Personnel Updates

Beef’O’Brady’s parent company, Family Sports Concepts, named chef Stan Dorsey as the new Director of Research and Product Development. Dorsey replaces David Groll .

CKE Restaurants promoted Jim Sullivan to Exec VP Domestic Development from a Senior VP role.

Dunkin’ Brands announced that Paul Twohig, President Dunkin’ Donuts US and Canada, will retire at the end of Q1 2017.

El Pollo Loco Holdings named John Dawson Chief Development Officer, a newly created position. Dawson’s last role was CEO at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The move was announced a few days prior to publication of Q1 2016 results that saw the company’s profits decrease by almost 20% for the quarter.

Firebirds International hired Tammy Calhoun as Director of Learning.

Focus Brands will begin the search for a new President for the McAlister’s Deli division following Carin Stutz’s resignation to accept a position Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

HMSHost, global foodservice operator at airports around the world, has named Laura FitzRandolph Exec VP and Chief Human Resources Officer.

Huddle House announced that Jarrod Brooks joined the company as Director of Franchise Development. Brooks held a similar post at Quiznos among other stops in the industry.

MOD Pizza welcomed Bob Barton as the organization’s new CFO. Barton is a veteran of the online retailing world having worked with and

Qdoba announced that President Tim Casey will resign in June. Replacing Casey will be current company COO Keith Guilbault.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers introduced Carin Stutz as the new COO and Exec VP. Stutz leaves her position as President of McAlister’s Deli for Focus Brands.

Smashburger appointed Michael J. Nolan President and CEO, replacing Scott Crane who stepped down  a few days prior. Nolan joined Smashburger in February as Exec VP and Chief Development Officer.

Smashburger also announced the co-founder Tom Ryan will assume the role of Chief Brand Officer working closely with Chief Marketing Officer Josh Kern as the company embarks on a new era.

Smoothie King announced a batch of hirings/promotions. The stated that Brian Judge joined the team as CFO and Chris Miller came onboard as VP Marketing back in November. Slightly more recently, Betsy Riggs moved up from Director of Business Systems to VP of Business Integration and Technology.

Tender Greens named Brian Berkhausen, formerly of Starbucks, VP Real Estate and Development, a new position at the company.

Veggie Grill has a new President and CEO, Steve Heeley, the chain’s COO of late, as outgoing CEO Greg Dollarhyde cedes day-to-day leadership while maintaining a place on the board.

Wendy’s named Gunther Plosch the company’s new CFO. He succeeds Tood Penegor who is widely expected to replace retiring CEO Emil Brolick.

Wawa plans to add two new positions— food and beverage manager and food and beverage supervisor — to each of their 731 convenience stores in 2016 as the company reinforces its commitment to fresh food sales. CEO Chris Gheysens recently told that food and beverage sales drive more than 50% of Wawa’s total store sales.

YUM! Brands announced that David Gibbs has been promoted to President and CFO. Gibbs had been CEO of the Pizza Hut division.


Industry Insight

Amazon has expanded restaurant delivery to Manhattan and Dallas making the service, part of Amazon Prime Now, available in 10 markets. No fees are charged to the customer, but Amazon is reportedly taking a 27% cut of the bill.

Applebee’s parent company, DineEquity, CEO Julia Stewart announced in her earnings call that 2016 would be a “game-changing” year for the brand with bold initiatives that will kick start a new-look Applebee’s – for real this time – following 2015’s unsuccessful turnaround. A few weeks later, the secret weapon was unveiled – better steaks and a wood-fired grill.

Brinker International Inc. has blamed tough times in the oil industry in part for slumping sales. Approximately 20% of Chili’s stores are located in oil-producing areas of the country according to the company.

CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder provided CNBC with some sales insight when commenting on the new Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich featured at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Currently, 45% of Hardee’s sales and 20% of Carl’s Jr. sales come from breakfast.

Dunkin’ Donuts, taking note of McDonald’s success with all-day breakfast is testing a half dozen or so slightly more substantial food offerings at locations throughout the US. Items include a chicken-and-waffle sandwich and sausage bites.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final guidance on menu labeling, starting the compliance clock. Chain restaurants, supermarkets and foodservice venues with 20 or more locations now have one year to post calorie counts for all menu items.

Freshii, of wrap, bowl and burrito fame, has opened its first two service counters within Walgreens stores located in Chicago and Miami. Both firms hope to grow the concept.

Jamba Juice will day goodbye to sunny California at the end of 2016 as the company packs up and moves its headquarters to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Frisco, TX.  Cheaper rent and a more central location as the chain grows in the east are factors behind the move.

Joe’s Crab Shack announced that it is scaling back its no-tipping trial from 18 stores to four due to declining traffic in those stores and adverse reactions to the policy from customers that did visit.

McDonald’s plans to refranchise approximately 4,000 restaurants to achieve a goal of becoming 95% franchised by 2018.

McDonald’s is testing a new smaller-footprint format in Georgia, New Jersey, Texas and Washington. Service at these test locations is limited to the drive-thru and a walk-up window in a corporate effort to increase speed and efficiency.

Panera Bread Company will close their standalone Paradise Bakery units or convert them to Panera stores to eliminate the dead weight on the rest of the organization. Food-court Paradise units will remain open.

strong>Papa Murhpy’s had a less-than-successful start to 2016 with year-over-year income dropping 75%.

Performance Food Group (PFG) and Red Lobster have signed an agreement by which PFG will provide distribution services for all Red Lobster locations throughout the US.

Pret a Manger, the UK juggernaut with 65 US locations, plans to add another 10 stores in the US by year’s end.

Qdoba locations will grow by almost 9% as Jack in the Box, Inc. opens 60 new Qdoba stores by the end of the year.

Rick Bayless Restaurants opened the newest additions to its portfolio – side-by-side restaurant Lena Brava and brewery Cruz Blanca.

Starbuck’s reported that US food sales food accounted for more than 20% of total sales for the first time in company history during the second quarter.

Wendy’s plans to sell 315 company-owned restaurants to franchisees this year, a number that includes 55 completed Q1 2006 sales.

Yogurtland introduced a Yogurtland Express format at Petco Park in San Diego and will employ the kiosk approach in nontraditional and small-footprint spaces. Exciting times at Yogurtland.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Friendly’s Ice Cream LLC sold its retail ice cream and manufacturing business to Dean Foods Company. Owner Sun Capital Partners will retain the restaurant business and continue operating under the Friendly’s brand as part of the deal with Dean Foods.

Growler USA, a Denver-based chain of microbrew pubs, acquired fellow Coloradoan Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli.

Krispy Kreme will be acquired by German firm JAB Holding Co. and taken private upon Krispy Kreme shareholder approval in a $1.35-billion deal slated to close in Q3 of 2016. JAB Holding Co. also controls Einstein Bros. Bagels and numerous coffee-related brands.

TravelCenters America completed its purchase of the Quaker Steak & Lube brand and reiterated plans to continue operating Quaker Steak & Lube as a standalone restaurant brand.


Real Estate

Charlie Grangers signed a development deal with Disabella Partners for more than 100 stores in North and South Carolina.

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. plans to add 45 new Rally’s locations in the greater St. Louis area in the coming years. Two new stores will be added to the current base of 22 this year with about five additional stores added per year to build to 45.

Cooper’s Hawk moves into Maryland with its first location in the state in Annapolis.

Cracker Barrel is headed further west with plans to open its first three locations in Portland, Oregon beginning in spring 2017. Portland will mark the company’s westernmost location to date.

Dave & Buster’s is free to ply its trade in Alaska now that the state legislature has passed a law that clears up the confusion over whether the redemption of Skee-Ball tokens for a plastic kazoo constitutes gambling.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has expanded a development agreement to encompass northern San Diego County with the existing La Quinta, California franchisee. The deal now calls for 12 stores in total. An earlier version of the agreement has four stores on track for Indio, Moreno Valley and Redlands. Dickey’s will also increase its number of Ohio stores from eight to 11 with three Columbus area locations.

Dunkin’ Brands announced a development deal with Aloha Petroleum, Ltd to open 15 new Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Hawaii with the first opening in 2017.

First Watch Restaurants will open its first restaurants in Alabama this summer with locations in Birmingham and Montgomery.

International Dairy Queen Inc. franchisee Tony Basile has his sights set on opening 30 new DQ Grill & Chill locations in the Orlando, Florida market.

Pie Five has made its Iowa debut. Des Moines is the lucky city.

Pieology has opened its first North Carolina store in Raleigh.

The Pizza Press, currently a four-unit operation out of California, has 11 Southern California locations set to come online in 2016 along with an Austin, TX restaurant, the companies first location outside of California.

Which Wich is expanding in Massachusetts with an eye toward Burlington, Cambridge, Lexington, Newton, Stoneham and Woburn.