Personnel Updates

• Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza (21) named John Reale as the new Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Reale previously served as COO at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. They also appointed Katie Knight as Chief Marketing Officer.

• Dine Brands Inc. (56) has announced that Darren Rebelez will be stepping down as President of the IHOP brand. He will be succeeded by Jay Johns.

• Doctor’s Associates Inc. (88) announced the promotion of Len Van Popering to Chief Brand and Innovation officer. The company also announced Marie Silloway was named Vice President of Brand Management, Renee Hourigan was named Director of Convenience and Innovation, and Ciaran Duffy is now Senior Corporate Executive Chef.

• Golden Franchising Corp. (9) has named franchisee Jim Stevens as President of its Golden Chick division, succeeding Chairman Mark Parmerlee in the role.

• Huddle House Inc. (21) has promoted Troy Tracy to Chief Operating Officer and Nathan Ballard to Chief Supply Chain Officer.

• Muginoho USA Inc. (3) has named Pamela Fazio to the new positions of President and CEO.

• Ruby Tuesday Inc. (37) has named Jenifer Boyd Harmon to serve as the new Chief Marketing Officer.

• Sizzler USA Inc. (6) announced its CEO Kerry Kramp has left the company. Chief Strategic Officer Dennis Scott, along with Khaled Bagul, and Steve McDermott are also no longer with the restaurant chain.

• Smoothie King Franchises Inc. (27) recently hired Chris Andrews to serve as CIO. Andrews had previously served as CIO at Pei Wei.

• TJF USA LLC (12) announced Brian Wright would succeed Rick Van Warner as CEO. The company also named Louie Psallidas as CFO. In addition, Steve Culbert was named as Senior VP of Operations.

• True Food Kitchen (39) has named Peggy Rubenzer to serve as their first Chief People Officer.

• The Wendy’s Company (48) has announced the appointment of Steven Derwoed to serve as its new Head of Global Design. Carl Loredo, former VP of Brand Marketing, was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer.

• Texas Roadhouse Inc. (34) announced that former President Scott Colosi has left the company the same day that his retirement was announced. CEO and founder Kent Taylor has assumed the additional role of President.


Mergers & Acquisitions

• Greens Restaurant Group LLC has acquired Galley Foods, a Washington, DC-based meal delivery service.

• MTY Food Group Inc. announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Quebec-based chain Yuzu Sushi.

• Pei Wei Asian Diner has been sold by private investment firm Centerbridge Partners, L.P. to West Coast Capital.

• FAT Brands Inc. acquired Elevation Burger to the tune of $10 Million. Elevation Burger currently has 47 locations domestically and abroad.

• McDonald’s Corp has purchased Dynamic Yield, a technology solutions provider, for a price in excess of $300 million. Dynamic Yield’s AI technology will be used for customer personalization.

• Whataburger Inc. had a majority stake of their company acquired by Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners.

• Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Inc. is to be acquired by L Catterton in an all-cash deal valued around $650 million.


Industry Insight

• Del Taco has sold 2 million of their plant-based tacos since their unveiling in April. The tacos contain a plant-based meat substitute from emerging brand Beyond Meat hot on the heels of their successful IPO in May.

• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is now offering Donatos Pizza at 24 locations as a test to diversify their menu. Donatos currently operates in 9 states across the U.S. Red Robin’s reach across the country could help expand brand recognition for Donatos.

• McDonald’s Corp has announced that its Canadian operation will be opening two stores with a focus on more environmentally friendly packaging. Some of these alternatives will include wooden cutlery and fully recyclable cups.


Real Estate

• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. is closing 10 underperforming restaurants. Of those 10 restaurants, 7 are located in enclosed mall locations.

• White Castle has announced that it will be expanding into Arizona for the first time later in 2019.

• Taco Bell has signed deals to add 600 units in India and more than 100 units in Australia and New Zealand. This deal contributes to their goal of having 1,000 international stores by 2022.

• Jamba Inc. opened its first “new” location since their rebranding. Jamba has said it plans to convert all of its existing locations to their new brand aesthetics as well as pursuing aggressive expansion.

• Fuzzy’s Taco Shop says they plan on opening 20 more locations by the end of 2019. This is in conjunction with the 7 locations already opened this year and a goal of reaching 200 locations by the end of 2020.



• McDonald’s Corp and Uber Technologies Inc. have begun testing Uber’s drone delivery service ‘Uber Elevate’. This idea will be expanded later in the year to include test meal drops for San Diego fine dining eatery Juniper & Ivy. McDonald’s is also starting to explore kitchen automation and voice-recognition software for ordering.

• Taco Bell has installed self-service kiosks in 4,000 locations nationwide. The company is on track to rollout kiosks at all 6,600 U.S. locations by year’s end.

• Starbucks Inc. and McDonald’s Corp have both unveiled plans to rollout AI-enabled platforms in order to provide a more customized experience for consumers. This technology will make order recommendations based on the customer’s initial orders and other factors such as time of day, popular selections and weather.

• Domino’s has partnered with Xevo to develop its in-car ordering system launching later this year. The technology will allow users to find nearby locations, call in an order and even track order preparation all through their car’s interface.


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 1,300 companies in the Chain Restaurant Premier Database, with many of those companies’ records updated at multiple points.