Personnel Update

Aramark announced CEO Eric Foss will be made Chairman in February 2015.

Auberge Resorts Collection named Jason Niederkorn as Executive Sous Chef for Hotel Jerome.

Brinker International names Scarlett May as Senior VP, General Counsel, and Secretary.

Caesars Entertainment announced Eric Hession as its new CFO, succeeding Donald Colvin who is retiring from the company at the end of the year.

CiCi’s Pizza named Jim Lebs CFO.

Cinemark Holdings, Inc. promoted Rob Carmony to Exec VP of Innovation.

Darden Restaurants Inc. announced near future executive changes: C. Brad Richmond, Senior VP and CFO, will retire 03/29/15 or sooner if a successor is appointed; Danielle Kirgan will assume the position of Chief Human Resources Officer effective 01/05/15; and Bob McAdam, SVP Government and Community Affairs, will depart the company at the end of this calendar year.

Foxwoods Resort Casino named Felix Rappaport President and CEO.

Full House Resorts, Inc. named Daniel R. Lee CEO.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill appointed Bob Bafundo to the position of President. In addition, the company announced Michael Staenberg as Chairman.

Georgia Restaurant Association named Ryan Turner Chairman of the Board for 2015.

Grand Hyatt in New York named Jim Dale as Director of Food and Beverage.

Hard Rock International announced Michael Beacham as Senior VP and COO of Corporate Cafes, and Antonio Bautista was promoted to Senior VP of Franchise Operations and Development.

Homestyle Dining LLC announced that Jill Gouge-Laird has joined the company as VP of Marketing.

Innovative Dining Group named Dustin Guzman as VP of Human Resources.

InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust (InnVest REIT) announced the appointment of Edward Pitoniak as Acting President and CEO, effective immediately.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced that Kirk Kinsell will step down from the Board and his role as President of IHG’s Americas business on 02/13/14. He will be succeeded by Elie Maalouf.

International Franchise Association added Elizabeth Hays Taylor as VP of Government Relations, Public Policy, and Counsel, and Jeff Hanscom as Director of State Government Relations and Public Policy.

Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc. hired Thomas F. Marano as CEO, effective immediately.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced the company has named Robert G. Goldstein as its President and COO, replacing Michael A. Leven, who is retiring at the end of the year after having served as President and COO since 2009.

Live Nation Entertainment, parent company of House of Blues Entertainment, announced that Phil Seward as the Senior VP of Relationship and Loyalty Marketing.

Loews Hotels & Resorts named Kirk Kinsell as President and CEO effective 03/02/14. Current CEO Paul Whetsell will remain in the post until that time and will then become Vice Chairman.

McAlister’s Deli named Carin Stutz President.

McDonald’s Corporation announced that David Fairhurst has been promoted to Senior VP of International Human Resources and Strategy, effective 05/01/15.

Montage Hotels & Resorts named Lance Thompson as Area Director of Operations.

Noble Roman’s, Inc. announced Paul Mobley as Executive Chairman and CFO. Subsequently, Scott Mobley assumed the title of CEO.

Park Hyatt in NY added Sebastien Archambault as Executive Chef.

Pieology Pizzeria named Stephanie Lambrecht VP of Operations.

Project Pie named Peter Wright as VP of Franchise Development.

Restaurants Canada announced the departure of Garth Whyte as President and CEO, effective immediately. Past Chair, Donna Dooher, will be taking on the role of Interim President and CEO during the search for Whyte’s replacement.

Romacorp, the parent company of Tony Roma’s, announced John Brisco as President of International Division for Roma Systems.

Scientific Games Corporation announced new additions to its executive team: Derik Mooberry as Group CEO of Gaming, James Kennedy as Group CEO of Lottery, and Jordan Levin as President of Interactive.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood named Alex Becker as Executive Chef for its new concept, Kuro, opening January 2015.

SONIC Drive-In announced Paige Bass as Senior VP and General Counsel and Anita Vanderveer as Senior VP of People.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts named Kevin Schiller as Area Director of Sales and Marketing, Los Angeles.

Sysco Corporation announced that Greg Keller has been appointed President of SYGMA, its Columbus, OH-based subsidiary focused on serving chain restaurant customers, effective 01/01/15. The company also announced Tom Bené as Executive VP and President of Foodservice Operations, effective 01/01/15.

Taco Bell Corp. appointed Melissa Lora as the new President of Taco Bell International, Meredith Sandland as Chief Development Officer, and Liz Williams as CFO.

Teriyaki Madness hired Dave O’Connor as Director of Marketing.

Texas Roadhouse, Inc.‘s Steven L. Ortiz, COO, will retire effective 01/12/15. The Company also announced that Doug Thompson was promoted to VP of Operations.

The ONE Group announced Alissa Conte as the company’s Director of Operations and Tim Flowers as Director of Operations for the STK restaurant concept.

United States Beef CorporationArby’s largest franchisee, has announced several executive changes: Co-owner Jeff Davis will transition from his current role as CEO to serve as Chairman; John Davis, co-owner, has been promoted to CEO; Brett Pratt has been promoted to President; Lori Pumphrey has been promoted to CFO; and Bo Davis has been promoted to the newly created position of COO.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that Gisel Ruiz is leaving her post as COO to become Exec VP of the company’s International People Division. Judith McKenna will be taking over the COO position for Walmart U.S. Additionally, Walmart’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Duncan Mac Naughton, left the company. Walmart has not yet named a replacement.

Walt Disney World promoted Scott Wallace to COO of Palmas Services.

Wyndham Worldwide, parent company of Wyndham Hotel Group, promoted Gail Mandel to President and CEO of Wyndham Exchange & Rentals.

Yum! Brands named Greg Creed as Director of the Board. Creed will take over the company’s helm as CEO on 01/01/15.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Bloomin’ Brands Inc. has made an agreement to sell its Roy’s brand to a Dallas-based Applebee’s franchisee, Sunil Dharod. The transaction is expected to close in the next 30-60 days. There are 29 Roy’s locations around the world – 21 in the continental U.S., six in HI, one in Japan, and one in Guam.

Buffalo Hotel Supply Co. Inc. was acquired by private-equity firm Lorraine Capital for an undisclosed amount. All of Buffalo Hotel Supply’s employees, including the current management team, will remain with the company. In addition, James Bedard will continue in his role as President of Buffalo Hotel Supply.

First Watch Restaurants, Inc. announced it has acquired Nashville-based Bread & Company, including the two restaurants operating in Green Hills and West End, as well as all recipes, marks, and intellectual property.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced that an affiliate of Hyatt has sold the 644-room Hyatt Regency in Vancouver to an affiliate of InnVest for approximately $123 million or $190,000 per key. The hotel will continue to operate as a Hyatt Regency hotel.

Noble Investment Group announced that it has closed on the acquisition of ten Marriott and one Hilton premium branded select service and extended stay hotels from McKibbon Hotel Group, Inc.

Papa John’s announced the acquisition of all Pizza Corner stores in South India, which will be converted to Papa John’s branded restaurants through Q1 2015. Papa John’s plans to expand its presence in India, specifically in Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

Scientific Games Corporation announced its completion of the merger with Bally Technologies, Inc. The aggregate transaction value was approximately $5.1 billion; including the refinancing of approximately $1.8 billion of existing Bally net debt.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced the sale of its Sheraton Hotel in Sydney, Australia, for A$463 million (US$399 million). Starwood will continue to operate the hotel as a Sheraton under a long-term management contract.

Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc. announced that the company closed on the acquisition of the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale for $140.0 million.

The Boelter Companies acquired Robert Gill & Company. As part of the deal, Paul, William and Steven Gill have joined The Boelter Companies.

Tim Hortons Inc. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. merger has been approved by the Minister of Industry under the Investment Canada Act.


Financial Focus

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell substantially all of the assets related to its (21) Mitchell’s Fish Market and Mitchell’s/Cameron’s Steakhouse businesses for $10M to Landry’s, Inc.  The transaction is expected to close within 75 days.


Industry Updates

Burger King Worldwide announced the company will move its headquarters to Canada, but its U.S. operations will remain in Miami. Once the merger is complete, Burger King will become a Miami-based subsidiary of the larger Restaurant Brands International, which is headquartered in Canada. Burger King Worldwide also announced its expansion plans by establishing a new joint venture to increase the company’s footprint in Italy, Poland, Greece, and Romania.

Cinnabon opened its newest concept, Bon Bake Shop.

Denny’s Corporation announced the reopening of its Las Vegas restaurant.

DineEquity, parent company of both Applebee’s and IHOP, is considering expanding by adding a third concept. The new acquisition would be one that doesn’t compete directly with the existing concepts and has the potential to grow internationally.

Domino’s Pizza opened its first store in Kenya and announced plans to expand its presence in East Africa targeting the port city of Mombasa, as well as Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill launched a new website equipped with streamlined reservations, click-to-call capabilities, directions, simplified gift card ordering, and location-specific content.

Front Burner Brands sold off its 15-unit Burger 21 concept to partner, Mark Johnston, and his wife, Arlene Johnston. Burger 21 will no longer operate under the Front Burner Brands umbrella.

Fuddruckers opened the first of ten fast casual locations in Chile.

Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has completed a $15-million renovation of its Gold Tower.

Hotel & Restaurant Supply opened a location in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Jamba Inc. announced the company will sell its company units and buy back shares of its stock.

King Street Food Company opened another Buca concept and announced a partnership with Chef Jamie Oliver that will take the company across the country of Canada in 2015.

McDonald’s will expand its build-your-own-burger option to 2,000 U.S. locations next year. Additionally, the company will open an office in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, in the first quarter of 2015, primarily to house its digital employees, which is currently at 20 with hopes to increase to as many as 250 employees.

Morgans Hotel Group Co. opened its newest concept, 10 Karakoy, and first Turkey location in Istanbul.

Papa John’s announced that 50% U.S of sales are made from mobile and digital orders.

Quiznos opened the first of 100 units planned in Malaysia.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood announced it will open an interactive Japanese restaurant concept, Kuro, in January 2015.

Smallcakes: A Cupcakery launched the first co-brand creamery and cupcakery called Smallcakes Creamery and Cupcakery in Jacksonville, FL.

Starbucks Corporation’s new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room format will serve as a launchpad for 100-store chain.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. signed its first Luxury Collection Hotel in Kyoto, Japan.

Sunny Street Cafe announced plans to open two new locations, one franchised and one company owned (its first company owned restaurant since 2007), in Central OH, and will open December 2014 and early 2015, respectively.

The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group reopened the company’s Brennan’s restaurant concept after year-long renovations.

Tom + Chee will open 13 locations by spring 2015 and open a flagship restaurant at its original store in Cincinnati. The company will also launch food trucks in the first quarter of 2015 and delivery service in select markets.

TravelCenters of America LLC announced the opening of the first Black Bear Diner restaurant in the TA and Petro network in Arvin, CA.

Tropical Smoothie Café expects to open 100 locations throughout the country.

Vail Resorts announced plans to invest $50 Million in its Park City Mountain Resort.

Veritiv Corporation selected Northpark Town Center, located in the Central Perimeter area of Atlanta, for the company’s executive offices.  The 68,000 sq. ft. space will be home to approximately 125-150 of Veritiv’s senior leadership and corporate support functions. No timetable was given about the move.

White Castle will close five locations in Northeast OH by 12/24/14.

Yogen Früz announced its global expansion with the opening of new locations in South Korea and Spain.

Yogurtland opened the first of 15 locations in Thailand.


Real Estate

Another Broken Egg Café announced plans for expanding its U.S. footprint growth with 100 stores by 2018.

Applebee’s is seeking growth opportunities throughout NJ during the coming 18 months.

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. announced the opening of a new restaurant design and format in White House, TN, signifying a multi-year commitment to remodeling and building new restaurants.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, franchise owned by Good Times Restaurants, announced plans to grow in Charlotte, NC; Denver, CO; and to debut in TN.

Bertucci’s Corp. announced plans to extend its Bertucci’s Kitchen remodels, now in two units, to more restaurants next year.

Black Bear Diner announced plans to open four locations in CA, NV, and OR before year’s end.

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza opened its first ID location in Meridian.

Boston Market stated expansion plans starting with 50 restaurants in development in the Middle East.

Corner Bakery Cafe announced its entry into MT with the addition of a franchise partner who plans to open five neighborhood cafes throughout the state.

Del Taco announced that the company will develop at least eight restaurants in the Chicago area, beginning by early 2016.

Doc Popcorn announced plans to add 100 new units in Chile and Peru throughout the next 15 years with the first expected to open in Santiago, Chile.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to develop seven new restaurants throughout the Phoenix market and continues to recruit franchisees in the cities of Prescott Valley, Lake Havasu, Sierra Vista, Benson and Wilcox. The company also announced the signing of multi-unit store development agreements with five franchise groups for a total commitment of 63 new restaurants in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Palm Springs, and Bakersfield over the next several years as well as a multi-unit store development agreements with two franchise groups to develop four new restaurants in CO over the next several years. Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts continued to expand its on-campus presence with the opening 10 new restaurants at 9 universities (Northwestern University, University of Alabama Huntsville, Wayne State University, Boston University, James Madison University, Shippensburg University, Edison State College, Bowling Green University, and New Jersey City University) throughout the country. With these openings, the company now has over 65 campus locations.

Four Seasons announced the company will open five new properties in 2015: HI, FL, Casablanca, Seoul, and Bahrain.

Fuddruckers opened its first DE restaurant in Newark.

Gigi’s Cupcakes will open 25 U.S. franchise locations in 2015 and 100 locations in South Korea in the next few years.

Gino’s East opened the first of five planned TX locations.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt announced it has signed a franchise agreement to open a new location in Las Vegas.

HOA Restaurant Group, parent company of Hooter’s, plans to remodel an average of 30 company locations each year over the next 5 years. HOA will open 12 new franchise locations in 2014 and plans to ramp up development in 2015 with at least 20 additional franchise restaurant openings.

Hurricane Grill & Wings opened its first TN restaurant in Knoxville.

Kona Grill opened its first OH restaurant in Columbus.

Little Caesars commits to downtown Detroit with its new headquarters. The new 205,000-square-foot Little Caesars Global Resource Center will connect its current Fox Office Center by a pedestrian bridge. Construction will begin in the spring of 2015 and is expected to be complete by the end of calendar 2016.

LYFE Kitchen opened its first restaurant in New York City and its 14th unit overall.

Marriott International, Inc. opened the brand’s first AC Hotel in North American in New Orleans.

McAlister’s Deli announced it has signed development agreements with three new franchise groups to open 20 locations throughout Rochester, NY, Northwest IN, and Chicago over the next several years.

McDonald’s launched its first McCafe inside a Clearwater, FL, store. The company also announced it will open its first store in Kazakhstan in the second half of 2015.

MOD Pizza announced that they have executed franchise agreements with two new partners to develop 35 restaurants in MI and SC.

Panchero’s Mexican Grill is seeking growth opportunities throughout central and northern NJ during the coming 18 months.

Pie Five Pizza announced that it has awarded up to 30 franchise units in CO beginning with the Denver market in mid-2015.

Pizza Inn opens first CO restaurant.

Pollo Campero opened a new prototype earlier this month in Dallas, with fresher colors and new menu that it plans to use in future development. The company plans to add as many as 10 corporate US units in 2015.

Potbelly Corporation announced a franchise growth plan targeting NC, including Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, and Wilmington.

Red Lion Hotels Corporation (RLHC) signed a franchise agreement for a new location in CO and also opened a new franchise location near the Detroit Airport.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. is seeking growth opportunities throughout Naples and south FL during the coming 18 months.

RedBrick Pizza Cafe opened its first store in NE and its first in MO with a new location in Joplin.

Team Schostak Family Restaurants announced plans to open 25 MOD Pizza locations in MI during the next five years, signing its first two leases in Southeast MI.

The Egg & I Restaurant opened its first location in NC.

The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. announced that it is actively seeking franchisees to bring its interactive dining experience to Little Rock, AR, naming the city as a target for future franchise development.

Togo’s Eateries Inc. celebrated its first restaurant in CO.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint opened its first TX location in Austin. The company announced an agreement to develop three restaurants for Ocala and Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties in FL. In addition, the company has development agreements to build three more Uncle Maddio’s in the Tallahassee area and five more units in the Jacksonville and Gainesville areas.

Yum Brands announced plans to find franchisees to open 1,300 units in overseas markets.

Zaxby’s Franchising Inc. announced it has inked a multiunit deal for 28 new restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro area. The first store, located near the University of Oklahoma in Norman, will begin construction in January 2015.

Zoe’s Kitchen will expand to 160 locations by the end of 2015. The company will enter the Kansas City, MO, and Philadelphia markets next year and eventually open locations in NYC and CA.


Green Initiatives

California Pizza Kitchen debuted its new look after recent renovations. The renovations included new decor using sustainable materials like reclaimed wood on walls, tables and doors, natural stone counter tops, an oak-wrapped bar and counters, LED lighting and even an herb garden. Its Wellington location is among the first 12 in the country to be redesigned and to launch the new menu. Others in FL include Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, and Naples.

Dunkin’ Donuts launched a new program called DD Green, a green building certification program designed to help franchisees build sustainable, energy-efficient restaurants. In conjunction with the launch, the company celebrated the grand opening of a DD Green-certified restaurant in Long Beach, CA. Dunkin’ Donuts’ goal is to have 100 new DD Green-certified restaurants opened by the end of 2016.

Golden State Foods Corp. opened a distribution center in Chicago focused on environmental sustainability. The 158,000-square-foot facility is its first to be gold-certified by the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program.