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Annual list is hearty meal, plus a tiny bite for dessert


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I had just hung up with TGI Fridays CFO Giovanni Koning for a story I was doing on franchisee financing for our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor, when I was given the Franchise Times issue to read. Coincidentally, Franchise Times Restaurants Editor Nick Upton had also seen something newsworthy in the brand.

The reason for my call was to chat about how the franchisor had helped the franchisee secure bank financing. Koning had joined the franchisee on his calls with lenders as they discussed financing. Her goal was to help the lender understand the brand’s new direction, and make them comfortable with the franchisor’s turnaround plans.

That franchisee focus comes through in Nick’s story about the casual dining restaurant and its duo at the helm, Koning and CEO Aslam Khan. When tapped a couple of years ago to help turn around Fridays, Khan was a mega-franchisee of Church’s Chicken. He was able to divert some of his attention from his company, Falcon Holdings, to take on the role at Fridays because he had built such a strong culture, Nick writes. His focus at Falcon empowered people and allowed that to happen.

Khan and Koning went on a “listening tour” of the brand, and as someone who has walked in a franchisee’s shoes, “I want to support and empower franchisees,” he told Nick, who details some of their initiatives so far, and what they feel they have left to do.

That story is all part of this month’s juggernaut of a feature, the Top 200+. As regular readers know, this is our annual listing of the top 500 U.S. franchisors based on worldwide sales. Our editorial staff has worked tirelessly to bring life to the numbers and the rankings themselves with articles on various brands, and intel on the industry sectors.

In addition to TGI Fridays, which came in at No. 52 in the ranking, you’ll note our cover features CKE Restaurants CEO Jeff Marker. CKE, the franchisor of Carl’s Jr. (No. 66) and Hardee’s (No. 54), is preparing the company to build 1,000 new restaurants in the next five years, reports Senior Editor Tom Kaiser. How’s that going to happen?

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Publisher
Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

Tom’s article details some of their plans, including how they will separate the “conjoined twins.”

Part of the fun is featuring a newcomer to the list, as well. FT Managing Editor Laura Michaels talked to The Halal Guys and shares the journey of founders Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed, who all immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt years ago. The entrepreneurs, who started out working in kitchens and driving taxis when they first arrived, eventually grew their one NYC food cart to a system that today boasts $71 million in sales.

I’ve actually previewed the main course for you, the Top 200+, but there is plenty more in this issue: from a franchise brand that will help you when you have an ax to grind, to a franchisee who is making a Detroit comeback, and everything in between.

There’s even a story on a cannabis franchise that is targeting soccer moms. I thought I would save that one for last, like a good dessert to finish off the meal. Even if it doesn’t come in a brownie.

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