Personnel Update

American Blue Ribbon Holdings named Ned Lidvall as President of the O’Charley’s casual-dining chain.

Barnes & Noble named Ronald D. Boire as CEO, effective 9/8/15; Michael P. Huseby as Executive Chairman of Barnes & Noble Education; and Jaime M. Carey as COO.

Barteca Holdings, parent company of Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco, named Jeff Carcara President.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that Mark Frissora has assumed the role of President and CEO, effective immediately. This announcement completes the transition plan previously announced by Caesars Entertainment in February 2015.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group appointed Elias Assaly as VP of Operations for Managed Hotels reporting to Javier Rosenberg, COO of the Americas.

CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent to the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, promoted Eric Williams to the newly created position of COO. Bob Starke, Executive VP of Operations for Hardee’s, retired after 30 years with the company.

Corner Bakery Cafe appointed Justin Lambeth as Chief Marketing Officer.

Crest Foods Inc., franchisor of Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip concept, announced that Shawnon Bellah has been named COO.

Culver Franchising System Inc. named Quinn Adkins Director of Menu Development.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. appointed Jeffrey Davis as its Senior VP and CFO, effective 7/16/15. Most recently, Davis served as Executive VP and CFO for the Walmart U.S. segment of Walmart Stores, Inc.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Inc. announced the resignation of Jeff Carcara, COO, effective immediately. Mr. Carcara chose to leave the company to pursue an executive leadership opportunity at a private restaurant company. The company also appointed Mr. Lane DeYoung as General Counsel.

Destination Hotels announced Mark Jennings as Senior VP of Operations, East Region.

Domino’s announced the retirement of CFO Michael T. Lawton and promotion of Jeffrey D. Lawrence to Executive VP and CFO. Additionally, the company named Troy A. Ellis as Executive VP of Supply Chain.

Eddie Merlot’s named Geoffrey Stiles as the company’s President.

eegee’s promoted Mark Reinhart to the position of VP of Manufacturing and Business Development.

Famous Dave’s of America Inc. CEO Ed Rensi stepped down from his role, effective immediately. In the meantime, the board has appointed Adam Wright as Interim CEO and Joseph Jacobs as its new Chairman.

First Watch added David Gonzalez as VP of Franchising and Danny Foster as VP of Design and Construction.

Genghis Grill named Jim Kuhn CEO.

GPS Hospitality, an Atlanta-based Burger King franchisee, appointed Heather Darden as VP of Legal.

Hersha Hotel Management added David McCaslin as Executive VP.

Himmel Hospitality Group named Michael A. Seznec as Senior VP of Operations.

Juice It Up! named David Bird as its new VP of Construction and Engineering.

Keystone Resort’s Ski Tip Lodge introduced Jordan Alley as the establishment’s new Executive Chef.

Kneaders Bakery & Cafe announced that David Vincent assumed the role of President and CFO.

Magnolias promoted Kelly Franz to Executive Chef.

McDonald’s Corp named Karen King to the new role of Chief Field Officer.

MGM Resorts International announced that Marcus G. Glover has been named General Manager of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MS.

Moe’s Southwest Grill announced the appointment of Dominic Losacco to VP of Global Marketing.

Mr. Greek hired Fred Butson as VP of Business Development.

Muscle Maker Grill, an affiliate company of American Restaurant Holdings, Inc., named Joe Jaeger as Director of West Coast Franchise Development.

Noodles & Company announced the resignation of Keith Kinsey, President and COO, effective 7/1/15. Additionally, the company announced that Mark A. Mears will be joining as its Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer effective 7/20/15.

Phillips Foods promoted Sarah Palmer to Director of Foodservice Sales.

PizzaRev selected Craig Hopkins for the position of Executive VP of Franchising. Hopkins comes most recently from corporate and franchise growth at Pieology Pizzeria.

Portillo’s Hot Dogs, LLC named Keith Kinsey as its new CEO, effective 7/1/15. Mr. Kinsey is only the second Chief Executive at Portillo’s, succeeding Dick Portillo who founded the company in 1963. Mr. Portillo will continue to be actively involved in the company.

Quaker Steak & Lube announced promotions for key leaders, including Megan Duniec to the position of Chief Marketing Director, Tony Quintal to Senior Director of Restaurant Operations/ Loss Prevention, and Danielle Walker to the position of Director of Franchise Field Marketing.

RAVE Restaurant Group, parent company of Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza Co., announced expansion of its leadership team to include a new VP of Purchasing and Supply Chain, Brad McDaniel.

Restaurants Canada‘s COO, Carmine Aquino, announced plans to leave the association effective 07/31/15. A decision on Aquino’s replacement has not yet been made.

Sable Kitchen & Bar announced Lawrence Letrero as the new Executive Chef.

Shari’s Cafe & Pies named Rob Geresi to the newly created position of COO.

Soupman, Inc. named Jamieson Karson as Chairman.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts named Alison Taylor as Senior VP of Sales.

Subway named Suzanne Greco President while her brother, Founder and CEO Fred DeLuca, battles leukemia.

Target Corporation announced that Kathee Tesija, Executive VP, Chief Merchandising and Supply Chain Officer moved into an advisory role effective 7/6/15.

The Marcus Corporation promoted Katie Falvey to VP of Real Estate.

UFood Grill named Bob DiBartolomeo as VP of Franchise Development.

US Foods Inc. named Pietro Satriano President and CEO, effective 7/13/15. Satriano, currently US Foods Chief Merchandising Officer, will replace John Lederer, who plans to continue as an advisor to US Foods and its board of directors. The company also named Steve Guberman as Chief Merchandising Officer.

Wingstop Inc. named Larry D. Kruguer as its new President of International.

Wyndham Hotel Group announced that Noah Brodsky has been named Senior VP Worldwide Loyalty and Engagement.

Zoe’s Kitchen, Inc. announced the resignation of Jason Morgan, CFO and Senior VP, effective 6/18/15. The Company has initiated a search for his successor. James Besch, the company’s Controller, will serve as CFO as Zoës Kitchen considers candidates for the position.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Brinker International, Inc. acquired Pepper Dining Holding Corp., a franchisee of 103 Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants primarily located NC, TX, and VA. The purchase price of $106.5M was funded with availability under Brinker’s existing credit facility and the acquisition is expected to be EPS accretive in fiscal year 2016.

Del Taco closed on a merger deal that will take the company public and repay much of its debt. The Lake Forest, CA-based quick-service operator completed its merger with Levy Acquisition Corp. controlled by the Chicago restaurateur Larry Levy. LAC shareholders approved the acquisition.

Diversified Restaurant Holdings, Inc. closed on its acquisition of 18 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in the St. Louis area for $54M. DRH now owns the entire St. Louis market for BWW. The Company also believes that there are additional opportunities to open new BWW stores in the St. Louis area over time.

KBP Foods, one of Yum! Brand’s largest franchisees, acquired 24 restaurants (all of which are KFC units, with a large portion of dual-branded locations with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Long John Silver’s) in KS, MO, and FL from D-Carr Investments and related entities. The agreement brings the total number of KBP restaurants to 247, operating in FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NE, NC, TX, and VA.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Saladworks announced that NY-based Centre Lane Partners LLC has made an investment in the company. Centre Lane Partners LLC acquired Saladworks for $16.9M. Centre Lane will invest $2M to accelerate growth, including adding new menu items like gourmet cheeses, organic greens, antibiotic-free poultry and quinoa. The company also has plans for new packaging, smartphone apps, and updated store designs with natural wood finishes and a farm-to-table motif.

Sysco Corp. terminated its merger with US Foods 18 months after the $8.2B proposal to combine the two largest food distributors rocked the foodservice world. The Houston-based giant also terminated a deal to sell 11 US Foods facilities to Performance Food Group.

Vail Resorts, Inc. closed on the acquisition of its first international mountain resort, Perisher Ski Resort in New South Wales, Australia, for total cash consideration of AU$176.2M (approximately US$134.8M). Perisher is the largest and most visited ski resort in Australia, and is well-positioned with access to the country’s largest cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane. The acquisition includes the resort areas known as Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega, along with ski school, lodging, food and beverage, retail/rental and transportation operations, which together comprise Perisher. References to U.S. dollars are based upon currency exchange rates currently in effect.


Financial Focus

Fogo de Chao Inc. announced the completion of its initial public offering of 5,073,528 shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $20 per share, which included 661,764 shares of common stock sold pursuant to the full exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock. The issuance and sale of the shares closed on 6/24/15.

J. Alexander’s pulled the plug on its IPO. The company has 29 locations and operates 10 Stoney River Steakhouse locations. In addition, the number of J. Alexander’s locations is apparently about to shrink:  According to SEC documents, J. Alexander’s plans to transform as many as 15 of those 29 locations into a new concept, called Redlands Grill — a concept with farm-to-table ingredients and a seasonal menu. The transition, according to SEC documents, will happen by the end of the year.

Olga’s Kitchen Inc., a longtime staple in Southeast MI, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit. The company’s 28 restaurants will stay open throughout the bankruptcy process.

Sun Capital Partners, Inc. announced that an affiliate has completed the sale of its investment in Fazoli’s Group, Inc. to Sentinel Capital Partners. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. Last year, Sentinel bought Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc., Newk’s Eatery and TGI Fridays.

TGI Fridays completed the sale of 48 company-owned restaurants to JIB Management, Inc., as part of the casual-dining brand’s goal to refranchise nearly all of its restaurants by year-end.

The ONE Group agreed to acquire the Katsuya and Cleo restaurant brands from sbe Entertainment Group LLC for about $75M. The ONE Group Hospitality Inc., based in NY, said it plans to grow both brands as standalone concepts, but also as part of its growing hotel foodservice portfolio.


Industry Updates

Aramark was selected as the new concessioner for Yosemite National Park.

Blue Bottle Coffee, based in Oakland, CA, announced plans to shut down its wholesale division, focusing instead on operating its 20 retail cafes and subscription service, Blue Bottle at Home.

Bruegger’s Bagels and Jamba Juice joined forces to open nine co-branded stores in the Midwest, East Coast, and New England, launching in September 2015.

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream signed a 10-unit development agreement for its first shops in South Korea.

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the company will sell carnitas again at over 100 FL restaurants after signing a deal with British pork supplier Karro Food. Carnitas are expected to return to all locations by the end of the year as the chain’s pork supplies increase.

Church’s Chicken opened the first of 20 planned Texas Chicken restaurants in New Zealand.

Cold Stone Creamery entered into India and Sri Lanka. Over the next five years, 40 locations in India and five locations in Sri Lanka are in the pipeline.

Corner Bakery Cafe announced plans to expand the cafe brand in the nation’s busiest airports.

Dairy Queen re-launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the opening of a DQ Grill & Chill restaurant. The UAE is now the 26th country outside the US and Canada with a DQ presence.

DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP, announced plans to operate 10 restaurants in the United Arab Emirates and will open 16 more over the next five years. The focus will be on creating a smaller footprint as competition for space continues to grow.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened its newest hotel location at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, OH, making it the fifth restaurant to open under a franchising agreement between Dunkin’ Donuts and Great Wolf Resorts. Dunkin’ Donuts has existing restaurants at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC; Williamsburg, VA; Traverse City, MI; and Fitchburg, MA.

Homestyle Dining LLC, parent to the Ponderosa and Bonanza steakhouse chains, has renamed its year-old fast-casual restaurant Cole’s Backyard Grill, formerly Bo’s Steak & Grill.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation opened its second Hyatt-branded hotel in Armenia in the heart of Jermuk’s city center.

IKEA announced that contractors now are hired for constructing a new, updated store in Renton, WA, to replace its current store as the Swedish retailer’s Seattle-area presence. The new store will be built in part of the current parking area, with the older store ultimately being demolished to allow for more parking. Until the new, updated store opens in spring 2017, customers can continue to shop at the existing Renton store.

Il Fornaio chain stated the company is scheduled to open a new prototype restaurant this fall that company officials hope will jumpstart new growth. The new unit in Woodland Hills,CA, is scheduled to open in September 2015 and is a 6,200-sq-ft restaurant, a bit smaller than typical Il Fornaio locations.

Jamba Juice Company entered into a master development agreement to develop 30 stores in Thailand over the next ten years. The first store in Thailand is expected to open in late 2015. The company also entered into a master franchise development agreement to develop 70 Jamba Juice stores in Indonesia over the next ten years. The first Jamba Juice store is expected to open in Jakarta in 2016.

Johnny Rockets announced a development agreement to build and operate 10 Johnny Rockets restaurants over the next 10 years in Poland and has plans to open its first Johnny Rockets restaurant in Warsaw.

Kahala Brands, parent company of Cold Stone Creamery brand, announced that Vietnam will become the next international destination to open up to 30 stores over the next five years with the first store opening in the metropolitan area of Ho Chi Minh City.

KFC announced the company will open 550 restaurants in Russia and nearby countries by 2017 after a 30-year absence from the region.

Le Boulanger announced plans to launch a new fast-casual, Fire, Oak & Barley Wood-Fired Bistro, which is scheduled to open in Palo Alto, CA, in July 2015. The project is led by Dan Brunello’s daughter Kristina Brunello; his son, Jeff Brunello, will also be involved with both brands. The 4,000-sq-ft restaurant will seat 158 customers and will aim for an average check of about $12 to $15 at lunch and $18 to $22 at dinner.

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises opened Big City Chicken, adjacent to its two dining concepts at the tourist destination, Frankie’s by the Slice and Big Bowl Chinese Express. Big City Chicken, which will offer fried chicken strips and sandwiches, was developed by Chef Tom Hockett, creator of Lettuce restaurant M Burger.

Little Greek Restaurant announced the company will change its name to Little Greek Fresh Grill.

Pinkberry announced its frozen yogurt is now available for delivery in New York City and Los Angeles. The company also stated the option to add delivery services has been extended to all Pinkberry franchisees.

PizzaRev launched its delivery service for online and mobile orders through Postmates. The partnership ensures PizzaRev customers a flat $4.99 delivery fee, and the service is currently available for seven PizzaRev restaurants in the greater Los Angeles market.

Restaurant 356 opened to the public this month on the second floor of Porsche’s new North American headquarters in Atlanta, GA. The restaurant is a cornerstone of what the car company is calling the Porsche Experience Center. In addition to housing corporate offices, the $100M complex features a 1.6-mile test-drive track, a car museum and 13,000-sq-ft of conference and event space for use by the public.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse started a renovation project called Ruth’s 2.0 and will invest between $8M and $15M over the next few years in the program. The project will include upgrades such as an emphasis on a bigger bar and brighter dining rooms. Two Orlando locations were the first to receive the remodel, and the company is hoping to start work on as many as 15 locations in 2015.

Smoothie King stated the company is expanding into the Middle East, beginning with multiple locations in Dubai, with plans to open 45 Smoothie King locations over the next five years.

Starbucks announced the company will shut all 23 of its La Boulange bakery-cafes and a manufacturing plant that supports them, calling the stores no longer sustainable to the company’s long-term growth. The La Boulange stores and plant will be shuttered by September 2015. La Boulange founder Pascal Rigo will leave the company. Starbucks also announced it is shuttering its Evolution Fresh juice store in San Francisco by the end of June 2015. Evolution Fresh’s three other locations (two in Seattle and one in Bellevue, WA) are not affected by the change. Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh in 2011.  Additionally, Starbucks announced the company is expanding its mobile order and payment service to about 3,400 stores in 21 new states in the southern and central U.S. The Seattle-based coffeehouse operator debuted mobile ordering and pay-ahead options in Portland, OR, in December 2014. In March, it expanded the service to more than 650 units throughout the Pacific Northwest, including WA, ID, OR and AK. Recently, the company announced it will open coffee shops in sub-Saharan Africa.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced the signing of its Sheraton Resort on the island of Mactan in the Philippines.

Sweetgreen announced the brand will expand across the country using $35M it raised in a round of funding. The chain will increase its number of outlets from 31 to 40 by the end of 2015, and it will expand to two more cities in 2016. The company is also planning to use the funding to invest in technology such as its mobile app.

Taco Bell announced its new delivery service will be available in Taco Bell locations in over 90 cities and more than 200 restaurants in CA and TX. Additionally, the company picked a San Francisco location to serve alcohol soon.

Texas de Brazil opened its first Mexico location in Polanco, Mexico City.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf began brewing at its 1,000th store location worldwide in its home town of Los Angeles.

US Foods announced the company will close its Severn, MD, distribution center and open a new distribution center in Flowood, MS. The new center replaces a previous facility that was destroyed by a tornado in April. The 272,000-sq-ft, LEED-certified facility allows the company to support and service its customers in New Orleans and Jackson, MS.

Westgate Resorts opened two new Drafts Sports Bar & Grill locations at Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Westgate Branson Woods Resort in Branson, MO.

Wienerschnitzel signed a master franchise agreement to begin developing locations in Panama outlining commitments to open at least five locations throughout the country, with the first to open in Panama City this year.


Real Estate

Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar entered into a multi-unit franchise agreement to open a minimum of 10 locations in Long Island (Nassau/Suffolk Counties) & Queens areas of NY.

BGR the Burger Joint opened its first TX franchise location in Dallas.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse opened its first AL location in Huntsville.

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza opened its first MN location in St. Louis Park.

Bojangles’ Inc.  signed a new multi-unit development agreement bringing multiple restaurants to major markets in WV and KY as early as 2015 with the first Bojangles’ slated to open in August 2015 in Corbin, KY. The new restaurants are part of Bojangles’ strategic growth plan, which includes opening at least 50 locations this year.

Burger 21 announced it is targeting the Tri-State Area – including communities in NJ, NY, and PA – for future expansion. The Tampa-based fast casual concept aims to develop new restaurants in Long Island, the NYC boroughs, and northern NJ, as well as upstate NY and in PA.

California Pizza Kitchen announced the company will remodel 80 restaurants across the US. New features include an open kitchen design and homegrown herb garden.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opened its first WA location in Seattle.

Cheeseburger Bobby’s updated its look and launched franchising plans with a goal to grow to 75 locations in five years in Atlanta and Augusta, GA; Nashville and Knoxville, TN; and Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, NC.

Chick-fil-A unveiled plans to open a number of new locations in New York City in addition to the three-story flagship store announced in March. The chain is also plotting expansion in Seattle, Portland, OR, NV, and MI.

Chipotle Mexican Grill mentioned plans to open 200 stores globally within the next 12 months. It recently opened a restaurant in London and is planning three more venues in Europe

Chronic Tacos signed a multi-unit franchise agreement for the state of CO which calls for 12 locations over the next five years with plans to open the first restaurant in September 2015.

Corner Bakery Cafe announced plans to open 10 locations throughout the Tampa Bay, FL, area focusing on Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Tarpon Springs.

Darden Restaurants Inc. mentioned the company will spin off much of its vast real estate holdings into a real estate investment trust, or REIT giving investors a long-awaited value initiative. Darden is also planning sale-leasebacks on an additional 75 properties, which are expected to close by the end of August 2015. The company plans to use funds from its real estate deals to pay off about $1B in debt.

Dog Haus signed a 20-unit franchise deal for TX and has expansion plans for more than 100 locations in six states.

Dunkin’ Donuts signed multi-unit store development agreements with seven franchise groups to develop 51 new restaurants in VA and WV over the next several years.

Gold Star Chili introduced a new store prototype and menu at a Cincinnati location. The menu features freshly made burgers, which the company will roll it out to 22 of its 86 restaurants if successful. Gold Star also plans to apply the new look to all of its new restaurants and is working on a retrofit kit for existing stores.

Golden Chick stated plans to develop more than 80 locations in TX over the next 10 years. The company currently has 147 locations in TX, OK, SC, and GA.

Good Times Restaurants Inc., parent of Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard and Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, entered into leases for four new locations in CO that are slated to open by the end of 2015. The locations are the Landmark in Greenwood Village, the Streets at Southglenn shopping center in Englewood, the Southwest Plaza Mall redevelopment in Littleton, and the Village at the Peaks shopping center in Longmont.

Hooters of America entered into a development agreement to bring five new Hooters restaurants to South FL over the next six years with the first slated to open in June 2016.

Johnny Rockets announced a development agreement to open Johnny Rockets restaurants in El Paso, TX, including the brand’s new Route 66 expression. Johnny Rockets’ Route 66 drive-thru prototype will offer its same all-American menu to travelers and consumers on-the-go. In addition to the upcoming El Paso location, current Johnny Rockets franchise partners are under construction to open additional restaurants in San Antonio and Laredo, TX.  The company also announced the company is targeting franchisee growth in the following U.S. cities: Tucson, AZ; Houston, TX; Bridgewater, NJ; Gainesville, FL; Bakersfield and Fresno, CA. Johnny Rockets plans to open 25 new domestic stores during 2015 and 100 new domestic stores by 2017, via franchise expansion.

Juice It Up! entered an agreement to open two additional units in NM with the first unit scheduled to open in the Eastside Albuquerque area later this year.

Krispy Kreme signed a development agreement to open eight shops in downtown Chicago and throughout Cook County, IL, over the next few years.

Matchbox Food Group announced the further expansion of its Matchbox restaurant to TX with an initial Dallas location planned for Preston Hollow Village. This will be the first restaurant in the Lone Star State for the Washington-DC based group. Co-owners Drew Kim and Mark and Ty Neal have a goal of extending the American bistro brand to 48 restaurants nationwide by 2020.

MOD Pizza opened its first MD location near Washington DC and announced their expansion into MI, with the opening of their first store in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. This will be the 55th MOD location in the U.S. with the company on track to be operating 100 stores by the end of 2015.

Moe’s Southwest Grill signed franchise agreements for a 66-unit deal set to bolster Moe’s presence in Houston and San Antonio, TX; and Tucson and Phoenix, AZ. The first restaurants are expected to open by the end of 2015.

Mr. Greek announced plans to add 20 stores across Canada.

Panchero’s Mexican Grill made its West Coast debut in CA with two new locations in the City of Industry and Fremont.

Paul Martin’s American Grill debuted its first restaurant in TX.

Penn National Gaming opened its Plainridge Park Casino. The $250M, state-of-the art casino opened to the public and offers guests a total entertainment experience: (Tim Wilmott, President and CEO of Penn National Gaming.) Plainridge Park’s food court features outlets perfect for grabbing a quick bite between gaming action including Boston-based restaurant b.good.

Pie Five Pizza announced a new development deal that includes locations in LA, TX, and AR.

Pollo Tropical unveiled plans to open up to 30 restaurants in San Antonio, TX. The restaurant chain will also expand to Austin in the future to establish a link between Dallas and San Antonio.

Portillo’s Hot Dogs announced the company will open its first FL location in Tampa.

Qdoba Mexican Restaurant stated the company is seeking growth opportunities throughout central and northern NJ during the coming 18 months.

Rita’s Italian Ice stated plans to open more than 30 stores in the Boston area by 2023.

Smashburger announced plans for its first IN location in Westfield.

Smoothie King announced the company will add 25 stores in the greater Orlando area. The company’s timeline is to open five units per year with a total of five franchisees. Additionally, Smoothie King stated the company will open seven stores in Nashville, TN.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. said its Aloft brand will more than double its portfolio in TX over the next three years, with the addition of two more hotels in Houston, two more in Austin, three more in Dallas-Fort Worth, and debuting in other cities including Shenandoah and College Station.

Taco Bell stated the company will open three stores in Des Moines, IA.

Taco Bueno opened its first CO location in Colorado Springs.

Tender Greens declared national expansion plans after receiving an investment from Union Square Hospitality Group. The company is considering Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; and NY for its first national locations.

The Greene Turtle signed a franchise agreement for the development of 10 units in Montgomery, Bucks, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties, the areas surrounding Philadelphia with expectations to open the first location in the spring of 2016.

The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. announced that a recently closed unit is available for re-opening under new ownership in Newport News, VA, and announced its expansion effort in Anchorage, AK, by offering a significant discount on its initial franchise fee. In honor of its 40th anniversary, The Melting Pot will offer new franchisees who sign a franchise agreement to develop one or more restaurants a 40% discount off the initial franchise fee for their first restaurant – an $18,000 savings. The development incentive will be available through the end of the year.

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. completed an agreement to open an STK Rebel in Austin and an STK in Dallas—marking the Company’s first locations in TX. Both restaurants are projected to open in 2016.

The Halal Guys signed a 5-unit deal for Toronto making it the brand’s fourth international franchise deal and a first for Canada.

Tropical Smoothie Café announced the company is seeking growth opportunities throughout MD, Northern VA, and DC during the coming 18 months.

UFood Grill debuted a new prototype for a traditional in-line design that the company plans to franchise across America. The new prototype format averages 1,800-sq-ft but is flexible enough to accommodate larger or smaller spaces in any shape. The design will provide dine-in seating for up to 36 guests. UFood Grill plans to open one of the first locations in the greater Boston market by early 2016.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint signed a franchise agreement for three locations in Sarasota, FL, and will open three locations in the Huntsville, AL, area over the next four years.

Yard House announced the company will open a 403-seat restaurant in early fall at Chicago’s NewCity in Lincoln Park.


Green Initiatives

Dunkin’ Donuts launched an eco-friendly recyclable coffee cup to comply with New York City’s Styrofoam ban. The cup is made of polypropylene and is more expensive to make, but the company will not pass the cost to customers.

McDonald’s announced a plan to end deforestation within its global supply chain, with a focus on beef, coffee, poultry, packaging and palm oil. The company will work on sourcing targets later this year and will collaborate with suppliers, governments, and NGOs.

Starbucks Corp. made a new commitment to contribute $30M in the next five years as part of its Global Farmer Fund program that aids sustainable farming operations. This investment is the continuation of an initial $20M commitment made in 2008, and will be distributed in collaboration with lending organizations such as Root Capital and the Fairtrade Access Fund. To date, this financing has been distributed to more than 62 cooperatives in eight countries, benefiting more than 40,000 farmers. In 2015, Starbucks verified 99% of its coffee as ethically sourced. In addition, Starbucks ethical sourcing program includes a network of six farmer support centers around the world (Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, China, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia) as well as the purchase of a farm in Costa Rica acting as a global agronomy center.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. reduced energy use by 12.08%, carbon emissions by 16.07% and water use by 17.26% across all owned, managed and franchised properties from 2008 through 2014.