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February 2018

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In this issue

In FT Undercover, we check out three hotel lobby bars so you don’t have to

Any hotel lobby bar with a Mary Pickford on the cocktail list is OK by us. That is one of the $12 offerings at the Normandy Kitchen & Bar, under the Best Western Plus brand. We were told Best Western Plus was a must to check out, and when we visited the newly renovated place, it did not disappoint.

New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez talks hot yoga, broke athletes, J-Lo and fear

Buckets of sweat poured off my head at the TruFusion hot yoga class in Las Vegas, where I stood at the back of the room heated like a sauna and “modified” my moves, meaning barely did them at all, whenever the instructor, a former Rockette, looked the other way. Why was I there? Because if it’s good enough for A-Rod and J-Lo, it’s good enough for me.

Left behind, Patel sisters now rocking the Planet

Kalpana, the third youngest of four Patel sisters who are all Planet Fitness franchisees, was super stressed on “expiration date” at her big-box gym in Vancouver, Washington. That’s when you send out mailers with an expiration date, and on that day in particular the gyms have a lot of sign-ups.

‘Silo it’ when married to franchising

The old refrain is never work with family and never borrow from friends. But for those stubborn folks who opt to ignore that advice, it’s quite possible to thrive at work and home—it just takes a little effort.

Meet the new CEO at Ruby Tuesday in FT Online

In December, Kyanna Isaacson, age 26, opened her first Jersey Mike’s store as a majority owner, a shop she was awarded by the chain’s founder in 2016, right after she was named manager of the year at the chain’s annual conference.

Power trio backs DMK Burger Bar

The first franchisee of DMK Burger Bar, Carolyn Michael in Chicago, is a big fan of the food created by Chef Michael Kornick, a five-time James Beard award nominee with a pedigree in fine dining.

Math helped Fitlife Foods add up

Fitlife Foods founder David Osterweil spent six years trying to get his freshly prepared meals retail concept ready to franchise—and the effort included a whole lot of math.

Work until your toes bleed, in The Boss

I grew up in New York City, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who escaped the communist regime in Hungary in 1956. My mom was 9. I was raised by Holocaust survivors, so our life was work, work, work. My dad was not in the picture. My family left a lot behind. My brother is an actor. We lived in Queens.

Conserva aims to save world, one sprinkler at a time

Newly under the umbrella of Outdoor Living Brands, Conserva Irrigation is a social franchise putting saving money ahead of its conservation ideals. Its goal is to save ‘billions upon billions upon billions’ of gallons of water.

Fleet Clean heals self-made wounds

Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg, warns an old English idiom. Fleet Clean CEO Scott Marr has a new idiom for the franchise industry: Don’t kill it, but you can sell it. That’s exactly what he did to pay off debt and kick-start the franchise arm of his mobile vehicle-washing business.

Sampling four young poke concepts

Travels to Hawaii inspired Joann Chung and husband Derek to open Pokeatery, a counter-service restaurant where customers create their own version of poké bowls (pronounced po-kay), the raw fish salad commonly made with ahi tuna. Time-strapped lunch customers are the target, Chung says, and she notes Pokeatery is different from other poké concepts because “we’re seeing a lot of the concepts expanding their menus to more general Japanese, but we’ve chosen to stick to poké. We want to do our one thing really well.”

Fast food returns to playing offense

Aggressive words such as arsenal, ammunition, entrench often pop up in business discussions, but read through the recent quick-service restaurant earnings calls and it’s clear the segment is again marching to war. Now, however, QSR is on the offensive, taking share back from fast casual and further eroding casual dining traffic.

Follow the system for Smoothie sailing

Craig and Dianne LeMieux are area developers for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, with more than 60 locations under their purview and two cafes of their own. ‘If you follow it, it works,’ declares Craig about the franchisor’s model.

New research shows who’s leading the pack in delivery

It’s tough to make money from delivery, expert panelists say, but they offered advice anyway, at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas in November. Here is a roundup of three of the most popular panels on the topic.

Good, bad or ‘oh my gosh’ franchises

Suppose you join a franchise system as COO and within a handful of weeks the CFO leaves, the CEO leaves, the VP of ops resigns, the training team resigns and the director of IT says goodbye. Meanwhile, your 250-some franchisees feel ignored as you’ve poured time and treasure into building corporate stores, and your cash on the balance sheet has dwindled from $16.8 million to $6.1 million in just six months.

Big storms, little labor drive up costs

Operators planning to build or renovate existing stores in the coming year will likely need to budget for higher costs. The construction industry is feeling the pinch from a shortage of workers, which has been further exacerbated by increased demand from the surge in post-hurricane rebuilding efforts.

First-timer’s guide to the airport biz

Airports are intimidating places, whether you’re a smuggler slinking through the security line, an aviophobe mustering up the courage to walk the jetway or a first-time retailer or restaurateur trying to make it big-time on the global stage.

Corripio Group puts ‘an experience’ first in DR

Franchisees of Title Boxing Club and SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt share their approach to expanding U.S. brands in Latin America. Corripio Group is adding Title to its holdings of Burger King, Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme and more.

Country Profile describes a maturing market in DR

A white cross divides the flag into four rectangles: blue on the left upper and right lower corners and red on the top right and bottom left. A small coat of arms is at the center of the cross and above the shield a blue ribbon displays the motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Fatherland, Liberty).

Follow the money to sort out brands’ prospects

Investors and ‘strong net worth’ partners support franchise growth at restaurant concepts DMK Burger Bar and Huey Magoo’s, while device repair brand Digital Doc benefits from an established parent company.

Once gung-ho about Hortons, Show Me Hospitality is now ‘stuck in mud’

Over the long holiday weekend this past Thanksgiving, Show Me Hospitality’s President Eric Sigurdson had the sad task of closing two of his six Tim Hortons restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri. By Christmas Eve he had shuttered all stores.

Not over ‘til it’s over, and joint employer issue is far from end game

Tired of reading about the “joint employer” doctrine and how it affects franchising? Well, I’m afraid that’s just too bad, because it’s still with us and may continue for some time to come...and, maybe, all over the world.

If success is a cycle, our take offers new paradigm for franchise sales

The one question I am asked with the greatest frequency is, “How many franchises can I expect to sell?” But what most people do not realize is they are asking the wrong question. Instead, they should be asking, “How many franchises should I sell?”

Jimboy’s, Del Taco fuel growth for two, while dad helped Which Wich operator

Americans have been consuming tacos since at least the 1920s. Yet their popularity in restaurants didn’t explode for another 20 years, with the advent of pre-fried tortillas and a new real estate strategy.


Overall, the franchise sector outperformed the S&P 500 in 2017. That’s a great thing, but it doesn’t mean everyone in the franchise world had a great year on the market.

Executive Ladder

Buffalo Wild Wings hired Tim Scheiderer as director of protein supply chain. He will be responsible for oversight and day-to-day management of the restaurant’s protein procurement. Cary Fairless is the new president of Rainbow International at Dwyer Franchising.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

Tough crowd (my family) gives this issue 3 stars

As regular readers of this column may already know, I like sports. I wasn’t really raised watching them, although my dad is an avid sports viewer. I became a sports fan later in life because I was trying to fit in to a family of guys who watched sports—a lot: one of whom I married, the other two I was raising. Be interested and be part of the conversation.
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