Personnel Updates

Buffalo Wild Wings COO James Schmidt retired.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop made a number of franchise-focused hires. New additions include Shawna Decker (Director of Training), Glynn Chambers (East Coast Franchise Business Coach), Robert Hutchinson (West Coast Franchise Business Coach) and Jim Lolley (Construction Project Manager).

Chipotle named Laurie Schalow to the newly created position of Chief Communications Officer. Best of luck to Laurie.

Church’s Chicken hired David Knies as VP of Franchise Development.

Del Taco named M. Barry Westrum as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

DineEquity appointed Stephen Joyce as CEO.

Good Times Restaurants named Ryan Zink as its new CFO following Jim Zielke’s resignation.

Hard Rock has given company veteran Antonio Bautista a new role, Senior VP of Company Cafe Operations.

IHOP has a new Chief Marketing Officer, Brad Haley.

Mici Handcrafted Italian, a small Denver chain with an eye on franchising, brought in former Smashburger exec Elliot Schiffer as CEO.

MOD Pizza named Paul Twohig to the newly created position of COO. Twohig recently retired as President of Dunkin’ Donuts, US and Canada. Chris Schultz, formerly the Senior VP of Operations becomes Senior VP, International Development.

Pei Wei brought in Chris Andrews as its new VP of IT.

Potbelly named CFO Michael Coyne interim CEO, as Aylwin Lewis has left the organization.

Shrimp Basket Restaurants named Kim Moehler as its new CFO.

Sonic brought in Jose Dueñas as its new Exec VP and Chief Brand Officer.

Wingstop hired Scott McLeod as Senior VP of Operations, reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO.


Industry Insight

Applebee’s will close up to 135 locations by the end of fiscal 2017.

Blaze Pizza will open more than 100 restaurants a year starting in 2018.

Buffalo Wild Wings opened 7 R Taco locations in the first half of 2017.

Cotton Patch Café is remodeling its entire 50-unit fleet with the process slated to wrap up by the end of 2019.

Dunkin’ Donuts is testing Dunkin’ only branding and signage at a new Pasadena, CA location with a number of other California locations to follow.

East Hampton Sandwich Co., a small Dallas-based outfit, received a private equity investment.

Famous Dave’s closed six company locations in recent months.

Famous Toastery looks to have 30 restaurants open by the end of summer and grow to 60+ units in a year’s time.

First Watch Restaurants Inc. won’t alter plans to add 50 or so new restaurants per year after Advent International becomes its majority owner.

Joe’s Crab Shack has been quietly closing stores in advance of a judge’s ruling on whether Landry’s winning bankruptcy bid for this piece of Ignite Restaurant Group stands.

Pizza Hut is launching a mobile loyalty program, Hut Rewards.

Potbelly Corp. is looking at “strategic business alternatives” as the chain struggles.

Rita’s Italian Ice is testing a new name by opening 10 new units under the Rita’s Italian Ice & Creamery banner.

Starbucks plans to close all of its Teavana stores by spring 2018.

Tender Greens announced a complete brand redesign that includes everything from the logo to the menu to the store design.

Wendy’s plans to have ordering kiosks in 1,000+ stores by the end of 2017.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and The Brass Tap, along with their parent company FSC Franchise Co., has been sold by one private equity company (Levine Leichtman Capital Partners) to another (CapitalSpring Partners).

First Watch Restaurants Inc. will have a new majority owner, private equity Advent International, when the recently announced deal closes in the coming weeks.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. (Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes) has been sold to two private equity investors.

Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub will merge with J. Alexander’s Holdings. J. Alexander’s CEO Lonnie Stout will serve as CEO of the combined business after the deal is finalized in the fourth quarter.


Real Estate

Chuck E. Cheese’s is kicking off a brand refresh that includes ditching the animatronics. Store remodels in the San Antonio market are up first, and a number of new-look units will open in the St. Louis area over the next two months.

East Hampton Sandwich Co., a small Dallas-based outfit, will open two Houston-area locations.

Fajita Pete’s a small Houston-based chain will open a new hometown location this fall, followed by another Houston location and the company’s second Dallas store.

Fazoli’s opened its first location in South Dakota. The unit is in Sioux Falls.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group will open one new location in the second half of 2017, in suburban Denver.

Square One Concepts, a Scottsdale-based outfit plans to open a new restaurant this fall, Famous 48. The company also has three additional locations for its Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers concept in the works.

Tender Greens will open its first New York location before the end of the year.

Zoup! opened a store in Somerset, NJ, the company’s first location in the state.