Personnel Updates

9021Pho out of Beverly Hills named Omar Pineda (formerly at P.F. Chang’s) Corporate Executive Chef.

Applebee’s named Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer Executive Chef and VP of Culinary and Menu Strategy.

Arby’s Restaurant Group announced that Darla Morse joined the company as CIO reporting directly to CEO Paul Brown.

Captain D’s named Keith Davis CFO.

Chicken Salad Chick announced the appointment of former Focus Brands CEO Russ Umphenour as Chairman of the Board.

Chipotle named James Marsden as its new Executive Director of Food Safety in its bid to right the ship. Marsden is a Kansas State University meat-science professor and food-safety expert.

Cracker Barrel announced that Jill Golder would join the company on 4-25-2016 and assume the CFO position on 6-6-2016 when current CFO Lawrence Hyatt retires. Golder recently resigned as CFO from Ruby Tuesday Inc.

Darden Chairman Jeff Smith has resigned from the board. Chuck Stonsteby assumes the position.

Dunkin Brands minted a considerable amount of new VPs with promotions for Sherrill Kaplan, VP of Digital Marketing & Innovation; David Gill, VP of Supply Chain, U.S. & Canada, Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins; Pete Jensen, VP of Supply Chain, International; Dennis McCarthy, VP of Financial Management; and Kathryn Thomas, VP of Legal and Managing Counsel.

Eat’nPark Hospitality Group VP of Creative Services Cliff Miller retired.

El Pollo Loco COO Kay Bogeajis stepped down to pursue other interests. The company will seek a permanent successor.

Famous Dave’s of America has a new CFO, Dexter Newman, formerly of Bloomin’ Brands.

Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. named Jason Vaughn CEO.

Houlihan’s Restaurants named Michael Slavin Director of Culinary.

Joey Restaurant Group has promoted Al Jessa to President as announced by CEO Jeff Fuller.

Rave Restaurant Group named Kim Johnson as new VP of Human Resources.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. CFO Jill Golder resigned to join Cracker Barrel. Ruby Tuesday will begin the search for a successor. In other news, the company named Tom Williams Chief People Officer.

Saladworks named Patrick Sugrue CEO to replace outgoing President and CEO Paul Steck.

Starr Restaurant Group named Alex Lee, formerly Chef at Daniel, as its new Culinary Director.

The ONE Group named Alejandro Munoz-Suarez COO, replacing John Inserra who previously announced he would be stepping down.

TS Restaurants (14 restaurants in Hawaii and California) promoted Jackie Reed to CEO. He takes over for retiring Chairman and CEO Bill Parsons.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza has a new COO, Scott Goodrich, formerly the Senior VP of Operations. In other moves, Jenelle Brown received a promotion to VP of Training and HR and Brandon Higginbotham joins as the Director of Real Estate and Store Development.

Financial Focus

Blaze Pizza reported Fiscal Year End (FYE) 12-27-2015 systemwide sales of $101 million, up from approximately $30 million in 2014. While tripling sales, the company doubled the number of stores, up to 105 at year end, and plans to add about 100 more units in 2016.

MOD Pizza raised $32 million in equity funding in its efforts to double its store base in 2016 to roughly 200 units.


Industry Insight

Chipotle doesn’t have enough on its plate, so the company is considering opening a burger concept and recently filed a trademark application for “Better Burger.”

Cracker Barrel will launch a new fast-casual biscuit-house concept, Holler & Dash, this spring. The initial store will be in Homewood, Alabama.

Doctor’s Associates Inc. installed new menus with calorie counts at all U.S. Subway locations.

Dunkin’ Brands is testing prepared sandwich kiosks in a limited number of markets. To date offerings have included subs, sandwiches and fruit-and-cheese plates.

McDonald’s announced that it would grow its presence in China from its current 2,200+ outlets by more than 1,000 units in the next five years, making China the largest market outside of the United States.

McDonald’s will introduce table service at 400 U.K. locations by fall 2016 in a bid to cast the chain in a slightly more upscale light. In the U.S., a new store in Missouri will also feature table service, along with computerized ordering kiosks and (wait for it . . .) all-you-can-eat fries.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Jamba Inc. completed its refranchising initiative in its bid to transition to an asset-light business model. The company ended FYE 12-31-2015 with 70 company-owned stores and 820 franchised locations.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers bought back 13 of its 24 franchised locations in Texas as a component of a larger growth strategy.

Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group will be acquired by Danu Investment Partners Ltd. (Ireland) from Bunker Hill Capital in a deal expected to close this summer.

Yum Brands may be looking to sell a 20 percent stake of its China operations, according to The Wall Street Journal, as a tax-saving move ahead of an anticipated spinoff of Yum China.


Real Estate

Arby’s Restaurant Group announced franchise development agreements for a total of 138 new restaurants. Deals include 70 new units for United States Beef Corporation, Arby’s largest franchisee, and 25 new stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska for D.R.M., Inc.

Charlie Graingers announced the addition of another multi-unit operator in the Florida panhandle and reiterated plans to continue expansion in the Southeast through 2016 while beginning a move into neighboring states later in 2016 and 2017.

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants looks to place up to ten new units along the Grand Strand in South Carolina over the next five years.

Chicken Salad Chick announced that it has franchise deals in place for 146 locations and plans at least 30 openings in 2016.

Chick-fil-A Inc. announced a full-scale Michigan roll-out with 20 restaurants slated for the state in the next five years.

CKE Restaurants Inc. inked a franchise-development deal with Pavilion Restaurant Group that covers 80+ new Hardee’s restaurants in Ohio and 40 in Florida in the next nine to 12 years.

Dave & Buster’s is going to Vegas with the first store opening this summer.

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants will open its first two stores in upstate New York – Buffalo, to be specific. Look for an opening in 2016 and another in 2017.

Dig Inn, the Manhattan-based chain of fast-casual “farm-to-table” restaurants (11 locations), plans five to seven new stores in 2016 that includes a presence in Boston.

Famous Dave’s of America expands into North Carolina as franchisee Bart Kinzel plans to open the first of three stores in Charlotte in 2017, an area to which Kinzel owns exclusive rights.

GPS Hospitality, founded by one-time Arby’s CEO Tom Garrett, completed a deal to purchase 7 Atlanta-area Popeye’s franchises from the company along with rights to new locations in Atlanta and West Virginia. Garrett plans to open three new Atlanta units in 2016 and aggressively grow his territories in the next two years.

Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries has signed agreements with two franchisees to add to its current Texas store count (two) with up to 300 new units in the next ten years.

International Dairy Queen Inc. has set its site on expansion. In Massachusetts, the five-year plan is to add 60 stores to its current 33-location base, while in California, the chain has scoped out 400 sites for buildings in the next 10 years.

Marco’s Pizza plans 127 new stores in Texas by 2020, working with three existing franchise partners.

Matchbox Food Group opened its first Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirits Texas location in Dallas, bringing their total store count nine. The first Florida location (Sunrise) and another Virginia store are in the immediate future, followed by additional moves in Texas, Florida and the mid-Atlantic region.

McAlister’s Corporation’s largest franchisee, The Saxton Group, announced a move into Nebraska with five locations to open in Omaha and Lincoln. That brings Saxton Group’s total of planned openings to 40 new locations.

Papa Murphy’s International is Hawaii bound with plans for 15 stores in four years with franchisee Take-n-Bake Hawaii LLC.

Paris Baguette estimates it will open 21 new stores in 2016, almost doubling its current count of 45 U.S. locations. The chain operates approximately 3,300 units in South Korea.

Pieology Pizzeria opened its first location in Hawaii. Franchisee Cotti Foods plans to open a total of 20 Pieology stores in the state.

Plamondon Companies will add six Roy Rogers locations to the current base of 50 in 2016, focusing on existing markets of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia this spring.

Saladworks will expand in Tennessee and Kentucky. Franchisee Eat Ur Greens LLC has agreed to build eight new units over the next few years.

Shake Shack made its California debut in L.A. Two more locations in the state will follow in 2016-2017 along with first-time opening in Texas, Minnesota and Arizona.

Smashburger looks to add 15 stores in Georgia (Atlanta and Savanah) and five stores in Florida (Broward County) in the next seven years. Plans call for 60 to 80 new units nationwide in 2016.

Smoke’s Poutinerie moves into the Midwest with three locations planned in Michigan and additional stores to open in Indiana and Ohio in the next few years.

Smoothie King Franchises Inc. is growing its franchise presence in Orlando from its current seven locations with 18 new outlets divided among three franchisees.

Sonic Corp. announced a new franchise development agreement that will see the brand establish a presence in Hawaii, its 46th state. North Shore Provisions LLC will open seven stores, beginning in Oahu in 2018.

Greens Restaurant Group returns focus to its roots with plans to open five new sweetgreen units in the DC area in 2016.