Personnel Updates:

Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. announced that David Kimichik, CFO and Treasurer, will retire on 6/13/14; Deric Eubanks will succeed David as CFO and Treasurer.

Barona Resort & Casino announced today that Chef de Cuisine Duncan Firth has been promoted and will now serve as the Executive Chef.

Bloomin’ Brands hired Juan Guerrero as Senior VP and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer; he was most recently Exec VP of North America retail for Office Depot.

Bob Evans Farms, Inc. announced that Paul F. DeSantis, the Company’s CFO and Treasurer, resigned effective as of 5/16/14; T. Alan Ashworth, the Company’s VP of Corporate Development and Finance, will serve as Interim CFO and Treasurer.

Corner Bakery Cafe announced the appointment of Michael J. Nolan as Exec VP and Chief Development Officer to oversee the company’s rapidly-growing franchise development program and target market strategy, effective immediately. In addition, Blake Bernet was promoted to Chief Legal Officer.

Costa Vida hired Terry Jennings as the new Director of Franchise Development.

Covelli Enterprises Inc.’s founder, Albert Covelli, passed away.

Daphne’s California Greek named Dave Wolfgram CEO; Wolfgram joins Daphne’s after serving as chief executive of the Black Angus Steakhouse chain for less than a year.

Darden Restaurants, Inc.’s Senior VP/Chief Restaurant Operations Officer David T. Pickens will retire from the Company effective 5/23/14.

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., announced Madison Jobe as the new VP of Franchise Development; he was most recently Senior VP and Chief Development Officer for Pizza Inn Holdings, Inc.

E&I Holdings (dba The Egg & I) announced the following promotions: Jan Barnett to VP of Marketing and Robert Glen to Regional VP.

Garbanzo Mediterranean named Ralph Decker Director of Field Services.

Hurricane Grill and Wings hired Derek Kirk as Chief Marketing Officer.

InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust announced the appointment of Edward Pitoniak to the role of Managing Director of InnVest.

International Speedway Corporation announced the election of Craig A. Neeb to Senior VP, Business Development, and Chief Digital Officer.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. hired Anthony N. “Tony” Thompson as CEO/President, effective 6/1/14; he was most recently President/COO at Papa John’s International Inc. Current CEO James H. Morgan will stay with Krispy Kreme full-time as Executive Chairman.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. appointed Mark Juliano as its new President.

Liquid Nutrition Group Inc. appointed of Chantal Chamandy as its CEO and Greg Chamandy as its CFO, effective immediately.

Luna Grill hired Greg Thorburn as VP of Real Estate.

Marco’s Franchising LLC promoted Bryon Stephens to president.

The Marcus Corporation announced that Thomas P. Riley has been named Senior VP Development for Marcus Hotels & Resorts; Riley comes from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Marcus Hotels & Resorts announced the promotion of Steve Martin to VP, Human Resources and that Jim Waldvogel and Tom Mason will assume additional responsibilities as Area VPs for the company.

Moe’s Southwest Grill appointed Hans S. Weger as CFO/Treasurer; he was most recently with Outrigger Enterprises.

Papa John’s International Inc. reported the promotion of Steve Ritchie to the position of COO, following the resignation of Tony Thompson; Founder, Chairman and CEO John Schnatter will assume the additional role of President.

Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced that Ameet Patel has been promoted to Senior VP of Regional Operations, with a primary focus on the Company’s Southern Plains region. Penn National also reported that Himbert Sinopoli, currently the General Manager of Hollywood Casino Aurora in Aurora, Illinois, has been named General Manager of Hollywood Casino Columbus. Penn National also announced that Lance George, currently the General Manager of Argosy Casino Sioux City in Sioux City, Iowa, has been named General Manager of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts.

Pizza Inn Holdings, Inc. announced that it has hired Timothy Mullany to become the company’s CFO.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. announced that H. Melville Hope, III, the company’s Senior VP and CFO, will leave the company effective 5/23/14; the company has begun a search for his successor. Tony W. Woodard was named interim CFO.

Quaker Steak & Lube announced it has hired Greg Lippert as its new CEO. He starts immediately. Lippert comes to Quaker Steak from Mazzio’s LLC.

Red Lion Hotels Corporation announced the addition of Angela Landgraf as Senior VP of Business Development.

Sbarro Holdings’ CFO Carolyn Spatafora has moved to Town Sports International Holdings.

Smashburger announced it has promoted David Biederman to the position of Chief Development Officer, where he will oversee Information Technology, Purchasing, and Real Estate, in addition to his previous responsibilities leading Construction and Development.

Smoothie King Franchises, Inc. announced it has named Michael Bruno VP of Business Development to help drive the brand’s expansion in new and existing markets across the U.S.

Sonic Corp. announced the promotions of two executives within the marketing team. Senior VP James O’Reilly is being promoted from Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Brand Officer, and Todd Smith is being promoted from VP of Marketing to Chief Marketing Oofficer.

SPOT COFFEE (CANADA) LTD hired Paul Price as VP of Franchise Operations.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced that Vasant M. Prabhu has resigned as Vice Chairman and CFO;  Alan Schnaid , currently Senior VP, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer, will serve as interim CFO effective immediately. To ensure a smooth transition, Prabhu will continue with Starwood through 5/30/14.

Target Corp.’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned. Target also appointed Bob DeRodes as its new CIO.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has named Karen Cate its new CFO and Jeff Schroeder its new VP of Operations.

The Women’s Foodservice Forum named Hattie Hill as its CEO/President, effective 6/1/14.

Tim Hortons Inc. announced the appointment of Peter Nowlan as Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, effective 5/21/14. Nowlan will succeed Bill Moir, whose planned retirement was disclosed last year.

Wyndham Hotel Group announced the appointment of Paulo Pena as Senior VP and Managing Director, Latin America.

Yum! Brands Inc. chief executive David Novak will transition out of his role and become Executive Chairman of the company effective 1/1/15.  Greg Creed, currently CEO of Taco Bell will succeed Novak as the next CEO of Yum, and current Taco Bell President Brian Niccol will become CEO of the brand.

Financial Focus:

Dave & Buster’s Inc. reported total revenues of $635,579,000 for the year ending 2/2/14; F&B sales were $310,111,000.

Mergers & Acquisitions:

Border Holdings, LLC and Golden Gate Capital announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Border Holdings, LLC will acquire the On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina brand from Golden Gate Capital. Border Holdings, LLC is an affiliate of Argonne Capital Group who is partnering with an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, LLC on this transaction.

Carlson has agreed to sell its T.G.I. Fridays Restaurants to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners. The sale is expected to finish in July.

Daphne’s California Greek chain has been acquired by Victory Park Capital Advisors.

Darden Restaurants announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Red Lobster business and certain other related assets and assumed liabilities to Golden Gate Capital. Darden expects the sale of the Red Lobster business to close in the first fiscal quarter of 2015.

Delaware North Cos. has completed its previously announced acquisition of the majority interest in the Patina Restaurant Group.

Interval Leisure Group (ILG) and Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced their affiliates have signed a definitive agreement for ILG to purchase Hyatt Residential Group. The Hyatt Residential Group markets and manages 16 vacation ownership properties in AZ, CA, CO, FL, HI, NV, PR, and TX. The transaction, expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, is subject to customary closing conditions.

JAHA Chicken acquired an additional 14 KFC restaurants in Palm Beach County FL.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. announced it has signed purchase agreements to acquire 32 Red Robin franchised restaurants in the United States and Canada from Mach Robin LLC; the acquisition is expected to close late summer 2014 pending completion of certain closing conditions.

Industry Insight:

ARAMARK Holdings Corporation changed its name to Aramark.

Cinnabon’s opened its first location in Morocco.

Cold Stone Creamery has sold its interest in the master franchisee in Japan to HotLand Corp to further develop the concept within that country.

Cosi Inc. is planning to move its headquarters from Deerfield IL to Boston MA by June 1.

Darden Restaurants Inc. is ending its concept of combination Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, as the company moves forward with its plan to spin off or sell the seafood brand. Darden closed two of the six combination restaurants and the four other locations will be converted into stand-alone Olive Gardens.

Domino’s Pizza announced an exclusive 15-year master license agreement to develop the Domino’s brand in seven Southern African countries, including South Africa. Domino’s Pizza also opened the doors to its 11,000th store in the world, in Brantford, ON.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it has signed a master franchise agreement with Coffee & Brands Sweden AB to begin developing Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants across Sweden; the master franchise agreement calls for the development of 30 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants throughout Sweden over the next five years, with an initial focus on the Stockholm area.

Jamba Juice closed its only Louisville location.

Krispy Kreme opened its 600th international store, with a location in Carolina PR.

Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. began trading 5/2/14 on the NASDAQ under the symbol FRSH.

Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. announced the official opening of the company’s newest entertainment destination, Belterra Park Gaming & Entertainment Center.

Rita’s Italian Ice signed a franchise agreement to expand into the Philippines.

Smoothie King opened its second location in the Cayman Islands.

Southeast Food Distribution has moved its corporate office from Miami Gardens to 3261 Executive Way, Miramar FL 33025 in the Miramar Park of Commerce. The phone number is 305-882-1198.

Sysco Corporation announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase 50% of Mayca Distribuidores S.A (“Mayca”) of Costa Rica and Mayca’s three other affiliates.

Taco Bell Corp. is launching a new fast-casual taco concept named U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom; the new concept is scheduled to open in Huntington Beach, CA, this summer offering a simple lineup of 10 premium tacos, thick-cut fries and shakes. Future locations will also include a menu of craft beer and wine.

The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated announced that it has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Hong Kong-based Maxim’s Caterers Limited to build and operate The Cheesecake Factory restaurants in Asia. The agreement provides for the development of a minimum of 14 restaurants over the next 10 years in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China with the opportunity to expand to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Yum Brands! announced the opening of its first Pizza Hut in Iraq.

Zoes Kitchen began trading on the New York Stock Exchange as ZOES.

Real Estate:

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. reported it has 211 restaurants now in development around the world.

Bar Louie announced the signing of a multi-unit area development agreement that calls for a total of six new restaurants in Chicago.

Baskin-Robbins plans to expand its presence in South Florida with 20-25 new franchises in the region and sponsored a franchising seminar in the Miami area as well as in Jacksonville. Baskin-Robbins is also currently seeking qualified candidates who are interested in owning and operating an ice cream shop in the Chicago area.

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza announced its first OH location and that it has signed three new area development agreements to open Blaze Pizza franchise restaurants in Boston, Dallas and Phoenix. Blaze also will be entering Northern California with six locations set to open over the next nine months.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said it expects to open anywhere from 180 to 195 restaurants this year.

Corner Bakery Café announced that the company has signed a new multi-unit development agreement for 17 restaurants in the Orlando FL area, the first of which will open next year and the remaining sites over the following six years.

Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, is recruiting franchisees in Phoenix to develop locations with both of its brands.

First Watch will open in CO later this year as part of a multi-unit development agreement.

Friendly’s closed its Cheektowaga NY location.

GRILLiT, Inc. announced that it has completed an agreement for the sale of GRILLiT master franchise rights in the State of Nevada.

Jet’s Pizza is opening three new locations in the Orlando FL market.

McAlister’s Deli announced it has signed a development agreement for its first three restaurants in the Cleveland OH area.

MOD Pizza announced that it has successfully raised over $15 million from private investors to support an accelerated expansion of the brand. In addition, the company announced that it will be opening stores in three new markets this summer — the San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix and Houston — along with adding new locations in Seattle and Los Angeles. MOD plans to open seven new stores by the end of August, bringing the total number of MOD locations to 23.

Mrs. Fields will open up about half of all new stores outside of malls, in locations shared with frozen yogurt chain TCBY; most new locations opening in malls will also be joint Mrs. Fields and TCBYs, and some existing Mrs. Fields will be converted to the co-branded concept.

Native Foods Café chain announced a $15 million investment by two private-equity firms to support the meat-free concept’s planned national expansion: this year, the company plans to add 12 to 14 new restaurants and another 25 to 30 units in 2015. The goal is to reach 200 units within the next five years. All units are company-owned, and Native Foods has no plans to franchise.

Sonic Corp. plans to open 300 locations in California by 2020, part of 1,000 new locations planned for the next decade.

SPoT Coffee opened two new locations in NY.

The Melting Pot announced plans to expand to 11 new domestic markets and three Canadian markets, targeting: Anchorage AK, Little Rock AR, Fresno CA, Hartford CT, Des Moines IA, New York City, Chattanooga TN, Charleston SC, and Portland ME, as well as Houston and El Paso, TX. It is also looking north toward Canada in the

Togo’s Eateries has signed franchise agreements to develop five restaurants in Eastern ID and eight locations in Salt Lake City.

Tropical Smoothie Café plans to add 15 new locations in Charlotte NC.

Villa Enterprises announced that it has signed a deal with Chicago-based General Growth Properties, Inc. to open 40 Villa Italian Kitchen quick-serve restaurants in regional malls throughout the U.S.

Green News:

Barberitos is taking steps to become more eco-friendly and hopes to introduce the first zero-percent waste restaurant by July.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. (dba Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes) has earned a “Certified Green Restaurants®” designation from the Green Restaurant Association, making them the country’s largest restaurant chain to receive the environmental honor for all locations. The certification, the second time the fresh soup-and-salad specialists have been recognized by GRA, signifies that each Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes location implemented 40 environmental steps to meet the GRA’s environmental standards of energy, water, waste, chemicals, packaging, and food.

Marriott International Inc. announced that the Courtyard Kansas City at Briarcliff in Missouri has been awarded with a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design(TM)) green building program status through the U.S. Green Building Council self-certification program. According to Marriott, it is the Company’s first and the only LEED Certified property in Missouri.

Tim Hortons announced a new initiative to replace all existing lighting fixtures in restaurants across Canada and the United States with energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting from Royal Philips. The conversion program will see 485 restaurants outfitted with LED lighting in 2014 alone, translating to an estimated 6.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in energy savings.