchise development. It’s often an under-appreciated corporate function, yet vital to your brand’s success. Deal flow has dried up at many brands and their franchise sales personnel have been laid off or furloughed. However, emerging trends reveal a new normal for development and the optimal path forward.

Amid pandemic, Moe’s operator looks on the bright side

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis closed restaurant dining rooms on March 20, just 10 days after franchisee Quality Fresca acquired 46 Moe’s Southwest Grills in the state from four different franchisees. The new franchisee now sold burritos curbside. Predictably, revenues slumped.

$85 billion set to leave the U.S. economy

A key part of the historic $2.2 trillion CARES Act was a broad expansion of unemployment benefits, benefits that expired July 31. The expansion gave every recipient an additional $600 and added about 13 million non-traditional workers such as Uber drivers and food deliverers to those receiving benefits. By the end of July, the program doled out about $270 billion.

Exec brings real estate expertise to Mayweather Boxing

Gabby Levine worked as a licensed real estate broker for 12 years while launching several of her own independent hot yoga studios. Most recently, she served as vice president of real estate for the Xponential Fitness portfolio of brands. Now, she has transitioned to senior director of real estate at Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, created by former world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

New perspectives in unprecedented times

Everyone has a different pain threshold in the midst of a pandemic when it comes to rolling that boulder up a steep mountain day after day, thanks to what some are calling our new normal. (Last month I complained that I was tired of the overused word, “pivot,” so I hate to repeat myself so soon, but enough with the “new normal” talk,” OK?)
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