MRM Franchise Feed: Honoring Troops, Containing Taco Bell and Celebrating a Week of Joy

by MRM Staff 13 Min Read

Modern Restaurant Management magazine's Franchise Feed offers a glimpse at what's new in the restaurant franchise environment. Send items of interest to Content Director Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Nominate a Hero

Apple-Metro Inc., an Applebee's franchise for the New York metropolitan area, and TroopTree, a free video messaging service created for the military and their loved ones, started a joint Veterans Day campaign to celebrate a local Armed Forces hero leading up to November 11tt

Apple-Metro and TroopTree have joined for a public "Nominate an Armed Forces Hero" initiative, allowing people to nominate a veteran or active duty military member they know who has had a positive impact on their life, community or country. Submissions will be accepted online throughout October-closing at 11:59 p.m. EST on October 3t – via written or video recording at www.trooptree.com/applebees. Five winners will be announced on Veterans Day, November 11th, and awarded a free Applebee's meal voucher, which they can redeem with loved ones at their convenience at any of Applebee's 36 locations in the NY Metro – The Five Boroughs, Westchester and Rockland Counties.

"Remembering and respecting those who fight for our freedoms is a top priority of Applebee's," said Ken Feldman, Vice President of Marketing for Applebee's New York. "We are especially excited to amplify our efforts with TroopTree. With their extensive network of deep military connections, experience working with the community and overall company mission, we are confident that we will be able to make a larger impact in the community."

Through this agreement, Apple-Metro Inc. will be continuing Applebee's history of paying homage to our service members. Since 2008, Applebee's has served almost eight million free meals to veterans and active duty military on Veterans Day, and expects to serve close to 1 million more this year. For the ninth consecutive year, Applebee's will offer a complimentary meal from a selection of entrees at nearly 1,900 restaurants nationwide on November 11. Applebee's also gives back through their "Thank You Movement" campaign, which recognizes regional groups that help veterans in a variety of ways.

"We are very proud to work with Apple-Metro Inc., who shares our commitment to supporting the military and has been involved in this mission for nearly a decade," said Jon Loew, CEO and founder of TroopTree. "This joint campaign is a great opportunity to reach more families with veterans and active duty military this Veterans Day and beyond into the holiday season. We look forward to recognizing unsung community heroes and joining their families and friends in saying thank you."

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For more information on the "Nominate an Armed Forces Hero" initiative, click here.

Celebrating Week of Joy

With the newly-rebranded Joy in Childhood Foundation, Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins franchisees, crew members and employees are committing to improving the lives of sick and hungry children across the country by providing the simple joys of childhood to children whose lives are compromised by health and hunger issues. To celebrate the rebranding, the Joy in Childhood Foundation (formerly The Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation) is teaming up with nearly 70 Feeding America® member food banks nationwide to host volunteer events to fight children’s hunger during the third annual Week of Joy (formerly the Week of Service), October 17-21.

“The rebrand of our foundation allows us to channel the incredible work of our operators into a mission that so closely aligns with the values of Dunkin’ Brands, our franchisees and our guests to make a meaningful difference in our communities,” said Nigel Travis, Chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands. “The Joy in Childhood Foundation brings together all of our stakeholders and the best of our brands in a way that makes sense and ensures that children who face hunger or sickness have the support and essential services to find joy in their daily lives.”joy-in-childhood-foundation-logo3

The Foundation anticipates that over 1,500 Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins franchisees, crew members and corporate employees will volunteer upwards of 4,000 hours and provide hundreds of thousands of meals to kids and families in communities across the country.

“The Foundation has been an important partner to The Greater Boston Food Bank for well over 10 years,” said Suzanne Battit, Vice President, External Affairs and Advancement at The Greater Boston Food Bank, one of the organizations the Joy in Childhood Foundation supports through financial and volunteer activities. “Through the franchisee’s volunteer work and generous grants, the Foundation has provided more than 60,000 meals to families in need. Without partners like the Foundation, we would not be able to provide food for the one in four children across Eastern Massachusetts who are at risk of hunger. Year over year, the Foundation understands that no one should ever question where their next meal is coming from.”

This year’s Week of Joy coincides with the Foundation’s 10th anniversary. To deliver on the Joy in Childhood Foundation’s new mission, the Foundation will continue many of its existing partnerships on both the national and local levels —including its partnership with Feeding America and member food banks, children’s hospitals, and nonprofit organizations directly committed to serving sick and hungry kids. 

“The heart of our organization is our franchisees and the communities they serve,” said Karen Raskopf, Chief Communications Officer at Dunkin’ Brands and Co-Chair of the Joy in Childhood Foundation. “Joy is in the DNA of our brands. By focusing the mission of the Foundation on joy, we have a powerful way of bringing all of our strengths together to make a positive impact in these communities.”

Following the Week of Joy, the Joy in Childhood Foundation will make its debut in Dunkin’ Donuts stores through the National Community Cups Program, running from November 1-30, 2016. During this time, guests will be invited to make a $1 donation to the Joy in Childhood Foundation at Dunkin’ Donuts and Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins multi-brand restaurants nationwide. The program will support the Joy in Childhood Foundation’s efforts to provide the simple joys of childhood to sick and hungry kids.

The Joy in Childhood Foundation provides the simple joys of childhood to sick and hungry kids. The Foundation brings together a wide range of stakeholders—including franchisees, crew members, employees, partners and guests —and partners with food banks, children’s hospitals, and nonprofit organizations directly committed to serving sick and hungry kids to fund joyful environments, joyful experiences and joyful expressions to ensure that children whose lives are compromised by hunger or sickness have the support and essential services to find joy in their daily lives. Since launching in 2006, the Joy in Childhood Foundation (formerly The Dunkin Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation), has granted more than $11 million to hundreds of national and local charities across the country.

Celebrating Veterans

To show appreciation for the United States military personnel, past and present, all active and retired military personnel will be able to select one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 at Chevy's locations in Southern California, which includes Burbank, Northridge and Ontario.

The special menu will feature:

  • Mesquite Grilled Tacos
  • Fajita Burrito
  • Mesquite Grilled Chicken Fajitas
  • Mesquite Grilled Steak Fajitas
  • 2-item combo Surf n’ Turf and Chicken
  •  Flautaschevys-fajitas-1

To qualify, dine in uniform or bring proper identification. In addition, all military personnel receive a 20-percent discount whenever they visit any Chevys locations throughout the year. Restrictions apply. Contact your local Chevys restaurant for details. The first Chevys opened in Alameda, CA in 1981, offering a “Fresh Mex” take on Mexican cuisine. There are currently 43 locations nationwide.

Who Song And Larry’s, 1535 W. Katella Ave., in Orange, CA is offering all active and retired military personnel to select one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The menu features:

  • Sizzling Green Salad
  • Muy Thai Salad 
  • Chicken or Steak Fajitas
  • Any Taco Trio
  • Pork Chili Verde 
  • Larry’s Burrito  
  • Smoked Chicken Enchiladas

At all Southern California Acapulco Restaurant and Cantina locations, active and retired military personnel will be able to select one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu featuring:

  •   2-item combo
  • Carnitas
  • Grilled Chicken Fajitas
  • Grilled Steak Fajitas
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Enchiladas Suizas 
  • Asada Burrito  
  • Tacos de la Calle 

 All El Torito Grill locations throughout Southern California will  honor active and retired military personnel by offering one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu featuring:

  • Especial De La Casa
  • Del Noble
  • Chicken or Steak Fajitas
  • Carnitas Yukatan
  • Chicken or Cheese Enchilada
  • Barbeque Chicken Tostada Salad
  • ChickenSteak Fajitas Salad

All El Torito locations will offer all active and retired military personnel. one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu featuring

a two-item combo:

  • Carnitas Michoacan
  • Pollo Fresco en Adobo
  • Grilled Chicken Fajitas
  • Grilled Steak Fajitas
  • Chicken and Sour Cream Enchiladas
  • Street Taco Trio
  • Carne Asada Burrito
SUBWAY and Honest Kids

SUBWAY® restaurants will feature Honest Kids juice drinks nationwide as the newest addition to its SUBWAY Fresh Fit for Kids’ Meal® menu, which features delicious and nutritious options for kids.  USDA-certified organic Honest Kids juice drinks will be available in the Super Fruit Punch variety in six-ounce. juice boxes.

Created in 2007 by the makers of Honest Tea, Honest Kids organic juice drinks are the nation’s top selling organic kids’ juice drink. All Honest Kids varieties are certified organic and sweetened only with fruit juice, and at 35 calories per juice box, Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch has a light and refreshing taste.

“We’re thrilled to have Honest Kids join the SUBWAY Fresh Fit for Kids’ Meal® menu as part of their new lineup of nutritious kids offerings,” said Ami Mathur, Honest Tea’s General Manager, Brand Marketing. “Joining forces with SUBWAY restaurants is a huge milestone for the Honest Kids brand, and we’re looking forward to increasing access to organic products with simple ingredients in the Foodservice Channel as consumer demand continues to grow.”

“Honest Kids is such a tasty organic beverage option for kids – I need to thank my son for suggesting it!” said co-founder and TeaEO Emeritus Seth Goldman. “We’re fired up to see Honest Kids offered at SUBWAY – it’s a perfect fit for their Fresh Fit for Kids’ Meal® menu”

SUBWAY® restaurants Dietitian Lanette Kovachi remarked “As a mom and dietitian, I think Honest Kids beverages are a great option for kids. It is a staple in my home for my own kids; as it tastes great and is sweetened with only fruit juice.”

Kono for the Holidays

Kono USA – franchisor of “The Original” Kono Pizza and Kono To-Go – Fresh Eats, Treats & Sweets franchise brands – is bringing its on-the-go snack options in front of the masses this holiday season with the addition of five new units set to open before the biggest shopping day of the year. The growing franchise has popularized a new snacking experience with customizable pizza and dessert options, all served in freshly-baked dough cones. Each snack cone is filled with high-quality ingredients inspired by original Italian recipes and baked in just three minutes in the brand’s proprietary oven.kono-to-go-mall-kiosk1

With existing locations in New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Philadelphia and South Carolina, Kono To-Go is expanding its footprint in shopping centers throughout California; Washington, D.C.; Texas and Idaho this holiday season. With more than 60 units in various stages of development, Kono USA’s To-Go model is perfectly suited for high traffic venues, bringing its innovative menu offerings directly to consumers in shopping malls, Wal-Mart stores, airports, festivals, sporting events and more.

“We are providing consumers with a fresh, unique and convenient new alternative to the standard snack options you see in malls and other venues,” said Kono USA Co-Founder David Ragosa, noting that the brand’s new line of dessert cones developed in partnership with Ghirardelli will be a hot item this holiday season.

The new mall locations set to open in November include:

  • Baltimore: Franchisee Tony Murphy is set to open Kono To-Go mall kiosks in Annapolis Mall and White Marsh Mall. A third unit is in the works.     
  • Dallas: Franchisee Frank Ovanessians is opening a Kono To-Go kiosk in Towne East Mall, his first location.
  • San Diego: Franchisee Larry Myers, who signed a deal for 10 locations, will open on outdoor mall kiosk at Mission Valley Mall.
  • Boise: Franchisee Tyler Blake is set to open the first of his three units in the Boise Town Center Mall.kono-pizza-cone-cherry-hill1

In addition, franchisee Robert Resendez, who signed a deal for five units, recently rolled out his first Kono cart to hungry crowds at a recent craft beer festival and rodeo in Houston, and earlier this year, the first in-line Wal-Mart location opened in Lancaster, South Carolina. Franchisee Eric Ciancaglini, who has operated a kiosk in the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey since November 2015 and a cart he has operated in over 20 events in 2016, has seen steady growth throughout the year. Ciancaglini is preparing for increased foot traffic during the height of the holiday season by increasing his staff and anticipates carrying the holiday momentum into the New Year when he will open his third location in the King of Prussia Mall. 

Container-Based Taco Bell

SG Blocks, a designer, innovator and fabricator of container-based structures, installed a container-based Taco Bell, located at 13601 Garfield Ave, South Gate, CA.

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The five-module, 1080 square-foot restaurant was previously a pop-up Taco Bell at the 2016 South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals in Austin. Alvarado Restaurant Group, part of Alvarado Companies, is the franchise owner for the Taco Bell in South Gate.

“We repurposed a pop-up Taco Bell that was originally made from recycled materials, creating one of the greenest fast-food restaurants in the country,” stated Paul Galvin, Chairman and CEO of SG Blocks. “This is truly disruptive! Container-based, modular building is changing residential and commercial real estate. We are minimizing waste, speeding up construction and repurposing durable, seaworthy materials in order to create sustainable buildings.”

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SG Blocks partnered with Alvarado Construction Inc. to install the Taco Bell at its new, permanent location, in only one week. The companies are completing all final utility work, paving and landscaping. 

“We love the idea of building a store out of a container,” said Jeff Geller, Executive Vice President, Alvarado Companies. “Taco Bell has a mission to be as green as possible and as a franchisee, we want to follow in its path. Given that this restaurant was already at SXSW, we thought it would be a great opportunity to repurpose it for our smaller site and open a new Taco Bell.”

Alvarado Companies currently owns 110 other Taco Bells in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin and California. The Taco Bell will be open at its permanent home in South Gate by the end of 2016.

Fazoli's Fast Growth

Fazoli's announced a 5.1 percent same-store sales increase at its franchise-owned restaurants during its fiscal year second quarter ending September 30, 2016. Additionally, the company has now experienced 14 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth.

"We are pleased to report Fazoli's continued sales growth for the first half of 2016," said Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli's. "The key to our company's success has been listening to and understanding our guests' tastes and preferences and adjusting our brand strategy accordingly. In the last 12 months, we have upgraded our menu, launched a best-in-class catering program, and are in the process of rolling out new guest-facing technology with more updates forthcoming. There has truly never been a better time for our brand and it is showing in our sales trends and strong franchise development."

In addition to robust sales growth, Fazoli's experienced its most successful franchise grand opening to date in September. Fueled by guest nostalgia, Fazoli's marked its return to Warner Robins, Georgia, after nearly two decades of absence. To date, the company has opened 10 new restaurants across the country with plans to open an additional two locations by the end of the year. 

Furthermore, Fazoli's franchisees are experiencing nearly three times the industry average growth rate, with new franchised restaurants continually setting new company-wide records. To further attest to the brand's success, Fazoli's has produced positive same-store sales growth in 17 of the last 18 quarters.

"The team and I remained focused on food quality and service and we remain passionate about elevating both of these areas in 2017," continued Howard.

In 2011, Fazoli's underwent a major brand overhaul with the introduction of real plateware and silverware in lieu of foam plates and plastic cutlery. As part of the brand refresh, earlier this year, Fazoli's began remodeling some of its locations with a new, contemporary look and feel. In addition, the company introduced an upgraded menu using premium ingredients, which has been well received by guests. This, coupled with the company's strong performance, continues to drive its expansion. To further catapult the brand's development nationwide, Fazoli's is targeting new markets for expansion including Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Knoxville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and several other cities. There are nearly 220 restaurants in 24 states.

Restaurant of the Future

Back Yard Burgers debuted its new prototype and restaurant of the future in Gulfport, MS. The new restaurant, which is owned by Back Yard Burgers’ largest franchise partner, Resolute Brands LLC, based in Ridgeland, MS, is the first to feature the brand new Back Yard Burgers logo, exterior and interior signage, interior color scheme and décor, open kitchen design, uniforms, furnishings, outdoor patio and even packaging. The new contemporary and open design will be featured in all future restaurants and franchisees will be provided re-design options. exterior-day-time

The 3,000 square foot restaurant is located off U.S. I-10 at 10490 Highway 49 in an outparcel at Crossroads Shopping Center, this is the 8th Mississippi location for Resolute Brands who has Back Yard Burger restaurants in the Oxford, Meridian, and five units in the Jackson area – including units in Madison, Flowood and Byram. 

The new look and feel of the Nashville-based concept now more accurately complements the high quality food and premium ingredients. In addition to the restaurant redesign, the Back Yard Burgers website has also been updated to complete the extensive re-brand. The new logo takes on a sleeker, more modern look, just like the company’s redesigned stores. The goal of the overall re-brand is to attract and welcome more guests into the restaurants.

“Back Yard Burgers will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year so this is the perfect time to refresh and modernize our restaurants,” said David McDougall, CEO of Back Yard Burgers. “We hope to impress our loyal guests as well as turn some new heads by enriching the overall guest experience.” 

Resolute Brands, a 19-year franchise partner, is targeting further growth in the Jackson area and in the D'Iberville costal region

“Mississippians are quite vocal about their love for the Back Yard Burger concept,” says Resolute Brands COO Ric Thornburg. “We’re as thrilled as they are to be back in Gulfport – providing the same, amazing flame-grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and milkshakes in a fresh, modernized environment and show all of our guests our Silver Platter Service.”

Which Wich Goes With NCR

When the Which Wich technology team decided its quick service franchises needed an easy-to-use, cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) solution, it turned to NCR Small Business.

The mobile POS system from NCR, a global leader in omni-channel solutions, offers the company’s franchisees a simple implementation process and powerful functionality at a lower cost. NCR Silver Pro Restaurant Edition’s flexibility and mobile ordering capabilities also stood out to the team.

“NCR has a long history in the restaurant industry and experience in the franchise business,” said Jeff Bruton, vice president of finance at Which Wich. “We selected the Silver solution to help streamline operations and deliver a better customer experience throughout our franchises.”

With NCR Silver Pro Restaurant Edition as a POS solution, franchisees incur less startup and monthly costs. The iPad® system also simplifies implementation and employee training.

“NCR Small Business works to remove the day-to-day complexities franchisees face when working to deliver mobile solutions and improve the omni-channel experience for customers,” said Chris Poelma, president and general manager of NCR Small Business. “Working with Which Wich proves our commitment to the franchise community and helping them increase margins and enhance customer loyalty.

Carl's Jr. Goes to Cambodia

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. is opening its first Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Cambodia. Operated by TH F&B Co. LTD, the Carl’s Jr. restaurant will be located in the capital city of Phnom Penh and offer the very first quick service restaurant (QSR) drive-through in the country.

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“We’ve been experiencing phenomenal international growth this year. In fact, Cambodia comes on the heels of successful openings in Australia, Japan and Kenya and marks the 40th country that CKE International has entered into,” stated Ned Lyerly, President, International at CKE. “This is an important market for our overall expansion strategy and we plan to open 15 restaurants in the country to offer Cambodians a superior burger experience.”

“In addition to providing the very first QSR drive-through in the country, Cambodians can also enjoy our wide range of affordably priced, premium quality burgers and chicken sandwiches made fresh to order using high-quality ingredients, including chargrilled 100 percent Australian beef. We are confident that Cambodians will love our big, juicy burgers as well as our best-in-class customer service,” Lyerly added.

The restaurant will offer innovative menu items including the brand’s signature Western Bacon Cheeseburger®, Famous Star® and Super Star® burgers, along with other fan favorites like The Big Carl™, the Jalapeno Thickburger®, Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™ and Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes™.

“With its unparalleled innovation, Carl’s Jr. really is in a class of their own when it comes to delivering affordable yet premium, high quality and fresh menu items,” stated Hav Norm, Managing Director of TH F&B. “We’re confident that Cambodia, with its large youthful population and increased awareness and desire for western brands, are going to love having this global burger chain in their country. It is an honor to bring the first Carl’s Jr. to Cambodia and we look forward to expanding its reach across the country.”

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