Personnel Updates

800 Degrees Pizza replaced CEO Steve Overholt with Tommy Lee.

Church’s Chicken promoted Chris Ward to VP of Supply Chain and named Hector Munoz Chief Marketing Officer.

Cici’s hired Jini Foust as COO.

Culver’s hired Julie Schaubroeck as its new VP of Marketing.

DineEquity Chairman and CEO Julia Stewart and CFO Thomas Emrey both resigned. The company later welcomed John Cywinski back to Applebee’s, naming him Brand President.

El Pollo Loco CEO Steve Sather will retire before the end of the year.

Fiesta Restaurant Group (Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana) named Richard Stockinger as President and CEO.

FSC Franchise Co. (Beef ‘O Brady’s and The Brass Tap) named Jean Baudrand Chief Development Officer.

Lawry’s Restaurants promoted Tiffany Stith to President and COO.

Long John Silver’s announced promotions for Brian Unger (President, LJS Operating Company, and Senior VP of US Franchising and Development), Toni Bianco (COO) and Krista Foster (VP of Human Resources).

Papa Murphey’s eliminated a number management positions and corporate personnel in a cost-cutting move. Executives leaving the company include Chief Development Officer Jayson Tipp and Chief Marketing Officer Brandon Solano.

Pei Wei Asian Diner named former NPC International COO John Hedrick as its new CEO.

Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder will step away from the company when RBI completes its acquisition of Popeyes, which is expected in April.

Rave Restaurant Group hired Judy Messenger as VP of Real Estate.

Togo’s Eateries named Glenn Lunde to the newly created position of Chief Concept Officer.

Wingstop Restaurants Inc. named Madison Jobe Chief Development Officer.


Financial Focus

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza reported $185 million in systemwide sales in 2016, an increase of 83% over prior year.

Bloomin’ Brands had a rough 2016 (FYE 12.25.16), which included a drop in same-store sales of 1.9% across all brands and a net loss of $4.3 million in the fourth quarter. The company announced the closing of 43 stores as a result (three of which were closed during Q4 2016).

Del Taco reported system-wide comp sales growth of 4.8% for 2016 (FYE 1.3.17).

Denny’s reported revenue of $507 million in 2016 (FYE 12.28.16) up 3.2% from 2015. Same-store sales rose 0.9% for the year.

Domino’s Pizza had a record year in 2016 by adding 1,281 stores. In other Fiscal 2016 news (FYE 1.1.17), the company reported US same-store sales growth of 10.6% and revenue of $2.47 billion.

Potbelly Corp. reported FYE 12.25.16 revenue gains of 9.2% to $404.8 million with same-store sales flat at company-owned stores.

Texas Roadhouse reported net revenue growth of 10.1% along with solid comp sales – 3.5% at company restaurants and 3.3% at domestic franchise restaurants (FYE 12.27.16).


Industry Insight

Bahama Buck’s (shaved ice and tropical dessert shacks) opened its 100th location.

Bloomin’ Brands, fresh off of a horrible 2016, plans to offer delivery at 115 Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Outback Steakhouse locations by the end of Q1.

Bojangles’ expects to open approximately 50 new locations this year.

Bravo Brio Restaurant Group will close at least six locations as it tries to halt a decline in same-store sales.

Cheesecake Factory has expanded delivery to half of its restaurants through a partnership with DoorDash.

Chipotle will discontinue the ChopHouse concept and close its 15 stores effective March 17.

Cracker Barrel will open eight new Cracker Barrels and four new Holler & Dash Biscuit House restaurants in 2017.

DineEquity projects Applebee’s franchisees will open 20 to 30 new restaurants globally in 2017.  The company anticipates the closure of approximately 40 to 60 Applebee’s locations.  IHOP franchisees are projected to open 75 to 90 restaurants globally and close approximately 18 stores.

Famous Dave’s is having a rough time. The company faces the possibility of additional restaurant closures, having closed two locations to date in 2017.

McDonald’s will make delivery service a priority for 2017. In the US, teaming with third party providers seems to be the preferred option, as it permits the rapid, large-scale rollout the company seeks.

Noodles & Company has closed 39 locations of the 55 it plans to shutter, bringing its store count to end-of-2015 levels. The company still plans to open 14 to 17 locations this year.

Panda Restaurant Group launched a new concept, Panda + Tea, that features Panda Express menu items, burrito-like mashups and Panda Tea Bar beverages.

Papa John’s is trialing “Papa Priority” in select cities. For an extra $2.99 customers can move their pizza to the front of the production line.

Potbelly Corp. will open 45 to 60 new shops in 2017, including 30 to 40 company-operated stores.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. is exploring strategic alternatives that include a potential sale of the company.

Slapfish founder Andrew Gruel rolls out two new concepts designed for food halls this month – Two Birds (chicken) and Butterleaf (Vegetarian).

Starbucks is expanding ice cream sales to all US stores with Reserve bars and 100 standard stores in Orange County, CA. The company also plans to close its two Evolution Fresh juice bars this spring but continue to sell branded bottled juice products under the name.

TGI Fridays made the Endless Apps promotion permanent as a way to distance itself from the casual-dining competition and position itself among gastropub-type concepts.

The Wendy’s Co. plans to add 1,000 stores by 2020. The expansion will be driven by a flexible store design to accommodate smaller, nontraditional spaces.  In other news, the company plans to install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 locations by the end of 2017.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Cotti Foods acquired LDF Food Group’s 38 Wendy’s restaurants in Kansas and Texas.

NPC International has agreed to acquire 62 Wendy’s locations in south-central Pennsylvania from Valenti Mid-Atlantic Management Inc. for $3.6 million in a deal expected to close in April.

Restaurant Brands International agreed to acquire Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion. The transaction is expected to close in April, and Popeyes will continue to operate independently in the US.


Real Estate

800 Degrees Pizza will target Miami for expansion this year.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza expands to the Midwest this year with plans for Chicagoland stores.

Dave & Buster’s will open a New Orleans location in May.

Del Taco is looking to the southeast for growth with southern Georgia, greater Atlanta and West Palm Beach County, FL slated for development.

Fiesta Restaurant Group will open 12 new Pollo Tropical restaurants in Florida and 10 new Taco Cabana restaurants in Texas this year.

First Watch franchisee VIM Holdings will grow its store count in the Raleigh, NC area by 12 restaurants over the next five years.

Grabbagreen opened its first Florida location in the Jacksonville area.

Hurricane AMT LLC (Hurricane Grill and Wings) will open the first prototype location for its Hurricane BTW concept in Skokie, IL in late April and plans to add 8 to 10 additional locations this year. The brand previously opened a lab store in Ft. Lauderdale in 2016.

Imo’s Pizza eyes expansion in Kansas City, MO and southeastern Missouri. We’ll likely see a handful of new stores throughout Missouri this year.

Muscle Maker Grill will open two Chicago locations this spring.

Pie Five Pizza opened its first Pennsylvania restaurant in Chambersburg.

Slapfish will open its first location outside of California this month in Lehi, UT. A San Diego opening appears next on the list followed by plans for Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Texas.

Smoothie King has targeted 16 key markets for expansion this year — Charlotte, NC; Dallas; Miami; Orlando; Austin, TX; Washington D.C.; Baltimore; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Jacksonville, FL; Denver; Phoenix; San Antonio; New York and Chicago.