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Husband Doug and I are empty nesters, and so we can come home from work on, say, a Wednesday, and decide to go grab a quick bite out. One restaurant we like to frequent has a F. Scott Fitzgerald vibe, with craft cocktails and appetizers like lobster deviled eggs. We sit at the bar. It's cozy.

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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.”

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

Neal Courtney's young daughter “was an absolute nightmare when it was time to get her hair cut,” he says. That changed when he and his wife, Alexis, brought their daughter to a local Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids shop and she “picked out a hot pink car and turned on ‘Dora the Explorer.'”