We’ve been interviewing high-performing CEOs this month for the upcoming Franchise Times Top 400 issue, publishing October 1, and asking executives of the largest U.S.-based franchises how they grew sales and units in a pandemic. Turns out many didn’t do it alone; they had help from a key adviser or mentor along the way. Here are six standouts, from the simple to the sublime.

This Monday, September 13, was the first day New York City officials were enforcing the vaccine mandate for customers—or to be precise, enforcing whether restaurant, gym and theater owners were enforcing the mandate that customers needed to show proof of vaccination to come indoors. Art Depole, co-owner of a Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes shop in Times Square, was flummoxed when reached just after the lunch rush.

Perkins created a virtual restaurant brand for the bakery side of its business that is driving incremental volumes and increasing pastry and pie sales anywhere from 10 to 20 percent in its brick-and-mortar restaurants. It’s a move that essentially builds a new brand from its existing menu, w…

El Pollo Loco is set to be the first quick-service restaurant to test drone delivery in the U.S. The "LA Mex" brand will test the capabilities in 10 Southern California locations. It partnered with drone operator Flytrex, which also helped 7-Eleven with its own drone test, to do the flying.