MRM Franchise Feed: Flatbread Grill Going Around the Globe and Wahlburgers Does the Impossible

by MRM Staff 23 Min Read

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine's Franchise Feed offers a glimpse at what's new in the restaurant franchise environment.

Send items of interest to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Flatbred Grill Sisters Looking to Franchise

Flatbread Grill®, the fast casual Mediterranean bakery and grill founded by the Esendemir Sisters, top photo, in 2007, is now available as a franchise. Headquartered in the sisters' hometown of Hoboken, NJ, its franchise model will be offered to qualified operators interested in single or multi-location opportunities and regional territories all over the world. Fusun, Gonca, and Arzu Esendemir, who become the first Turkish-American women in the world to start and expand a fast casual restaurant concept, built Flatbread Grill® entirely on their own. They developed the menu, brand identity, oversaw the buildout of their company stores, directed the operations, and did all of their marketing in-house.

"My sisters and I built this very unique concept from scratch, with passion and dedication," said Arzu Esendemir, co-founder and CEO of Flatbread Grill®, who has spent the past decade developing the business model with her two sisters. "We created the logo, we designed the interior, developed the menu and bread recipes, handled all the marketing, operations, and buildout completely on our own."

The Esendemir Sisters, who were born to immigrant parents, bring not only their immense restaurant expertise to the franchise system, but they also bring their extreme resourcefulness. Having built the brand with very little money during the height of an economic recession, the sisters used their creativity and tough upbringing to survive in one of the toughest industries in the world.

Fusun, who overseas the financial side of the business adds, "Our family values and our bond as sisters are two of the factors that contributed to our success. We watched our parents struggle greatly growing up. Both our parents worked hard to make an honest living. Hard work is in our blood."

The sisters have fielded multiple franchise requests over the years for their concept. 

"We wanted to take our time in expanding because we were truly building this business from nothing," said Arzu Esendemir, who oversees business operations for the brand. "My sisters and I wanted to be absolutely certain that our business model was flawless before we invited other people along for the ride."

Fusun added, "Our family values and our bond as sisters are two of the factors that contributed to our success. We always had each other's backs and that's one of the reasons we have been able to forge forward in this industry."

The sisters will be very actively involved in supporting the buildout and operations of franchised locations.

Brinker Offers No-Cost Education

Brinker International, Inc. launched a comprehensive educational program, Best You EDU. In partnership with Pearson, Best You EDU is an employer-education program that provides opportunities for Brinker Team Members, ranging from hourly to management. At absolutely no cost to participants, Best You EDU is open to all team members who work at least 24 hours per week with a minimum tenure of 90 days and registration is now open.

Best You EDU was designed to meet team members where they are on their educational journey, offering three main components: Foundational, GED and associate degrees.

  • No cost Foundational Program: Provides language, skills development and bilingual coaching in a mobile-first environment.
  • No cost GED Program: Provides online GED prep curriculum, bilingual advisory support and unlimited test-pass GED credential guarantees.
  • No cost associate degree: Provides an online pathway to an associate degree in business or general studies through a regionally accredited college, including all courses, text and study materials, advising and coaching support.

“We firmly believe that education is the single best benefit we can provide to our Team Members. The confidence that education provides is what encourages our Team Members to achieve the next step in their career,” said Rick Badgley, Chief People Officer, Brinker. “Best You EDU is personal to me and the larger Brinker leadership team as many of us started our careers as a cook, dishwasher or host at a restaurant. Through education, we gained the confidence necessary to further pursue our careers.”

“Pearson is proud to partner with Brinker to develop a custom education program,” said Kevin Capitani, president, Pearson North America. “Only 2-3 percent of workers are in a position to use employer-tuition programs because of upfront costs, difficulty fitting education into their busy lives, or a lack of foundational skills. Brinker is one of the few companies addressing this range of barriers to a better job and to a better life.”

Go for the Impossible at Wahlburgers

Wahlburgers, the better burger restaurant brand founded by Chef Paul Wahlberg along with brothers Donnie Wahlberg and Mark Wahlberg, launched the Impossible Burger, now available nationwide throughout all participating Wahlburgers locations.  The Wahlburger Impossible Burger is a 100 percent meatless option  made entirely from plants and includes a four ounce patty, smoked cheddar, lettuce, caramelized onions, chili spiced tomatoes and Paul’s signature, house-made Wahlsauce.

“Our customers have been asking for a delicious, meatless option and we are always looking for new ways to boost the Wahlburgers experience for our guests,” said Paul Wahlberg, who visited Redwood City, California based Impossible Foods in 2017 and featured the Impossible Burger on the A&E reality TV show, Wahlburgers. “We’re excited to announce our latest menu addition and can’t wait for guests to taste the popular Impossible Burger with our very own Wahlburgers twist, that follows our restaurant’s made-from-scratch philosophy and includes our signature Wahlsauce and the freshest ingredients possible.”

“Paul and the team at Wahlburgers have been  partners to us since adding the Impossible Burger to their Boston-area restaurant menus last fall,” said Impossible Foods COO David Lee. “We’re thrilled that their unique take on our burger will now be enjoyed by Wahlburgers' dedicated following of burger aficionados nationwide, offering a plant-based option for customers from coast to coast.”

In development since 2011, the Impossible Burger cooks, tastes and smells like ground beef from cows -- but is made entirely from plants. It is produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors. It uses about 75 percent less water, generates about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and requires around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows. The Wahlburgers Impossible Burger is expected to roll-out nationwide across its locations in the coming months.

Zoës Kitchen Debuts New Prototype

Zoës Kitchen opened its new restaurant prototype design in Raleigh, N.C.. Located at 6004 Falls of Neuse Road, Suite 100, the prototype includes a variety of new features designed to enhance guests’ dining experience, provide more convenience offerings and appeal more broadly to dinner guests. Zoe's Kitchen

“We are devoted to innovating around what our guests want even before they know they want it as we continue to maintain our status as the leader in the Mediterranean fast-casual space,” said Kevin Miles, President and CEO, Zoës Kitchen. “As we stay ahead of consumer demand, we’re proud to debut this next generation prototype restaurant that will further enhance our guest experience. This will be a great testing ground for us as we look at rolling out new stores and remodeling existing stores in the future, as well as for new menu and beverage items.”

The prototype unites a balance of form and function with a modern Mediterranean feel to the space. The design and layout is intended to engage guests’ senses with a larger view into the kitchen, where they can watch their dishes be made and smell the flavorful aromas that are associated with Mediterranean cooking.

“The space has more Mediterranean cues than our current restaurants and is designed to feel as if we’ve invited them into our home,” Miles continued. “You’ll see an open kitchen where guests can see their fresh Mediterranean dishes being prepared from scratch, and lighting and seating that we believe will evoke a warm, comfortable environment for lunch and dinner. The patio is also a very important element because it’s more integrated into the dining experience and really celebrated as a fun and exciting area to enjoy your meal. From an operational perspective, there’s a new to-go area that will allow guests to more conveniently find and pick up their online or call-in orders and for us to stage large catering orders. We’ve also created efficiencies in the kitchen that we believe will improve speed of service.”

The new look and feel of the restaurant showcases distinctive interior and exterior features, including:

Exterior:

  • A variety of mixed materials using steel, stone and tile elements.
  • A lit ZK tower featuring the brand’s iconic stripes.
  • Covered patio that is integrated into the dining experience and is conditioned with heating and cooling systems.
  • Tiled patio benches with integrated planter boxes.
  • Painted patio flooring to represent the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Exterior mural wall highlighting the 21 countries of the Mediterranean.

Interior:

  • Dynamic lighting that guides guests through the queue line with the brand’s stripes running along the ceiling.
  • Color palette that highlights calming greens, beige and white with pops of bright color throughout, as well as different textures in flooring, fabrics and wall treatments.
  • Spanish floor tile modeled after encaustic tiles that have graced the floors of European and Moroccan buildings for centuries.
  • Unique high-top community tables and a variety of interesting seating options to accommodate different-sized groups.
  • Custom artwork through the restaurant, including signature branding messaging such as “Live Mediterranean” that’s executed in large red channel letters on the main wall.

The new store is also the first in the company’s system to test a new better-for-you beverage program. Zoës Kitchen Chef Antonio Iocchi, Head of Culinary Innovation, has handcrafted the new program featuring all natural drinks including Tangerine and Turmeric Fresca, Fig and Vanilla Cooler, Blackberry Mint Refresher and a new Hibiscus Karkade Tea. The prototype also has new wine on tap, as well as beer offerings. A new made-to-order Moroccan sangria is available as well. Additionally, Zoës will test cooler beverages including kombucha and cold brew coffee.

Additionally, the prototype store will launch with the company’s new baked falafel, which has been in test in select restaurants across the country and is planned for systemwide launch late next month. The new falafel will be available to add to salads, pitas and bowls.

A new uniform program, which features taglines such as, “Fresh Made Mediterranean,” “Love Life Live Zoës” and “Eat What You Love, Love How You Feel” complete the prototype.

Kona Ice Achieves Coveted  1K Status

Kona Ice's franchise growth is reaching a milestone reserved for a rare breed of brands. In early 2018, Kona Ice will have more than 1,000 of its colorful, tropical-themed trucks running across the country, captivating even more of America with a one-of-a-kind gourmet shaved ice experience.

“The energy behind our brand is incredible. Our franchisees, both the new and those that have been with us for many years, are immersed in their businesses and they never cease to amaze us with their dedication to the communities they serve,” said Tony Lamb, the brand’s president and founder who has been celebrated in recent years for the entrepreneurial ambition he has shown in launching and successfully expanding the business. “We are bursting through the 1,000 truck mark. Orders are already in to take us well beyond the 1K milestone in 2018 and there is unmistakable excitement across our franchise system for what remains ahead to achieve together.”

In 2017 alone, Kona Ice added nearly 130 franchised trucks, further solidifying the brand as the next generation ice cream truck – a sleeker, more entertaining, safer and increasingly profitable business model. Kona Ice expanded its presence in existing key markets such as Houston, South Florida, Charlotte and Las Vegas. Moreover, Kona Ice leveraged 2017 as an opportunity to enter new territories, including bringing its tropical tunes and cups of Hawaiian shaved ice for the first time to Alaska…introducing Anchorage to the brand’s unique blend of entertainment and gourmet frozen treats.

Taking into consideration Kona Ice’s mini version of its truck and its kiosks, which bring the brand into venues and spaces where the truck cannot go or as a method to expand its local presence, the brand already has more than 1,400 units operating.

“Even as we add a significant number of new franchisees and trucks, our greater purpose remains our road map for the business,” added Lamb. “From our Kona Korporate team to our franchisees and their team members, serving from the inside out is where it all begins for us — entrepreneurship is an opportunity to positively impact the lives of others.”

This type of selflessness sets the tone for Kona Ice. Heading into 2018, Kona Ice will advance its partnership with Adopt-A-Classroom, a national nonprofit that provides funding for K-12 teachers throughout the United States. Kona Korporate and franchisees together have adopted 120-plus classrooms, donating more than $60,000 in just one year.

“We continue to propel growth with a commitment to what we do best — innovating with our trucks and products, and supporting our franchisees to the nth degree,” added Lamb. “The growth and profitability of our existing franchisees is what is allowing us to accelerate franchising.”

Kona Ice will soon be introducing its Krafted line aimed at offering innovative shaved ice options to the adult demographic. Thirty-plus new flavors are set to be unveiled including coffee, sour, spicy and mock tail flavors. 

The Dunkin' of the Future

In the city where it opened its very first location 68 years ago, Dunkin' Donuts unveiled its next generation concept store. The new Dunkin' Donuts restaurant at 588 Washington Street in Quincy, Massachusetts offers the first look at the brand's U.S. store of the future experience, with a modern atmosphere and new and innovative technologies and design elements -- including the first drive-thru exclusively for mobile ordering. 

Elements of Dunkin' Donuts' new restaurant experience include:

  • Modern Design: The special interior design uses lighter colored materials, an open layout and natural light to create an approachable, positive and energetic environment.
  • Faster than Ever Drive-Thru Experience: An exclusive On-the-Go drive-thru lane lets DD Perks® members who order ahead via Dunkin's Mobile App bypass the ordering lane and merge straight into the line for the pickup window. Dunkin' Donuts is the first national restaurant brand to offer this type of drive-thru innovation and convenience.
  • Premium Pours: Dunkin' Donuts' signature cold beverages are now served through an innovative tap system serving eight consistently cold beverages such as coffees, iced teas, cold brew coffee and nitro infused cold brew coffee. Crew members will use top-quality flavor-maximizing espresso machines to make hand-crafted drinks to order. A single-cup machine will also enable the option of grinding and brewing select coffee varieties one cup at a time.
  • Dunkin' on Demand: With fully-integrated digital kiosks coming in 2018, guests will choose to order with or without the help of a crew member. Dunkin' Donuts has also introduced an area dedicated to mobile pickups, so that members of the DD Perks® Rewards program who order ahead via Dunkin's Mobile App can get in and out of the restaurant faster than ever before. Guests will be able to track the status of their orders placed for pickup inside the restaurant via a new digital order status board.
  • New Uniforms Designed by Life is Good®: For the store in Quincy, Dunkin' Donuts will introduce new uniforms and headwear designed in partnership with lifestyle brand Life is Good®. Messaging on the new crew t-shirts, such as "Fueled by Positive Energy," and "Drink Coffee. Be Awesome." serve as a form of self-expression for crew members, reflecting the positive atmosphere of the new Dunkin' Donuts store and the optimism and energy for which both the Life is Good and Dunkin' Donuts brands are known. In addition, Dunkin' Donuts and Life is Good share a commitment to spreading positivity and helping kids in need through their respective Foundations – the Joy in Childhood Foundation® and the Kids Foundation.
  • Greater Grab & Go Selection: An expanded, custom Grab & Go unit will feature bottled beverages, as well as snacks from leading brands that complement Dunkin's menu. These will include better-for-you options like fresh bananas, mini oranges and grapes, as well as fruit snacks like Gogo Squeez® apple sauce, Yoplait® yogurt parfaits featuring Nature Valley™ granola, and other packaged snacks such as beef jerky, nut butter packs and more.
  • Increased Energy Efficiency: The new Dunkin' Donuts is the 186th DD Green Achievement™ restaurant in the country. DD Green Achievement restaurants are designed to save 25 percent more energy compared to a standard Dunkin' Donuts restaurant.

The new 2,200 square foot Quincy location, which is located about one mile away from the original Dunkin' Donuts location, is the first of 30 or more new and remodeled Dunkin' Donuts restaurants that will test variations of the new design this year. Dunkin' Donuts' final new store design is expected to be unveiled once testing is complete. The Quincy store is also one of a select number of Dunkin' Donuts restaurants testing new signage that refers to the brand simply as "Dunkin'."

"The launch of our next generation concept store marks one of the most important moments in Dunkin' Donuts' growth as an on-the-go, beverage-led brand," said Dave Hoffmann, President of Dunkin' Donuts U.S. and Canada. "We have worked closely with our franchisee community to create a positive, energetic atmosphere for our guests that remains true to our heritage, while emphasizing and enhancing the unparalleled convenience, digital innovation and restaurant excellence that distinguishes Dunkin'. We are thrilled to begin the New Year with such an exciting milestone for our brand, and look forward to rolling out Dunkin' Donuts' store of the future to our guests in all of our communities."

Quaker Steake & Lube Offers Incentive

Quaker Steak & Lube® is offering a new franchise development incentive to drive the company's aggressive nationwide growth. Now through April 30, franchisees that sign to open more than one Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant will receive waived development fees, 50 percent off of the initial franchise fee, and discounted royalty fees. Each incentive is part of Quaker Steak & Lube's plan to attract new franchisee candidates for growth markets across the country.

"Throughout 2017, we focused our energy on revitalizing Quaker Steak & Lube as a whole and implemented various improvements from streamlining operations to crafting our food and beverage menu to best serve our customers," said Bruce Lane, vice president of operations and franchise services. "Now, we are fueling our efforts to aggressively expand. These special incentives come at a great time for the brand as we are looking for additional franchisees to help carry on the legacy of what Quaker Steak & Lube has become – while bringing our new and improved look, as well as our new Quaker Steak & Lube Express concept, to markets across the country. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity and we are thrilled to meet entrepreneurs that are interested in taking advantage of the offer and growing the brand."

New qualified Quaker Steak & Lube franchisees can now take advantage of significant offers, including 50 percent off of the initial franchise fee — a $20,000 value — and reduced royalties for the first three years, including the first year at 2.5 percent — a substantial savings from the standard royalty rate of 5 percent*. The royalty rate will increase slightly to 3.5 percent in the second year and 4.5 percent in the third year.

Quaker Steak & Lube is looking to grow its national footprint by expanding to target markets such as Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Lexington, Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; and across Florida. Candidates should have multi-unit ownership experience, preferably in the restaurant industry, at least $1 million in liquid assets and a minimum net worth of $3 million. Quaker Steak & Lube offers building designs to capitalize on the square footage, both inside and outside of the building, which includes the Custom Cruiser (freestanding), Power Lube (freestanding or endcap), and new Quaker Steak & Lube Express concept, with additional opportunities for conversions and non-traditional buildouts.

Purchased in 2016 by TravelCenters of America – a Fortune 500 company operated by the TA Restaurant Group and one of the country's largest multi-unit operators – Quaker Steak & Lube is in the midst of a revamp and recently added a new corporate chef and launched a new menu nationwide. TA Restaurant Group is evolving Quaker Steak & Lube's restaurant design, while keeping the signature ambiance of racecars suspended from the ceilings and gas station memorabilia lining the walls. The brand also is developing more flexible, non-traditional buildouts for franchisees to allow more aggressive growth in stadiums, colleges, kiosks, and airports.

Pizza Inn Turns 60

So much has changed since the 1950s, but one thing remains the same – Pizza Inn still serves pizza to guests across the world. 

It all started in 1958, when two Texas brothers opened the first Pizza Inn in Dallas. As word spread of the restaurant’s signature pizza and friendly service, so did Pizza Inn locations. Pizza Inn prides itself on freshness and innovation, introducing the Taco Pizza in 1979, the first dessert “pizzert” pizza in 1986 and the chain’s hallmark bacon cheeseburger pizza by the 1990s.

To celebrate the fact that the brand has been serving its customers like family for more than three generations, Pizza Inn is hosting a year-long birthday celebration full of giveaways.

As part of the celebration, Pizza Inn will be giving away a 1958 Ford Skyliner Hardtop Convertible to one of its loyal Rewards customers this summer. Plus, every new Rewards member will receive a free medium Chocolate Chip Pizzert or five Pepperoni Twists redeemable after 24 hours of sign up for dine-in or carryout only

Pizza Inn will also be gifting prizes, such as 60th Anniversary commemorative items and Free Buffets, via social media throughout the year. 

“It’s exciting to think that we have been serving our family of customers for 60 years!” said Bob Bafundo, President of Pizza Inn. “We want to take this opportunity to celebrate our heritage and our loyal customers with fun events and prizes planned throughout the entire year.”

Today, Pizza Inn, as part of RAVE Restaurant Group, operates more than 200 restaurants domestically and internationally. For the restaurant nearest you, and more information on the entire menu, visit pizzainn.com.

Changes at Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Inc. announced two leadership changes at the Jack in the Box® brand: Frances Allen has informed the company of her decision to resign as Brand President, effective February 9, 2018, and Marcus Tom will join the company on February 12, as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Tom will oversee Operations for company and franchise restaurants as well as Strategic Initiatives & Operations Services.

“As I mentioned at the recent ICR Conference, I will take the opportunity to flatten our organizational structure following the expected sale of our QDOBA® brand,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lenny Comma. “Frances graciously suggested the elimination of her position so that we could more quickly begin restructuring the brand’s leadership. Frances was instrumental in refining the brand’s strategy and positioning, with an emphasis on improving the quality of the food and transforming the business model to be more asset light through refranchising. We’re grateful for her exemplary leadership and believe the Jack in the Box brand is stronger as a result of her many contributions. We wish her all the best.”

Allen said, “I’m very proud to have led this brand over the last three-plus years and of the accomplishments we have made during my tenure, but I could not in good conscience remain in position within a single-brand structure. The appointment of a new COO is the right time for me to exit, and I am excited to embark on the next phase of my career.”

Tom will join Jack in the Box with more than 15 years of experience in operations leadership positions, most recently at JAB Beech Inc., where he was Senior Vice President, Operations of its Caribou Coffee brand from January 2017 to December 2017 and Senior Vice President, Operations for its Einstein Bros. Bagels brand from July 2015 to December 2016. From March 2006 to June 2015, Tom held several positions of increasing responsibility with Starbucks Coffee Company. He was Director of Business Operations from January 2014 to June 2015 for all licensed stores in the U.S. and Canada. From May 2012 to December 2013, he was Starbucks’ Regional Director, Licensed Stores in California and West Arizona, and from March 2006 to May 2012, he was a Regional Director with responsibility for Starbucks’ company-operated stores in San Diego and the greater Phoenix area. He also served as a Regional Vice President overseeing 600 stores during a six-month limited-time assignment in 2009. Prior to joining Starbucks, Tom held several positions with YUM Brands International from 1991 to 2006, including being a senior leader for YUM's franchised business in Central America and the Caribbean. Tom is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.

“Marcus is an agile leader with a proven record of achieving high levels of operational excellence across large retail systems, like Starbucks,” Comma said. “Adding a seasoned restaurant-industry veteran like him, with his unique skillset and proficiencies in operations, is a key piece of our re-focused Jack in the Box leadership team.”

Said Tom, “I'm very excited to be joining the Jack in the Box leadership team. The company has an incredible culture with people who care deeply about each other, their customers, and the communities where they work and live.

“I've had the opportunity to meet with several franchisees and found them to be passionate about the brand and committed to its success. As Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to working with the broader team and our franchisees to build the brand, provide great customer experiences, and contribute to Jack in the Box’s overall success.”

Pizza Press Record Breaker

The Pizza Press had a record-breaking year as the brand reached a total of 84 awarded franchise units. The company aims to continue its growth momentum with plans to have 50 locations open in 2018 while awarding 25-30 more, through strategic franchise partnerships.

"It was important to us that 2017 was a year composed of building a solid foundation for our brand to grow," said Dara Maleki, CEO and founder of The Pizza Press. "By focusing on building a strong corporate team, infrastructure, and system for development, we were able to effectively set standards and welcome a diverse network of franchisees. In fact, we have seen a 517 percent increase in franchise unit sales from the start of franchising in 2015 to the end of 2017."

The Pizza Press has already identified 2018 as a breakout year, aiming to make quantum leaps as a brand while driving continued growth both nationally and internationally. With eyes set on expanding outside of its regional territory of Southern California, it has already broken into Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, Texas, Nevada, Washington, and internationally in China. The brand will kick off 2018 with a total of 30 new restaurants projected to open by end of Q3 and 50 to open by year's end, tripling the number of locations open in less than a year.

The  franchise is offering prospects opportunities to expand in all parts of the world, developing in metropolitan markets, college towns, suburban regions, and with non-traditional locations. By 2020, the brand projects to have 300 franchise locations awarded.

Fazoli’s Closes 2017 With 57 Franchise Sales Records

Fazoli’s ended 2017 with the signing of six new development agreements to develop a total of 15 new restaurants nationwide and the opening of five restaurants, most recently in Connecticut, Texas, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On the heels of 57 franchise sales records set in 2017, the franchise owned Fazoli’s locations closed out December with a 5.1 percent increase in same store sales and a 2.5 percent increase in guest traffic.

Not slowing down in 2018, the brand has eight new restaurant openings slated for the first two quarters of the year, in markets such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Tampa, and Columbus, Georgia, with plans to open several additional locations throughout the remainder of 2018. Fazoli’s most recent franchise agreement signings include:

  • Three units in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Three units in Detroit, Michigan
  • Three units in greater Portland, Oregon
  • Single unit in Mobile, Alabama
  • Single unit in Prattville, Alabama

“It’s been an incredible year for Fazoli’s as we expanded the brand across the country and our franchisees continued to see increased same-store sales growth,” said Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli’s. “We also invested back into the brand through our multi-million dollar restaurant renovations and the premium enhancements made to our menu. From our continued culinary innovations to our unlimited breadsticks and elevated table service, Fazoli’s provides both guests and franchisees a value second to none in the elevated quick service industry.”

As part of the brand refresh last year, Fazoli’s remodeled nine of its locations with a new, contemporary look and feel, including a modern interior redesign featuring communal tables and Wi-Fi bars. In addition, the company introduced an upgraded menu using premium ingredients and offerings such as tableside grated Parmesan, upgraded plateware, as well as new dishes such as Spicy Penne with Chicken or Sausage, and Brownie Gelato Sundae.

Fazoli’s franchisees are experiencing nearly three times the industry average growth rate with new franchised restaurants continually setting new systemwide records. With nearly 220 restaurants in 27 states, Fazoli’s is currently seeking multi-unit operators to join its successful franchise network, and is targeting new growth in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Texas.

Dickey's Goes Mobile

The latest initiative at Dickey's Barbecue Pit brings authentic, Texas-style barbecue to guests at their fingertips with Dickey's very own mobile app, featuring online ordering for pick-up or delivery and a new loyalty rewards program.

"We are living in an on-demand world where most guests will choose the location of their next meal primarily based on convenience," says Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. "Our new app rewards our guests for their loyalty, fulfills the demand for convenience and most importantly, provides the authentic Texas-style barbecue they love."

Guests have the choice of in-store or curbside pickup, and/or delivery when ordering through the app.  Curbside pickup and delivery availability vary by location. The second phase of the Dickey's app, slated to go live in March, will include a review-based loyalty program which rewards Dickey's guests for feedback on their purchases.

The Dickey's app is currently available in the Apple app store and will launch for Android in early Summer 2018.

Wayback Burgers Celebrates 2017 

Wayback Burgers launched 11 more restaurants in the fourth quarter of 2017 and opened its newest store in Khartoum, Sudan on December 31. This is Wayback Burgers’ first location in Sudan and is located in the Khartoum Green Yard on Africa Street.  

The newest Wayback Burgers restaurant is owned by Mansour Omer Mansour Manna. Mansour Manna purchased the rights to develop seven restaurants in the Republic of Sudan.  

“My fellow Sudanese people are in for a treat,” said Mansour Manna.  “I know that they will love the taste of the fresh burgers that Wayback Burgers has to offer. We are also keeping prices competitive so everyone can come try our food!”

Abdulrahman Alieedan, Vice Chairman of Topaz MENA, who is the Wayback Burgers master franchisee for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, says he is also proud to bring the first American brand to Sudan.  “We have been working hard and are very happy with the growth of our new restaurants in the MENA region with locations in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and our next one opening next month in Kuwait.”

“The Sudanese population is new to the fast-casual concept,” said Yasser Ibrahim, CEO of Topaz MENA.  “However, I am confident they’ll love it.   After spending years evaluating opportunities in Sudan and the last three weeks training Mansour Manna and his team members, I am thrilled about what we can accomplish in the country.”

Wayback Burgers currently operates in 28 states with over 148 locations nationally and internationally in Argentina, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Through its executed master franchise agreements, Wayback Burgers plans to open in 37 provinces/countries in the Middle East, Northern Africa, South Africa, Argentina, Pakistan, Brunei, Bangladesh; Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada; and the Netherlands, with pending letters of intent sent out to Ireland, Western Germany and the UK.

In total, Q4 bared witness to 11 new restaurant openings for Wayback Burgers. In addition to the Sudan location, Wayback Burgers launched 10 new domestic locations. The leading burger brand opened three restaurants in Texas (Fort Worth, Frisco and Caprock), two restaurants in California (Chino Hills and San Bernardino), two locations in Florida (Titusville and Kissimmee), one in Oklahoma City, one in Parkville, Maryland and a new restaurant in Salem, New Hampshire. Moreover, Wayback Burgers signed 4 new leases, and announced 12 other locations now in construction.

Comprehensively, 2017 marked the opening of 26 restaurants.  

Wayback Burgers Executive Vice President, Bill Chemero, says 2017’s success is indicative of the company’s commitment to quality service.

“Fast casual hamburger restaurants remain the preeminent choice for families across the globe looking for a quality meal at a quality price,” said Chemero. “A good burger speaks a universal language, and we have established ourselves as a brand that can succeed no matter the zip code or country. 2017 was a year defined by unprecedented expansion into new communities all over the world, the development of innovative and appetizing new menu items, the embracing of new technological trends, and impressive improvements to all Wayback Burgers online properties. I am proud of our progress and anticipate even greater accomplishments in the future.”

“Wayback Burgers is poised and well positioned, through comprehensive strategies and calculated negotiations, to continue our domestic and international growth,” says Chemero. “Our brand has built a strong reputation here in America, and in points around the globe, and there are several overseas who are clamoring to introduce Wayback Burgers to a brand-new clientele. This serves as a testament to the men and women who have worked hard daily to build Wayback Burgers into one of the world’s fastest growing burger franchises.”

Domino's Raises Millions for St. Jude

Domino's Pizza  raised more than $8.6 million for the kids of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® during the 2017 St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign – the sixth straight record-setting campaign for Domino's.

"Domino's stores across the United States came through for the children of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with a record-breaking campaign," said Patrick Doyle, Domino's president and chief executive officer. "I want to thank our customers, team members, and franchise owners who worked hard and contributed during Thanks and Giving. Together we were able to raise money to support the lifesaving work of St. Jude, benefiting children all around the world."

In addition to adding a donation to an order or rounding up their change for St. Jude, customers could support the children's hospital by purchasing the St. Jude Meal Deal. 

Throughout the year, Domino's franchise owners and team members came together to raise an additional $225,000 for St. Jude through other fundraisers. Since naming St. Jude as its national charitable partner in 2004, Domino's has raised more than $47 million for the hospital.

The funds raised in 2017 will apply to Domino's commitment made in 2015 to raise $35 million in eight years. Since 2015, Domino's has raised more than $21 million.

Sailormen/Popeyes Will Raise Funds fo MDA

Sailormen, Inc., one of the largest domestic franchisees of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants, began the 14th annual "Appetite for a Cure" campaign that will raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to help kids and adults fighting muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases.

Sailormen/Popeyes restaurants in South Florida and across the Southeast, including stores in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, invite patrons to purchase $1 coupon cards worth $30 to be used toward free and discounted purchases during a future visit. The coupon book program will run now through Sunday, March 18 with more than 130 participating locations.

"Popeyes customers' and employees' effort to raise funds during the 'Appetite for a Cure' campaign allows MDA to provide the kids and adults we serve with the critical resources and support they need to live unlimited," said Joanne Bowsman, Executive Director. "Their dedication empowers these individuals by providing funds for groundbreaking research, MDA Care Centers, life-changing summer camps, and support programs. We are grateful for their generosity and inspired by their continued support."

Last year's "Appetite for a Cure" campaign and the 13th annual MDA Sailormen Inc. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Golf Classic combined totaled a record-breaking $831,358 to help provide kids and adults with lifesaving research and support, helping them to live longer and grow stronger.

"Sailormen is honored to partner with MDA to help bring strength, independence, and life to kids and adults living with life-threatening neuromuscular diseases," said Kara Nordstrom, CEO of Sailormen, Inc. "With the help of our strong communities, we are striving to free individuals from the devastating effects of neuromuscular diseases. Adding just a $1 'Appetite for a Cure' coupon card to your Sailormen/Popeyes order today, you can help us reach that goal."   

Dollars raised help provide MDA families with life-enhancing programs such as state-of-the-art support groups and clinics. They also help give hundreds of children across the Southeast the opportunity to experience the best week of the year where anything is possible at MDA Summer Camp at no cost to their families.

The company has raised more than $6 million for MDA since 2002. 

Jack vs. Martha

The word is finally out that cultural icons Jack Box, of the Jack in the Box ® restaurant chain, and Martha Stewart, lifestyle & culinary expert, are squaring off in the ultimate battle of the sandwiches. Judging from this leaked text message exchange between the two—things are really starting to heat up.

Jack Box and his dedicated team have worked tirelessly to create the new Food Truck Series line— three deliciously appetizing sandwiches: Asian Fried Chicken Sandwich, Prime Rib Cheesesteak and Pork Belly BLT — launching system-wide on February 1. However, as this fight is just getting started, only time will tell if Martha gives Jack and his latest menu offering a chance.

Fans are encouraged to follow along as this social media feud unfolds by checking out the hashtag #JackvsMartha following Sunday’s Big Game.

BurgerFi's New Marketing

BurgerFi will launch a new marketing campaign which will feature the tagline "BURGERS for Every 1." The campaign will focus on the company's mission to serve only the top 1 percent of best-tasting certified, American Black Angus beef from the top ranches across the country. Known for delivering the all-natural burger experience in a fast-casual environment, the brand has a commitment to quality food that ensures no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives are ever used.

The new advertising campaign, created by Rochester, New York-based agency Partners + Napier, highlights the fact that everyone has a niche and ability to excel in something and they deserve to celebrate what qualities make them unique with a burger that is special too. Creative assets will also correlate these qualities to specific burgers on the menu and feature fun, unexpected imagery and headlines. The unique alpha-numerical tagline is representative of both the top 1 percent of beef used by BurgerFi that "never-ever" contains hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or additives, and the perspective that BurgerFi restaurants will continue to serve the millions of one-of-a-kind guests.

The "BURGERS for Every 1" campaign was inspired by the fact that only about 1 percent of the beef produced in the United States meets the strict BurgerFi standard of quality. We offer an experience that isn't purely for "burger lovers" or "environmentalists" or "families" but for every unique individual who wants to reward themselves with something better," said BurgerFi CEO Corey Winograd. "Our approach to every aspect of the BurgerFi experience — from the friendliness of our team to our sustainability efforts and fresh better burgers — is that guests can see and taste the difference." 

The campaign will begin rolling out on January 29 via national and local digital media, pre-roll video, radio, social media, billboards, email and in-store displays.

Riverside Del Taco

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. announced the grand opening of its 14th Riverside location at 1177 West La Cadena Dr., near Circle K.

“Del Taco has built a tremendous following in Riverside County over the years by offering an unbeatable combination of fresh food, served fast and at a tremendous value,” said Barry Westrum, Del Taco’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Whether our guests are craving our new Salsa Chicken Taco made with fresh grilled chicken and roasted chile salsa, The Del Taco made with seasoned beef and hand-grated cheddar cheese, or even our fan-favorite Crinkle-Cut Fries, we enjoy offering the Riverside community an assortment of items sure to satisfy every craving.”  

 

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