Personnel Updates

Blaze Pizza promoted COO Jim Mizes to President and CEO.

Bojangles’ Restaurants promoted Jayson Romeo to VP and Chief of Staff.

Buffalo Wild Wings North American President, Judith Shoulak, will retire in June. The company will not hire a replacement for the position.

Chipotle named Scott Boatwright to the newly created position of Chief Restaurant Officer.

CoreLife Eatery named Scott Davis (formerly Panera Chief Concept Officer) as President.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group named Neil Thomson CFO to replace Tom Pennison who resigned.

Eureka! Restaurant Group named John Theuer CFO and Eric Berman to the role of Chief Restaurant Operations Officer. Both fill newly created positions.

Famous Toastery hired Jeff Panella as Chief Development Officer.

Front Burner added a number of executives. Joining the company are Randy Barnett (VP of IT) and Jennifer Dodd (VP of Operations). Michele Whaley was promoted to VP of Marketing.

Granite City Food & Brewery named Richard Lynch CEO. Lynch is the former Chief Brand Officer at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. He replaces the outgoing Phil Costner as CEO.

The Habit Restaurants Inc. named Douglas Branigan Chief Development Officer.

Hakkasan Group has promoted Nick McCabe to CEO. He replaces Neil Moffitt who resigned.

Mooyah Burgers founder and CEO Rich Hicks steps away from the chain after it was sold to private equity investors. COO Michael Mabry becomes President and COO of the company.

Noodles & Co terminated COO Victor Heutz.

The ONE Group is losing COO Alejandro Munoz-Suarez and CFO Samuel Goldfinger, both of whom are stepping down to pursue other interests.

Pieology named former Smashburger CEO Michael Nolan as its new President.

Shake Shack named Tara Comonte CFO.

Subway named Karlin Linhardt to the newly created position of Senior VP of Marketing, North America.

T.G.I. Friday’s Inc. named Aslam Kahn as its new CEO. Kahn remains an owner of Falcon Holdings.

Togo’s CEO Tony Gioia will retire at the end of May. Effective June 1, Chief Concept Officer Glenn Lunde will be promoted to President.


Industry Insight

A&W Restaurants Inc. franchisees will open 11 new locations this year, in addition to the 7 opened year to date.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. will convert the two PizzaRev franchise locations it operates in Minnesota into new small-format Buffalo Wild Wings stores focused on takeout and delivery.

Chili’s Grill and Bar simplifies its menu beginning June 1 by cutting approximately 20% of the items.

Dean & Deluca Inc. will open a new fast-food concept in NYC this year.

Del Taco will open approximately 25 new stores in 2017.

Famous Dave’s plans to sell its 33 company-operated locations to franchisees.

Fiesta Restaurant Group underwent a round of corporate layoffs.

Jack in the Box Inc. is exploring a sale of its Qdoba Mexican Eats operation.

Kona Grill Inc. is attempting to renegotiate leases for 5 of its restaurants, some or all of which could close if deals aren’t struck.

McAlister’s Deli looks to open 30+ new locations in 2017.

Panera Bread Co. will expand delivery (using its own drivers) to 40 percent of its restaurants (up from 15%) by the end of 2017.

Pret A Manger surpassed $200 million in US sales in 2016 for the first time. Word is that the company may be moving towards an IPO this year.

Rave Restaurant Group acknowledged closing a total of 18 underperforming Pie Five locations over the last quarter while also opening a handful of others.

Real Mex Restaurants plans to grow the Pink Taco brand that it acquired in 2016 by opening restaurants in Chicago, Miami and NYC in 2018.

Salt & Straw received an equity investment from Union Square Hospitality.

Taco Bell plans to open 80 new restaurants in the US over the course of the summer.

Texas Roadhouse surpassed the 500-store mark.

Torchy’s Tacos received a private-equity investment from General Atlantic. Expansion is in the cards.

Yum! Brands will invest $130 million in Pizza Hut, much of which will go to digital (marketing and ordering), as the company seeks to make up ground lost to Domino’s and Papa John’s.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Mooyah Burgers has been sold to private equity investors that include Balmoral Funds and Gala Capital Partners.

United States Beef Corporation, Arby’s largest franchisee, acquired 10 Arby’s restaurants operating in Central Washington and Northern Idaho from two other franchisees.


Real Estate

BurgerFi signed a franchise agreement with Aramark. The first location under this agreement will open in a Temple University food court this August.

BurgerFi will open approximately 20 new stores this year, targeting North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, DC and New York.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop will make its Minnesota debut this year with the opening of the first of three franchised units scheduled to open in Minneapolis over the next three years.

Fiesta Restaurant Group closed 30 Pollo Tropical locations including all locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Nashville markets along with units in Georgia. The closing will leave 13 stores in Atlanta and six locations in Texas as the only locations outside of Florida.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh will open the first of ten planned location in greater St. Louis this summer.

Potbelly will establish a presence in California for the first time this year after signing a franchisee to open a total of four Orange County locations over the course of the next few years.

Salata opened its first location in Oklahoma. The company plans up to 30 new locations in the next year including those in new markets (Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma).

Shake Shack will open its first Wisconsin restaurant in Milwaukee later this year.

Shipley Do-Nuts will open its first location in Colorado (Denver) this fall. Plans call for a total of 58 units in the state in the coming years.

Taylor Gourmet, a small DC-area sandwich chain, will open its first restaurant in Chicago this year.

Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q looks to add 8 stores in the next 12 months across Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.