Personnel Updates

• Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc. (33) announced the appointment of Reese Stewart as CFO. Stewart comes to the company after serving the past 15 years with CKE Restaurants. Jose R. Costa has been hired as the company’s first Chief Development Officer. Costa had most recently served as GrandVision’s CEO of North America.

• Brinker International Inc. (52) has named Ellie Doty Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Chili’s Grill & Bar.

• Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. (17) has announced the passing of CFO Paul Flanders. Timothy J. LaLonde has been named interim CFO, interim Treasuerer and interim Vice President. The company is currently looking for a permanent replacement.

• Del Taco Restaurants Inc. (25) announced the promotion of Chad Gretzema to Chief Operating Officer. He has been with the company since 2012 most recently serving as Senior VP, Strategic Planning & Innovation.

• Farm Burger LLC (13) has promoted COO David Danowitz to the role of CEO. Co-founder and former CEO Jason Mann will stay on as Executive Chairman of the company.

• Fazoli’s Restaurant LLC (28) has promoted Jodie Conrad to Chief Marketing Officer, Wayne Pederson to Vice President of IT and Blaine Adams to Senior Vice President of Supply Chain.

• Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. (18) has announced the appointment of Hope Diaz as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. Diaz previously served in multiple roles at Restaurant Brands International. Most recently, as the global CMO of their Popeyes brand.

• Fuzzy’s Taco Shop (20) has announced the promotion of Jessica Wescott to the role of Chief Financial Officer. Wescott previously served as the Executive Vice President of Finance for the company.

• Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp (19) has named Nicole Bushnell as Chief Marketing Officer and John Gigliotti as Vice President of Information Technology.

• Juice It Up (11) has named Susan Taylor as Vice President of Operations. Taylor had previously served for 14 years at Jamba among an illustrious 26 total years in the foodservice industry.

• Moe’s Southwest Grill LLC (24) named Erik Hess President of the company. Hess previously spent 25 years at the McDonald’s Corporation.

• Rave Restaurant Group Inc. (16) has announced that Scott Black will be joining their Pie Five Pizza brand as Vice President of Operations.

• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (28) has appointed restaurant veteran Paul J.B. Murphy III as President and CEO. Murphy succeeds interim CEO Pattye Moore.

• Scooter’s Coffee (13) has announced that they’ve brought on Tim Arpin to serve as Vice President of Franchise Sales.

• Smoothie King Franchises Inc. (27) has announced the promotion of COO Dan Harmon. Harmon’s role has expanded to include the role of President as well.

• TYP Restaurant Group Inc. (20) has promoted Jack Oh from Vice President to Chief Marketing Officer.

• Which Wich Inc. (18) has announced the promotion of Cherry Hearn to President. Hearn had previously been serving as General Counsel for the company.

• Wingstop Restaurants Inc. (58) announced that Chief Growth and Experience Officer Maurice Cooper has left the company. The company stated that would not be filling the role and named Vice President of Marketing, Christina Clarke, to serve as Interim Chief Marketing Officer.

• Yum Brands (84) has announced that Clay Johnson has been hired as the company’s Chief Digital and Technology Officer. Additionally, they have promoted Gavin Felder to Chief Strategy Officer.


Mergers & Acquisitions

• Brinker International Inc. has acquired 116 units of its Chili’s Grill & Bar concept from longtime franchisee ERJ Dining.

• Evergreens and Garden Bar have announced that they have merged together to bring their mission of health-focused dining to the masses. All Garden Bar locations will transition to ‘Garden Bar by Evergreens’ in the incoming months.

• Huddle House Inc. has purchased Perkins Restaurant and Bakery for $51.1 million. Marie Callendar’s is to be spun off from Perkins into a new entity called Marie Callendar’s Inc. The brands had previously been merged together under one parent company.

• Inspire Brands has announced their intention to purchase 2,800-unit Jimmy John’s. The completion of this deal, expected by the end of October, will make Inspire Brands the fourth-largest restaurant company in the U.S.

• International Coffee & Tea LLC has been acquired by Jollibee Foods Corporation for $350 million. This move is in an effort to bring Philippines-based Jollibee dominance in the Asian market for coffee.

• Landry’s Restaurants Inc. has won court approval to acquire Restaurants Unlimited Inc.’s assets for $37.2 million. An auction for the company was initially intended but was cancelled after Landry’s submitted the only qualified bid.

• One Group Hospitality Inc. has won court approval to buy Kona Grill Inc.’s locations out of bankruptcy in a deal valued at $25 million.


Industry Insight

• Chick-fil-A Inc. has proudly announced that they are now serving chicken with ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ at all of their locations across the U.S. The company’s original goal was to achieve this by the end of the year. The company reached their goal early as their ‘No Antibiotic Ever’ chicken has been sold system-wide since May 2019.

• Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is being sued by the NYC Mayor’s administration over violations to the city’s ‘Fair Workweek’ law. More than 30 Chipotle employees lodged complaints against the company for these violations. The company also launched their new ‘Carne Asada’ menu option nationally on September 19th.

• KFC Corporation did a test run of their ‘Beyond Fried Chicken’ at one store in Atlanta and sold out within five hours. The company announced their partnership with Beyond Meat on August 26th.

• Maggiano’s Little Italy raised $725,000 for their annual ‘Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-Wish’ campaign. The 16-year tradition has raised almost $10 million since its implementation for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

• McDonald’s Corp released information about a 10-day pilot program the company enacted at a German location back in June. The company experimented with edible packaging during the 10-day pilot as a response to consumer consciousness over using single-use plastics.

• Panera Bread Company unveiled their, quote “biggest product launch of the year” with the introduction of grain bowls to their menu.

• Papa John’s International Inc. has launched their first commercial with new brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal. The former NBA powerhouse recently was appointment a member of the committee’s board and is also a franchisee himself.

• Pizza Hut Inc. has announced a partnership with Cheez-It to create the ‘Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza. The product is now available nationwide at Pizza Hut locations.

• Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. has launched a ‘Bring Your Own Bun’ campaign in response to the massive success they had with their new chicken sandwich. The company joked that despite them selling out of the menu item; customers could bring a bun of their choosing and order the company’s chicken tenders to the same effect of purchasing the sandwich in-store.

• Starbucks Corporation announced plans to launch a ‘pick-up only’ store in New York City this fall. The store is in the response to the success the company has had in China with their ‘Starbucks Now’ concepts.

• Taco Bell Corp. went through a menu redesign this month. The company cut 9 items from their menu in order to focus on their better performing core items as well as Limited Time Offers such as their immensely popular Nacho Fries. They have also launched a dedicated vegetarian section to their menus at 7,000+ locations in the U.S.

• Tim Horton’s Inc. has announced that it will no longer serve its Beyond Meat-branded products outside stores that are located in British Columbia and Ontario.

• The Wendy’s Company has announced plans for a national rollout of their breakfast menu in the U.S. in 2020. Currently, breakfast is available at more than 300 locations across the nation.


Financial Focus

• Bloomin’ Brands has been facing pressure from activist investor group Jana Partners to split up the company. The idea is that it would be favorable to investors if the Outback brand was its own separate entity from Bloomin’s smaller brands.

• FAT Brands Inc. has announced that they are offering $30 million worth of preferred stock for those looking to invest in the growing company.

• Green Restaurant Group LLC has acquired $150 million in their latest round of funding. This raises the company to a valuation of $1.6 billion; an increase of 60% compared to a little less than a year ago.

• Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. saw a peak traffic increase of 218.2% higher than the average for July during the pandemonium surrounding the launch of their new chicken sandwich. The sandwich released by the company sold out in two weeks.

• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has rejected a proposal from Vintage Capital Management, LLC to acquire all outstanding shares of the company.


Real Estate

• Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop Inc. has signed a 17-unit franchise agreement to expand in Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Washington over the next five years.

• Crate & Barrel had so much success with their restaurant concept ‘The Table at Crate’ that the company plans on adding locations to 15 more of their stores. The concept is in collaboration with Cornerstone Restaurant Group.

• IHOP Restaurant System parent Dine Brands Global Inc. announced the opening of three IHOP restaurants in Ecuador. The company plans on continuing its Latin American expansion by bringing the brand to Peru later in 2019. 12 locations are planned to open in Ecuador by 2024 with 24 more expected to open in Peru over the next decade.

• Jamba Inc. has signed a 16-unit franchise deal to expand the brand’s footprint in South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

• J.Alexander’s Holdings Inc. has announced that they are opening a new steak and seafood concept called Merus Grill in the fall. The restaurant will be located in a 7,900 square-foot space in Houston’s Uptown Park.

• McAlister’s Corporation announced the signing of a 30-unit deal to franchisee Southern Rock Restaurants LLC. Planned areas of expansion include Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia.

• MOOYAH Franchise LLC has announced plans to bring eight new locations to the greater Orlando, FL area. Two of these locations are slated to open in December 2019 and January 2020 respectively. One location of the franchise already exists in the area.

• Naf Naf is expanding their footprint with a total of 35-units split amongst four different franchisee groups. The company’s expansion will take place in Illinois, Tennessee and Iowa.

• Papa John’s International Inc. has opened its first location in Portugal.  The location was opened by franchisee Drake Food Service International.

• Potbelly Corporation has signed a 10-unit franchise deal to expand in the Las Vegas, Nevada area.

• RAVE Restaurant Group Inc has announced a franchise deal for their Pizza Inn concept to develop 11 units in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma with Franchisee Tony Nemer.

• Simply Southern Restaurant Group LLC is opening the first location of their Chicken Salad Chick brand in Virginia on October 2nd. This is the fourth new state the company has entered this year along with Missouri, Ohio and Illinois.

• Starbucks Corporation will open the sixth location of their ‘Reserve Roastery’ concept in Chicago. The 43,000 square foot space will be the company’s largest location to date.

• Tropical Smoothie Franchise Development Corp. reached a milestone with the opening of its 800th store which is located in the greater Chicago area.

• QDOBA Mexican Eats has announced a five-unit expansion deal in Canada in partnership with Burgess Enterprise. The locations will be developed in the Northern Ontario area.



• &pizza  has partnered with tech company Zume to integrate the company’s ‘Forward Mobile Kitchens’ with the pizza chain’s brand. The partnership will help &pizza break into new markets and test new products.

• Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. has expanded its mobile ordering platform. For a time, mobile ordering was only available to customers who signed up for the company’s DD Perks service. The company has now added a ‘guest checkout’ to its app in order to expand mobile orders.

• McDonald’s Corporation has expanded their third-party delivery with the addition of a new partnership with Grubhub. The partnership will service 500 locations in the NYC area. The company has also acquired AI Tech company Apprente who specialize in voice-based conversational technology.

• Starbucks Corporation has launched voice ordering in China. The service is available by using Alibaba’s smart speaker, called the Tmall Genie, and allows customers to order using their voice and receive their delivery within a 30 minute time frame.


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