Personnel Updates

Bar Louie has a new COO. Tony Wehner succeeds the retiring James Hughes.

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith will retire by the end of 2017.

CiCi Enterprises named Billie Jo Waara as Chief Marketing Officer.

Cracker Barrel named Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer to the newly created position of VP of Culinary.

Crest Foods Inc. hired Kendra Shier as the new VP of Operations and Marketing for Nestle Tollhouse Café by Chip.

Del Taco Restaurants promoted John Cappasola Jr. to CEO. Cappasola replaces outgoing CEO Paul Murphy.

Denny’s named Michael Furlow as its new CIO and Senior VP of IT.

Dunkin Brands promoted Kate Jaspon to CFO.

Focus Brands Inc. named Kat Cole as its new COO and North America President. Cole replaces Paul Damico who left for Naf Naf Grill.

Logan’s Roadhouse named David Catalano (last seen at Ignite Restaurant Group) to the newly created position of COO.

Naf Naf Grill brought in Paul Damico, formerly of Focus Brands, to serve as its new CEO. Co-Founder David Sloan who had served as Co-CEO will eventually step away from the company, while Co-Founder Sahar Sander will stay on, transitioning from his Co-CEO role to that of Chief Culinary Officer.

Noodles & Company made Interim CEO Dave Boennighausen’s position permanent. Boennighausen had been the company’s CFO. Outgoing Del Taco CEO Paul Murphy was named Executive Chairman.

Papa John’s International named Bradon Rhoten Global Chief Marketing Officer.

Papa Murphy’s International named Weldon Spangler as its new CEO. Jean Birch stays on as Chairman.

Pei Wei named Brandon Solano Chief Marketing Officer.

Potbelly Corp announced that CEO Aylwin Lewis will resign in August.

Taco Bueno brought in Tony Darden as COO and Sarah Beddoe as Chief Marketing Officer.

Taco Johns hired Jimmy Orr as Director of Digital Strategy.

Togo’s appointed Glenn Lunde President. Lunde assumes overall leadership of the chain. In other moves, the company hired Nader Garschi as COO and Anna Nero as Senior VP of Marketing.

Walk-On’s Enterprises hired Bruce Attinger as VP of People & Talent Development.

World of Beer Franchising Inc. promoted Dave Reid to COO.


Industry Insight

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. will test a B-Dubs Express fast-casual concept when it opens two locations this summer.

Church’s Chicken has signed a deal with Goalz Restaurant Group to open 20 stores per year over the next several years throughout Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Dat Dog has partnered with B&G Food Enterprises (Taco Bells and KFCs in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) to open 25 units in Houston over the next few years with the first slated to open in early 2018.

Dave & Buster’s will open 12 new locations this fiscal year.

Huddle House has approximately 40 new locations under development.

Ignite Restaurant Group filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

McDonald’s now provides delivery at more than 1,000 US locations with the expansion of the McDelivery program via UberEats to Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Columbus, OH.

Noodles & Company is testing a new name (Noodles World Kitchen) and menu items in select markets including Colorado Springs and Kansas City.

Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. will close16 company-owned locations by the end of the year.

Rockit Ranch Productions and Billy Dec have added a new Chicago venue, Otto Mezzo.

Soupman Inc. filed for bankruptcy after CFO Robert Bertrand was charged with tax evasion. Allegations are that he failed to pay employee taxes over a four-year period.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee, acquired Republic Foods Inc. and its 17 Burger King locations.

Curry Up Now acquired fellow fast-casual Bay area Indian concept Tava Kitchen. Two of Tava’s three locations have closed; one will be converted.

Firenza Pizza merged with Persona Pizzeria. The seven Persona Pizzerias will rebrand, and the combined company will open 10-15 additional Firenza-branded locations this year.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop plans to open approximately 30 stores in 2017.

KBP Foods LLC has acquired 91 Taco Bell and KFC locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee, all of which are new markets for the rapidly growing company.

Meritage Hospitality Group acquired an additional 57 Wendy’s locations in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of which are new markets for the company.

NPC International Inc., the largest Pizza Hut franchisee, acquired 140 Wendy’s locations that had been owned by DaveCo Restaurants. With the deal, NPC also becomes the largest Wendy’s franchisee.

PizzaRev has a new majority owner, Cleveland Avenue LLC, which was founded by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. Buffalo Wild Wings has divested its interest in PizzaRev as part of the deal.

US Foods Inc. will acquire F. Christiana & Co. The latter will continue operating under the F. Christiana name and out of its current facilities.


Real Estate

Arooga’s Grille House has opened its first New Jersey location.

Black Bear Diner is headed east with lease agreements in place in Oklahoma and Texas. In total, the chain expects to open 24 units in 2017.

Dave & Buster’s opened its first Louisiana location in New Orleans.

Frisch’s Big Boy, an iconic Cincinnati brand, will return Downtown, when it opens a new restaurant early next year. Downtown Cincy has been without a Frisch’s Big Boy since 2004.   

Marco’s Franchising LLC will work with existing franchisees to open a dozen new Orlando locations in the next two years.

Naf Naf Grill looks to expand its unit-base by focusing on growth in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Oath Craft Pizza, a Massachusetts-based operation, will open three new stores this year, including one in DC. The announcements come as the company has completed a $7-million round of funding.

Salata is growing. The company recently opened its first Oklahoma location (in OKC) and will enter Florida and Georgia for the first time this year. It plans an additional 23 openings before the end of 2017.

Tropical Smoothie Café will open its 600th location in Joplin, MO this month.