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

Send news to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Taco John’s Celebrates 50 Years

It all began in 1969 with one store in Cheyenne. Now, 50 years later, Taco John’s is serving guests from nearly 400 restaurants in 23 states. On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Taco John’s is celebrating its founding in 1969 by inviting  guests to enjoy its signature Beef Crispy Tacos for just 69 cents all day (limit 10 per customer). The goal is to sell half a million 69-cent Beef Crispy Tacos to Taco John’s fans system-wide.

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“We know families come together and connect during Taco Tuesday dinner,” said Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel. “That’s why for decades we’ve offered great discounts on tacos on Taco Tuesday. It’s our way of enabling families to focus on each other and not worry about going over their budget.”

Newk’s To Expand in Texas and Oklahoma

Newk’s Eatery, plans an 18-restaurant expansion across Texas and Oklahoma over the next few years. Openings are slated for ten Dallas area locations, as well as eight Oklahoma locations throughout Oklahoma City, Norman, Moore and Stillwater.

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“We’re thrilled to continue expansion throughout Texas and Oklahoma with this exciting new development agreement,” said Chris Cheek, chief development officer at Newk’s Eatery. “The response to our Dallas locations has been wonderful and we’re looking forward to further growing our footprint with Matthew Biggers and Cuyler Esposito.”

Full Belly Holdings, LLC, co-owned by Matthew Biggers and Cuyler Esposito, will develop the 18 new restaurants. The company currently operates three Newk’s restaurants throughout the Dallas metro. Previously, Esposito was a franchisee of Tropical Smoothie Café.

“When we had the opportunity to continue Newk’s expansion across two thriving metro-area communities, we jumped at it,” said co-owner Esposito. “Our partnership with Newk’s has been a great experience since the beginning and we’re looking forward to bringing more locations to neighborhoods throughout Texas and Oklahoma.”

Chicken Salad Chick Growth

Chicken Salad Chick achieved its 14th consecutive quarter of positive same store sales growth. The company also opened 20 new restaurants, two of which marked Chicken Salad Chick’s debut in new states including Ohio and Illinois. Additionally, the brand signed 12 franchise agreements to develop 34 new locations throughout Illinois, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky and Arkansas.

“We’re projecting to have 149 restaurants open and operating by the end of the year, more than tripling the size of our system since 2015, which would make 2019 our most successful year yet,” said Scott Deviney, CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. “The strides we’ve made and continue to make year after year are largely due in part to our passionate franchise owners and corporate team who make our brand’s purpose of spreading joy, enriching lives and serving others their focus every single day. We’re energized by how far our brand has come in such a short period of time and look forward to bringing Chicken Salad Chick to more fans across the country.”

As part of its growth strategy, Chicken Salad Chick is targeting franchise development throughout the South and Midwest, specifically states like Virginia, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, and is actively seeking individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who possess high energy and enthusiasm about the brand, marketing skills and the ability to manage a strong team. Restaurant experience is preferred. Interested candidates should have a minimum net worth of $600,000 and liquid assets of at least $150,000. Franchisees can expect the initial investment to be approximately $515,000 – $683,000 with a $50,000 initial franchise fee.

Chicken Salad Chick now has 124 restaurants currently open in 15 states.

Another Broken Egg Deal

Another Broken Egg Cafe has doubled in size over the past five years, and with nine new deals from successful multi-unit franchisees and plans to operate 300 cafes by 2025.

The new deals were signed with experienced, multi-unit franchise groups who currently or historically operated Buffalo Wild Wings®, Church’s Chicken®, Five Guys® Burgers and Fries, and Jack in the Box® Hamburgers. These franchise groups plan to open a combined total of over 30 cafes in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. On top of that, existing franchisees are further expanding their agreements with new openings planned for Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis and Jackson, Mississippi.

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The brand’s leadership has focused intently on adding and finetuning the resources needed for this expansion, including the addition of two new hires. Chris Sutton, the new Director of Training, gained most of his restaurant experience in the 12 years he worked for Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill. Most recently, Chris worked as the Regional Training Manager for Buffalo Wild Wings and the Training Manager for Tavistock Restaurant Collection. With his years of training experience in the restaurant industry, Chris Sutton will lead the development and execution of the training program designed to address the ever-evolving needs of today’s labor pool.

Ron Stuart, the new Director of Design and Construction, came from Smoothie King, where he had a hand in designing, building or remodeling over 500 locations while working up from Restaurant Designer to their Director of Design. Before that, he helped open 1,100 new locations for Jimmy John’s as a Store Designer. Ron will now oversee the design planning and construction to optimize costs, seating and sales. Ron’s goal in his new role is to reduce the time and investment from franchise agreement execution to opening.

“With the increased brunch demand in America today, we are beyond excited to watch our loyal guest base grow at an ever-increasing rate while our current franchisees are also expanding at a rapid rate within this fast-growing and profitable daypart,” said Clay Carson, Vice President of Franchise Development. “Additionally, we are pleased to welcome new franchise partners and afford them the opportunity to diversify their existing restaurant portfolio with a proven brand and business model.”

Uberrrito to Open in San Antonio

Mexican fast-casual restaurant Überrito plans to open a new location in San Antonio later this summer. The location will be the first opening in the San Antonio market, expanding from five Houston-area restaurants and one Phoenix location.

The restaurant, planned to open in late summer 2019, will be located at The Fiesta Trails Shopping Center, I-10 at De  Zavala Rd., San Antonio, Texas, 78230. Opening details of Überrito’s San Antonio location will be announced in the coming months.

“We are thrilled to open a location in San Antonio and introduce a new market to Überrito’s 40+ fresh ingredients and toppings,” said Marcus Jundt, CEO, Überrito. “We look forward to working together with the Lakhpaty family in the coming year to expand in San Antonio and continue our franchising plans across Texas.”

“Überrito’s unique Fresh Mex concept continues to be appreciated by consumers, and we’re excited to bring the first Überrito location to San Antonio,” said Aniq Lakhpaty, Partner, SNL Franchise Development. “Expanding the restaurant throughout Texas is a huge opportunity for SNL, and this new location helps set the stage for additional locations to come.”

The opening is part of a Master Franchise Agreement that has the potential to bring more than 100 Überrito franchise locations across Texas in the Houston, Austin and San Antonio markets. The restaurant brand is part of Williston Holding Company, which includes ten restaurant brands and more than 50 restaurants across six states. For more information, visit www.uberrito.com.

Dickey’s Inks First South American Expansion Deal

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is bringing authentic, Texas-style barbecue south of the equator with their first South American expansion deal. The world’s largest barbecue franchise signed with business partners Bruno Gallucci & Cyro Pires, who are set to develop over 100 Dickey’s locations throughout Brazil.

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“When my family opened our doors in 1941, our goal was to serve our community great barbecue and today it’s an honor to be entrusted with that same mission globally,” says Roland Dickey, Jr., CEO of Dickey’s Capital Group. “Bruno and Cyro share a passion for their community and the art of great barbecue, and we look forward to our new partnership and bringing Legit. Texas. Barbecue. to Brazil.”

Bruno and Cyro share a diversified entrepreneurial background and bring over a decade of experience in both agriculture production and restaurant operations to their joint venture.  

“Our new partners bring an unparalleled level of enthusiasm, business acumen and experience with Brazilian barbecue culture,” says Jim Perkins, Vice President of International Development for Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. “We’re thankful to have such knowledgeable and collaborative partners as Dickey’s embarks on this new frontier.”

“Whether you’re with friends or family, it’s all about barbecue in Brazil, and for us it’s about giving our country the Dickey’s experience,” says Gallucci. “The Dickey’s vibe and atmosphere are what made us fall in love with this concept.”

Gallucci and Pires acquired full franchising rights for Brazil and are slated to open their first location in their hometown of San Paolo in early 2020.

Fajita Pete’s Open in Spring

 Fajita Pete’s first Spring restaurant, located at 4127 Riley Fuzzel Road, is now open.

“My wife Nesia and I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring award-winning fajitas and margaritas to-go to Spring,” said Franchisee Jerrell Nelson. “We’re looking forward to serving our hometown and partnering with the community to support our local schools, sports teams and charity organizations.”

Fajita Pete’s offers fajitas with 100 percent certified Angus beef, chicken, veggies, shrimp or mixed and served with all the classics – grilled onions, jalapenos, shredded cheese pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, hand-rolled tortillas, Mexican rice, refried beans and chips and salsa.

The Houston-based fajita delivery chain currently has 13 locations across Texas. Additional locations are also opening this summer in Houston, College Station and League City.

Franchise agreements, which include assistance with everything from site selection to operations and sales, are available throughout Texas and for other markets. Visit fajitapetes.com/franchises for more information.

I Heart Mac & Cheese Expansion Plans

 I Heart Mac & Cheese, sold its Coral Springs, Florida corporate store to franchise group JJM3’s Companies. The group took ownership of the restaurant effective July 14, which is now the second franchisee-operated location in Florida.

“The successful sale of our corporate store in Coral Springs is a continuation of our brand’s expansion, with plans to grow to 100 franchises by the end of the year,” said Stephen Giordanella, CEO and chairman of I Heart Mac & Cheese. “With JJM3’s Companies at the helm, we know that the I Heart Mac & Cheese brand will continue to flourish in the South Florida community, and we look forward to a long, successful relationship with our new owners in Coral Springs.”

JJM3’s Companies is led by Parkland resident Vicki Whittaker, who will assume operations of the existing location, which opened in February 2018. Whittaker, a mother of three looking for her next career opportunity, was attracted to the brand through her husband, who works in the brand’s corporate office as the director of franchise development. For more than 15 years, she worked in the accounting division of General Motors, in her home state of Georgia, before relocating to South Florida. 

“I’m excited to join the I Heart Mac & Cheese brand and continue spreading word about this incredible concept throughout Western Broward County,” said Whittaker. “I’m personally passionate about providing healthy options to my growing family, and I love that this restaurant offers more than macaroni and cheese – with base options such as quinoa, broccoli and cauliflower – giving parents an alternative when dining out with their children who love our classic comfort food favorites.”

A unique franchise concept in the restaurant industry with no fryers, grease trap systems or hood systems, I Heart Mac & Cheese requires a low investment and can be opened in a small space, such as a mall kiosk or food court. Shopping malls, sports venues, areas close to colleges and universities, and high-traffic pedestrian areas are also ideal locations. 

Moe’s Names Executive Chef

Moe’s Southwest Grill® gives Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef a proud “Welcome to Moe’s” greeting as he joins the team. Gronlund brings over 25 years of foodservice industry experience in product innovation, recipe development and operations management. With extensive experience working for and representing national and international restaurant brands and products, he is able to bring new flavors and unbeatable in-store customer experience to the Moe’s brand.

Gronlund will be responsible for leading the development and execution of culinary strategies, as well as driving innovation for Moe’s new and existing menu items. Chef Gronlund’s experience with Southwest and Latin flavors runs deep; previously as Director of Ingredient Sales & Culinary Services at Tobasco, he immersed himself in each country in South America to learn about the flavors that makes the cuisine so unique. Formerly leading Culinary at Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, he also brings rich experience in budget management, product rollout, training and purchasing.

In addition to his role at TABASCO and Smokey Bones, Gronlund also served as Culinary Director at Hard Rock Cafe where he led recipe development for their 178 restaurants around the world and as a product development lead for Carla’s Pasta, a national restaurant supplier.

“When working on a brand like Moe’s Southwest Grill, which has such a loyal and passionate fan base, it’s imperative to strike a balance between maintaining the core culinary elements and flavors while also pushing innovation that reaches new audiences,” says Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef, Moe’s Southwest Grill. “I’m looking forward to diving into the Southwest flavors that make the Moe’s menu distinctive in the fast casual Mexican segment and optimizing the iconic ‘Welcome to Moe’s!’ atmosphere that keeps our fans coming back week after week.”

“With a robust multi-year product innovation calendar, Moe’s was looking for a chef that thinks creatively outside the box while leveraging the knowledge of franchise operations in order to successfully bring to market new menu items that our fans will crave,” says Verchele Wiggins Roberts, Chief Marketing Officer, Moe’s Southwest Grill. “We’re thrilled for Chef Gronlund to join our team and see what new creations he develops in our Test Kitchen here in Atlanta throughout the coming months.”

Blaze Pizza Signs Development Deal for Dallas

 Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the recognized world leader in fast artisanal pizza, announced today it has signed a multi-unit deal for Dallas with seasoned franchise owner and multi-brand operator Roz Mallet. Mallet, an existing franchisee who joined the brand in January 2018, is currently developing a non-traditional Blaze Pizza location at the Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso. Her new development deal includes adding three traditional Blaze Pizza locations throughout North Dallas. 

“After being in the restaurant industry for quite some time, I’ve learned to align with brands, such as Blaze Pizza, that share my values and strategic vision,” said Mallet, who was recently named to the Nation’s Restaurant News Power List for 2019. “The company’s innovative concept has intrigued me since day one and they have a powerhouse team supporting my growth goals. As we add development of more traditional spaces, I’m looking forward to harnessing in on local fans’ loyalty and continuing to serve them with top-notch service.” 

In addition to her Blaze Pizza development initiatives, Mallet is the founder, CEO and President of PhaseNext Hospitality – a multi-brand franchise operating company. Her comprehensive general management experience includes overseeing all functional areas, with an emphasis on operations, portfolio management, human resources, franchise systems development and financial analysis. Besides Blaze Pizza, Mallet is also a franchise partner with Buffalo Wild Wings, Corner Bakery Cafe, Smashburger and Wolfgang Puck, with restaurants in airports and military installations.

“Roz’s track record and diverse expertise is continually recognized across the industry and we’re honored to have her on the Blaze Pizza team,” said Carolyne Canady, President International, Chief Development Officer for Blaze Pizza. “Her leadership capabilities and ‘do good’ mentality have had a tremendous impact on local business operations thus far, and we’re looking forward to supporting her next growth phase.” 

Blaze Pizza has expanded from its California base to bringing over 330 restaurants into 41 states and five countries. 

Coolgreens To Expand into Omaha

Coolgreens executed an area development agreement with Sanus Fieri, LLC to bring three Coolgreens locations to the Omaha area. The agreement anticipates that the first restaurant will open by the end of 2019.

“We conducted research to figure out what we could bring to Omaha that would enhance our community,” said Joshua Vollertsen, owner of Sanus Fieri, LLC. “Sanus Fieri is Latin for ‘healthy lifestyle’ and Coolgreens’ mission is to build healthy lifestyles in the communities it serves. When I discovered the brand, it was love at first sight and bite! Omaha has a big wellness community and Coolgreens’ food and culture are spectacular. Nothing like it exists in the area, so we are certain that it will be well received. We want Coolgreens to be a destination where people come to feel good.”

Coolgreens is committed to providing “more than” experiences to the communities where it plants its roots. More than just a high-quality, fresh, fast dining experience; Coolgreens provides menu offerings that cater to all lifestyles. More than a fast casual restaurant; Coolgreens is dedicated to making the markets it serves better places to live.

Subway Remodel and Food Waste Partners

Subway® restaurant guests will notice something different about their favorite sandwich shop – and we’re not just talking about the new menu innovations! More than 10,500 U.S. Subway restaurants will be remodeled with a new exciting design and décor by the end of 2020.

Thanks to a multi-million-dollar grant program that will cover about 25 percent of the redesign costs, Franchise Owners are investing to remodel even more restaurants over the next year. These remodeled locations will join the nearly 1,400 global remodels already completed and the nearly 900 global remodels currently underway.

“Our Franchise Owners and their staffs work hard every day to deliver a great Subway experience for their guests,” said Don Fertman, Chief Development Officer for Subway. “By participating in the remodel program, Franchise Owners are making a commitment to enhancing their guests experience, and showing their trust in the brand. Together, with all that is going on with our global transformation, we are taking this brand to an exciting new level.”

The grant program and continued restaurant transformation is part of the brand’s global effort to deliver the best guest experience. The multi-year global transformation is centered on three key initiatives: updated, modern restaurant redesigns; bold new flavors, tastes and menu options; and greater convenience and enhanced customer service for guests.

“Franchising works best when franchise brands and franchise business owners succeed together,” said Stephen Worley, Senior Director of Communications for the International Franchise Association (IFA). “IFA commends Subway for their efforts to facilitate these renovations, which can benefit franchise owners, their employees, and their customers alike.”

Last year, in addition to the new redesign, Subway announced an $80 million investment to emphasize new flavors and create a more personalized guest experience in the restaurants. This new program, free to all Franchise Owners, is already in 14 countries, including France, Brazil, Singapore and Australia. The program features Flavor Stations, with even more flavors guests can use to customize their sandwiches and salads, and Beverage Stations, with such offerings as Tropical Strawberry Lemonade and Pomegranate Limeade. This program will be in all eligible U.S. restaurants this Summer.

In addition, Subway® restaurants  announced its partnership with Cornell University’s M.B.A. program. The partnership brings innovative thinking to help further the brand’s commitment to reduce waste across the nation’s largest network of restaurants from sustainability-minded business students.

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Students from Cornell’s graduate M.B.A. Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion Program work on multidisciplinary teams to apply their knowledge to Corporate or NGO-sponsored projects focused on social and environmental issues. For Subway, the students’ assignment is to develop recommendations to further reduce waste at the restaurant level across a network of more than 24,000 independently owned restaurants in the United States – all with varying local waste removal contracts, as well as differing state and local guidelines.

“Partnering with Cornell University’s SGE Immersion Program allows us to tap into the next generation of business and sustainability leaders who will give us new insights and ideas for continuing to reduce waste at the restaurant level,” said John Scott, Vice President Quality and Sustainability for Subway® restaurants. “This is an opportunity for these Cornell students and Subway to learn from each other while finding a way to improve communities,” Scott said. “For the students, it’s a chance to see the challenges and opportunities we face as a global company first hand and explore ways to address those challenges. And for Subway, we’re thrilled to get a fresh and unique perspective from the students to help us find a different way to lighten our environmental footprint.”

Working with Subway, students have immersed themselves in the brand’s sustainability efforts, while working to address one of the world’s most pressing concerns – waste reduction. The four-student Cornell team visited Subway restaurants to review current practices in front and back of house operations, surveyed more than 2,000 Franchise Owners on current waste management efforts and conducted extensive industry research.

Cornell SGE Immersion Program Director Professor Mark Milstein said, “Sustainability is a context for sharpening management decision-making skills, and businesses are in a unique position to address the world’s most pressing problems. The SGE Immersion Program emphasizes the application of creativity, innovation and critical thinking to solve real business and sustainability problems. Immersing themselves in a business challenge like this one allows our M.B.A. students to hone those skills, while they offer a tremendous resource to companies like Subway.”

Cornell M.B.A. candidate Pamela Graybeal, of Chadds Ford, PA, said, “This has been a great way for both parties to learn from one another. The complexity of waste management infrastructure across the U.S. has such a large impact on how a company like Subway–with its expansive network of store locations–can develop a waste management plan that works for all.”

“After the Cornell students present their findings, we will thoroughly review their report and a project team will evaluate the feasibility of implementing their recommendations,” said Andrea Seek, Director of Global Sustainability for Subway. “We know we will all be learning from this effort and are excited to use the students’ work as a catalyst to drive future change.”

Krisp Kreme’s Future Thinking

Krispy Kreme will debut its first comprehensive shop redesign in more than a decade on Tuesday, July 23, treating fans in Concord, N.C., to a taste of what’s to come from the brand: doughnut-infused ice cream available in both milkshakes and scoop sandwiches, as well as an array of new shop experiences, including the ability for guests to customize the iconic Original Glazed® Doughnut.

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Krispy Kreme’s new Concord location, about 25 miles north of the brand’s Global Product & Innovation Center in Charlotte, is one of 45 new shops it will open in both new and existing markets across the country through 2020. Krispy Kreme is also remodeling its current shop network.

In addition to the expanded menu, the Krispy Kreme shop in Concord, N.C., will feature a new shop design offering a “stylistic wink” to Krispy Kreme’s heritage, while capturing the brand’s fun, warm and authentic personality. Digital and interactive enhancements and a new look and feel will also enhance guests’ journey.

“This new shop experience honors the heritage of Krispy Kreme while at the same time acknowledging and addressing the rising expectations of our customers,” said Andy Skehan, President, North America, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. “From our time-tested process of producing the world’s most loved doughnuts to our new Original Glazed Doughnut infused ice cream, we’re very excited for what the future holds.”

The Concord shop’s expanded menu includes:

  • SScoop sandwiches, the brand’s take on the classic ice cream sandwich, featuring Original Glazed Doughnut infused ice cream, scooped between a sliced doughnut with a combination of toppings and drizzles. Options include Vanilla Sprinkled, Triple Chocolate, Cookies & Kreme™, Vanilla Chip, Chocolatey Caramel Coconut, and Vanilla Fruity Crunch.
  • Hand-spun milkshakes made with Original Glazed Doughnut infused ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a mini-Original Glazed Doughnut. Flavors include Vanilla Glazed, Double Chocolate, Salty Caramel, Classic Strawberry, and OREO® Cookies & Kreme™.
  • Customized doughnuts offering guests the ability to build their own doughnuts with a combination of five different glazes, 10 toppings and five drizzle flavors, available in three-packs and half-dozen options.

New shop features will include an enhanced doughnut theater experience, offering an end-to-end view of the doughnut making process that is surpassed only by the first bite of Krispy Kreme’s melt-in-your-mouth Original Glazed® Doughnuts just minutes later. Additional enhancements include new lighted doughnut display cases and digital menu boards.

Guests will also experience multiple customer service enhancements, including online ordering, delivery, in-shop self-service pickup, dedicated parking for mobile order pickup, and an expanded drive-thru with two lanes and digital order confirmation – all part of Krispy Kreme’s continued initiative to give customers access to made fresh daily doughnuts whenever, wherever and however they want.

Salata Opens in Louisiana

Salata has opened its first restaurant in Louisiana in Lake Charles. Louisiana marks Salata’s seventh state, and Lake Charles marks the company’s 86th location nationwide.

The Houston-based brand’s expansion into Louisiana was a natural progression, and Lake Charles made sense for its first location in the state.

“Growing across and within states that are contiguous to our home state of Texas is part of our strategic expansion plan,” said David Wheeler, Salata’s chief development officer. “Our southern markets have welcomed Salata to their communities and Lake Charles is a natural progression of the brand as it expands outwardly beyond our core market of Texas. We will continue to develop within Louisiana in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Then as we develop east into Mississippi and Alabama, we will intersect with the growth taking place in Atlanta and Florida.”

The Lake Charles location features Salata’s new restaurant design, making it only the second Salata in the country with the updated look and feel. The new design debuted when Salata opened a location in Lake Mary, Florida, in February following extensive consumer research. The Lake Charles Salata features many of the same guest-focused enhancements as the Lake Mary location within a slightly smaller footprint. At 2,800 square feet, it sets the standard for what new Salata locations will look like going forward.

Some of the features of the Lake Charles Salata includeSalata plans on opening franchise locations in additional new states, including Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona, and the company will expand within existing states, too. In 2019, Salata has 20 new locations planned nationally, and a goal of securing 25 new franchise agreements.

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