Personnel Updates:

Allied Buying Corporation named Tom Venetis as Executive Director, succeeding Tom Wilhelm.

American Gaming Association named Geoff Freeman as CEO/President.

Applebee’s named Peter Czizek VP of Culinary and Menu Strategy; he was most recently at Dave & Buster’s, Applebee’s Senior VP of Marketing and Culinary Becky Johnson resigned her position.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. announced the resignation of CEO William Lynch. The Company also announced the following organizational changes: Michael P. Huseby was appointed CEO of NOOK Media LLC and President of Barnes & Noble, Inc. as well as the promotions of Allen Lindstrom to CFO and  Kanuj Malhotra to CFO of NOOK Media LLC.

Buffet Partners LP named Barry M. Barron, Sr., CEO.

Buffets Inc. named Chip Romp as VP of Training and Jay Allen as Senior VP of Real Estate and Development.

Burger King Worldwide named Daniel Schwartz CEO, succeeding Bernardo Hees who is now Vice Chairman.

Chicken Salad Chick hired Jim Thompson as VP of Operations and Jessica Claussen as Corporate Trainer.

Commercial Food Equipment Service Association named Heather Price as its Executive Director.

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. announced the appointment of Glenn Lunde to the position of Chief Concept Officer; Mr. Lunde previously served as Senior VP, Chief Guest Officer for Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.

Famous Brands International (dba Mrs. Field’s and TCBY) named James J. Zenni Chairman and Neal Courtney as CEO.

First Watch Restaurants named Paul Hineman CFO.

Golden State Foods named John Broekhuis Group VP, International.

Great Wraps recently brought on Matthew DeBusk as VP of Brand Development to lead its rebranding efforts and franchise expansion.

Guckenheimer named Steve Selcer as CFO.

Huddle House hired Tyrone Counts as COO.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants promoted Mike DeFrino to COO.

Kings Family Restaurants named Chris Whalen as President.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. hired Grant Chum as Senior VP of Global Gaming Strategy.

Liquid Nutrition Group Inc. announced the appointment of Greg Chamandy to CEO, succeeding Glenn Young; Chamandy also retains his role as Chairman.

Long John Silver’s named Paula Ashley-Rogness as VP of Media and Field Marketing; she returns to LJS from Wendy’s.

National Amusements promoted Tad Jankowski to Exec VP and Joe Mollo to CIO/Senior VP of Information Technologies.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. reported the resignation of Geno M. Iafrate, Exec VP, Regional Operations.

Romacorp, Inc. announced the appointment of John Brisco as Executive VP and Chief Development Officer for the brand. Prior to joining Tony Roma’s, Brisco was the President of International Development for Ruby Tuesday.

Ruby Tuesday, Inc. announced the appointment of Todd Burrowes as President, Ruby Tuesday concept and COO. Burrowes joins Ruby Tuesday from LongHorn Steakhouse. The company also reported the departure of its President – Ruby Tuesday Concept and COO, Kimberly Grant.

The Second Cup announced the resignation of CFO Robert Masson.

Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q hired Brandon Manly as COO and VP of Marketing; he was most recently VP of Franchising at Rib Crib.

Taco John’s International hired Dan James as Chief Development Officer and Van Ingram as VP of Franchise Development; both men were most recently at Arby’s.

TRUFOODS LLC appointed Stew Stolz as Executive Director of Operations for the Ritter’s Frozen Custard brand.

White Lodging named Laura Presnol as Senior Director of Talent Acquisition.


Financial Focus:

Morgans Hotel Group Co. announced that it is exploring selling the company.

Smashburger closed on a $35 million round of financing to assist in ongoing growth plans.


Mergers & Acquisitions:

AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. and Strike Holdings LLC announced the completion of their merger. The new company, known as Bowlmor AMF, is the largest operator of bowling centers in the world with 7,500 employees, 272 bowling centers and combined annual revenue of approximately $450 million.

Blackstreet Capital Management announced that it has completed its acquisition of Jerry’s Systems Inc.

Bow Tie Cinemas reported the completion of its previously announced acquisition of Clearview Cinemas from Cablevision Systems Corporation.

Cineplex Inc. plans to purchase 24 Empire Theatres in Atlantic Canada and two in Ontario; closing is expected in approximately 60 days.

Friendly’s Ice Cream LLC acquired The Johnny Rockets Group.

Heartland Food Corp. sold its Canadian Burger King restaurants to Redberry Investments, master franchisee of Burger King in Canada.

MTY Tiki Ming Enterprises Inc. stated it plans to purchase the majority of the assets of Extreme Brandz—franchisor of Extreme Pita, PurBlendz and Mucho Burrito. The transaction is scheduled to close by mid-September.

Pizza Fusion announced that it has terminated its Definitive Agreement with Unique Pizza & Subs Corporation providing for the acquisition of Pizza Fusion Holdings by Unique Pizza & Subs.

Pizza Hut’s largest franchisee, NPC International, is acquiring Wendy’s restaurants which will operate as NPC Quality Burgers Inc.

Roark Capital Group acquired Miller’s Ale House.

Sun Capital Partners is seeking buyers for its Captain D’s seafood restaurant chain.


Industry Insight:

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s signed a franchise agreement to open several restaurants in Jordan over the next few years; the company opened its first Saudi Arabian location.

Bennigan’s has opened a restaurant in Cyprus.

Burger King opened its first restaurant in South Africa.

Cold Stone Creamery is expanding into Turkey.

Della Notte Ristrorante in Baltimore closed after 15 years.

Dippin’ Dots opened its first location in Greece.

Doc Holliday Casino closed 6/13/13.

Good Times Restaurants Inc. announced that it has entered into a five-year distribution agreement with Food Services of America that covers distribution of over 95% of the company’s products.

Isle of Capri Casinos opened its newest location, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.

Jake’s Wayback Burgers announced a deal for new locations throughout 28 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

L&L Drive-In opened its first store in China.

Piccadilly Restaurants, LLC announced a new division within its restaurant and food service company, Piccadilly Emergency Services; the new division allows the company to streamline efforts to conduct mass feedings during post-disaster situations.

Sbarro plans to expand its operations in India.

Schlotzsky’s signed a franchise agreement for 55 restaurants throughout seven of the former Soviet countries, including Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Starbucks plans to open 100 stores in Malaysia over the next five years.

Taco Tico’s company-owned restaurants have closed.

White Castle is adding two food trucks to its operations in Columbus and Louisville; they will only be available for special occasions initially.


Real Estate:

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza announced agreements to develop eight stores in Detroit & Grand Rapids, MI, seven stores in Columbus, OH, six stores in Indianapolis and 10 stores in the East Bay & South Bay regions of Northern CA.

Chipotle plans to add five ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen locations in the DC market and four in the Los Angeles area.

Chuy’s Holdings Inc. has opened the doors to its first location in NC.

Cici’s Pizza is planning four new restaurants in the St. Louis market; the company is also planning new stores in Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Washington D.C. and Miami.

Dunkin’ Donuts plans to open 600 restaurants by the end of this year.

Dunkin’ Brands announced the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement for eight traditional Dunkin’ Donut restaurants and one Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins combination location in Houston, TX.

Firehouse Subs plans to open 52 restaurants targeting the areas of St. Louis, Jefferson City and Columbia, MO, Southeastern IL and Paducah, KY.

Huddle House plans to open 135 restaurants throughout the Southeast and TX over the next five years; the company is specifically targeting San Antonio, Waco, and Fort Worth.

Jersey Mike’s is planning 10 stores within the next 18 months in Minneapolis-
St. Paul.

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation entered into a letter of intent for Sun Holdings LLC to further develop the Dallas market.

McAlister’s Deli has franchise agreements for 21 new restaurants in FL, IN, KY, NY, NC, SC, and TN. McAlister’s Deli is also targeting Buffalo, NY, for expansion.

Papa John’s Pizza announced that NFL pro Jerome Bettis has joined the Bajco Group to operate restaurants in the Pittsburgh market.

Pie Five Pizza Co. has awarded 15 additional franchise units in the Florida market. The expanded agreement now calls for 25 total units in Florida, with new markets including Orlando, Gainesville, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville.

Smoothie King is targeting Jacksonville FL for franchise growth.

Sonic Drive-In is seeking growth in small towns throughout the central U.S. Sonic also announced an agreement for five new restaurants in the Rochester NY market over the next four years and 15 new restaurants in southern CA.

Wingstop will develop 15 restaurants in Pittsburgh through new franchisee, NFL pro Shawntae Spencer.

Zaxby’s plans to open 18 Utah locations in the next five years. Other target markets for Zaxby’s expansion include NV, AZ, Indianapolis, IN.; Dayton and Cincinnati, OH; TX, and LA.


Green Initiatives:

Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2012 goal of 10 million pounds.

Dunkin’ Donuts new store design includes LED light fixtures, no VOC paints, and wall tile with 35% pre-consumer recycled materials. The company also announced in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) report that it will phase out foam cups in the next two to three years and start testing a more eco-friendly paper cup with recycled content. During the transition, it will recycle the foam cups at restaurants it owns.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) has been named a 2013 “Northeast Business Leader for Energy Efficiency” for its commitment to lowering energy use.

MGM Resorts International has partnered with NRG Energy on the planned installation of a large rooftop solar photovoltaic array at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Wyndham Worldwide said it achieved an 8% reduction in energy use in the first full year of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge. Wyndham reduced its energy through:

  • The Wyndham Green Toolbox, a proprietary eco-software program that tracks and measures environmental impact;
  • An environmental certification program for the company’s participating 190 timeshare properties;
  • The implementation of sustainability best practices across Wyndham Worldwide-controlled assets participating in the U.S. DOE Better Buildings Challenge;
  • Installing an electric vehicle charging station in Ukiah/Mendocino County, California;
  • Updating rooms and building insulation systems with eco-friendly materials;
  • Using green cleaning supplies;
  • Switching to Energy Star appliances and using CFLs for all interior lighting;
  • Changing all building exterior lights to high-efficiency bulbs.