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January 2019

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In this issue

Blaze Pizza tops this year’s Fast & Serious list, our annual ranking of the 40 smartest-growing

Hungry for a quick pizza lunch, the dynamic duo who had already co-founded and sold Wetzel’s Pretzels couldn’t find a restaurant that served it. Rick and Elise Wetzel visited Chipotle instead. “That was the gaping hole,” says Elise. “I looked at Rick and said, ‘We’re going to open a pizza restaurant aren’t we?’ He said, ‘Yes we are.’” Now at 300 units and after a three-year growth spurt of 176 percent in sales and 121 percent in locations, they’re looking toward a cool thousand—eventually.

Taking ramen to world is Chef Orkin’s new challenge

Serving delicious, slurpable noodles in two Manhattan restaurants is one thing. Bringing them to the masses via a franchised chain is another. Ivan Orkin, known as Ivan Ramen from Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table,’ will try to make it work with backing from the new Corlex Capital.

What’s the flip side of fear? ‘Beautiful possibilities,’ in The Boss

Tell me about your upbringing. I grew up in the Newark area of New Jersey. My mother was a serial entrepreneur, so I used to vow not to be an entrepreneur because I saw a lot of her projects fail and I was afraid of that instability. I went to Montclair State, I studied dance. I acted and danced professionally for years, and then I became pregnant with my son, he’s now 8. I wanted to do something more stable. I wanted to be able to provide for him. I was a great starving artist, but I was starving. I decided it was go back to school or start a business. I took a little poll. They said, Oh, don’t start a business, they fail.

Ripken’s a home run for Roy Rogers

Cal Ripken Jr. fielded dozens and dozens of questions during the past year as part of his marketing partnership with Roy Rogers, including these: Who’s the hardest pitcher you’ve ever faced? How do you hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball? Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?

Looking for her next Jamba Juice

In a $200-million take-private deal completed in September, Focus Brands added Jamba Juice to its collection of concepts that already included Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and others. For Marie Perry, the acquisition marked the culmination of more than two years’ worth of work to reinvigorate a Jamba Juice brand she says hadn’t evolved with changing consumer preferences.

We check out three street food sellers in FT Undercover

In a shirt the same color as a New York City cab, the guy working behind the counter at The Halal Guys near Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle takes less than a second to recommend the combo platter for a first-timer trying to decide which of the Middle Eastern menu items to order.

Panera’s founder speaks from the heart, plus more

Third-year law students at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta filed into Mort Aronson’s class on a late Wednesday afternoon, as they have every fall semester for the past 24 years. “How ya doing,” the 83-year-old Aronson will say to this student or that. “Hangin’ tough,” each replies with a grin.

From shoes to sweat for Zappos founder

Nick Swinmurn built his fortune at Zappos, the online shoe store he founded and that later sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion. But now the California-based startup wiz—who was once told no one would ever buy shoes without first trying them on—is turning his attention to the physical world of the fitness industry.

Operator sticking to Sonic for life

After nearly 50 years in the Sonic brand, Ricky Davis runs stores that exceed the company average in sales volume, even in small towns. One way he keeps customers coming: Make sure the juice is running down their elbows.

Ad campaigns strive for direct connections

Wellness brands are going well beyond the ‘just eat celery and water’ campaigns of yore. From a cheeky Waxing the City promotion to a ‘Let’s Tingle’ pitch at Modern Acupuncture, the idea is less judgment and more emotion.

The Urbane Franchisor wonders if Philly Pretzel can make it there

Those crazy billionaires are always up to something. Be it superyachting, commissioning flying palaces, buying private islands, winning the presidency on a lark or jetting between helipads, the uber-rich are known for dreaming big as many cluster in the megatall skyscrapers being built in New York City’s Midtown, the newly christened Billionaire’s Row. Reading the headlines or tweets they generate, it’s easy to wonder how their lives differ from our own. For example, do they like pretzels?

Former Mr. Rooter GM tries hand at Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts’ first international franchisee aims to appeal to the sweet tooth of Chilean consumers as he brings the made-to-order donut concept to Santiago. Sales and marketing is the unifying skill set.

Proven concepts attractive in Chile

The blue of Chile’s flag symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes and red represents the blood spilled to achieve independence. The five-pointed star represents a guide to progress and honor.

Three new franchises set sights on steady growth, in Living Large

We’ll follow Wag N’ Wash, Delta Disaster Services and Tough Mudder Bootcamp throughout the year as these young brands tackle franchising—and all the challenges that go along with it. Up first: getting the model right.

Operator uprisings shake the trees for change

The manila envelope arrived on my desk just days after the first national owners meeting of McDonald’s franchisees, unmarked except for a return label from a “McDonald’s franchisee in distress.”

Franchising in Europe? Not really

Franchising in Europe was the ambitious title of the program conducted by the International Bar Association’s International Franchising Committee during the IBA’s Annual Conference held here. U.S. franchisors and their counsel know that one does not really franchise “in Europe,” except in the narrow geographical sense. One does not offer franchises to “the European market,” despite the occasional lofty announcement by a franchisor of a “Pan-European strategy.”

Who’s driving the bus in new year?

Just three short years ago, dollars spent on television advertising exceeded the amount spent on digital ads by 10 percent. But in the last couple of years, the tables have turned.

Snack kingpin builds Auntie Anne’s

Dustin King is building a snack empire 16 outlets at a time. That, anyway, is the number of Auntie Anne’s he and his partners in Pretzel King Enterprises have opened in malls over the last 16 months. “We were a little over-aggressive in growth,” concedes the 31-year-old franchisee.

Scoreboard

Last year was a bit of a mixed bag for restaurant stocks, and 2019 looks like it could be a lot of the same.

Executive Ladder

After 11 years with the company, Bill Gabbard is now the president of Edwards Global Services, a consulting firm that helps franchisors enter international markets.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

What were we thinking? To try harder each issue

It’s January, so it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. No, I’m not going to bore you with mine, but I will tell you that in addition to looking ahead, January also gives me pause to reflect.
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