MRM Franchise Feed: Tropical Smoothie Milestone, RFG Eyes U.S. and Black Bear Looks East

by MRM Staff 26 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 Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Opens 600th Location

Tropical Smoothie Cafe expects to open its 600th location  on June 23 in Joplin, MO. Located at 3025 South Main Street, the newest location marks a landmark achievement for the brand in the midst of its 20th anniversary year and emphasizes the company's plans to open at least 100 new restaurants nationwide by the end of this year. 

"Celebrating 20 years of inspiring a healthier lifestyle is something we are very proud to stand behind," said Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café. "We're thrilled to be opening our 600th location in Joplin as we expand our footprint and the ability to deliver better-for-you products to new customers nationwide. This milestone achievement would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our exceptional team and franchisee network."

The new Joplin location will be owned and operated by existing franchisee and president of RLG Cafe LLC, Robb Good.  This is the second cafe Good has brought to the city, with the first having opened back in early 2016. 

"I am thrilled to be a part of this milestone for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a brand that truly embodies its core values in all aspects of its operations," said Good. "The opening of our first cafe was met with overwhelming enthusiasm from our community, which mirrors the passion from consumers nationwide. The strength of Tropical Smoothie Cafe's franchise model is a standout in the restaurant industry, as it provides us with all the necessary tools and support we need while allowing us to build a culture unique to our business."

The food and smoothie franchise currently has franchise opportunities across the U.S. in markets such as Indianapolis, Nashville, Houston, Dallas, Cincinnati and Minneapolis, among others. By 2020, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to have 1,000 stores open across the U.S.  Tropical Smoothie Cafe's aggressive franchise growth is backed by the entrepreneurs at the BIP Franchise Accelerator, a division of venture capital firm BIP Capital, which invested in the brand in 2010. BIP Capital has invested more than $250 million in emerging, high-growth brands across the franchising, software, and technology and consumer products industries. BIP Capital created the BIP Franchise Accelerator to leverage its leadership team's deep franchise experience to help emerging brands accelerate their growth. In addition to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the BIP Franchise Accelerator's portfolio includes Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, which has grown to 11 locations in Georgia.

RFG Seeking U.S. Growth

Global food and beverage company Retail Food Group (RFG) has set its sights set on expanding its international footprint to American shores. Headquartered on the Gold Coast in Australia, RFG has a network of more than 2,500 outlets across 12 Brand Systems spanning 79 licensed international territories including Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar and Gloria Jean’s Coffees.

RFG’s USA President Brian Balconi, based at the Company’s Los Angeles support office, expressed that as part of RFG’s aggressive expansion plans its key focus is on the American market.

“Our attention is on introducing proven and successful Brand Systems that we believe have a strong synergistic fit with the US market,” he said. “We aim to introduce Donut King, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar, Brumby’s Bakery, Michel’s Patisserie and Pizza Capers, and showcase their market-leading concepts, food innovations and high-quality coffee.”

RFG’s presence in America is already represented by its gourmet specialty coffee brand Gloria Jean’s Coffees, which currently has 55 coffee houses in 21 states, and the It’s A Grind Coffee House group, which has 18 stores. RFG acquired the Gloria Jean’s Coffees brand in 2014 and is currently working on a new and exciting brand renovation for global expansion, of which the U.S. market plays a significant part. 

RFG Managing Director Andre Nell expressed the company has strategically and purposely built a network of businesses that have added significant value to RFG and helped it emerge as a leader in its field.

“The company has acquired and developed a number of complementary businesses and brands that have added incremental strength and growth to the business as a whole,” he said. “Our rich heritage in franchising, exceptional systems, support networks and talented leadership have all been contributing factors to the success.”

The company is also a roaster and supplier of high-quality coffee and affiliated products, operating four coffee roasting facilities that supply global markets through a suite of coffee brands. RFG is also involved in the foodservice, dairy processing and wholesale bakery sectors.

“We supply our quality coffee and blends to over 30 countries worldwide, including our Brand Systems, which further strengthens our vertically integrated business operations and growth in the coffee category as specialists from bean to cup,” Andre said.

RFG’s international expansion model within the USA is based on recruiting Master Franchise Partners who purchase a license to develop a certain Brand System in a defined territory. This model provides the Company and local partners with the opportunity to forge sustainable partnerships to successfully develop its Brand Systems internationally.

“Our international model is collaborative and supportive, and we work with our partners on a broad range of operational matters, including development schedules and growth strategies, as well as marketing and training,” said Andre.“Our international partners benefit from a wealth of experience in retail food franchising, proven systems, global training and support, as well as supply benefits from increased scale and access to best-in-class innovation.”

sweetFrog Makes Acquisition and Re-Branding Push

sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt announced a nationwide acquisition and re-branding push to add as many US-based locations as possible to the sweetFrog franchise family in 2017 and beyond.  

This full-scale effort will be directed by CEO Patrick Galleher , who also continues to lead Boxwood Capital Partners as its Managing Partner.  

“There has never been a better time to launch an acquisition and re-branding push on behalf of sweetFrog,” said Galleher.   “In the past two years, we have hired phenomenal corporate employees, added passionate franchise owners, and of course, serving the best-tasting frozen yogurt, ice cream and gelato on the market – keeping fan-favorite flavors and introducing new, cutting-edge flavors our customers love.   These efforts have earned sweetFrog countless industry awards and helped the company grow to 340 total stores in 28 states, including 10 international locations in Egypt and the Dominican Republic – reinforcing the company’s status as the nation’s leading frozen desert brand. 

Sweet Frog

This leading brand position means the timing is perfect to launch this acquisition and re-branding effort.   Our supply chain, cost structure, brand name and countless other factors can help any other frozen yogurt location become more profitable if they join our system.   We’re excited to add countless new sweetFrog locations this year as we acquire other self-serve frozen yogurt chains and help other frozen yogurt operators re-brand under the sweetFrog name.”

Black Bear Plans Eastward Expansion

Black Bear Diner signed lease agreements for new restaurants in Katy, Texas and Midwest City, Oklahoma. The new lease agreements in Oklahoma and Texas mark the first step towards eastward expansion.

“This is an important marker for the growth and expansion of our brand as we transition from a regional chain to a national one,” said Bruce Dean, chief executive officer of Black Bear Diner. “We are excited to introduce Texas and Oklahoma to our comfort food classics, personal service and homey atmosphere, and use our success in these markets as a springboard for additional growth in these markets and beyond.”

Black Bear Diner, recognized as the third fastest growing full-service restaurant chain in the 2017 Technomic Top 500 Report, recently secured an investment from PWP Growth Equity, a private equity fund affiliated with Perella Weinberg Partners that invests in leading, growth-oriented lower middle market companies. The partnership with PWP Growth Equity has positioned Black Bear Diner for sustained growth and continued expansion eastward.

Black Bear Diner’s growth is being fueled by a mix of new and existing franchisees in existing markets, as well as corporate stores in newer markets. Black Bear Diner saw a 16.2 increase in units from 2015 to 2016. This year, Black Bear Diner is on track to open up 24 new units, including their 100th restaurant in the third quarter.

Saladworks Looks to Grow

Saladworks has added a new VP of Franchise Sales, a strategic franchise and corporate growth plan, and several new programs designed to improve franchisee support. To lead the growth charge, franchising veteran Paul Tripodes joined the Saladworks team in May as Vice President of Franchise Sales. With more than 15 years of franchising experience with brands like Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Bojangles and most recently Moe’s Southwest Grill, Tripodes will spearhead the brand’s aggressive plans for growth in 2017 and beyond.

“I became a fan of Saladworks from my very first visit,” said Tripodes. “I’m on the road a lot in my line of work and always looking for a healthy meal. I could eat here three to four times a week. The healthy, fresh ingredients that are customizable and made to order set Saladworks apart from other competitors in the fast casual space and allows for unlimited growth potential. I’m very excited to be part of the Saladworks team and to help bring the brand to national prominence.” 

As Vice President of Franchise Sales, Tripodes will be responsible for recruiting multi-unit franchisees looking to diversify their portfolio with a new growth vehicle. His main areas of focus in year one will be New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island, and Upstate New York. 

A key piece of Saladworks’ growth strategy is through development of corporate stores, which should open in the next six to 12 months in key markets in Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Corporate stores will act as a catalyst to growth in the new markets mentioned above as well as in prominent locations in the brand’s core market. These new stores will boast a similar footprint and will test efficiencies in technology and operational flow. 

To support its network of nearly 70 existing franchisees and to attract the attention of multi-unit owners looking to diversify their portfolios, Saladworks has developed several new programs to offer additional revenue streams.

In addition to new LTOs, a franchisee upgrade is a mandatory store remodel, rolled out in waves, designed to create cohesion throughout the system, improve brand awareness and increase system-wide sales. To lend additional support when locations close for a few weeks during the remodel, Saladworks’ corporate team is providing a food truck to park outside so that franchisees can continue servicing their loyal fans during the construction period. 

“The new prototype is the future of Saladworks,” said Sugrue. “One of our franchisees, Nish Patel, has stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and has seen consistent sales growth with double digit increases in sales after the remodel. We’re confident that the remodel will yield similar results across the system and we’re committed to helping our franchisees through the transition.” 

Saladworks is also launching a technology bundle across the system that includes a unified, cloud-based, POS system; managed internet hardware; online ordering; the brand’s Punchh loyalty program; Cloud Clover Music System; Profit Keeper, an online P&L statement tool; and a system-wide intranet and portal. The technology bundle exemplifies the company’s commitment to innovation and personalization of the ordering platforms. 

Wing Zone in the Philippines

Wing Zone® signed a major expansion deal to increase its international presence. The agreement, signed with The Philippines-based Viva International Food & Restaurants, Inc. and facilitated through JNM Dining Concepts, Wing Zone’s South Asia Master Franchise, based in Singapore, will result in the building of up to 50 new Wing Zone units across The Philippines over the next 10 years.

The signing continues strong international growth for the brand during the last year, and comes on the heels of a diversified development focus for the iconic American brand. When the U.S. economy began to buckle in 2008, Wing Zone Co-Founder and CEO Matt Friedman knew operational flexibility was essential to maintaining the brand’s competitive edge in the increasingly crowded wing segment. Noting stronger economic markets globally, Friedman launched Wing Zone’s aggressive international growth strategy. Today, the leading fast-casual restaurant franchise boasts more than 100 units open or in development across the U.S., and a strong international presence, including locations in Panama, Singapore, Malaysia and beyond, a footprint that will more than triple with this new signing in The Philippines.

“We have millions of loyal Flavorholics now outside of the U.S., and this historic development agreement presents the best opportunity yet for Wing Zone to cement its place as the international leader in the chicken wing segment,” said Matt Friedman, co-founder and CEO of Wing Zone. “The knowledge and experience that Viva Food Group has in The Philippines, coupled with their successful business background spanning more than three decades of success gives us an extremely high level of confidence that these developments in The Philippines will be a rapid success and help push our international expansion footprint to the next level.”

The partnership will be driven through Viva Food, under the Viva Group of Companies, following discussions with Johnny Mayani, Managing Director of JNM Dining Concepts, who identified Viva as a strong area developer for the brand. After investing heavily in the entertainment industry, Viva Group of Companies Chairman and CEO Vicente “Vic” del Rosario, Jr., has made a new investment push into restaurants in his pursuit to become the heaviest hitter in the food industry in The Philippines. Viva International Food & Restaurants also successfully operates Paper Moon Tokyo Cake Boutique and Café as well as Botejyu Authentic Japanese Restaurant chain, as franchisees. The company’s newest agreement with Wing Zone puts them on track to potentially open up to 50 units over the next 10 years, with the initial development comprising 10 restaurants, the first of which is scheduled to open in early Q3 2017 in SM MEGAMALL in Manila. The developments will be facilitated through Wing Zone’s South Asia headquarters and training center, JNM Dining Concepts, based in Singapore.

As Wing Zone’s headquarters for the Asian region, the Singapore training center will provide supply chain management, vendor management, branding, and development strategy for the new Viva locations in The Philippines. Wing Zone franchisees across the region already benefit from the Singapore center’s real-time support through training, marketing, and approval assistance, and the brand support team is eager to expand its impact through the new locations in The Philippines.

Wing Zone continues to push aggressive expansion plans in the U.S. as well, including recent openings and signings in Illinois and California. Abroad, the brand has also seen three recent store openings in Panama, one in Guatemala and one in Malabo, the brand’s first location in Africa. Now, in 2017, the brand will continue building out its international footprint even further, with additional openings in the pipeline across Guatemala and Panama.

“This amazing development in The Philippines is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Friedman, noting that Wing Zone has created an international distribution method to maintain consistent flavor and taste. “Not only have we repositioned ourselves to better connect with multi-unit/multi-brand franchisees by streamlining our operations, systems, branding, and marketing, but we have created a concept that is friendly, worldwide. We’re eager to create even more Flavorholics around the globe in the years to come.”

Perkins Making Moves in PA

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery's largest franchisee, K Investments Limited of the JDK Management Group has purchased five of its corporate restaurants in Pennsylvania, and signed a five-unit development agreement.

With the transfer of the five corporate locations complete, the JDK Management Group now franchises a total of 26 Perkins Restaurants & Bakeries in the state of Pennsylvania, with an additional eight Perkins in Ohioand three in Florida. As part of the new development agreement, JDK Management plans to build a total of five more Perkins restaurants inPennsylvania and New York. 

Andy Whiteley, Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Perkins & Marie Callender's, LLC, who also oversees the company's franchise efforts said, "JDK Management shares our passion for operating excellence and our focus on delivering positive dining experiences to our guests in attractive, welcoming and contemporary facilities. Their commitment to the Perkins brand is exemplary and their presence and involvement is integral to our expansion goals in key markets."

Russ Berner, Vice President of Operations, JDK Management addsed "We believe wholeheartedly in the strength and longevity of Perkins and all that it represents, particularly with its diverse menu offerings that cater to multiple dayparts and revenue streams. We are excited to expand our market presence and enhance our relationship with the brand."

JDK Management has served on Perkins Advisory Council for the past 25 years and in 2016 was recognized as Perkins Franchisee of the Year. JDK has implemented the Perkins remodeling initiative with 26 remodels completed to date.

Buffalo Wild Wings President and CEO Will Retire

Sally J. Smith has notified the Buffalo Wild Wings Board of Directors of her decision to retire before the end of the year. Smith will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer until the end of the year or until such time as a successor has been named. The Buffalo Wild Wings Board has initiated a search process and will engage a leading executive search firm to assist in identifying a successor. In addition, Smith has also withdrawn her candidacy for election to the Board in connection with the 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and the Board will not be nominating a replacement.

“Sally has delivered countless contributions to Buffalo Wild Wings for more than two decades and much of our success to date is directly attributed to her leadership,” said Jerry R. Rose, Chairman of the Board of Buffalo Wild Wings. “Under her guidance and stewardship, Buffalo Wild Wings has transformed into an industry leader, and we look forward to continuing to work together to ensure a seamless transition of executive leadership.”

“I am proud of Buffalo Wild Wings’ tremendous success. We have made great strides in executing our strategic plan and continuing to innovate to stay ahead of the competition,” said Smith. “I will focus on leading Buffalo Wild Wings and driving value-creating change until we are ready to make a smooth transition. I am confident that the company, including its excellent management and Board, are solidly positioned for its next phase of growth and development. I would like to thank the entire team at the home office, in the field and in the restaurants, as well as all of our franchisees, for their hard work and commitment over our more than 20 year history together and look forward to watching the company’s next chapter of growth.”

There are currently more than 1,220 Buffalo Wild Wings locations around the world.

Del Taco Management Changes

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. announced that President and Chief Brand Officer John D. Cappasola, Jr. has been named as Chief Executive Officer, to succeed Paul J.B. Murphy, III. Mr. Cappasola will also replace Murphy on the Company’s Board of Directors. Murphy will remain with the company into July to ensure a seamless and orderly transition of leadership and responsibilities.

John D. Cappasola, Jr

Cappasola joined Del Taco in a senior leadership role in 2008. He has been Del Taco’s President since January 2017 and Chief Brand Officer since February 2011. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, leading Del Taco’s efforts in brand strategy, operations, marketing, menu development, and culinary innovation. Paul J.B. Murphy, III has been Del Taco’s Chief Executive Officer since February 2009 and served as President from February 2009 through December 2016.

Chairman of the Board Lawrence F. Levy commented, “John is a dynamic, people-oriented brand leader who understands strategy and driving business results. John was instrumental in the development of our successful Combined Solutions strategy that has established a solid foundation for the brand and produced some of the top results in the industry over the past 5 years. Game changing new product innovation, highly effective marketing campaigns and dramatic improvements in the guest experience are a direct result of John’s leadership across our organization. The entire Del Taco family looks forward to working with John in this natural evolution of his leadership role.”

Levy added, “We thank Paul for his many contributions to Del Taco. Paul has developed a high-performing culture and an outstanding leadership team that is poised to continue delivering superior performance. We deeply appreciate Paul for his leadership and commitment to Del Taco and wish him all the best.”

Chief Executive Officer Paul J.B. Murphy, III stated, “It has been my privilege and honor to be part of Del Taco for the past eight years, and I am confident in the strong team we have assembled to execute on the growing opportunity ahead of this beloved brand. John and I have been working together preparing for this transition and I can confidently say that the company could not ask for a better person to lead it into its next phase of growth. John will continue to be a driving force pushing the brand to evolve to meet ever-changing consumer needs and ensuring that our operations teams are set up to successfully deliver on that brand promise.”

Incoming Chief Executive Officer John D. Cappasola, Jr. said, “I am excited to assume this new role which I feel is a once in a lifetime career opportunity. Del Taco is a unique company with a deep rooted culture and a great team of people who care about elevating this iconic brand and each other. Working side by side with Paul over the past several years has uniquely prepared me for this role and I am confident that our team is going to build upon what we have already accomplished and take Del Taco to new heights.”’

Rascal House Begins Franchising

Rascal House, a fast-food pizza restaurant concept based in Cleveland, launched its franchise program, offering the exclusive concept to qualified owner-operators across the Ohio Valley. 

Rascal House

"Being in business for almost 40 years, we've learned the intricacies of the pizza-restaurant management business in Ohio. As a result, we've managed to maintain our spot atop the best restaurants in the greater Cleveland area," said Niko Frangos, Rascal House president of franchising. "Now, we're looking to spread that expertise across the entire region and introduce Rascal House in new and exciting communities."

Founded in 1980 by husband and wife duo Mike and Fouly Frangos, Rascal House capitalizes on a growing need for convenient and quality fast food with a vast menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches and more. By broadening its business concept with casual catering options and a proprietary delivery service, Rascal House has established an additional four locations across Cleveland to reach an even larger base of customers. With the new franchise program, Rascal House looks to add 25 new locations across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia over the next two years.

"Our main goal is to ensure the success of our franchisees, and that's why we're taking a conservative approach to expansion and just targeting regional markets at this point, " said Frangos.

Dickey's Expands Even More

Marshland Foods, LLC is expanding its current development deal with Dickey's Barbecue Pit into Texas with seven new locations in the greater Houston area. The group already has a presence in Louisiana, with a store in Lake Charles and four others in the works, but the new Houston locations will be the group's first in Texas. The expansion will include locations in Pearland, Beaumont, Sugar Land, Katy, Cinco Ranch,Cypress, and Woodlands, starting with the Pearland location projected to open by the end of the year. 

"We researched Dickey's for a year before making our initial investment, and our confidence in the concept has only grown since then," said Marshland Foods partner Robert Ray, operator of the stores. "We were drawn to the uniqueness of the concept, Dickey's branding and leadership in the barbecue space, and what continues to impress us now is their willingness to innovate on a continual basis."

Marshland Foods, LLC, an affiliate of the Marshland Group, LLC, originally planned to open eight Dickey's locations in five years. With growing confidence in the fast casual concept and the success of their first opening in Lake Charles in November, the group is now increasing its development deal to twelve locations and expects to expand even further.

"We are excited about further expansion into our home state with Robert Rayand the rest of the Marshland Foods team," said Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. "They demonstrate the dedication and passion for the art of great barbecue that Dickey's embodies, and we look forward to seeing their continued success."

More authentic, slow-smoked barbecue is in the near future for Massachusetts with a newly inked development agreement between Dickey's Barbecue Pit and local franchisee,Larry Jones. This is the first Dickey's development agreement in Massachusetts.  Jones' new Dickey's locations are under development inAndover and Burlington, scheduled to open in late fall 2017.

"Aside from my personal love of barbecue, I feel that my engineering background will play a part in my success as an Owner/Operator, particularly in terms of the dedication it takes to own a franchise and the analytics of operating one," said Jones. "I am glad to have joined a franchise like Dickey's. The Dickey's corporate team is very supportive and Texas-style barbecue is a niche product. There's nothing else like it in Massachusetts so I'm looking forward to filling that gap and sharing delicious, Texas-style barbecue with my fellow Massachusetts locals."

"Dickey's is expanding rapidly across the nation, now with nearly 600 locations in now 44 states and international expansion on the horizon," said Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. "It is important to us to partner with hardworking, passionate Owner/Operators like Larry to make this growth possible. We are excited to bring more of our iconic barbecue to the Bay State."

Capriotti's Inks More Deals

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop signed three franchise agreements to bring a total of 12 locations to the Salt Lake City area over the next three years. The first new location is expected to open in October in Daybreak.  There is currently one restaurant in the Salt Lake City area in West Valley City and a second Capriotti’s in St. George.

The new franchise agreements will bring a total of 12 new restaurants to the area with the following agreements:

  • Brothers and Salt Lake City natives Tyler and Wade Martin fell in love with Capriotti’s while on a trip to Las Vegas. They will be opening three locations over the next two years, the first of which will be located in South Jordan, UT
  • When Jordan Blackburn, owner of the St. George, UT, Capriotti’s, noticed Salt Lake City residents would always drive down to his location, he decided to open an additional three stores in the Utah Valley area to meet the high demand.
  • Kevin Cornett, a lifelong Capriotti’s fan, will open six locations in northern Salt Lake City, with plans to have two open by the end of 2017.

“We are hoping Capriotti’s will soon become a household name throughout Utah,” said David Bloom, Capriotti’s Chief Development Officer. “We know a lot of people from Salt Lake City look forward to stopping by Capriotti’s while on trips to Las Vegas, so we’re excited to be bringing nine new locations to this area.”

Capriotti’s has more than 100 fast-casual restaurant locations across the country. The company is currently working with developers across the country, including Nashville, Reno, Boise, and Norfolk, VA. Capriotti’s will open 15 new shops in 2017 and will grow the brand to 500 locations by 2025 through franchising. Capriotti’s has franchise opportunities for single and multi-unit developers. 

Lunde Takes Reins at Togo's

Glenn Lunde has assumed the role of President at Togo’s Holdings, LLC, reporting directly to the Board of Directors, following the retirement of Togo’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Gioia. Lunde joined Togo’s as Chief Concept Officer in January as part of the succession planning process, and has been leading Togo’s brand transformation strategies, including the chain’s operating system and menu strategy.

Under Lunde’s leadership, Togo’s is set to re-establish its 45-year leadership as the West Coast sandwich innovator with even higher quality ingredients, even larger portions, and even better customer service. Togo’s is introducing comprehensive menu improvements this month.

“Togo’s has a passionate customer base that goes back over 45 years and they are the reason we have invested in the dramatic ingredient and portion improvements to create our best sandwich experience ever,” said Lunde.

Togo’s also announced the addition of Nader Garschi to its executive leadership team as Chief Operating Officer. Garschi will oversee Company and Franchise locations, as well as Restaurant Services & Training, Operations Innovation, and New Restaurant Openings. Garschi has more than thirty years of restaurant management experience for outstanding brands, including Lyon’s Restaurants, Taco Bell, and Panda Restaurant Group.

Also joining Togo’s executive leadership team, as Senior Vice President of Marketing, is Anna Nero. Nero, who previously served as Executive Director of Marketing at Panda Restaurant Group, brings extensive brand marketing experience from her tenure during Panda’s growth from 38 restaurants to over 1,300. She will be responsible for Brand Creative, Marketing Promotions, Culinary Innovation, and all Media Communications.

Togo’s is also supporting  all branches of the armed services by waiving the initial franchise fees for two qualified veterans starting through Labor Day.

Today, nearly one in seven franchise businesses is veteran-owned. In the last five years, 5,100 veterans have become business owners, and to date, there are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchises. Combined, these businesses directly provide jobs for 815,000 Americans, and generate more than $41 Billion in GDP. And in the years to come, these numbers are only expected to grow. That’s because, for many veterans, franchising is a career path that allows them to utilize the skills and traits they picked up while in the military—things like integrity, management and thinking under pressure. And because brands like Togo’s offer incentives, it makes the transition a little easier once they return home and make their next move back into civilian life.    

“We hope this offer will provide a compelling opportunity for a veteran to become the owner of their very own business,” said Lunde,  “We value everything our military veterans have done for this country, and respect the vast skills they can bring to our business. We don’t require our franchisee candidates to have restaurant experience. We look for someone who is hard-working, understands the importance of team-building, demonstrates good leadership skills, and is passionate about guest satisfaction.” 

SPoT Coffee Expands

 SPoT Coffee's franchise café outside the State of New York will be in the Blue Back Square development in West Hartford, CT. Parisco Cafés, LLC, the franchisee, secured a 3,800 sq. ft. corner location. Architectural design of SPoT West Hartford café have begun and will begin construction as soon as a building permit is issued. As previously announced on February 22 of this year, Parisco Cafés, LLC has entered into an agreement with the company to build a total of five SPoT cafés within the West Hartford, CT, and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., corridor in 2017 and 2018.

SPoT Coffee and Parisco Cafés, LLC share the same strategy of developing a cluster of five franchise cafés within the West Hartford and Saratoga Springs corridor, which includes Pittsfield and Springfield, Massachusetts and Schenectady, New York. Together with the existing two corporate-owned cafés in Saratoga Springs and Glen Falls, N.Y., this cluster will be comprised of seven (7) total operating cafés by the end of 2018. These cafés will not only strengthen the SPoT Coffee brand within this demographically suitable corridor, but will be serviced as well  by a new central kitchen facility capable of supplying up to fifteen (15) franchise cafés  within the same geographic corridor.

"The selection of the renowned Blue Back Square for our new SPoT West Hartford café marks the beginning of our enterprising franchise campaign for 2017 and 2018 outside the borders of the State of New York and into its neighbouring states," said Anton Ayoub, president of the company."By the same token, our successful franchise program within the State of New York continues to develop at a rapid pace, accelerated by the recognition and popularity of our brand name and our cafés."

Bojangles Debuts New Concept

Bojangles opened its second new restaurant concept location on June 1 in Charlotte.

Located at 1401 W. Trade Street, the new 3,900-square-foot restaurant boasts a variety of features designed to celebrate the company’s 40 years of famous chicken and biscuits, enhance the customer experience and demonstrate how the 700 plus unit chain is preparing for the future.

Bojangles in Charlotte

“Opening one of our new concept stores in the historic West End neighborhood, home of a Bojangles’ location since 1980, is a celebration of the past and the future,” said Clifton Rutledge, Bojangles’ President and CEO. “We hope long-time fans and an even broader range of consumers will visit the new store to enjoy Bojangles’ delicious, one-of-a-kind menu offerings.”

“Bojangles’ is proud of the rich history in our hometown, and we’re excited to celebrate our future with the new concept in historic West End,” said Randy Icard, vice president of construction and development for Bojangles’. “With a flurry of activities and promotions planned for opening day, faithful fans and new followers will recognize how the design showcases our commitment to guest experience and operational excellence.”

In the new concept, a distinctive, contemporary exterior combines sophisticated materials like brick, tile and steel canopies. When guests enter, they will be greeted by bold graphics that celebrate the brand’s heritage, such as “Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits” and “Made from Scratch Since 1977.” Guests will be captivated by a “Biscuit Theater” where they can witness biscuits being made fresh every 20 minutes by a Bojangles’ Master Biscuit Maker. Colored crocks replace steel warming trays to give the food display area a more inviting appearance, with increased use of glass adding to the visual appeal.

Bojangles Biscuit Theater

In addition to putting Bojangles’ fantastic food in the spotlight, the dining room has been enhanced with free Wi-Fi, multi-device charging stations, unique high-top community tables, classic Adirondack chairs and a variety of other seating options to accommodate different-sized groups. New uniforms for all Bojangles’ team members complete the updated look.

IHOP in India

DineEquity, Inc. announced the opening of the first IHOP restaurant in India, DineEquity's nineteenth country. The breakfast chain opened in CyberHub, Gurgaon, today by franchisee Kwal's Catering Private Ltd., a multi-unit franchise organization with plans to open an additional 19 locations in multiple states of Northern and Southern Indiaover the next decade.

"With the ongoing growth of IHOP restaurants and the introduction of our world-famous dining experience in India, this is a proud moment for us," said Daniel del Olmo, president, international, DineEquity, Inc. "The family friendly atmosphere, warm hospitality and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner options at IHOP restaurants translate to any country and culture the world over, and we look forward to delighting guests in India as we have in our more than 1,700 restaurants spanning 12 countries."

The menu for this and other India IHOP restaurants will include the beloved American favorites the brand is known for, with numerous modifications to appeal to local palates and dietary preferences; 50 percent of the menu will be vegetarian, the pancakes will be eggless, and additional lunch and dinner options will be available – including lamb. The kid's menu has an extra special "create a face pancake" option, encouraging kids to express their creativity through food.

The design of the India restaurants will also be unique to reflect the brand's 'spreading happiness since 1958' positioning.  Guests will notice key elements of the California Heritage design, including the pancake station, an open kitchen and fresh juice bar along with design elements reflecting IHOP's heritage.

"From my very first experience with IHOP's food and atmosphere, I felt that this was a concept that belonged in India," said Sameer Lamba, managing director of Kwal's Group. "Since becoming an IHOP franchisee and getting to know the restaurant culture even better, my belief in the brand has been strengthened due to the high-quality standards and exceptional friendliness I've experienced at every IHOP restaurant. We look forward to bringing this unique experience to the guests of our first India restaurant, and the many others to come throughout the country."

The anticipated addition of 20 IHOP restaurants in India is expected to generate at least one thousand jobs, and benefit the local economy from the initial construction and ongoing purchase of goods and services.

Marco's Pizza Targets Des Moines

Marco’s Pizza  is targeting the greater Des Moines area for growth. The company has announced plans to introduce 15 locations through strategic franchise partnerships. The first Marco’s Pizza location in the market recently opened under the ownership of local residents Dan and Sherri Holmes. A lifelong resident of Des Moines, Dan was eager to introduce Marco’s Pizza’s quality product to his hometown after learning about the franchise on its 2016 Undercover Bossepisode. While only having been open for a few weeks, business has boomed, and the Holmes are hoping to open an additional two locations within the next two years.

“Des Moines was lacking a high-quality pizza product. Not only does Marco’s Pizza fill that void, but it caters to the customer-friendly service we pride ourselves on,” said Dan Holmes. “Pizza lovers throughout the area will quickly find out that ours is unlike any other pizza franchise out there, and I’m excited to be a part of the continuous growth of the brand in the market.”

“We are still at the ground floor of our development in Des Moines, making it an exciting expansion region for us,” said Marco’s Pizza’s Vice President of Franchise Sales and Development Travis Edmondson. “Our development team is knowledgeable about the regions of the untapped state of Iowa and we’re eager to debut Marco’s to new customers in the greater Des Moines area.”

 Marco’s Pizza more than doubled in size in less than five years. With plans to open more than 100 new stores in 2017 (averaging one every three days), the company is on track to exceed 900 locations by year’s end.

 Boston Market Opens First Middle East Site

Boston Market's first Middle East restaurant opened this week in Kuwait. As previously announced in June 2016, Boston Market IP Company, Ltd., an affiliate of Boston Market Corporation, signed an area development agreement with Al-Ghunaim Trading Co. Ltd. that will open dozens of Boston Market restaurants in the Middle East. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Al-Ghunaim Trading Co. will develop Boston Market restaurants in Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar, and Jordan. The agreement is part of a plan by Boston Market to open 25 – 30 restaurants across the Middle East over the next few years.

The first Boston Market restaurant to open in the Middle East is located in Jabriya of the Hawalli Governorate in Kuwait.  The restaurant has indoor and outdoor patio seating, and also offers delivery to homes and catering for events.

A second Boston Market restaurant is in the final stages of preparing to open in Kuwait.  The second restaurant will open in Sabah Al Salem of the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Governorate in Kuwait. 

"We are thrilled to officially launch the Boston Market brand in the Middle Eastwith our first restaurant opening in Kuwait," said George Michel, Chief Executive Officer of Boston Market, also known as 'The Big Chicken'.  "Rotisserie chicken is a very popular food in the Middle East and as the leading restaurant offering high quality, all natural rotisserie chicken, rotisserie ribs and turkey, we see a significant opportunity to delight consumers and grow our brand in this region of the world."

Michel continued, "We have a top flight partner in Al-Ghunaim Trading Co. and we are confident that with their local market experience and expertise, we will successfully enter and grow our presence in the Middle East."

Al-Ghunaim Trading Co. Ltd. owns and operates a variety of brands including Chili's®, Johnny Carino's Italian Grill®, The Pizzeria, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf®, Cinnamonster®, and Which Wich®. 

"We anticipate a strong consumer response to the Boston Market concept as the clear leader in rotisserie chicken and American home style cooking," said Al-Ghunaim Trading Co. CEO Abdulghani Al-Ghunaim.  "Boston Market brings a unique restaurant concept to the Middle East and its high quality food and diverse menu options will result in customer loyalty.  We look forward to our continued partnership as we open the first restaurant in Kuwait, followed by expansion into additional countries throughout the Middle East."

Melting Pot in El Paso

 The Melting Pot® Restaurants, Inc., signed a franchise agreement with husband-and-wife duo, Arturo G. Alluin and Ruth Ojeda, along with their son,Arturo R. Alluin. The trio formed Apex Franchise Management, LLC and will develop the company's first restaurant in El Paso, Texas. The restaurant is slated to open in 2018.

"My family and I are extremely thrilled to introduce The Melting Pot concept to the El Paso community," said Alluin Jr. "The city of El Paso is experiencing immense, vibrant growth, and there has never been a better time to bring an innovative and interactive dining experience to the residents of El Paso and its surrounding area. We look forward to delivering The Melting Pot's delicious and one-of-a-kind fondue offerings to residents across the southwest."

Alluin Jr., a graduate from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, will lead the day-to-day business operations, alongside his father, who has significant experience in the franchising industry. Prior to partnering with The Melting Pot, Alluin Sr., who is a native of Puebla, Mexico, owned and managed several restaurant concepts across Mexico, including La Baguette French Bakery, TCBY Frozen Yogurt and San Kai Sushi. The Alluin family now resides in El Paso and will utilize their management experience to operate the first Melting Pot in West Texas.

"We're excited to expand our footprint in Texas with the signing of our franchise agreement in El Paso," said Dan Stone, chief business & people development officer at Front Burner, the management company of The Melting Pot. "There's a high demand for quality dining and entertainment in the El Paso market, and we look forward to working with our new franchise partners to provide The Melting Pot's unique fondue experience to local guests."

The Melting Pot operates more than 120 restaurants across 35 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Busters Looks to Expand

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream soon will be scooped in five more locations in metro Phoenix after the premium frozen treat chain inked a new franchise deal accelerating its rapid expansion in the West.

When retired East Coast sales and marketing executive, Dan Tarkoff, looked for a new challenge, he found it in a brand he has enjoyed for more than 20 years. “I couldn’t have selected a better partner than Bruster’s,” said Tarkoff. “In addition to their outstanding product quality and customer service experience, they are a team focused on helping franchisees develop and grow their businesses.”

Tarkoff currently is scouting locations in the Phoenix area for inline, endcap or freestanding shops.

The Pittsburgh-based ice cream brand opened its first Arizona shop in Gilbert earlier this year. The chain is targeting the West and Southwest for expansion. In April, Bruster’s announced it signed franchise development agreements for seven new markets. It also reported an 8.8 percent same-store sales increase for the first quarter of 2017.

Johnny Rockets Opens in Jakarta

Johnny Rockets recently opened its doors to its new restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia, located in the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport's Terminal 3. The new location features the Johnny Rockets Diner 2.0 design, which includes new décor and high-efficiency kitchen equipment. This is the sixth Johnny Rockets in Indonesia.

"We are the first Johnny Rockets airport location to incorporate the Diner 2.0 design, which offers a fresh look, new design and modern style," said Dra. Wiryanti Sukamdani, franchise owner of the Johnny Rockets in Jakarta. "We deliver exciting innovation not just through great food, but also through our high efficiency kitchen technologies that allow us to provide faster service while maintaining superior quality. Whether travelers are looking for a quick bite while on-the-go or have time to relax and enjoy a meal before their flight, we look forward to offering an exceptional experience to all."

"We are excited to continue our partnerships with PT. Riyanti Investama, as their team brings extensive franchise knowledge and expert culinary experiences to Johnny Rockets," added James Walker, President of Operations, Development & Marketing. "This restaurant makes history for our brand, as it introduces the first Johnny Rockets Diner 2.0 design to an airport, which will truly enhance each customer's experience. Our franchisees continue to raise the bar with providing the most quality experience possible, which, in turn, fulfills our continuous culinary focus and path to global brand expansion."

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