Personnel Update

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group appointed Greg Burgett as VP of Development for the Americas.

CiCi Enterprises LP promoted Steven Jones to COO.

Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. appointed Joe Vanderstelt as CFO.

Destination Hotels promoted Ben Beaudoin to VP and Managing Director.

DineEquity Inc. named convenience store executive Darren Rebelez President of its IHOP division. He replaces DineEquity Chairman and CEO Julia Stewart, who has been leading IHOP’s turnaround for three years as interim President.

Dunkin’ Brands announced that John Costello, President of Global Marketing and Innovation, has decided to retire in the middle part of 2016.  The Company will not be replacing Mr. Costello, and will instead promote two members of the senior marketing leadership team to assume his current responsibilities:  Scott Hudler, VP of Global Consumer Engagement, and Chris Fuqua, VP Dunkin’ Donuts Brand Marketing & Global Consumer Insights & Product Innovation. The company also announced that Scott Murphy, Chief Supply Officer and Senior VP of International, will expand his responsibilities to include operational oversight of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins in Europe.

Friendly’s Ice Cream LLC promoted Lance Forgit as Senior Director of Financial Planning and Analysis; Sylvia Becker as Director of Field Marketing and Media; Kyle Hauser as Director of Purchasing; and Stephen Kloss as the Executive Chef.

Hooters of America LLC named Carl Sweat Chief Marketing Officer, Terri Hoskins as Chief Human Resources Officer, and Pete Servold as Senior VP of Franchise Operations.

Huddle House appointed Jenn Townsend the new Executive Chef and Director of Menu Development.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation appointed Senior VP, Atish Shah, as interim CFO and Steven Dominguez VP of Brand Experience.

Legacy Foodservice Alliance promoted of Amy Wood to Director of Merchandising, where she will manage Supplier Member relations.

Live Nation announced that Jordan Zachary has been named Chief Strategy Officer.

Luna Grill announced that Sean Allameh has joined their leadership team as COO.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts named Susan Madsen General Manager of the Cornhusker, a Marriott Hotel, in Lincoln, NE.

McDonald’s announced Doug Goare, currently President – McDonald’s Europe, will become President – International Lead Markets; Dave Hoffmann, currently President – McDonald’s Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA), will transition to the role of President – High-Growth Markets; Ian Borden, currently the CFO – McDonald’s APMEA, will assume the role of President – Foundational Markets.

National Restaurant Association and Dunkin’ Brands Group jointly announced that Cicely Simpson will join the association as its new Executive VP of Government Affairs and Policy, starting 5/13/15.

Panera Bread Co. named Drew Madsen President and Ken Koziol Executive VP, effective 5/11/15.

Pollo Tropical hired Bob Moore as VP of Operations for TX.

Potbelly Corporation promoted Julie Younglove-Webb as its new Senior VP of Operations.

Russo’s Restaurants, which includes Russo’s New York Pizzeria as well as Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen, appointed Steve Hubbard as its new Director of Operations.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group announced Mark Osterberg notified the company of his intention to relinquish his duties as Principal Accounting Officer of the Company. Effective immediately, CFO Arne Haak has assumed the responsibilities of Principal Accounting Officer and Michael Hynes has been promoted to VP of Accounting.

Scooter’s Coffee promoted Clay Cox, COO, to President of Scooter’s Coffee.

Smashburger hired Tim Lowther as its managing director in the UK.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts named Chris White Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Southern CA.

Taco Bell Corp. named former cosmetics brand marketer Marisa Thalberg as its first Chief Brand Engagement Officer, effective 6/1/15.

Taco John’s added two new members to its leadership team: Ted Suor, VP for Supply Chain and Stephanie Forand, Director of Human Relations.

The Halal Guys hired Mike Speck as the company’s new COO.

The Krystal Company announced that Tom Murrill joined the company as its new Chief People Officer, effective 5/4/15.

The Wendy’s Co. appointed Kurt Kane to the newly created position of Chief Concept Officer.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced the company is shuffling a number of key executives and also tinkering with its organizational structure: Mike Moore will transition to a new Executive VP role with oversight of Wal-Mart’s much larger supercenter operation in the U.S. and Julie Murphy will assume the position of Executive VP of the Walmart Neighborhood Market division.

Wyndham Hotel Group added two proven hospitality sales leaders to its global sales organization: Carol Bullock as VP of Global Sales in North America and Latin America, and Dawn Parisi as VP of Field Sales.

Yum! Brands Inc. subsidiary, Pizza Hut, hired Claes Petersson as VP of Innovation, effective 5/18/15.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Chesapeake Lodging Trust closed on the acquisition of the Ace Hotel Downtown and The Theater at Ace Hotel, located in Los Angeles, for a purchase price of $103M.

Good Times closed the purchase of all of the ownership interests in Bad Daddy’s International, LLC, which owns the Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar concept and a number of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar restaurants, for a total purchase price of $21 million consisting of $18.5 million of cash and a promissory note in the amount of $2.5 million.

Penn National Gaming announced plans to acquire the Tropicana Las Vegas from Onex Corp. for $360M. Penn National plans to invest $20M to upgrade the resort, which is the company’s second property in the Las Vegas area but its first on the Strip. The Merger is expected to close by year-end 2015.

Red Lion Hotels Corp. acquired the intellectual property assets and all hotel franchise license agreements of GuestHouse International. RLHC will pay $8.5M (US), plus a potential additional payment of up to $1.5M (US), to add 73 GuestHouse International and Settle Inn & Suites franchise license agreements.

Sysco Corporation notified USF Holding Corp. of its decision to extend the termination date of the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated 12/8/13, from the current termination date of 5/7/15 to 7/6/15.

TravelCenters of America LLC completed its previously disclosed acquisition of nineteen (19) gasoline/c-store locations in KS (3) and MO (16) for $27M. TravelCenters expects that the convenience stores at these locations, which average approximately 3,900 sq-ft in size, will be rebranded as Minit Mart, and that it may add quick service restaurants, or QSRs, at some of these locations to complement existing QSR operations.


Financial Focus

Fogo de Chao Inc. expected to raise up to $75M with its initial public offering. The 35-unit Fogo de Chão chain plans to use funds from the IPO to repay some of its $243M in debt.

Levy Acquisition Corp. announced changes to its ticker symbols ahead of completing its definitive merger agreement with Del Taco Holdings, Inc. Effective 4/28/15, LAC’s ticker symbols, as quoted on the NASDAQ stock exchange, will change to “TACO” from “LEVY” for its common stock, to “TACOW” from “LEVYW” for its warrants, and to “TACOU” from “LEVYU” for its units.

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. announced that its common stock has been approved for listing on the NASDAQ Capital Market and began trading on NASDAQ under the symbol “STKS” beginning 5/8/15.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe announced an all-time high average unit volume (AUV) of more than $578,000, while the top 50 percent of its cafes nationwide reported exceeding $734,000.

Wingstop Inc. filed an $86M initial public offering. Wingstop is the 4th restaurant company to make or file for a public offering this year.


Industry Updates

Bob Evans Farms Inc. announced plans to close 20 underperforming restaurants over the next 12 months, but the majority of the locations will be closed by the end of May 2015. The company owns 16 of the 20 restaurants and plans to sell the properties immediately. It expects to generate as much as $17M in net proceeds from the sale.

Burger 21 announced its franchise development strategy to increase the brand’s presence in non-traditional venues across the country. This announcement comes on the heels of its recent bid submission for space in the newly renovated Tampa International Airport, which will be granted in early June 2015.

Carl’s Jr. opened its first restaurant in Colombia.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has begun offering delivery for online and mobile orders in 67 cities including Chicago.

CKE Restaurants Holdings announced it is considering Nashville for its corporate offices. The company’s lease on its St. Louis regional office will expire in 2017, and company officials are considering relocating to TN due to it not having a state income tax.

Collier Restaurant Group added Quaker Steak & Lube to its list of franchise locations in the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge area. The new Quaker Steak & Lube is set to open this June and will be the brand’s first location in the state of TN.

Domino’s opened in its third new market so far this year, as the first Domino’s store in the Republic of Georgia began serving customers in the capital city of Tbilisi. The company will start taking pizza orders over Twitter next week, letting regular customers order simply by tweeting a pizza emoji to @Dominos. The chain already gets about half its orders via digital channels, and the new option is aimed at time-crunched young consumers.

Escape Enterprises of Columbus, OH introduces the Steak Escape Sandwich Grill in Hilliard, OH, as the company’s latest evolution of the fast-casual dining business. Other menu items, such as wraps, grilled salads, and smashed potato bowls were elevated as healthier choices for customers.

KFC closed the doors of its fast casual concept, KFC Eleven, which opened in August 2013, in Louisville, KY.

Kona Brewing Company, parent company Craft Brew Alliance, announced that it will invest approximately $15M to expand its brewery operations in HI. The expansion project, which will include a new state-of-the-art, 30,000 square-foot brewery, will increase annual production capacity to 100,000 barrels (BBLs) per year. Kona Brewing is currently narrowing its list of possible locations for the new facility, with plans to break ground in the second half of 2015 and be fully operational by early 2017.

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation signed a development agreement to open 10 Krispy Kreme shops throughout Cambodia over the next five years.

McDonald’s announced plans to open about 1,000 restaurants per year, sell 3,500 corporate-owned restaurants to franchisees by 2018, and cut $300M a year in corporate costs in the near future. The company also began a delivery service in NYC, will continue to test all-day breakfast and revamp its drive through menu boards to improve speed and efficiency. Additionally, McDonald’s said that it will close 220 underperforming stores in the U.S. and China and 130 in Japan, in addition to the 350 units worldwide that were previously planned to be shuttered.

Panera Bread Co. announced plans to continue expanding its delivery and catering business by opening seven delivery hubs to support fulfilling orders in the first quarter of 2015, and will continue testing small-order delivery in Louisville, KY, with plans to expand to more test markets this year.

Penn National Gaming announced plans to redevelop its new Las Vegas Strip property, the Tropicana Las Vegas, in two phases, undisclosed sources say. The first phase will include $20M in facility improvements and database integration, while the second phase will add retail and dining options and improve the casino floor.

Rita’s Italian Ice partnered with the fast casual brand, Sandella’s Flatbread Café, to provide its guests with a dining option.

Riviera casino closed after 60 years on the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased the casino with plans to build an expansion to the city’s convention center. Elvis, Liberace, and Frank Sinatra are among the stars who performed at the casino.

Sloan’s Ice Cream signed a franchise development agreement to open 5 locations in UAE beginning in early fall 2015.

Smashburger announced that it is expected to open 35 restaurants in the United Kingdom. The launch of Smashburger in the UK will expand the brand footprint to eight countries.

The Halal Guys signed three multi-unit franchise deals to open 40 restaurants in the Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The franchisee for the Philippines has signed a 20-unit deal for the entire country with the first location expected to open in the summer of 2015 in Manila. The Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta franchisees have signed 10- and 6-unit deals, respectively.

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. announced that a second European STK location will open 5/11/15 at the new ME Milan Il Duca hotel.

The Rezidor Hotel Group arrived in two new countries: Armenia and Togo.

TravelCenters of America LLC opened a Starbucks location at the Gadsden, AL.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled plans to countermand slowed growth in China with 115 new stores in the country by 2017 and creating some 30,000 jobs.


Real Estate

Bill’s Bar & Burger, a BR Guest Hospitality restaurant, premiered in The Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh.

California Pizza Kitchen announced the company will renovate 80 locations by the end of 2016. The units will feature rustic decor and no two locations will be exactly alike. The chain is adding hand-crafted cocktails and expanding its menu in a bid to attract younger customers.

Chick-Fil-A announced plans to open several locations in Omaha by the end of 2016.

Cinemark announced plans to construct a new 14-screen movie theatre in Tucson, AZ.

Corner Bakery Cafe announced of a 13-location deal for greater Cleveland, the brand’s first area development agreement in the state of OH, and plans to open 8 Sacramento-area locations over the next four years.

Cowboy Chicken signed two new franchisee agreements that will expand the brand into TX, KS, and NE.

Dog Haus opened its first CO location in Centennial.

Dunkin’ Brands Group announced the company will open 750 new units in 2015.

Dunkin’ Donuts signed a multi-unit store development agreement to develop 5 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and 4 multi-brand restaurants with its sister brand, Baskin-Robbins, in Albuquerque and its surrounding areas. The first restaurant is planned to open in summer 2016.

First Watch Restaurants announced it will open its first CO location 5/26/15 in Northglenn’s Webster Lake Promenade.

Fuddruckers introduced its first ME location in Ellsworth.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi added Pie Five Pizza Co. resulting in the company’s first MS location.

Heartland Restaurant Group opened the company’s first Dunkin’ Donuts location outside of PA in Weirton, WV.

Huddle House announced plans to open restaurants in Suffolk, VA, Ocala, FL, and three in TX — Bonham, Paris, and Sulphur Springs. Suffolk and Ocala are scheduled to open before the end of the year along with at least one, and possibly two, of the new TX locations.

Jamba Inc. signed two deals with existing operators to refranchise 21 Jamba Juice locations in CA.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, a national travel stop company, signed a deal to add 10 Taco John’s quick-service Mexican restaurants to its travel stop locations.

Miami Subs announced sites in Cutler Bay and Miami Springs have already opened, and several new or renovated locations are expected to open this year under the new Miami Grill name. The company also opened its first New Zealand and Malaysia locations.

Nando’s announced plans to expand into Chicago.

Newk’s Eatery announced a new development agreement to open 15 Newk’s locations throughout Southern LA and in Houston. Newk’s will open nearly 30 new company-owned and franchised locations this year, with plans to reach 200 units by 2018.

Panda Express announced plans to open more than 100 stores worldwide each year. The company will focus on its domestic market in HI, while gradually expanding its products and brand outside of the U.S.

Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. announced the company will open at least 9 new locations in the Memphis, TN, market in the next three to five years.

Penn National Gaming said it is on track to open MA’s first casino, the $250M Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville on 6/24/15.

Penn Station East Coast Subs signed a 10-unit agreement for Northeast Atlanta with plans to open 10 restaurants over the next five years; the first location opening this month in Suwanee, GA. The chain is targeting Alpharetta, Cumming, Roswell, Buford, Johns Creek, Norcross, Duluth, and Lawrenceville for future locations.

Pick Up Stix launched a larger, more upscale prototype designed to build dine-in business. The new prototype, which opened in Westlake Village, outside Los Angeles, in March 2015, is larger — between 2,000 square feet to 2,500 square feet.

Pie Five Pizza Co. signed a new development deal that will open up to 24 new locations across multiple northeastern states including state of DE, Eastern PA/ Philadelphia, Northern MD, and Southern NJ. The first location, slated to open this fall, will be in Dover, DE. Additionally, the company plans to open up to ten stores across the state of AR. The first three stores will be located in central AR and are expected to open within the next year.

Planet Sub signed an agreement to develop 12 stores in the San Antonio, TX-area in addition to its already 23 stores set for other varying metroplexes in TX including Austin, Dallas, Denton, and Fort Worth.

Quaker Steak & Lube announced it signed a franchise development agreement with Cedar Fair, L.P. to develop a new restaurant at Cedar Point amusement park/resort. The restaurant marks the 18th Quaker Steak & Lube location in OH, will create close to 125 jobs for the Sandusky community, and is scheduled to open in May 2015.

Shake Shack opened its first-ever TX location in Austin and will open its first CA location in Los Angeles in 2016.

Smallcakes: A Cupcakery and Creamery opened its first AZ location in Scottsdale.

Starbucks Corp. debuted its new express store format on Wall Street in NY, across from the New York Stock Exchange. The compact 538-sq.-ft. store space is designed to provide a streamlined customer experience and provide what Starbucks calls an “espresso shot” version of visiting its stores. The company is also expanding its premium Starbucks Reserve brand to 500 units worldwide with a flagship, 15,000-sq.ft location opening in 2016 in Asia.

The Halal Guys announced the company is opening 15 TX restaurants as part of two multi-unit franchise deals outside its home market of NYC. The restaurants will open in parts of Houston and Austin, TX, including one unit at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The Wendy’s Company announced it will sell its bakery business by the second quarter, remodel restaurants, and offload more company-owned locations. Wendy’s plans to sell 540 domestic restaurants to its franchisees.

Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery stated that the company will add nine new pubs in the Northeast region over the next three years with new locations in upstate NY and five pubs in PA.

Toppers Pizza announced a multi-unit partnership to open six locations throughout SD and IA over the next four years.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint announced the signing of its largest franchise deal to date with a subsidiary of Jubilee Restaurant Group slated to develop 13 locations across the Mid-South: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, LA; Greater Memphis, TN; and Southaven and Olive Branch, MS.

Uno Restaurant Holdings mentioned it will expand its Uno Due Go quick-service concept, build new full restaurants, and remodel existing locations in New England over the next three to five years. A new Uno Due Go location will open every 12 to 18 months in Boston, and the chain’s regular restaurants will be built at the same pace in suburbs.

World of Beer will open its first location in NYC, a 5,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, six blocks from Madison Square Garden early June 2015.

Zoup! Fresh Soup Company announced the company is opening several units in Canada, WI, and OH by 5/22/15.


Green Initiatives

Chipotle announced that they are removing genetically engineered ingredients creating a safer and healthier food system for all Americans.

Chuck E. Cheese added EnTouch 360° Energy Management as its official energy management solution for corporate stores in North America.

Craft Brewing Company released its Annual Sustainability Report:

  • Across our breweries, we reduced our water usage by more than 12%, resulting in nearly 8M gallons of water saved. By converting its bottling line to a dry-running conveyor system, our Woodinville, WA brewery saved more than 55,000 gallons of water last year, as well as earned the Safer Chemistry Champion award from the State of WA’s Department of Ecology.
  • We reduced electricity and natural gas usage resulting in more than 5% in dollar savings for every barrel of beer we produced, proving that sustainability is also good for business.
  • Our Portsmouth, NH brewery, which offsets all of its power with wind energy credits, installed the first free electric vehicle charging station on the NH Seacoast.
  • We achieved a company-wide 99% diversion rate. In 2014, our Portland brewery succeeded in diverting 99.5% of our waste from landfills and earned recognition for its spent grain program that supports local farmers.

McDonald’s announced a global commitment on deforestation across the company’s expansive global supply chain. The pledge encompasses all of the company’s products and focuses on beef, fiber-based packaging, coffee, palm oil, and poultry — for which the company will begin developing specific time-bound sourcing targets in 2015. The core principles and practices of McDonald’s Commitment on Deforestation include:

  • No deforestation of primary forests or areas of High Conservation Value
  • No development of High Carbon Stock forest areas or on peatlands, regardless of depth, and the utilization of best management practices for existing commodity production on peatlands

Panera Bread announced the company will remove 150 artificial ingredients from its food by the end of 2016 and only sell salads made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors or preservatives. The move does not include beverages.

United Natural Foods, Inc. announced that it plans to open a 450,000-sq.ft distribution center in Gilroy, CA, in August bringing approximately 500 new jobs to the local community. The facility is being designed and constructed using sustainable practices and is expected to achieve LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. The facility is located at 6351 Cameron Blvd in Gilroy, CA.

White Castle announced the company’s enhanced recycling and food waste diversion program in MN, adding to their already robust environmentally friendly efforts underway in OH and across the nation. White Castle will work to divert more than 7,000lbs of food waste per month to a commercial compost facility in Shakopee, MN, where compost will be created and sold directly to landscapers and residential customers, with some repackaged retail sales.