Personnel Updates

• B.Good (8) hired Chris Fuqua to take over for co-founder Anthony Ackil as CEO.

• CiCi Enterprises (12) has a new CEO, William Mitchell from Dunkin’ Brands.

• CKE Restaurants (59) VP of Franchise Sales Mike D’Arezzo left the company to join Fransmart.

• CraftWorks (15) CEO Srinivas Kumar resigned. Fred Beilstein will serve as Interim CEO.

• Dave & Buster’s (28) CEO Stephen King will retire on August 5.

• Doherty Enterprises Inc. (32), the 100-unit+ Applebee’s franchisee, promoted Tim Doherty to President and COO.

• Dunkin’ Donuts, US (29) named Drayton Martin VP of Brand Stewardship.

• First Watch Restaurants Inc. (26) named Chris Tomasso CEO while Ken Pendery becomes Executive Chairman.

• Front Burner Restaurants (11) hired Allyn Taylor (formerly with Zoe’s Kitchen) as Chief Development Officer for Velvet Taco.

• Iron Hill Brewery (6) hired Kim Boerema as its new CEO.

• Jimmy Johns (20) found itself a couple new C-suite execs. Stephen Piacentini is the new Chief Development Officer and John Shea is the new Chief Marketing Officer.

• Nekter Franchise Inc. (12) hired Philip Notaro as Director of Construction.

• Pincho Factory (6) appointed President Jayson Tipp as CEO. Current CEO and Co-Founder will transition out of the corporate hierarchy to open franchises.

• Potbelly (18) named former Papa John’s executive Brandon Rhoten as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

• Roy Rogers (8) brought in Dunkin’ Brands VP Jeremy Biser as its new Exec VP.  Biser brought along Mark Jenkins to fill the role of Senior Director of Marketing.

• Ruth’s Hospitality Group (18) President and COO Cheryl Henry will become the company’s CEO in August, succeeding Michael O’Donnell, who will become Executive Chairman.

• Starbucks’ (465) Howard Schultz will step down as Executive Chairman at the end of the month and become Chairman Emeritus.

• Taziki’s Café (17) has named Rachel Layton Vice President of Marketing and Growth.

• Torchy’s Tacos (18) hired Joel Ross as COO and Ryan Moore as CFO.

• Wahlburgers (15) CEO Rick Vanzura left the company. CFO Patrick Renna been named Interim CEO.

• Wingstop (94) named Maurice Cooper as its new Chief Marketing Officer.


Industry Insight

• CraftWorks plans to open 10 franchised locations in 2018.

• Naf Naf Grill founder Sahar Sander passed away.

• Pita Pit is rolling out a new streamlined menu across the US this summer.

• Punch Bowl Social expects to expand from 14 locations to 25 in the next 18 months.

• Wahlburgers franchisee Hy-Vee opened its first restaurant in Mall of America. None of the 26 planned Hy-Vee Wahlburgers locations will be located inside of a supermarket, but they will be located within markets that Hy-Vee operates.


Mergers and Acquisitions

• ARC Group Inc. (Dick’s Wings) is looking to acquire Tilted Kilt.

• Carlisle, the tenth largest Wendy’s franchisee, acquired 46 restaurants in Alabama and Florida from the Wendco Group, a Wendy’s franchisee owned by Roger Webb.

• Fogo de Chao was acquired by Rhône Capital.

• FoodFirst Global Restaurants is the newly-formed parent company of Brio Tuscan Grille and Bravo Cucina Italiana. The company is headed by CEO Brad Blum, former Olive Garden President.

• Long John Silver’s, Inc. has acquired 76 of its namesake restaurants from ServUS. The stores are located primarily in Indiana.

• Manna Development Group acquired 38 Colorado Panera Bread locations from Breads of the World.

• Meridian Restaurants Unlimited, a 100+ unit Burger King franchisee, was acquired by a newly formed private equity group, Polar Star Capital Partners.

• Planet Hollywood and Buca Di Beppo owner Earl Enterprises will acquire Bertucci’s Corp for $20 million.

• Quiznos has been acquired by private equity High Bluff Capital Partners.


Real Estate 

• Checkers is growing in New Jersey with plans to add 60 locations to its current count of 13 restaurants in the coming years.

• Chipotle will move its corporate HQ from Denver to Southern California.

• Fajita Pete’s plans to open six Texas locations this year – Clear Lake, College Station, Cypress, Houston (Midtown), League City and Spring.

• MOD Pizza will expand its Texas footprint with the opening of its first two Dallas/Fort Worth locations this summer. Chain Store Guide projects 100+ openings from MOD in 2018.

• Nekter Franchise Inc. has stores slated to open this summer in the following markets – Jacksonville Beach, Coconut Creek, Tampa and Valrico, FL; Knoxville, TN; Eugene, OR; and Woodbury, MN.

• Original ChopShop opened the third of seven new restaurants planned for 2018 with the next opening coming in Plano, TX.

• Punch Bowl Social will debut a 12,500 sq. ft. concept, about half the size of its other locations, in Fort Worth this year.

• Rise Biscuits Donuts will expand to the West Coast having entered into a franchise agreement with Bill Prosper to develop the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County.

• Roy Rogers plans to increase its store count by 5 or 6 units per year in the Mid-Atlantic region.

• Wendy’s has a goal of remodeling 70 percent of its restaurants by 2020. To date, Wendy’s reports that 44 percent of its existing stores have been remodeled.


Just because we don’t mention it here doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – or we didn’t capture it. In the past four weeks, we’ve updated more than 815 companies in the Restaurant Franchisee Premier Database, with many of those companies’ records updated at multiple points.