Imagine yourself sitting outside in a beer garden on a sunny day. Puppies are running around and you're sipping a Barkarita during Yappy Hour, chatting with some friends. A few Bark Rangers are even patrolling the area, filling up water bowls and cleaning up after your dog.

It was in 2009 that Gabriel, Dina Kimmel's son, was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder. Kimmel remembers the time well as her family could hardly visit any playgrounds without being asked to leave. After the fifth such experience, she was fed up and decided to create a private gym in her bedroom—one that both Gabriel and her neurotypical daughter, Sophia, could play in.

David Burns was ready for a change. After owning a FirstLight B2C senior care franchise for eight years, he decided to make the move to a B2B model. Extensive research led him to Pirtek, the hydraulic and industrial hose replacement service franchise, and he liked what he saw.

The boutique fitness boom continues, but brands must work harder to demonstrate how they're different—both to potential franchisees and members—as they aim to stand out in this increasingly competitive space. Meet four more franchises that have their eye on growth.

Growing up in a family gelato shop in the picturesque Tuscany region of Italy sounds like a dreamy life. And it was. But as Diego Comparin got older, his overwhelming passion for the Italian sweet his family made led him far from that charming life. But when Franchise Times caught up with him, he just happened to be vacationing back home with the family.

Sheldon Simeon's parents made their poké with oyster sauce. “It's not traditionally Hawaiian but its traditional for my family,” says Simeon, an example that underscores the nuances of Hawaiian cuisine and illustrates the blurring of lines between the many cultures that influence the food of the islands.

Whenever Patty Scheibmeir goes to a new restaurant, which is “a lot,” she'll order the whole menu and then spend her time observing as much as eating.

Italian food is very much a family affair for Anthony Russo, and he's used his family ties and Italian heritage to inspire Russo's New York Pizzeria, his pizza franchise with a growing global footprint.

Think you're busy? Consider the plight of QSR cashiers answering calls while taking in-person orders and coordinating with the back of the house to expedite food. It's not easy, and we've all been on the other side, calling in to place an order and immediately being put on hold.

They say follow your passion when choosing a franchise; the car enthusiasts at Detail Garage are Exhibit A. One describes his ‘childhood dream car,' a Honda S2000. Another prefers a ‘68 Camaro. All host monthly Rides & Coffee events, where customers can ogle other autos.

In 1987, microbiologist Curt Jones decided to pour liquid nitrogen on top of ice cream for the first time, creating a flash-frozen treat. Three decades later, David Leonardo, the recently hired CEO of Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, is looking to take Jones' discovery to new heights—and new locations across the U.S.

Though she was among the youngest IHOP franchisees in the country when she opened her first New Jersey restaurant at 27, Adenah Bayoh's business acumen was evident much earlier as a 6-year-old navigating the market in her Liberian village of Foya. Her grandmother sold bread at the market and “I'd carry it around in a basket on my head,” Bayoh says. “I had the idea to lower the price at the end of the day to get rid of inventory and my bread basket would be completely empty.”

Tom Garrett is charting an impressive course at GPS Hospitality, thanks in part to top execs who answered his call and share his motivation to grow. Approaching $600 million in sales from 400-plus Burger King and Popeyes restaurants, GPS is on its way to a new target. Can Garrett guide it all the way?

The fevered pace of consolidation continues in the restaurant industry, meaning the big continue to get bigger in the face of some serious challenges.

In 2015 Applebee's raked in more than $5 billion in systemwide sales, but as fresh competition sought to lure away customers and changing consumer tastes and new technologies emerged, the legacy brand floundered. By 2017, sales were in a free-fall, dropping more than $600 million to $4.4 billion. Julia Stewart, longtime CEO of parent company Dine Brands Global, resigned and Applebee's had been without a brand president since Steven Layt's own resignation in late 2015.

For those who know next to nothing about whiskey (aka me), flipping through the hefty drink menu listing 100-plus options at Big Whiskey's is a bit intimidating. Luckily my (initial) confusion was short-lived as our bartender at the concept's first franchise location in Las Vegas quickly steered me toward the Flights section as the best way for an amateur to acquaint herself with the world of whiskey.

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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.