Personnel Updates

American Gonzo Food Corp (Pitfire Pizza) hired Jeff Goodman (formerly of King’s Seafood Co.) as CEO.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. named Alexander Ware CFO, taking over for the retired Mary Twinem, and Santiago Abraham CIO in separate announcements this month.

Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc., the largest Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, has made a number of moves ahead of an expected spin-off of its 19-unit Bagger Dave’s concept. Chief executive Michael Ansley becomes Chairman, CFO David Burke moves into the roles of President and CEO and Phyllis Knight joins the company as CFO.

Hard Rock CEO Hamish Dodds plans to step down in early 2017.

Lemonade Restaurant Group announced that effective December 1 Larry Kurzweil, a former Universal Studios exec, would assume the role of President and CEO. Co-founder Alan Jackson will become Chairman and Chief Culinary Officer, and co-founder Ian Olsen will assume the role of Chief Development Officer.

Pieology Pizzeria hired former Panera exec Clay Sanger as its COO.

Schlotzsky’s named Claire Quinn VP of Global Marketing. She takes over for Monte Jump, now with InterContinental Hotels Group.

Sharkys Woodfired Mexican welcomed Steven Goldstein as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

Slim Chickens appointed Mark Mears, formerly of Noodles & Company its new Chief Marketing Officer.

Smashburger named Glenn Moon as Director of Franchise Sales.

Sonic Corp. hired Sam Wong as its new Senior Director of Franchise Sales and Development.

Starbucks promoted Virginia Wong from President, Starbucks China to CEO of the division.


Financial Focus

Luby’s Inc. returned another lackluster year of results (FYE 8.31.16) with same store sales up 0.7% on a 1.1% increase at Luby’s Cafeteria and flat Fuddruckers sales.

Sonic Corporation released decent fiscal 2016 results (FYE 8.31.16) with same store sales up 2.6% and systemwide sales up 3.5%. The overall results were tempered, though, by the company’s fourth quarter, which saw same store sales decrease by 2% versus the same period a year ago.

Starbucks summed up its year (FYE 10.2.16) with this statement, “Starbucks Q4 of fiscal 2016 was the most profitable quarter – capping off the most profitable year – in our more than 24 years as a public company.” An abbreviated look at the highlights includes comp sales up 5% in the Americas and total net revenue up 11% to $21.3 billion.


Industry Insight

&pizza received a $25 million investment from a growth capital fund and plans to open its first NYC restaurant in 2017 to go along with two new DC-area locations.

Bojangles’ will roll out a new store design next year with a new restaurant in South Carolina and three remodels in its home state of North Carolina.

BurgerFi plans to add 35 new locations in 2017.

B.R. Guest Hospitality will be purchased by Tilman Fertitta, founder of Landry’s Inc., from Starwood Capital Group in a deal expected to close in early December.

Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. has agreements in place to purchase 24 Burger King locations for a deal that it expects to close in a matter of weeks.

The Cheesecake Factory acquired a minority stake in the North Italia and Flower Child concepts owned by Fox Restaurant Concepts with an option to acquire majority or full ownership in the future.

Chipotle is calling time on its ShopHouse Southeast Asian concept and will likely sell or close the 15-unit chainlet.

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries acquired seven Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom restaurants from franchisee OCI Enterprises, Inc.

Ignite Restaurant Group closed 14 Joe’s Crab Shack locations and a Brick House Tavern and Tap during its third quarter that ended on 9.26.16.

King’s Seafood Co. will open a Dallas outpost of its Water Grill concept in 2017, the first Texas location across all concepts for the company.

Luna Grill, the San-Diego based Mediterranean fast-casual concept, secured $30 million in its latest round of funding, which will help with 2017 expansion plans that call for 18 new units.

McDonald’s credit rating was lowered by Fitch Ratings as the organization feels McDonald’s recent improvements in same store sales aren’t sustainable.

Olive Garden rolled out its digital check-in service (accessible via app and website) system-wide.

Starbucks plans call for having Reserve coffee bars in 1,000 Starbucks cafes by the end of 2017. The US will be home to most of them. In other news, the company has set its 2017 target for new stores openings (worldwide) at 2,100.

Texas Roadhouse Inc. has passed the 500-unit mark for company and franchised stores (Texas Roadhouse, Bubba’s 33 and Jaggers) with the opening of a number of new Bubba’s 33 locations in the few past months.

Zoe’s Kitchen continues its growth spurt, adding 11 new stores in the third quarter, bringing its total to 197 (up from 102 units at the end of 2013).


Mergers and Acquisitions

Hamra Enterprises purchased 25 Chicagoland locations from The Wendy’s Company adding to its existing Wendy’s portfolio.

Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders, a four-unit concept out of Orlando, was purchased by a group of former Wingstop execs led by Andy Howard, the new CEO of Huey Magoo’s and a former Exec VP at Wingstop.

Meridian Restaurant Unlimited, a Burger King franchisee, acquired 11 Chili’s locations (organized under Paradigm Restaurants) in Idaho, Montana and Washington from bankrupt Shoot the Moon LLC.

Yum! Brands, Inc. announced that it completed the separation of Yum China Holdings, Inc. from Yum! Brands.


Real Estate

Arby’s Restaurant Group hooked up with 100+ unit Popeye’s franchisee Parikh Network with the sale of 18 stores in Harrisburg, PA and Baltimore, MD and an agreement to open 50 additional stores in the next 8 years.

Buffalo Wild Wings plans to expand its R Taco concept to 10 additional markets – Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Louisville, Lexington, KY, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, and Kansas City, MO. – in the next 6 to 12 months.

Chipotle opened its first Tasty Made location (Lancaster, OH).

East Coast Wings & Grill will open locations in Atlanta and Harrisburg, NC in December. The first half of 2017 will see stores in Burlington, NC; Greensboro, NC; Memphis, TN and Lynchburg, VA. All new stores going forward will feature the new logo, menu items and revamped interiors that are part of the chains “2.0” refresh.

Fiesta Restaurant Group closed 10 Pollo Tropical locations (eight in Texas, one in Nashville and one in Atlanta). Three additional Texas locations may be rebranded as Taco Cabana restaurants.

Hwy 55 opened its first West Virginia location and plans to add 20 more units in the state in the next 10 years.

J. Alexander’s LLC has three new stores in its development pipeline – a Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill in Chapel Hill, NC scheduled for a Q1 2017 opening, a Raleigh, NC J. Alexander’s opening in mid-December and another J. Alexander’s schedule to open in Lexington, KY in the first quarter of 2017.

The Kati Roll Company opened its fourth NYC location this month with plans for a fifth store in the city and New Jersey location in early 2017.

Mooyha Burgers, Fries & Shakes expanded into Massachusetts with a new store in Northborough.

Campero USA (eight new Pollo Campero stores opened year to date and six more planned before the end of 2016) will open its first Tennessee location in 2017.

Ruby’s Restaurant Group will expand into Arizona with the opening of The Ruby’s Express at Outlets at Anthem in early 2017.

Shake Shack will open 21 to 22 new locations (domestic and international) in 2017, up from 19 in 2016.

SoDel Concepts will open its second Bluecoast Seafood Grill (and tenth restaurant total) in Rehoboth, DE next summer.

Texas Roadhouse Inc. will open two new Bubba’s 33 locations before the end of the year – Midland, TX in November and San Antonio in December. Look for another eight or so in 2017.