Personnel Updates:

Affinity Gaming announced that it has hired Michael Silberling as CEO.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar announced the hire of Tim Kast as its new Corporate Executive Chef.

Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. announced the appointment of Donagh Herlihy as Executive VP Digital & CIO.

Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar recently announced the formation of a new franchise development team: Al Davis, VP of Development and Franchise Sales; Ericka Garza, Director of Franchise Development; Ken Phipps, Director of Franchise Sales.

Brewers Association promoted Bob Pease to CEO from COO. Charlie Papazian, who had been CEO, will remain as President.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group appointed Brad Beakley as Senior VP of Commercial Operations.

Centerplate named Chris Verros Interim CEO/President, effective immediately, following the resignation of Desmond Hague from the company.

Chick-fil-A reported the death of founder, S. Truett Cathy. Cathy’s oldest son, Dan, has been CEO/President since 2013, but Truett Cathy continued as Chairman Emeritus until his death.

Churchill Downs Incorporated announced Elizabeth Wester has been promoted to VP of Government Relations.

Churchill Downs Incorporated named William C. Carstanjen as CEO, succeeding Robert Evans who will continue as Chairman. In addition, William E. Mudd has been promoted to President and CFO.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants named Diana Garvis Purcel as CFO; Phoebe McMillan as Chief Strategic Officer, Ben Hummer as VP of Winery Operations, and Tara Snyder as VP of Learning and Development. Purcel had previously been CFO, VP and Secretary for Famous Dave’s of America, Inc.

Denihan Hospitality Group named Glenn Wasserman as CFO.

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. announced the appointment of Frank G. Paci as CEO/President, effective 9/15/14. Mr. Paci most recently served as CEO/President and CEO at McAlister’s Deli.

Farmer Boys announced that Kenny Hom joins the company as VP of Operations. Kevin Kelly, formerly VP of Operations, will take on the newly created role of VP of Development.

Friendly’s Ice Cream LLC announced it appointed Randy Davis as Chief Marketing Officer. Davis replaces Brad Schiff, who left the company.

Front Burner Brands, Inc. (dba The Melting Pot, Burger 21, and GrillSmith) announced it has hired Bud Culp as General Counsel.

Highgate Hotels has announced that Paul McElroy has joined the company as VP of Construction.

Hyatt Hotels reported that CFO/Exec VP Gebhard F. Rainer will step down effective 9/26/14; on that date, CEO/President Mark S. Hoplamazian will assume the additional duties of principal financial officer of the company pending the search for Mr. Rainer’s replacement.

InterContinental Hotels Group announced the appointment of Jolyon Bulley to the position of Americas COO.

Jack in the Box Inc. announced that Frances Allen will join the company as President of the Jack in the Box restaurant brand, effective 10/27/14. Allen will leave her current position as Executive VP and Chief Brand Officer at Denny’s Corporation effective 9/19/14. Leonard Comma will continue serving as Chairman and CEO.

Logan’s Roadhouse Inc. announced that Chairman/CEO Michael Andres will be leaving to become McDonald’s USA President. Gerard Lewis has been named interim CEO and will transition with Andres over the coming weeks.

McDonald’s USA President Jeff Stratton will retire and be replaced effective 10/15/14 by Mike Andres, former CEO of Logan’s Roadhouse; as President of McDonald’s USA, Andres will also oversee the Canadian market.

McDonald’s reported that it has named Julia Vander Ploeg its U.S. VP of Digital.

McDonald’s U.S. Chief Creative Officer Marlena Peleo-Lazar is leaving the chain.

Metz Culinary Management has promoted Craig Solomon to Senior VP of Healthcare, with responsibility for all aspects of the company’s healthcare business.

Newk’s Franchise Company hired Jim Greco has joined as COO, a newly created position.

Outrigger Enterprises Group named Michael Regan as CFO/Exec VP and appointed Peter Skinner as VP, Design and Projects.

Ovation Brands announced a change in operations leadership and corporate structure:  George Wooten and Pete Pascuzzi will be assuming new roles as Divisional Chiefs for the Buffet and Ryan’s brands, respectively. Wooten previously served as the Senior VP of Operations and COO at Sbarro.

Pheasant Run Resort & Spa named Rick Remington as Director of Food & Beverage.

Pieology Pizzeria hired Debbie Porter as its first VP of Marketing.

Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. entered into a Separation Agreement and General Release with Michelle Shriver, the Company’s Executive VP, Operations in connection with Ms. Shriver’s separation from the Company effective as of 9/4/14.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen announced that Hector Munoz has been promoted to VP & Chief Marketing Officer-U.S.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. announced that William P. Matt will be joining the company as CFO, effective immediately.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. promoted Jeff Melnick to Senior VP of Operations and introduced five new regional VPs: Amanda Busby, Mid-Pacific Division; Al Hansen, Midwest Division; Amy Jones, Southwest Division; Daniel Lett, Gulf Coast Division; and Tim Mei, Northwest Division.

Sage Hospitality announced the appointment of Shane Keener as VP of Marketing and Paul McCormick as VP of Operations for Sage’s Premier & Lifestyle Division.

Seasons 52 chef Cliff Pleau resigned to accept another position in the industry; Pleau was later named VP of Research & Development at Bloomin’ Brands. Jim Messinger was named Executive Chef at Seasons 52.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa named Peter P. Wu as General Manager.

SoDel Concepts Founder/Partner Matt Haley passed away.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced that Thomas B. Mangas has been named CFO/Executive VP, effective 9/29/14.

Teriyaki Madness has named Michael Haith CEO, succeeding co-founder Rod Arreola, who will stay on to oversee development of the concept.

The Marcus Corporation announced the appointment of Rachel P. McKinney as VP of Human Resources.

ThinkFoodGroup has promoted Kimberly Grant to CEO. Grant succeeds former CEO Rob Wilder who is now Vice Chairman of the board of directors. Chef Jose Andrés has been named Executive Chairman and will remain President as well.

U-Swirl, Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Bryan Merryman Chairman and CEO, replacing Ulderico Conte as CEO and Frank Crail as Chairman. The Board of Directors also appointed Alan Stribling as the Company’s new President; and Jeremy Kinney as the Company’s new CFO.

Wigwam in Phoenix has named Patrick Connors VP of Resort Sales and Marketing.

Wingstop Restaurants, Inc. announced the appointment of Bill Engen as COO effective immediately. Engen takes over for Bill Knight, who is retiring.

Financial Focus:

Costco reported net sales of $110,200,000,000 for the fiscal year ended 8/31/14.

Trump Entertainment Resorts filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Mergers & Acquisitions:

Audax Group has completed the sale of TriMark USA to Warburg Pincus.

Blackstone Group LP plans to sell about 260 Burger King locations owned by Heartland Food Corp. to franchisee Houston Foods Inc.

BRIX Holdings, LLC, announced the additions of Souper Salad and Greenz to its growing roster of franchise chains.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. announced it has made a majority investment in Rusty Taco, Inc.

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. announced that it signed definitive agreements to purchase 64 BURGER KING restaurants from certain subsidiaries of Heartland Food LLC; the restaurants to be acquired are located in or around the following markets: Nashville, TN (27 restaurants), Springfield, IL (11 restaurants), Terre Haute, IN (15 restaurants), Evansville, IN (7 restaurants), and other nearby markets (4 restaurants). Closing is expected to occur in late September or early October.

Hot Dog on a Stick has been bought by Global Franchise Group, a portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners.

Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Company, LLC, a joint venture owned by Marcus Lemonis LLC and Fischer Enterprises, L.L.C., announced it completed the acquisition of the assets of Crumbs Bake Shop. Lemonis Fischer plans to re-open Crumbs stores in select cities including New York and Washington D.C. with a wide assortment of products beyond cupcakes, incorporating different types of foods from brands the ownership group already controls.

Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. announced it has completed the acquisition of 20 Wendy’s restaurants located in Atlanta GA.

The Elephant Bar Global Grill/Wok Kitchen casual-dining chain has been acquired out of bankruptcy and will be operated by the parent of the Genghis Grill chain, the Chalak Mitra Group.

Tubby’s Sub Shops is now owned by CEO Robert Paganes and Executive VP Bill Kiryakoza. They acquired the ownership of Terry Paganes, who was one of the brothers of the original founder Richard Paganes.

Vail Resorts, Inc. announced that the Company has acquired Park City Mountain Resort. Blaise Carrig, president of Vail Resorts, will act as Interim COO for the resort.

Industry Insight:

Alliance Paper & Food Service has changed its name to Alliance Paper & Foodservice Equipment effective immediately.

BURGERFI announced it has signed a five-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. opened Horseshoe Casino Baltimore 8/26/14. Its Showboat Atlantic City Casino closed at the end of the month.

Carl’s Jr. will partner Cybiz BrightStar Restaurants to open 100 locations across India over the next 10 years.

Cold Stone Creamery has launched a new yogurt concept, Cold Stone Frozen Bar in Japan.

Cold Stone Creamery is entering Central America with its first store El Salvador that will open later this year.

Dave & Busters Entertainment Inc. filed for an initial public offering; the company has applied to be listed on the Nasdaq stock market under the ticker symbol PLAY.

Domino’s Pizza opened its first store in Norway.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened its second kosher store in South Florida.

Dunkin’ Donuts has opened a new flagship restaurant in India, with the expectation that the franchisee will meet its market development target of 500 units over the long term. Dunkin’ Donuts has also signed a franchisee to open 65 stores in and around the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, and it hopes to sign operators to launch in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

ESquared Hospitality announced that it has partnered with President Ryuji Oki and Tokyo-based Jinterji Co., Ltd. to bring BLT Steak to Japan.

Fatburger recently announced the opening of its first locations in India and Malaysia.

FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt Cafe announced expansion plans in the countries of Panama, Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador.

International Franchise Association moved into its new offices at 1900 K Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C., 20006. The phone numbers and e-mails of the IFA staff will remain the same.

J. Alexander’s Holdings, Inc. announced that it has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the proposed initial public offering of its common stock.

KFC re-entered the market in Zimbabwe and plans 25 more stores.

Performance Food Group Co. filed for an initial public offering of common stock.

Smashburger opened its first location in Panama.

Starbucks plans to launch a pilot mobile truck service on three college campuses this fall, with a menu of drinks and food nearly identical to what customers would find in fixed location Starbucks stores.

Subway Yingling Aviation opened the first of Subway’s 44,000 stores to be in an aircraft hangar at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. It’s also the first Subway in the U.S. to have a communal table like the type often found at other locations globally.

U-Swirl, Inc. plans to relocate its headquarters to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory’s facility in Durango, Colorado.

Zpizza’s new restaurant in Sacramento will be the company’s first location that includes a self-pour keg room.

Real Estate:

Baskin-Robbins is announcing plans to expand its footprint with both existing and new franchisees from San Diego to Bakersfield, CA.  Existing Baskin-Robbins shops also are available throughout Southern CA. Baskin-Robbins is also seeking qualified candidates who are interested in owning and operating an existing Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop located in the Detroit metro area, including in Plymouth, Troy, Warren, Ann Arbor and Bay City.

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza has commitments to open 315 company-owned and franchised units in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza also announced that it will soon be opening three new locations in the greater Chicago area.

Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar is planning to open five locations in Greater Baltimore.

Buffalo Wild Wings is seeking growth opportunities throughout DE, NJ and PA during the coming 18 months.

Captain D’s plans to open at least 10 new restaurants in Columbia SC and the surrounding areas within the next five years. Captain D’s also signed two new multi-unit franchisees that will add units in Atlanta (3 new restaurants) and Tallahassee (2).

Chicken Salad Chick has released additional markets across the South for franchise development. The company is targeting: Florida: Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa; Georgia: Augusta, Gainesville, Macon, Warner Robbins; Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport; Mississippi: Hattiesburg, Jackson; Texas: Austin, College Station, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Waco.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants plans for five new Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant locations through summer 2015, including further expansion into the Virginia, Florida, and Midwest markets.

Dave & Busters Entertainment Inc. says it plans to expand to more than 200 stores in the U.S. and Canada, which would include large and small format stores.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced that the company is recruiting franchisees in CO with an emphasis on Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs and Durango, and in several TX communities and cities outside of, San Antonio and Austin, with an emphasis on College Station, Bryan, Killeen, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Marble Falls, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Liberty. The company also announced that franchisees plan to open 14 restaurants in KS, including nine in Wichita.

East Coast Wings & Grill said it will have more than 60 locations under development by year end. The chain plans to triple its total restaurant count by 2018. To date, it has signed agreements to develop 80 new restaurants within the next five years.

El Pollo Loco expects to open more than a dozen new stores before the end of the year, including its first in the Houston area.

Gino’s East plans to open the first Texas location by November. The pizza chain will open a Houston outpost at The Woodlands.

GRILLiT, Inc. announced that its southwestern U.S. master franchisee operator is beginning its franchise marketing campaign in TX. The company also announced that it has completed an agreement for the sale of GRILLiT master franchise rights in CO.

Ikea opened its first store in the Miami-Dade region of Florida.

Kneaders Bakery & Café opened its first TX location

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. said it is bringing 20 new stores to Washington DC, southern MD and northern VA through an agreement with Monument Restaurants VII LLC. Monument Restaurants has previously developed more than 90 Five Guys Burgers franchises in eight states.

McAlister’s Deli announced it has signed an agreement to open eight locations in AZ, including the markets of Tucson, Yuma, and Flagstaff.

Miami Subs Capital Partners plans to open about eight more locations by the end of the year throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.

MOD Pizza opened its first franchised location with a restaurant in CO.

Modmarket opened its first Texas location in Flower Mound, TX.

Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes plans to enter the Phoenix market with five restaurants over the next two years.

Muscle Maker Grill announced it will be opening 22 new locations throughout the country, including openings in Omaha NE, Peoria AZ, Glen Ellyn IL, Tampa and Boynton Beach FL, Houston TX, Orange County CA, Lawrence MA, Winston-Salem NC, and multiple cities in NJ and NY.

Pancheros Mexican Grill opened its first-ever KY location.

Panda Express is looking to expand and open its first stand-alone locations in DE; the company is looking to open at least 10 locations in in the state.

Papa Murphy’s is targeting the NC Triad to open an additional 30 locations within five years.

Papa Murphy’s take-and-bake pizza concept looks to expand its presence in Central FL and is seeking franchisees throughout the Orlando market. Papa Murphy’s is also reportedly planning on opening 30 locations in NC’s Triad area within the next five years.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea is opening 16 stores in a phased rollout across the Chicago market this fall. Peet’s also opened its first location in the Southeastern U.S with a store in Atlanta.

Pie Five Pizza awarded 38 franchise units to Washington DC, Southern MD, and Northern VA.

Pieology Pizzeria plans to open up to of 100 restaurants through 2015.

PizzaRev opened its first TX location and plans to have 65 locations nationwide by 2015.

Pollo Tropical is planning to open seven more TX locations, including three in Dallas-Fort Worth, by the end of the year.

Potbelly Corp. announced a franchise growth plan targeting Upstate New York, including Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Quaker Steak & Lube has opened its first restaurant in NE.

RedBrick Pizza plans to open at least 25 new units in 2015.

Saladworks opened its first location in MI.

Salata opened its first location in IL.

Shipley Do-Nuts recently signed a development agreement to accelerate expansion in the Dallas/Fort Worth market. The agreement calls for a minimum of 60 stores over a 15 year period.

Smashburger is seeking growth opportunities throughout DE, southern NJ and eastern PA during the coming 18 months.

sweetFrog has opened its first KS location.

The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. announced that it is actively seeking franchisees in Toronto and Calgary, Canada, naming the cities as targets for future franchise development.

Tom + Chee will nearly double its number of locations to 26 by the spring of 2015. In the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2015, Tom + Chee will open restaurants in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia and Nebraska. The company said it has franchise agreements under contract for around 150 more stores in 20 states.

Twin Peaks is opening a minimum of six Twin Peaks restaurants in the Tampa area.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint opened its first location in VA.

Which Wich is entering Kansas for the first time.

Wingstop opened its first Hawaii restaurant in Central Oahu.

Green News:

Ikea Miami features the largest rooftop solar array in South Florida.

Marriott International, Inc. released its 2014 Sustainability Report sharing the company’s progress against a 2007 baseline, including a nearly 13% decrease in water intensity, 11% decrease in energy intensity, and a 12% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions intensity.

McDonald’s in Sweden has launched a campaign where customers can pay for burgers with empty beer and soda cans. For 10 cans, a customer can get a free hamburger or cheeseburger. A customer can also trade in 40 cans for a Big Mac.

Pizza Hut Inc. is deploying energy management systems from Entouch Controls at 500 corporate stores. The company plans to recommend the Entouch technology to its 5,800 franchised stores, as well.

Wyndham Worldwide (dba as Wyndham Hotel Group) continued to demonstrate its leadership in sustainability best practices in 2013 by reducing its operationally controlled asset water usage globally by 16 percent per square foot and its carbon emissions by 13 percent per square foot from the 2010 baseline.