Personnel Updates

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza named Steve Overholt CEO and Scott Berkowitz Chief Development Officer as the company looks to expand. Overholt was in charge at Paradise Restaurant Group after purchasing the Cheeseburger in Paradise brand from OSI Restaurant Partners/Bloomin’ Brands. Berkowitz comes from the hotel industry.

Brinker International named Rick Badgley as its new Chief People Officer. Badgley was formerly a VP of Talent Acquisition for a large shoe retailer.

Brinker International promoted Kelli Valade to President, Chili’s Grill & Bar. Doug Comings will succeed Valade as Senior VP and COO for Chili’s, also as the result of a promotion.

Chipotle can’t catch a break. Chief Creative and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker has been placed on administrative leave. Crumpacker faces misdemeanor drug charges resulting from an investigation into a Manhattan drug trafficking operation.

Fired Pie named Abby Anderson CFO.

Long John Silver’s appointed Leigh Ann VanDam as Senior Director of Development and Real Estate.

Marco’s Pizza named Buddy Solomon as its new CFO. Most recently, Solomon served as a VP with Arby’s.

McAlister’s Deli has a new President, Rick Altizer, who fills the vacancy created when Carin Stutz jumped ship in April for Red Robin.

McDonald’s appointed Colin Mitchell (formerly of Ogilvy & Mather) as Global VP Brand. Mitchell will report to CMO Silvia Lagnado.

Miami Subs Grill Corp. brought Alan Bergman onboard as Executive Chef to assist with the newly acquired 16-unit chain Salad Creations.

Quiznos promoted Chief Marketing Officer Susan Lintonsmith to the position of President and CEO.  Interim President and CEO (and real-life CFO) Katie Scherping has left the company.

Quiznos named Christina Maxwel as its new CFO.

Simply Southern Restaurant Group (Chicken Salad Chick) appointed Tom Carr VP of Marketing and Carrie Evans Director of Franchise Development. Carr brings substantial big brand and agency experience, including a major role in Little Caesar’s growth. Evans recently served as Director of Development for Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Smoothie King named Kevin King (no relation) to the newly created position of Chief Development Officer. Kevin King comes to Smoothie King from a role with Project Pie LLC. Prior to that he served as Chief Development Officer for Papa Murphy’s.

Starbucks named ex Johnson & Johnson exec Hans Melotte as its new Exec VP of Global Supply Chain.

Tender Greens announced the hire of Craig Meunier to fill the newly created VP of Operations post. Meunier comes to the chain after holding a similar position with Yalla Mediterranean.

Tijuana Flats named Larry Ryback as its new CEO. Ryback had been COO of True Food Kitchen.

Tilted Kilt (100+ unit sports-pub chain) promoted Eddie Goitia from CFO to CEO and Logan Reves from Senior VP Operations to COO.

Wingstop COO William Engen has resigned to pursue other opportunities.


Financial Focus

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza secured an investment from private equity firm Murfey Ventures for an undisclosed sum with an eye towards expansion.

Darden Restaurants Inc. released FYE 5.29.16 results. Total sales were up 2.5% to $6.9 billion (4.4% excluding the extra week of sales in 2015). Same-store sales for Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, the largest pieces of the Darden portfolio, were up 3.1% and 3.5% respectively. Seasons 52 (40 units) and Bahama Breeze (37 units) fared best in same store sales growth – 4.7% and 4.8%. The results met Wall Street analysts’ expectations while simultaneously exciting no one.


Industry Insight

Barnes & Noble, the oft-struggling bookseller, is going into the restaurant business. A new store design will include dedicated restaurant space featuring full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus along with beer and wine. The company will initially test the concept in four locations. The Eastchester, New York B&N opens in October followed by stores in Edina, Minnesota; Folsom, California and Loudon, Virginia. The bookseller has appointed Jaime Carey President of Development and Restaurant Group to oversee the efforts.

Blaze Pizza is set to open store number 150 in Houston in July. The company anticipates opening its 500th store in approximately three years as Blaze begins to focus growth efforts on building a brand presence in existing markets. Chain Store Guide anticipates an IPO before 2020.

Chipotle will reward loyal customers with its new Chiptopia Summer Reward program through September. There’s a card involved and consumers are rewarded based on the number of qualifying visits (a $6 spend). The rest is too complicated to worry about.

Chipotle dumped its “Better Burger” trademark application a few months back, but a burger concept is still in the company’s future. The chain is leaning towards TastyMade as the moniker for its new venture, possibly opening before summer is out.

Dunkin’ Donuts kiosks and shops will take the place of many in-store food courts at BJ’s Wholesale Clubs starting with two conversions in New Jersey and Massachusetts. BJ’s has yet to provide details on total numbers and locations.

Fired Up Inc., owner of Johhny Carino’s, has filed for bankruptcy and hopes to find a buyer.

KFC will join it Yum! Brands brethren in accepting mobile payments. The Colonel will be digitized system wide by the end of summer.

Sonic Corp. announced a refranchising initiative that will see the company divest itself of approximately 200 units by the end of 2017.

Starbucks concept of growth is unlike any other. In the current fiscal year, the company plans to open 900 new locations in the Asia Pacific region, 700 in the Americas and 200 in EMEA.

Starbucks will give workers and store managers a 5% raise in October.

Starbucks announced its investment in artisan Italian-bakery concept Princi. Starbucks will open standalone Princi cafes (starting with Seattle in 2017) and serve Princi-branded products in Starbucks Roastery locations and locations featuring Starbucks Reserve product.

Yum! Brands will open its third Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas this fall (Chicago and San Francisco are home to the others). Earmarked for additional urban locations, the Cantina concept serves an expanded menu of tapas and tacos in addition to beer and wine.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Arby’s Restaurant Group bought back all 19 Knoxville-area restaurants from franchisee T.G.J. & Co.

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc., the largest US Burger King franchisee, completed the acquisition of four Detroit-area stores, bringing its total to 727 stores.

Miami Subs Grill Corp. acquired 16-unit chain Salad Creations. The company will look to grow both concepts.

NPC International is expanding its Wendy’s holdings. It has agreed to acquire 39 units in the Raleigh-Durham area from The Wendy’s Company in a deal that should close by the end of July.

Pieology Pizzeria is putting that Panda Express cash to work by purchasing competitor Project Pie. The move marks the first acquisition in the growing fast-fired pizza space.


Real Estate

Another Broken Egg Café, in conjunction with franchisees Turan and Sheryll Strange, is headed for coastal Georgia and South Carolina. Hilton Head, SC is on tap for June 2017 followed by Savanah, GA and additional locations.

Blaze Pizza has landed in Des Moines, its first Iowa location.

The Capital Grille opened two new locations in July – Lyndhurst, OH (greater Cleveland) and Raleigh, NC.

Corner Baker Café recently moved into three new states – Montana, Oregon and Washington – with a unit in each state.

Erbert & Gerbert’s sandwich shop opened its first Ohio location in The Cleveland Clinic.

Grabbagreen, the Phoenix-based health-food and juice concept, may make good on the 100+ franchise agreements they’ve touted since 2015. We have a city (Dallas), an address (3421 Gaston Ave) and a date (well, month; September) for the first opening outside of Arizona (three locations). The Raleigh, NC store at 4421 Six Forks Road (opening “Fall”) also seems to be on point.

Growler USA, a two-year-old microbrew-pub concept plans to grow to 35 franchised locations by year’s end (from its current total of three stores). Summer openings are planned in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Texas and Washington.

Joe’s Crab Shack will close its Bronx and Newark, NJ locations. High rents and comparatively low sales have convinced the company that high-density urban locales aren’t in its future. The company closed its Harlem restaurant last fall.

Newk’s Eatery is hot on the trail of just about every other retailer and restaurant concept in America. The chain has announced a planned presence in Orlando with a dozen or so corporate locations in the next five years.

Pieology Pizzeria opened its first Georgia location.

Pizza Hut is expanding its Plano, Texas headquarters with the addition of two new buildings, increasing its total footprint by about 60%.

PizzaRev is coming to Miami. The company signed on Surfside Coffee, LLC, a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee, to open 45 locations across the greater Miami area.

Smashburger entered the Toronto market with an assist from franchisee HMS Host and its storefront in Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Texas De Brazil brings the meat to Tulsa with the opening of its first Oklahoma location.

Wahlburgers is entering the DC market. Marky Mark, Donnie D and Chef Paul will open the first of multiple DC locations in the fall.

Walk-On’s sports bar will expand beyond the borders of Louisiana this year with two franchised locations opening in Texas (in addition to two new Louisiana locations).