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New Owners, New Start for Back Yard Burgers

It took a whole lot of explaining, but Back Yard Burgers has attracted a new majority investor, Axum Capital Partners, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm. “It was hard,” to find an investor to buy out Pharos Capital Group, says CEO Dave McDougall, who had to explain over and over why the brand has 23 company-owned stores and 32 franchised units today, down from a peak of 180 stores in 2007.

Marilyn Monroe Spas CEO Lewis Talks International Franchising

Marilyn Monroe Spas inked its first international deal to bring the salon and spa concept to India. We'll have more on this deal in the August issue of Franchise Times, but first, some interview outtakes.

'Disloyal' Jimmy John's Workers Lost their Protections

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of MikLin Enterprises, a franchisee of 10 Jimmy John’s shops in Minnesota, saying employees there were “so disloyal” they were not covered by labor rules protecting unionization activity.

More From Qdoba 'Zees: We're Not Disgruntled

“We do believe in the brand,” declared Ron Stokes, president of the newly formed Qdoba Franchisee Association and president and CEO of the system’s largest operator, with 55 stores. I called him because the announcement followed the rapid formation of two new franchisee groups for Tim Hortons, in Canada and the U.S., who have multiple grievances against their franchisor, and I wanted to see if the Qdoba situation was similar.

Ordering McDonald’s Delivery With UberEATS

Is delivery faster and more convenient than ordering McDonald’s at a drive-thru? We tested McDonald’s new delivery partnership with UberEATS to see how the fast-food giant’s sandwiches, fries, Happy Meals and so-called artisan burgers weathered the journey to our office with a driver, rather than just driving down the road to get it ourselves.

Amid Franchisor ‘Uncertainty,’ Qdoba Franchisees Organize

By forming an independent franchisee association, Qdoba Mexican Eats operators aim to “protect and enhance their $250 million collective investment” in the brand. This announcement comes as parent company Jack in the Box Inc., concerned that operating two different brands is negatively impacting the company’s value, continues to evaluate potentially selling the Qdoba brand.

Time to Embrace the Lactose Intolerant

For all the R&D that’s gone into gluten-free foods, catering to some that science proves aren’t actually sensitive to anything, it’s time for restaurants and ice cream brands to embrace a hot new crowd everybody’s talking about: the lactose intolerants. From my very personal experience, I can tell you that we’re kinder than those gluten peeps, we’re asking nicely and have fun money to spend with whoever starts bringing dairy-free frozen treats to the mainstream.

We’re On the Cusp of … Something

I’m old enough to remember the Dow Jones Industrial Average first cracking 10K on March 29, 1999. I was a junior in high school, and it felt like the whole country—and me, especially— was on the cusp of greatness. Eighteen years and 11,392 points later, it once again feels like change is afoot.

For U.S. Diners, Experience Is the Influencer

Sixty-three percent of diners agree that visiting restaurants is a form of entertainment for them. For franchise restaurants looking to stand out, particularly as dining dollars are being spread across more off-premise channels such as delivery and carryout, this means focusing on differentiating elements such as convenience, atmosphere and social sharing.

IFA’s Cresanti on D.C. Chaos, Mega ‘Zees & More

Sitting down with IFA Chairman Robert Cresanti for a conversation about working through the current chaos in Washington, the impacts of ever-larger multi-unit franchise groups and where he sees the biggest growth opportunities in the industry’s future.

Putting Culture First, Funky Sausage Concept Dat Dog Expands

COO Bill DiPaola sees franchising as a way for Dat Dog to be viewed as a local restaurant, one where owners have the “touch and relationship with the community.” Restaurants serve a menu of unconventional sausages including those made from alligator and crawfish, plus dozens of toppings.

An Insider's Look at Drug Testing, by Fastest Labs Boss

When it comes to drug testing, David Claflin has seen and heard it all. “I could write a book on it,” says the CEO of Fastest Labs. “We have people that try to trick us every single day. And the funniest thing is when they get caught they just say, ‘OK, you got me.’”

Pickup USA Appeals to Aging Hoopsters, Like Me

After five-plus years at Franchise Times I have finally found the franchise for me: Pickup USA, which offers basketball-based boot camps for fitness and most notably organized, officiated pick-up basketball games for a monthly fee under 59 bucks. Are you kidding me?

Tim Hortons Suit 'Need Not Have Happened,' Attorney Says

A $500-million lawsuit filed this week by Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada didn’t have to happen, says John Sotos, the attorney at Sotos LLP in Toronto who is pressing the case against Restaurant Brands International, the owner of the coffee-and-donuts chain since December 2014.

Jani-King's Win 'A Blow' to DOL, Gardere Lawyer Says

A win for Jani-King of Oklahoma in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor is “a blow to the government’s overall goal to classify franchisees as employees of their franchisors,” declares Carrie Hoffman, one of the attorneys at Gardere law firm who argued for Jani-King.

Walking the Streets of NYC at IFE '17

Those of us on the “show circuit” know the various expos can blend together, with a lot of the same usual suspects. This year’s International Franchise Expo in New York City last week was an exception, with many new concepts, cool new startup companies and a diversity that highlights all that’s great in franchising.

KFC Zinger Heads Into Space

For all the Jetsons episodes that glamorized life in the space age, they never mentioned where George, Jane and company would get access to delicious fried chicken. Here on planet Earth, that problem has allegedly been solved as KFC and space flight experts World View announced they are partnering to launch the Zinger chicken sandwich to the edge of space—really.

Boosting Confidence Is Job One for FranSelect Hire

Barbara Marshall, a newly hired coach at FranSelect, had inspiring words when I reached her last week, to buck up anyone who has ever struggled in school or any aspiring business owner who could use a confidence boost—in other words, quite a lot of people.

Sharp Advice on Franchisee Self Promotion

Ryan McEnaney knows how to pitch a good story, and as the PR director for his family’s fifth-generation business and as a franchisee and communications manager for Frenchies Modern Nail Salon, his skills at weaving a personal narrative pay off in real-world benefits for both of his brands.

DOL Rolls Back Joint Employer Standard a Bit

A short statement by the Department of Labor last week—that Obama-era guidance on joint employer is being rolled back—has franchisors and their attorneys resting more easily. Workers’ advocates, of course, would not be pleased.

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Covers everything from good news to bad judgment

About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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