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As I write this, it's mid-December. For the last week or so, when the UPS driver pulls up to the office, one of us is receiving a gift, most often an edible one from our colleagues and friends from around the country. And let's just say it's never a veggie tray.

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The good news at Orangetheory, the No. 1 brand on our Franchise Times Fast & Serious list this month, is each participant's heart rate is displayed on screens for all to see, with the goal being to get in the “orange zone,” or 85 percent of maximum heart rate, as quickly as possible and stay there.

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‘Kinda crazy' is how CEO Dave Long describes the pace of franchise sales at Orangetheory, the top brand on this year's Franchise Times Fast & Serious list. With unit sales rocketing 218 percent over the past three years, one recent week brought 11 gym openings. But with a solid foundation learned at Massage Envy and honed when he paused franchise sales in 2012 to beef up training materials, Long is setting up the franchise to last. Learn his growth strategies, plus those of 39 franchise execs who are intent on growing quickly but only in ways that can last.

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What was your upbringing? I grew up in Palm Springs, and never planned to go back to Palm Springs. There's nothing to do. We played in the dirt and dug holes and rode our bikes all over. My father was a pilot for Continental and my parents got divorced when I was 6 or 7. They were a pioneer with divorce.

Mesa Grill, Gato, Bar Americain. These are some of the restaurants Bobby Flay has opened in his decades-long culinary career and, as he describes them, “they're all high-end,” with per-person check averages hovering around $60. But it's Flay's love for a greasier, cheesier—and cheaper—menu item that inspired the concept he's grown to 17 restaurants and counting.

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Isla Ora offers hand-crafted, affordable pizza with quality ingredients all cooked in less than three minutes in a small-format location. Anyone thinking, “Not another fast-casual pizza concept,” fret not, it's not popping up in the U.S. just yet. The brand is growing where few of the largest brands have any presence: the Philippines.

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T-shirts, signs and pop-up ads to promote an initial public offering? Muscle Maker Grill is using those populist tools and others to promote its initial public offering under a new option known as Reg A+ or a mini-IPO.

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Some people might see a location in Koreatown, remember the Watts riots and stay away. Two Buffalo Wild Wings operators in Los Angeles saw an opportunity to help heal old wounds.