Personnel Update

Barnes & Noble announced Mitchell Klipper, CEO of B&N Retail Group, will retire at the end of the fiscal year ending 05/02/15, but will remain with the company in the role of special advisor on real estate and other matters. The retailer said it has begun a search to fill Klipper’s position and that he will help with the selection of the new retail CEO and in the transition process.

Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q announced that its CEO and President, Joe Adeeb, is handing over the reins to protégé and former COO Josh Martino.

Boomtown Casino and Hotel announced the addition of Executive Chef Konstantin Plavnik to the culinary team.

Caesars Entertainment named Benjamin Floyd as a Senior VP of Anti-money Laundering Compliance. The company also announced that Gary Loveman, Chairman and CEO, decided to begin transitioning out of management for the company beginning at the end of the first quarter. Mark Frissora joins Caesars Entertainment as CEO designee and will become CEO on 07/01/15. Loveman will continue to serve as Chairman of Caesars Entertainment and of Caesars Entertainment Operating Company.

Carlson Rezidor promoted Elie Younes to Exec VP & Chief Development Officer.

Centerplate promoted Greg Fender and Sal Ferrulo from Senior VP’s to Exec VP’s, overseeing the company’s North American hospitality service teams.

Cinnabon Inc. promoted Joe Guith to President.

Così, Inc. appointed Richard Bagge to serve as Interim CFO, effective immediately, following the resignation of Scott Carlock. Mr. Bagge was to become VP – Real Estate and Development and will step into that role upon the Company’s appointment of a successor CFO.

Culver Franchising System Inc. named Phil Keiser CEO, replacing Craig Culver, the company’s cofounder and only CEO to date. Keiser will become CEO of the company on 06/15/15, the day Culver turns 65.

Dave & Buster’s cofounder, David “Dave” O. Corriveau, passed away in Dallas. He was 63.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Inc. appointed two new regional managers: Sabrina Scully as the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Manager and Nick D’Ambrosio as the Northeast Regional Manager.

Destination Hotels appointed Julie Purnell as Senior VP of Business Development & Acquisitions.

Edward Don & Company named Matt Claude Category Manager for Equipment, Furniture, and Bar Products.

FOCUS Brands, Inc. announced a number of changes to the leadership team: Gary Bales, as Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer; Kat Cole as Group President of Global Channels; Paul Damico as Group President and will have oversight for Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s Bakery & Cafe, and McAlister’s Deli; Bill Dunn as Group President responsible for Carvel, Cinnabon, and Auntie Anne’s.

Golbon announced Dave Myers as its VP and Cindy Hulett as Director of Marketing.

Huddle House appointed Jeff Hood as Director of Franchise Development and Cassidy Ford, former business Development associate with How Do You Roll?, joins the Huddle House team as Franchise Development Manager.

Hurricane Grill & Wings announced that Fred T. Grant will be joining the executive team as CFO.

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts announced Scott Richer as Regional VP of Development in Canada.

Imvescor Restaurant Group announced several leadership changes: Tania Melanie Clarke as CFO; Vincent Dugas as VP of Purchasing; John Prontzos as the new Brand Leader for Scores; and Robert Longtin as Senior Director of Restaurant Development.

Johnny Rockets promoted James Walker to President of Operations and Development, Jim Hicks as Senior VP of Domestic Operations, and Gene Savage as Director of Franchise Sales and Real Estate.

Knightsbridge Corp. announced Matt Kuhn as Executive Chef for Nopa Kitchen + Bar.

Marco’s Pizza appointed former Command Sergeant Roderick Sanders to Senior Director of Learning and Development.

McDonald’s Corp. announced that Steve Easterbrook will replace current CEO and President Don Thompson; Pete Bensen was promoted to Chief Administrative Officer; Kevin Ozan was appointed Exec VP and CFO; and Brian Mullens was elected Corporate Senior VP and Corporate Controller, effective 03/01/15.

National Restaurant Association renewed the contract for association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney for five years, beginning 01/01/15.

Native Foods Cafe appointed Craig Grimes as its new CEO.

Performance Food Group, Inc. (PFG) named Dave Flitman to the role of President and CEO of its Performance Foodservice Broadline Division.

Rita’s Italian Ice named former Arby’s executive Robin Seward as Chief Marketing Officer.

Ruby Restaurant Group announced the appointment of Larry Sidoti as VP of Franchise Development.

Sonesta International Hotels Corporation appointed Carlos Flores as the company’s President and CEO, effective 01/20/15.

Starbucks Corporation appointed Kevin R. Johnson as President and COO, effective 03/01/15, replacing Troy Alstead.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts named Stephanie Dowling its Director of Communications for the Hawaii region.

Subway Founder and President Fred DeLuca announced he is handing more leadership responsibility to his younger sister, Senior VP Suzanne Greco.

Sunstone Hotel named its President, John Arabia, to the additional role of CEO, effective immediately.

Target Canada announced that its President Mark Schindele will return to the company’s US operation and assume a new position of Senior VP of Retail Properties. Aaron Alt, former Senior VP and Treasurer of Target, has been named CEO of Target Canada to oversee the company’s shut down.

Target Corp. announced that Mike McNamara will assume the role of Executive VP and Chief Information Officer replacing Bob DeRodes.

The Culinary Institute of America appointed Rose S. Wang as VP of Strategy.

The Krystal Company appointed Carl Jakaitis as CFO, effective immediately.

Tokyo Joe’s named Mark Davis President and CEO.

Wal-Mart named Greg Hall Senior VP of Entertainment for Wal-Mart US and Laura Phillips to her new role as Senior VP of Omni-Channel Assortments.

White Lodging hired Chris Anderson as Senior VP and Chief Revenue Officer of Full-Service Hotels and Jason Kreul as Senior VP of Full-service Operations.

Wienerschnitzel named Doug Koegeboehn Chief Marketing Officer.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. closed the previously announced sale of Roy’s to United Ohana, LLC. It was confirmed that Roy’s current management team will remain in place and will continue to be led by the current President Richard Scott.

Boxwood Capital Partners LLC acquired yogurt store operator sweetFrog Enterprises. The also company plans to open a store in Egypt, and Boxwood says it plans to expand sweetFrog’s product offerings and continue the company’s expansion internationally.

Levy Acquisition Corp. announced it is in “advanced talks” to acquire the 550-unit, Lake Forest, California-based Del Taco company, in a deal that could value it at as much as $500 million.

Muscle Maker Franchising LLC was acquired by American Restaurant Holdings Inc. affiliated Muscle Maker Inc.

RPM Pizza LLC announced the acquisition of 45 Domino’s stores throughout IN. The acquisition includes nearly 40 stores in the Indianapolis metro area, and stores serving South Bend and Lafayette. Once completed, the acquisition will give RPM Pizza operations in seven states, employing more than 3,800 team members. Another 28 new stores are part of the agreement and will be built in MS, LA, and IN. With this purchase, 185 stores will be operated by RPM Pizza, and Mueller said the goal is at least 215 stores by 2018.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. announced that it has completed its previously announced sale of substantially all of the assets related to the Mitchell’s Fish Market and Mitchell’s/Cameron’s Steakhouse businesses to Landry’s Inc.

Sysco Corporation and US Foods, Inc. entered into an asset purchase agreement with Performance Food Group, Inc. through which PFG has agreed to purchase (11) US Foods distribution centers in the Cleveland, OH; Corona, CA; Denver, CO; Kansas City, KS; Las Vegas, NV; Minneapolis, MN; Phoenix, AZ (including the Phoenix Stock Yards business); Salt Lake City, UT; San Diego, CA (including the San Diego Stock Yards business); San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA markets. The purchase price for the Transaction is $850 million, in cash, subject to certain adjustments.

Wyndham Hotel Group acquired 24 properties and more than 5,500 guestrooms across seven countries in Europe and North America from Dolce Hotels and Resorts for $57 million in cash.


Industry Updates

Ben E. Keith Company announced expansion plans to its OK division. Construction is scheduled to begin 02/01/15 to add 134,000 square feet of storage space to the existing building. The addition will add about 40% capacity to the existing 342,000 square feet, which was opened in 2006.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. opened its first restaurant in the Philippines in Pasig City.

Carlson Rezidor announced expansion plans for its portfolio in the Middle East: Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Motor City; UAE (147 rooms, opening in Q1 2017) and the upper upscale Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Jeddah Gate; Saudi Arabia (452 rooms, opening in Q1 2018).

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store announced that the company is developing a fast-casual restaurant concept that will give the company a way to set up in denser urban areas. No details were given about the name, menu specifics, or square footage. The company plans to have “a few” concept stores open by the fall of 2016.

Doc Popcorn announced it is joining forces with Dippin’ Dots to debut its first dual-brand location. The first Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots co-brand unit plans to open soon at the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, MO.

Domino’s Inc. announced the company is rebranding from Domino’s Pizza to just Domino’s.

Farmer Boys restaurants celebrated the official ribbon cutting for its 80th restaurant.

Great Wraps Inc. announced a comprehensive brand initiative expanding the brand name to Great Wraps Grill.

Homestyle Dining LLC opened the first Ponderosa Grill in Dubai.

HuHot Mongolian Grill launched a new fast-casual stir-fry concept, NuHu Mongolian Express, in Denver.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation introduced a new, full-service lifestyle brand, Hyatt Centric, to its portfolio and will debut its first locations in April and throughout this coming summer – New York, Paris, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami.

Krispy Kreme announced that it has extended a development agreement to include the development of 15 new doughnut shops throughout the greater St. Petersburg, Russia, area over the next five years.

Maui Wowi Hawaiian announced the company is relocating its global corporate headquarters to 1509 York Street, Ste 300, Denver, CO 80206. The company’s central location provides closer proximity to its corporate-owned café that was recently announced will open spring 2015.

McDonald’s Corp. announced it will open fewer restaurants in Russia in 2015 due to the falling rouble, which increased expansion costs and hurt consumers; the company expects to open 50 new restaurants in the country as opposed to last year’s 73.

Panera Bread announced it will convert as many as 300 more of its restaurants to the Panera 2.0 format this year, bringing the total to about 400.

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill announced the company is changing its name and renewing its focus on seafood as part of a brand revamp. The fast-casual chain is slowly evolving into “Rubio’s Coastal Grill,” as the Carlsbad, CA-based concept works through a remodeling program that will eventually reach all its restaurants. The new ocean-themed décor will also be the design going forward for the six or seven new units scheduled to open this year.

Starbucks expanded its Starbucks Evenings menu to select stores in Canada this year, adding beer, wine, and small-plate snacks to drive traffic after 4pm.

The Wendy’s Co. announced it would sell about 500 restaurants to franchisees and reduce company ownership of its outlets to about 5% by mid-2016.

Tim Hortons held a grand opening for its recently renovated original location in Hamilton in early January celebrating its 50th anniversary.


Real Estate

Another Broken Egg announced it is seeking franchise growth opportunities throughout Denver, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City.

Arby’s is seeking growth opportunities nationwide during the coming 18 months.

Aurelio’s Pizza announced it is currently seeking franchisees in CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, MI, and NV.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream announced the company seeking growth opportunities nationwide during the coming 18 months.

BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. opened its first NY location in Nanuet.

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza announced that it will soon open its first TX location in Frisco. The company also stated is scheduled to open another 60 to 70 stores in 2015.

Burger 21 signed franchise agreements to develop an additional restaurant in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its first restaurant in McAllen, TX. The Tampa-based chain currently has TX locations in development in Irving and Austin.

Chipotle revealed plans to open 4,000 new locations including a new “mini Chipotle” format that offers take-out only. The new prototype would have lower upfront costs to start a new restaurant and allow the chain to enter smaller markets. The company also announced it is expanding its new pizzeria chain, Pizzeria Locale, outside of CO and into Kansas City, MO, later this year.

Chop’t Creative Salad Co. announced plans to open its first NC location in Charlotte.

Chronic Tacos Enterprises Inc. signed multiunit franchise deal for 12 locations in CO, 3 to12 locations in WA, and up to 14 in AZ. Locations already in development include 6 in CA and 3 locations planned for NC. The company said it wants to add 10 locations this year and 20 in 2016 with plans to hit 100 restaurants by 2018.

Cowboy Chicken signed a deal for its first LA location in Baton Rouge, opening in the fall.

Del Taco announced that it will enter into the Northeast region with the signing of two development agreements in NJ, slated to begin opening in 2016.

Deli Delicious mentioned plans to expand by 22 stores this year.

Dig Inn has raised $15 million in financing from a group of investors, and plans to use the funds to expand outside its NYC base and explore using more technology in its restaurants. Dig Inn plans to add at least five units this year.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced it will open 10 new franchised restaurants in Birmingham, AL.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria announced it opened its first Saskatchewan location in Lawson Heights.

Fatburger announced a development agreement in Southern CA for 30 new stores in San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties including the Coachella Valley.

Fresh To Order announced it will open its first NC unit in Charlotte’s Carolina Place Mall by the end of the month. The unit is the first of eight restaurants scheduled to open in NC over the next five years.

Hooters of America, LLC announced a development agreement to open 30 Hooters locations throughout Southeast Asia over the next six years. After introducing the concept to Thailand, Hooters has set sights on Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Hong Kong and Macau.

Jack in the Box announced plans to open up to 10 additional restaurants in HI.

la Madeleine announced plans to open 12 new locations in TX and OK.

Marriott International, Inc. announced plans for its third AC Hotels branded property in the US, in Washington, D.C. at National Harbor.

Menchie’s opened its first AR location at Alcoa Exchange in Bryant.

MOD Pizza announced plans to substantially increase its footprint in the US with company and partner expansion throughout the East Coast and Midwest in 2015; the company will open its first East Coast store in Willow Grove, PA, in March and open 6 new locations in the Philadelphia area this year.

Mooyah Burgers Fries & Shakes announced plans to add a location in WI this summer with intentions to add up to 10 locations in the next three years, and is seeking franchises in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine, and Appleton. The company also stated plans to open a dozen FL locations, with the first in Miami in April 2015, as well as the first of 20 locations in NC. Specifically, Mooyah’s 2015 expansion plans also include Atlanta, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Tampa, and Cincinnati.

Newk’s Eatery announced a new development agreement to open 11 Newk’s locations in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Lakeland, and Clearwater markets in FL. The agreement is part of Newk’s growth plans that include opening nearly 30 new company-owned and franchised locations this year.

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom opened its first SC location in Columbia.

PDQ announced that several more locations are in the works from Las Vegas to TX and from FL to NC.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea announced plans to open a flagship store in Chicago as well as 20 more stores.

Pinkberry opened its first store in Panama City, Panama, at Costa del Este and plans a second store opening early spring 2015.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has remodeled 104 of its restaurants and plans to remodel an additional 125 this year.

Rita’s Italian Ice announced expansion plans for more than 46 stores across Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates over the next 10 years with the first location opening in Dubai summer 2015.

Ritter’s Frozen Custard stated it will open 10 locations in North TX.

Saladworks announced future locations in both new and existing markets such as Rehoboth Beach, DE; Irving, TX; Scranton, PA; and Kuwait.

Slim Chickens announced it will be expanding its presence to the Old Cheney area of Lincoln, NE; the first of five locations planned for the Cornhusker State.

Smoothie King announced plans to open two locations every week in 2015.

Sonic Corp. stated plans to open more than 50 locations in Central FL by 2022. The company also announced two new agreements for franchise development in RI, the 45th state for the expanding brand, which will open in the Providence market in mid-2015.

SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza announced it will open locations in Topeka, Lawrence, Wichita, and Manhattan, KS, in the near future.

T.G.I. Friday’s is seeking growth opportunities throughout DE, southern NJ, and eastern PA during the coming 18 months.

Target announced that the company will open nine smaller-format stores and six big-box stores this year. Eight TargetExpress stores will open with (1) Chicago, (2) Washington, D.C., (1) St. Paul, (3) San Francisco area, and (1) San Diego. Target is exploring markets like Philadelphia and Los Angeles as future sites for its smallest stores.

The Häagen-Dazs Shops Company announced a new Häagen-Dazs Shop design that premiered on 01/24/15, at the Shop in Bronxville, NY. The grand opening premier was the national launch of the new Häagen-Dazs Shop design that will be used at all new shops going forward as well as for existing shops when they remodel.

The Melting Pot announced plans to expand its footprint in select markets throughout the US and overseas. Domestically, the company is seeking new franchisees in select markets, including Anchorage, AK; Dallas, TX; Hartford, CT; and Los Angeles, CA, as well as Memphis and Chattanooga, TN. Internationally, The Melting Pot is focusing expansion efforts in target cities across Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. During the first half of 2015, the company plans to open its first restaurants in Jakarta, Indonesia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Tokyo Joe’s stated the company will expand outside its CO home with a franchisee who aims to open his first restaurant in Tucson, AZ, by Independence Day.

Umami Restaurant Group announced plans to close its Santa Monica, CA, restaurant and open a new location at 525 Broadway, just around the corner from its current location. The new location will be significantly larger, with almost 3,000 square feet and 90 seats and will include a full bar. The original location will remain in operation until the new restaurant opens later this year.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint opened its first location in the Raleigh-Durham area and announced plans to open two more locations in the area within the next 18 months.

Walmart announced it will open 29 supercenters in Canada in fiscal 2015 as part of a $269 million investment.

Which Wich announced plans to open 83 more restaurants in the US and abroad. Which Wich’s expansion plans in the Chicago, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and DC-Baltimore areas for growth. The brand is also looking forward to expanding internationally in 2015, with openings in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Wow! That’s Fresh announced its new location is expected to open summer 2015 in Carrollwood, FL.

Zoup! announced plans to open its first WI location in Milwaukee.


Green Initiatives

Starwood Hotels & Resorts partnered with NRG Energy’s subsidiary NRG Renew to install solar panels at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ. The installation includes approximately 2,000 photovoltaic solar panels and is estimated to offset a portion of the resort’s energy demand equivalent to about 90 homes. Future projects include solar installations at The Westin St. John Resort in the US Virgin Islands and The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, HI. Altogether, the three installations are expected to provide more than 2 megawatts of solar power. The company plans to reduce “energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30% and water consumption by 20% by 2020.”