Personnel Updates

American Blue Ribbon Holdings named Gregory Hayes to the newly created position of Chief Administrative Officer.

Bojangles, Inc. promoted Laura Roberts to VP and General Counsel.

Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar named Eric Taylor as President of the US operation. He reports to Mark Pacinda, President and CEO of Boston Pizza International.

Chipotle announced that Founder Steve Ells is now the company’s sole CEO and that Monty Moran has stepped down from the co-CEO position.

Church’s Chicken named Joseph Christina as its new CEO. The former Exec VP of Operations replaces James Hyatt who remains on the board.

Culver’s promoted CFO Joseph Koss to CEO.

Dave & Buster’s Inc. promoted Margo Manning to the COO position to replace outgoing President and COO Dolf Berle.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group hired Norm Abdallah to succeed the retiring Mark Mednansky as CEO. It also promoted April Scopa to Chief People Officer and William Martens to Chief Development Officer.

Frisch’s Big Boy hired Diane Reed (formerly of Bravo Brio Restaurant Group) as Exec VP of Finance.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh hired Patti Rother as Senior Director of Franchise Development and Ron Cool as Director of Company and Franchise Operations.

Ignite Restaurant Group named Debra Eybers Interim COO and Lou Anne Banks VP of Marketing.

McAlister’s Deli has a new brand President with the promotion of Paul Macaluso.

McDonald’s announced Chief Digital Officer Atif Rafiq has left the company. Exec VP of Operations, Digital & Technology, Jim Sappington, takes over his duties.

MOOYAH promoted Jordan Duran to Director of Franchise Sales.

Not Your Average Joe’s Inc. named Aaron Chambers VP of Culinary and Executive Chef. He replaces Jeff Tenner.

Panera Bread promoted Blaine Hurst to President to succeed Drew Madsen who stepped down for personal reasons.

Red Robin announced the hiring of Guy Constant as Exec VP and CFO.

sbe Entertainment Group hired Jack Myers as Exec VP of Human Resources.

Smashburger CEO Michael Nolan is out the door after only nine months. Founder and Chief Brand Officer Tom Ryan takes over the role.

Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group hired Oliver Munday as an International Development Executive.

Starbucks Corp. Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz will become Executive Chairman in April, and current President and COO Kevin Johnson will become CEO.

Financial Focus

Aramark reported earnings of $14.4 billion for FYE 9.30.16 up from $14.3 billion for the previous year.

Brown Customer Delight Group, a six-unit McDonald’s franchisee in Iowa, filed for bankruptcy protection.

Jack in the Box Inc. (FYE 10.2.16) reported net revenue up almost 4% for the year. System wide, Jack in the Box same store sales were up 1.2% and Qdoba’s were up 1.4%.

Industry Insight

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza will begin franchising in 2017.

CEC Entertainment Inc. has replaced tokens with tap-to-play cards at 200 of its Chuck E. Cheese locations and plans to make the switch at all company owned Chuck E. Cheese stores by the end of 2017.

The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated will develop a new fast casual concept in 2017. The company will also open a second RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen location.

Cracker Barrel will expand its Holler & Dash concept by four to five locations in 2017.

Crushed Red, an upscale six-unit pizza and salad chain based in the St. Louis area will open six new locations in early 2017. Further expansion is likely after the concept received an equity investment from Vitaligent, a Jamba Juice franchisee.

Honeygrow raised $20 million that will fund expansion in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Logan’s Roadhouse emerged from bankruptcy in late November, minus the 34 locations it closed as part of the process.

McDonald’s plans to expand table service, currently in place in select markets, to all of its US locations. Complete details on the timing of the rollout weren’t given. The company will also revamp its McCafe concept in 2017.

Mendocino Farms opened its first restaurant within Whole Foods in Tustin, CA.

MOD Pizza raised another $42 million in equity funding.

Pie Five Pizza Co. opened drive-thru windows at two locations – a first for the company.

RAMPP Hospitality Brands plans to open 7 Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse Casual locations in 2017.

Starbucks will begin opening standalone Princi bakery concepts (serving pizza, pasta and pastries) in large cities including Chicago, New York and Seattle in 2017.

sweetgreen plans to open 40+ new locations in 2017 to reach the 100-store mark.

Vitality Bowls has created a “superfood coffee bar” that will be featured in new stores where space permits.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee, acquired 17 Burger King restaurants in Pittsburgh and Johnstown, PA and 7 stores north of Columbus, OH.

MTY Food Group Inc. acquired a controlling stake in La Diperie, a five-unit soft serve concept in Quebec.

Real Estate

Big Whiskeys Concepts LLC plans to expand its five-unit Missouri footprint in early 2017 with the opening of a new company-owned location in Kansas City, KS and its first two franchised locations (Bentonville, AR and Kansas City, MO).

BreWingZ Sports Bar & Grill, a Houston-based concept with 20+ units, opened its second San Antonio location.

Dig Inn, a 13-unit vegetable-centric fast casual, is rapidly expanding. Two NYC stores are set to open in December and five more are scheduled to come online in 2017. Two new Boston locations and a Rye Brook, NY store are also planned.

Good Times Restaurants plans to open ten Big Daddy’s Burger Bar locations and one Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard store in 2017.

Jamba Inc. is expanding in the Detroit Metro area. A total of 20 stores will open within Meijer stores and as stand-alone locations. The first eight will open in 2017.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar added a Dallas area location. Look for two more (Euless, TX and Folsom, CA) to open in early 2017.

Michael Symon Restaurants will open a new restaurant in the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City next spring.

PDQ will grow its 55-unit fast-casual chicken concept by 45 stores in 2017 to reach number 100. The company will enter Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma and Utah for the first time in the process.

Philly Pretzel Factory opened its first Ohio location in the greater Dayton area.

Pizza My Heart, the San Francisco Bay area stalwart, will open its 24th location in Walnut Creek, CA in the coming months.

PizzaRev plans to open 35 new units in 2017 and will expand into Florida and Louisiana.

Portillo Restaurant Group plans to open its 50th Portillo’s location in July 2017 with its first store in Minnesota. Three store openings in northern Illinois will precede the Minnesota opening.

Punch Bowl Social added Rancho Cucamonga to its 2017 California expansion plans, joining previously announced plans for San Diego and Sacramento. PBS will also open new stores in Brooklyn, Chicago and Stapleton, CO next year, nearly doubling its current location count.

Raw Juce is heading south from its Boca Raton home to open its first Miami Beach location in December or early January.

Rodizio Grill opened its first Arizona location in Mesa.

Someburros, an Arizona-based mini-chain will open three additional locations in 2017.

VERTS Mediterranean Grill’s new Boston location is its first outside of Texas. The company plans to add additional Boston stores and has expansion plans in the works for Philadelphia and New York City.

Wagamama US opened its first NYC location.