Personnel Updates

• Aurify Brands (17) named former Starbucks exec Becky Mulligan as CEO of the Little Beet concept.

• Ballard Brands (20) named Bill DiPaola as its new COO and Leslie Monson as Chief Marketing Officer.

• Cava Group (16) completed its acquisition of Zoe’s Kitchen, making Ron Saich the Chairman of the combined companies and Brett Shulman CEO. Zoe’s CEO Kevin Miles left the company.

• Chipotle (51) named Tabassum Zalotrawala as its new Chief Development Officer and Roger Theodoredis as Chief Legal Officer.

• Church’s Chicken (64) brought in Alan Magee as VP of Digital Marketing and Technology.

• Dunkin’ Brands (80) promoted John Varughese to VP of International.

• El Pollo Loco (18) named Hector Nunez Chief Marketing Officer and Jennifer Jaffee Chief People Officer.

• Esquared Hospitality (27) named Patrik Hellstrand CEO of the By Chloe concept.

• Friendly’s (15) appointed Ed Valle, formerly of El Pollo Loco as Chief Marketing Officer.

• Metro Diner (13) named Stanley Goodman COO and John Kunkel CFO.

• PJW Restaurant Group (8) promoted Jim Fris to CEO. He takes over leadership of the company from founder Bob Platzer who assumed the title of Executive Chairman.

• Potbelly (18) named Tom Fitzgerald as its new CEO while promoting Julie Younglove-Webb to the newly created position of Chief Restaurant Operations Officer.

• Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group (10) named Jennifer Beougher as its first CFO. Beougher was most recently VP of Financial Planning at Cracker Barrel.

• Smashburger (16) named Jose Minana as President upon Jollibee taking full ownership of the concept. Founder Tom Ryan remains as CEO.

• Twin Peaks Restaurants (14) named Alex Sadowsky as its new Executive Chef.

• Uno Restaurant Holdings (24) CEO Louie Psallidas stepped down. Jim Ilaria takes over as CEO. Ilaria is the former CEO Potomac Family Dining Group, a 60+ unit Applebee’s franchisee.

• Upward Projects (12), which counts Postino Wine Cafe amongst its holdings, named Alex Taylor to the newly created position of COO.

• Your Pie (10) brought in Dave McDougall, the former CEO of Backyard Burgers, as COO.

• Yum Brands (98) named Target CEO Brian Cornell as its non-executive chairman.

• Zoe’s Kitchen (14) CEO has left the company following the closing of Cava Group’s acquisition of the company.

 

Financial Focus

• Good Times Restaurants Inc. released its FYE 9/25/18 results. Total revenues increased 19% increased 25% to $99,240,000 for the year, which reflects the addition of 9 new Bad Daddy’s restaurants during the year. Same store sales for company-owned Good Times restaurants increased 4.2% for the year.

 

Industry Insight

• Brinker International opened its first nontraditional Maggiano’s Little Italy location at DFW International Airport.

• Chick-Fil-A partnered with DoorDash to offer nationwide delivery.

• Crafthouse Franchising LLC a 3-unit beer-focused concept in Virginia signed a deal with American Development Partners to franchise the concept beginning in 2019.

• Dave and Busters’s opened 14 units in 2018 and has another 12 in development.

• Good Times Restaurants Inc. will open 5 restaurants in 2019.

• Jack in the Box will remodel approximately 80 stores in 2019, and by the end of 2021, the company will have upgraded 80% of its drive-thru lanes. The company plans on opening 25-35 new restaurants.

• Jack in the Box is dealing with franchisee tension on a number of fronts. The newest is the company’s move to ask property owners to transfer lease agreements from Jack in the Box Inc. to a new subsidiary to increase the company’s credit worthiness. As well, the franchisee association filed suit against the company over its marketing fund and remodels.

• The Madera Group completed a $21 million round of funding to fuel expansion of its Tocaya Organica and Toca Madera Mexican concepts.

• McDonald’s pushed back the deadline for remodeling all 14,000 US locations from the end of 2020 to 2022 amid franchisee protests. The company estimates that half of its store remodels will be complete by the end of the year.

• MOD Pizza opened its 400th location.

• Mountain Mike’s plans to open 25 new units in 2019.

• Starbuck’s is rolling out delivery to 2,000 US stores in early 2019.

 

Mergers and Acquisitions

• Applebee’s bought back 69 stores in North Carolina and South Carolina.

• Cava Group Inc. completed its acquisition of Zoe’s Kitchen.

• Fat Brands acquired Yalla Mediterranean.

• Inspire Brands closed its acquisition of Sonic.

• Jack in the Box is officially for sale.

• Jollibee acquired the remaining 15% of Smashburger that it previously had not owned.

 

Real Estate

• Chicken Salad Chick will expand to Ohio and Illinois in 2019.

• Cousins Subs plans to enter expansion mode, targeting Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul for expansion in coming years. They’ll kick off first in Chicago with about a half-dozen stores slated to open in 2019.

• Habit Burger will expand to Chicagoland with a 20-unit deal for stores in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana. The first location will open in the 2nd half of 2019.

• Metro Diner will expand to New Jersey and South Carolina next year.

• Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group will debut a new concept in 2019. Ruby Sunshine will feature all-day New Orleans inspired brunch. One Louisiana and two Tennessee locations are on tap next year.

• Texas de Brazil opened its 60th restaurant and first in Washington state with a location within the Tacoma Mall.

 

Technology

• Pizza Hut will acquire QuikOrder, an online ordering platform, in a move to boost its digital business.

• Shake Shack released its new mobile app and introduced nationwide web ordering.

• Sweetgreen plans to invest a large portion of the $200 million it raised in its last funding round on technology, including delivery systems and blockchain technology to provide supply chain transparency. The current round of investment values the company at $1B.

• Taco Bell will begin installing ordering kiosks in 2019.

 

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 10,000 companies in the Restaurant Franchisee Premier Database, with many of those companies’ records updated at multiple points.