Personnel Update:

American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) appointed Jim Abrahamson, CHA, CEO, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, as Chairman of the Board for 2015 and 2016, effective 01/01/15.

Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. announced was promoting Melissa Strait, Senior VP, Human Resources and Leadership Development, to Chief People Officer, a newly created position.

Brunswick Corporation announced that Christopher F. Dekker has been named VP, General Counsel, and Secretary.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced the promotion of Eric Hession to CFO, effective 01/01/15. Hession will succeed Donald Colvin, who is retiring from the company effective 12/31/14.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group appointed Joep Peeters as Senior VP of Franchise Services, effective immediately.

Centerplate confirmed the appointment of Chris Verros as President and CEO.

Concord Hospitality Enterprises announced the appointment of Heather Mallard as the company’s first Senior VP and General Counsel.

Craft Brew Alliance, Inc announced that Mark D. Moreland, CFO, will transition out of the CFO role effective 12/31/14. The company is initiating the search for a new CFO and will make an announcement when an appointment is made.

CREAM appointed Helen Gutierrez as Marketing Manager.

Destination Hotels promoted André Fournier to Executive VP of Sales and Marketing.

El Pollo Loco has named Mark A. Belanger, CFE, as VP of Franchise.

Foxwoods Resort Casino CEO, Scott Butera, announced his resignation effective 10/31/14. Butera has served as head of Foxwoods for four years, and will remain as a senior adviser to the company on financial and strategic matters.

Franke Foodservice Systems named Terry Hoelle its new VP of Sales and Marketing.

Front Burner Brands, Inc. (parent company to The Melting Pot Restaurants, Burger 21, and GrillSmith) announced new executive hires: Maryellen Torres as Chief Brand Officer; Michele Whaley as Senior Director of Marketing; and Stacey Floberg as Marketing Director for The Melting Pot brand.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., the parent company of Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation, announced senior executive additions including John Morberg, David Carr, and Julie Derry, as CEO, CFO, Chief Marketing Officer, respectively.

Global Franchise Group LLC, parent company of Great American Cookies, Pretzelmaker, Marble Slab Creamery, MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream & Treatery, and Hot Dog on a Stick, has hired Andrew Kmiec to serve as VP of Real Estate.

HMSHost appointed Stephanie Havard as Exec VP of Restaurant Development and Derryl Benton as Exec VP of Business Development.

Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced Daniel N. Conti, Jr. as global President.

Hurricane Grill & Wings announced that Mark Bartholomay will be joining as Chief Real Estate Officer.

Jack in the Box Inc. announced that Frances L. Allen will join the company as President of the Jack in the Box restaurant brand, effective 10/27/14.

Loews Hotels & Resorts announced the appointment of Jim Cone as Senior VP of Marketing.

Logan’s Roadhouse Inc. named Mickey Mills COO.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts announced four General Manager promotions: Jim Waldvogel, Area VP and General Manager of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center; Tim Smith, General Manager of The Pfister Hotel; Omar Naimi, General Manager of the InterContinental Milwaukee; and Skip Harless, General Manager of the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.

Montage Hotels & Resorts announced three new executive-level appointments: Kurt Diekhoff, Director of Sales & Marketing, Montage Deer Valley; James Palank, Director of Sales & Marketing, Montage Kapalua Bay; and Walter Blake, Area Director Revenue Management.

National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced the hiring of Jeffrey Calore as Senior VP of Strategic Alliances.

Outrigger Resorts appointed Paul Brent as Director of Sales (Australia).

Pizza Hut Inc. named current President of Pizza Hut’s U.S. Operations, David Gibbs, as new global CEO effective 01/01/15. Tracy Skeans will be promoted to President of Pizza Hut International.

Smashburger named Josh Kern its first Chief Marketing Officer.

Stafford-Smith promoted Tom Ziolkowski to VP of National Accounts.

sweetFrog Enterprises announced Matt Smith as Chief Marketing Officer.

Target appointed Jacqueline Hourigan Rice as Senior VP, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, effective 12/01/14.

Togo’s Eateries, Inc. named Jim Peros COO.

TooJay’s Restaurant and Deli named Jim Vinz as CEO.

True Food Kitchen, part of Fox Restaurants Concepts’ portfolio, has named Arik Markus Brand Chef.

Vail Resorts, Inc. announced the appointment of Bill Rock as the new COO of Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort  and Beth Howard to General Manager of Northstar California Resort, effective 11/1/14.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has named Scott Price as President and CEO of its Asia business and Murali Lanka as COO of its Indian operations effective 12/1/14.

Whataburger announced several updates to the company’s business structure effective 01/01/15: Dino Del Nano has been promoted to COO; David Wilson will serve as Senior VP of Strategy Execution and Management; Leonard Mazzocco has been promoted to VP of Business Operations; and Mike Sobel has been promoted to VP of Retail Operations.

Wienerschnitzel’s new Visionary Department will be led by Chief Visionary Officer J.R. Galardi.

Wingstop Restaurants Inc. appointed Jay Young to the position of General Counsel.

Wyndham Hotel Group announced the appointment of Mark Kukulski as President of its Management Division (Wyndham Hotel Group Management), effective 11/11/14.The company also appointed Rui Barros as President and Managing Director of North America Franchise Operations. Subsequently, Wyndham Hotel Group appointed Daniel Ruff as President and Managing Director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Indian Ocean regions, effective 11/12/14.

Mergers & Acquisitions:

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. completed the previously announced acquisition of 64 Burger King restaurants from Heartland Food LLC on 11/04/14. The acquired restaurants are located in or around Nashville, TN (27); Springfield, IL (11); Terre Haute, IN (15); Evansville, IN (7); and other nearby markets (4).

Churchill Downs Inc entered into a definitive merger agreement under which CDI will acquire all of the outstanding stock and equity interests of the privately held Big Fish Games, Inc.

GPS Hospitality Partners purchased 22 units in Cincinnati, 14 in northern KY, and 3 units in IN from Fire Grill LLC. Financial details were undisclosed. GPS owns 100 Burger King restaurants in five states: OH, IN, KY, WV, and GA. GPS Hospitality has begun renovations on all of its Cincinnati-area stores.

MarLu Investment Group announced it has entered into agreement to purchase 22 TGI Fridays restaurants primarily located throughout TX and CO, and will be remodeled to TGI Fridays latest design.

Retail Food Group, based in Australia, acquired the Gloria Jean’s Coffees chain for $163.5 million, effective January 2015.

Sysco Corp announced that it does not expect to complete its acquisition of US Foods Inc. this year. Sysco announced plans to sell assets to Reinhart Foodservice, Performance Food Group, and Gordon Food Service as part of its bid. Additionally, the company recently announced that it has reached an agreement to buy 50% of Mexico-based Pacific Star Foodservice.

The Saxton Group acquired one McAlister’s Deli location Georgetown, TX.

Y. Hata & Co. announced the company will acquire Kauai food wholesaler Koa Trading Co. effective 1/12/15.

Zoe’s Kitchen, Inc. announced the completion of the acquisition of three Zoës Kitchen restaurants, two restaurants under development, and area development rights in LA from a franchisee for approximately $8.0 million in cash. The transaction closed on 11/10/2014.

Financial Focus:

Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc. announced the company has selected banks to help with its IPO, which is expected to raise approximately $125M.

J. Alexander’s Holdings Inc. has filed its registration for an IPO with the SEC.

Peak Resorts Inc. has refiled for an initial public offering. The company initially filed in April 2011. Peak Resorts operates 13 U.S. ski resorts, 12 of which are company-owned. The company reported 2014 revenue of $105.2 million, up 5.5 percent from $99.7 million in 2013.

Wingstop has been meeting with underwriting banks with an eye on going public, in an initial stock offering that could raise about $100 million.

Industry Updates:

Auberge Resorts, which is rebranding to Auberge Resorts Collection, announced multiple projects in the San Francisco market.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels announced its entry into two new countries with recently opened locations in Reina Beatrix Airport in Aruba and Gold Mall in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

Baskin-Robbins is offering more than $25,000 in financial discounts for military veterans in the form of royalties and initial franchise fees.

Bloomin’ Brands is planning to sell its 28-unit Roy’s Restaurant concept; no timetable or information on potential buyers for Roy’s.

Brix Holdings (parent company of Red Mango, RedBrick Pizza, Souper Salad, and The Smoothie Factory) announced limited-time offers providing financial incentives for new franchisees ensuring real estate selection opportunities and charging zero percent royalties for the first six months after opening a Red Mango, RedBrick Pizza, or Smoothie Factory franchise.

Burger King opened its 13,000 square foot flagship Paris restaurant.

Carlson Rezidor plans to add an additional 15 properties in Saudi Arabia which are expected to open within the next 30 months.

Chick-fil-A is about ready to add its second location in WY and its first restaurant in the state with a drive-thru. The upcoming drive-thru location will also be in Cheyenne.

Chipotle plans to open 190 to 205 new restaurants in 2015. According to Chipotle, its restaurant opening guidance for next year includes a “small number of growth seed restaurants” which includes restaurant concepts ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale.

Coyote Corporation announced the company will start franchising its Dos Coyotes Border Cafe concept beginning with 25 locations in Los Angeles County within the next eight years.

Delaware North, formerly known as Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, announced the launch of a new global brand identity as the company prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015.

Diversified Restaurant Holdings announced the first Northwest IN Bagger Dave’s location and the seventh in the state.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill opened its first urban location with the new interior design prototype in downtown Denver.

Gordon Food Service introduced a new logo, tagline, and name for its stores as part of the evolution of its corporate brand.

GRILLiT Inc. announced plans to add beer, wine, and a line of margaritas and other wine-based mixed drinks to its menu.

Hard Rock International announced the opening of the first Hard Rock Cafe in the territory of Kazakhstan in Almaty.

Hilton Worldwide has signed an exclusive license agreement to launch and develop the Hampton by Hilton brand in China. Hampton plans to have more than 400 deals signed, with the first hotel expected to open by the end of 2015.

Jamba, Inc. announced the launch of an accelerated refranchising initiative in the CA market that is expected to involve approximately 114 Jamba Juice store locations with over 100 of the locations in the San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Diego markets.

JIB Management Inc. announced plans to refinance existing debt, acquire, and develop new El Pollo Loco locations (San Antonio and Houston markets) and Corner Bakery Café locations (Las Vegas and Seattle markets). No time table was mentioned.

Johnny Rockets will debut tabletop touchscreen tablets at the end of October in an attempt to speed service rolling out tablets to its roughly 200 restaurants across the U.S.

Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants opened a new fast casual taco concept, Tallboy Taco, in Chicago, IL.

Outback Steakhouse opened its first MA location to feature the company’s new “Modern Australia” design both inside and out.

Panda Express has opened its first unit in Dubai.

Pizza Ranch has announced plans to open in Kentwood and Holland, MI, this winter.

Red Lobster will build a culinary development center in its Orlando, FL, headquarters. The company will dedicate 12,000-sq. ft. of its 91,226-sq. ft. office space to the development center, which will feature two test kitchens.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill unveiled a fast casual concept-within-a-concept called Romano’s Kitchen Counter inside 131 of its company-owned, domestic casual-dining restaurants.

Round Table Pizza has signed an exclusive agreement to develop restaurants in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), excluding UAE. The first location will open in Manama, Bahrain, this quarter, with additional restaurants expected to open in Bahrain and the wider the region throughout 2015. Additionally, Round Table Pizza is planning for the opening of a second restaurant in Mongolia and a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2015.

SONIC Drive-In announced the opening of its brand new Culinary Innovation Center. The new facility is an important component in fueling SONIC’s overall growth strategy including its goal of 1,000 new drive-ins in 10 years.

Starbucks Corp. announced plans for its first drive-thru-only location in HI, which is expected to open in early December. Additionally, the company stated plans to open 12 “military family stores,” which are stores near U.S. military bases and feature military design components, in fiscal 2015. Starbucks will also launch a food and beverage delivery service in the second half of 2015. The deliveries will be available to the chain’s loyalty program customers in a few specific markets at first, and will be integrated into a new mobile app set to debut in Portland, OR, in November 2015 before expanding to the rest of the country.

Target Corp. announced that it has plans to close 11 stores as of 02/01/15, citing performance issues with three stores in MI (Bay City, Monroe, Northland); two in IL (McHenry and Calumet City); and single stores in Lithonia, GA; Clinton, IA; Castleton, IN; Wichita East, KS; Austin, MN; and Carrolton, TX.

The LINQ Hotel & Casino, the latest addition to Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, opened 10/30/14.

Tony Roma’s announced the opening of its second Ireland location.

Real Estate:

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels is looking at potential international development opportunities in Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Bar Louie announced plans for five new restaurants in KY and TN.

Blast 825 Pizza, part of Milano Restaurants, announced it will launch the fast casual pizza restaurant as a franchise opportunity. The company is now offering franchising opportunities in target markets in CA, NV, AZ, and TX.

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza opened its first of eight FL locations in Ft. Lauderdale; first NJ restaurant, in Paramus; and announced it will expand its footprint to seven locations in the greater San Francisco and Sacramento areas by late 2015.

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza will open its first AL location just outside Birmingham in 2015. This joins several new openings for the concept including openings in CO, IN, IL, and VA next year.

Buffalo Wild Wings plans to open nearly 100 restaurants (50 company-owned restaurants along with about 40 franchised and eight to ten restaurants overseas). Buffalo Wild Wings has expansion plans for five new locations for Rusty Taco and PizzaRev as well.

Burger 21 has signed a franchise agreement to open its first restaurant in the Chicago area and a second restaurant in TX (Dallas market specifically). The company is also targeting the Greater Washington D.C. area for future franchise development along with Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and Rockville, MD; Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas and Gainesville, VA; and downtown D.C.

California Tortilla returned to Arlington, VA.

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants opened its first Southern CA Ocean Prime location in Beverly Hills, CA.

Carl’s Jr. opened its first location in Honduras.

Chick-fil-A will reenter the state of WA with the opening its first out of three locations in the Pacific Northwest, in Bellevue, in spring of 2015. It will be the first of 20 new locations the chain plans to open in WA and OR by 2020.

Ciccio Restaurant Group plans expand its presence in St. Petersburg, with the addition of Daily Eats and Fresh Kitchen, and in Sarasota with Daily Eats and Ciccio Cali.

Columbia Restaurant owner, Richard Gonzmart, is actively scouting sites for the newly acquired concept, Goody Goody, and expects to re-open the concept for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in 2015.

Corner Bakery Cafe opened its first ID location.

Costa Vida will break into the Seattle metropolitan market when it opens a new restaurant in November.

Craft Brew Alliance announced it is completing the launch of its brewing operations in Memphis, TN in Q3.

Dairy Queen announced that the company signed a long-term multiunit agreement to develop DQ Grill & Chill restaurants and DQ Treat stores throughout the United Arab Emirates.

DoubleTree by Hilton has opened its first property in New Zealand located in Queenstown.

Dunkin’ Donuts plans to open 5 to 10 locations in the area of Flint, MI, and 7 locations in Louisville, KY, starting in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The company also announced it is seeking KY franchisees for Lexington and Pikeville. Dunkin Donuts will open in Wichita, KS, by the end of 2014 and eight other locations in the area in the next few years.

Fazoli’s announced the opening of its first college campus unit on Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Fazoli’s strategic plan to grow through non-traditional locations (campus, airport, and travel center sites) includes commitments for 12 new franchised restaurants, including several travel center units.

Gordon Food Service has announced plans to build a 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Kannapolis, NC.

Huddle House signed three new franchise agreements for restaurants in Porter, TX, Cowpens, SC; and Ardmore, TN; all expected to open early in 2015.

Hurricane Grill & Wings announced plans for six restaurants throughout Maricopa County, AZ, within the next five years.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. opened its first location in Panama.

IHOP is scoping out locations around Dayton, OH, with a goal to be open before the spring of 2015.

James Original Coney Island is planning to open two to four locations throughout Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas during the coming 18 months.

Just Salad will open its 15th New York City location in the historic, flagship department store, Macy’s.

Kona Grill, Inc. opened its first restaurant in GA.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. signed a development agreement with an international franchisee to open 20 stores in Bangladesh over the next five years.

Additionally, the company opened its first franchisee shop, which is a three-story doughnut factory, in South America in Bogota, Colombia. The goal is to open 25 shops over five years, with a majority of the shops in Bogota, Medellin, and Barranquilla.

Marco’s Pizza is seeking growth opportunities nationwide with a focus on FL, GA, NC, SC, TN and TX during the coming 18 months. The company also plans to open three locations in Greater Baltimore within the next year and up to 13 locations within the next three years.

Marriott International opened the first Courtyard by Marriott brand hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

McAlister’s Deli announced plans to open three locations in the Houston market in 2015.

MOD Pizza will open four additional locations in the Portland, OR, market with the first opening this month. The company also plans to open 8 to 10 pizzerias throughout the Houston area as well as additional openings in Austin during 2015.

Modmarket anticipates opening two additional TX locations in Q1 2015.

MVP Restaurant Partners opened its new concept, Wow! That’s Fresh, in Brandon, FL.

Newk’s Eatery announced plans to open more than 25 new company-owned and franchise restaurants in the Southeast next year and into the Lower Midwest with four new restaurants planned for Northwest AR throughout the next couple of years.

Pie Five Pizza opened its first location in MO.

Pieology Pizzeria announced it will open seven additional locations in Northern and Central CA by the end of the year, continue its expansion throughout MN, and expand its presence to HI with plans to open 20 or more restaurants.

PizzaRev signs five franchise agreements for expansion into Denver, CO; Washington D.C., Las Vegas, NV; Long Island, NY; and Columbus, OH. The company plans to open at least 40 franchise locations across these markets.

Planet Smoothie and Tasti D-Lite plan to open dozens of co-branded locations in Southern CA. Additionally, Planet Smoothie franchise plans to open eight more Central FL locations over the next three years.

Ponderosa Steakhouse opened its first location in Cairo, Egypt.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen plans to add 15 to 20 locations in the Boston area over the next five years.

Project Pie will add 60 locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, following the signing of a new master agreement, and will develop restaurants in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland throughout the next 10 years.

RedBrick Pizza announced plans to expand to more than 50 locations in four states over the next 3 years starting with Oakbrook Center in Chicago, IL; Mall St. Matthews in Louisville, KY; Northpark Mall in Joplin, MO; South County Center in St. Louis, MO; and Oakview Mall in Omaha, NE.

Robeks opened its first traditional store in Philadelphia, PA.

Schlotzsky’s plans to expand throughout the greater Las Vegas area by adding at least six signed franchised deals by the end of the year.

Shake Shack opened its first Chicago location.

SmallCakes A Cupcakery announced a new concept, SmallCakes Creamery & Novelties, and signed nine U.S. franchisees in KS, GA, NC, IL, NM, FL, and two locations in Dubai, UAE.

Smoothie Factory awarded a multiunit development agreement to open seven more locations in AZ.

Starbucks plans 1,650 new store openings in 2015 including approximately 650 in the Americas (half licensed), approximately 150 in Europe/Middle East/Africa (primarily licensed), and about 850 in China/Asia Pacific (two-thirds licensed).

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced its Sheraton brand will re-enter Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, scheduled to open in early 2018.

Steak ‘n Shake opened its first West Coast location in Santa Monica, CA.

Texas Roadhouse Inc. will open 25 to 30 restaurants in 2015.

The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. announced that it is actively seeking franchisees in Vancouver, Canada, and on the East Coast to bring its interactive dining experience to Portland, ME, naming both cities as targets for future franchise development.

The ONE Group announced the re-opening of its restaurant STK in Miami Beach, FL, as well as the completed agreement to open its first CO location for its STK concept, STK Rebel, in Denver, CO. The location is set to open during 2015 fiscal year.

Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery plans to open six pubs in South Florida in the next three years.

Tossed announced the signing of a franchise agreement to open a Tossed location on the University of Miami campus which catalyzes Tossed’s growth at universities, airports, hospitals, and other non-traditional venues.

Tropical Smoothie Café opened its milestone 400th restaurant.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint has awarded its first multiunit franchise agreement deal in the Northeast, with five units planned for Pittsburgh within the next five years. Additionally, Uncle Maddios plans to open its first NE location, in Omaha, late 2014.

Villa Enterprises has opened its 12th Villa Italian Kitchen in Mexico, its first in Mexico City.

Wild Wing Cafe has signed a multiunit development deal to open four new TN units in Johnson City, Chattanooga, Sevierville, and Knoxville.

Wyndham Hotel Group opened its first Ramada in Guatemala.

Green Initiatives:

Golden State Foods (GSF) hosted a grand opening ceremony for its new 158,000 square-foot Chicago distribution center. The new building now serves more than 460 McDonald’s customers in the Chicago and Northwest IN market and will be the first center within GSF and the McDonald’s distribution community to be LEED Gold Certified.

MGM Resorts International and NRG Energy have completed the installation of the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center. Covering approximately 20 acres (8 hectares) atop the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, the 6.4-megawatt (MW dc) photovoltaic array will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 1,000 U.S. homes annually. MGM and NRG also plan to build an additional 2-MW dc photovoltaic array atop a future expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center scheduled to begin construction later this year. Once completed, the combined solar installation is expected to provide pricing stability and reduce energy draw from the southern NV grid during the hottest time of the day. The project is estimated to displace approximately 6,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking more than 1,300 cars off the road.

Snappy Salads announced it will now provide guests premium paper straws, as part of its commitment to lower environmental impact, instead of the traditional, and cheaper, plastic version. The straws are made in the U.S. and are biodegradable, compostable, and 100% chlorine-free.