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

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

Brentwood Acquires Chicken Salad Chick

Brentwood Associates , a consumer-focused private equity firm, acquired a majority interest in SSRG Holdings, LLC (Chicken Salad Chick)  from Eagle Merchant Partners. Terms of the deal are confidential. 

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Chicken Salad Chick has 137 locations throughout 16 states predominantly in the Southeast and is a leading fast-casual restaurant company. 

Chicken Salad Chick was founded in 2008 by Stacy and Kevin Brown when they opened the first restaurant in Auburn, Ala. The brand is famous for its made-from-scratch and healthy chicken salads as well as its authentic service. All Chicken Salad Chick restaurants feature over a dozen distinct chicken salad flavors made fresh daily and served by the scoop, sandwich or bowl. Each chicken salad is named in honor of an important woman in Stacy’s life. The fast-casual restaurants also feature homemade pimento cheese and egg salad, as well as fresh sides, soups and desserts. Chicken Salad Chick restaurants offer dine-in, take-out, drive-thru and catering. Chicken Salad Chick is led by CEO Scott Deviney, who will continue to lead the business going forward.

“We are very excited to partner with Brentwood on the next chapter for Chicken Salad Chick,” Deviney said. “Brentwood’s long track record of working with leading restaurant companies coupled with their understanding of our business objectives and strategy make them the perfect partner for us to continue executing on our robust growth and expansion plan.”

Rahul Aggarwal, partner at Brentwood, commented, “Chicken Salad Chick’s model fits well within our strategy of investing in high-growth, best-in-class consumer businesses. We look forward to working with Scott and the Chicken Salad Chick team to build upon their success in the markets they serve.”

Stockton Croft, partner at Eagle Merchant Partners, added, “We are extremely proud of Chicken Salad Chick’s achievements during our ownership, which resulted in a seven-fold increase in system sales and over 100 new restaurants. Chicken Salad Chick is a truly differentiated company with tremendous growth ahead. It has been an honor to work with such a wonderful organization.”

North Point Advisors, LLC advised Chicken Salad Chick on the transaction, while King & Spalding LLP provided legal counsel. Brentwood was represented by Burr & Forman LLP.

Chicken Salad Chick continues expanding in Florida with its newest restaurant in Brandon, marking the seventh opening in the greater Tampa market and the brand’s 23rd restaurant in the state of Florida.. Leading the Tampa expansion are Tammy and Brad Cochran of Tampa Bay CSC, multi-unit Chicken Salad Chick franchise owners.

“I am so excited for the Cochrans to open their fourth restaurant. As long-time franchise owners with us, Tammy and Brad are truly part of the Chicken Salad Chick family,” said Stacy Brown, Founder of Chicken Salad Chick. “They represent the best of what we hope the brand can be, with their dedication to serving their guests and enriching the lives of those around them. They have built such a wonderful team and following in Tampa and we can’t wait to continue watching them grow!” 

The Cochrans were first introduced to Chicken Salad Chick in 2007 when founder Stacy Brown brought samples of her classic chicken salad to a baby shower for Tammy’s sister-in-law Julie. Nearly 12 years since their first Chicken Salad Chick experience, the husband-and-wife duo are proud owners of four restaurants in the Tampa area that offer both exceptional dine-in services and a variety of catering options. The Cochrans are thrilled to be opening a new location in Brandon, alongside their existing locations in East Fowler, Lutz and South Tampa.

“We’ve loved growing Chicken Salad Chick’s presence in the Tampa area and are so excited to be expanding to Brandon,” said Brad Cochran. “The Bay area is a mixture of young professionals, budding families, college students and retirees and they all have something in common. They value and enjoy a fresh, flavorful meal in a warm, inviting atmosphere. That’s exactly what Chicken Salad Chick brings to these communities and we can’t wait to bring that experience to Brandon.”

The Dolly Llama Looking to Franchising

Waffle concept The Dolly Llama recently signed with DCV Franchise Group as its franchising partner to expand the brand to major media markets across the country. 

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“The Dolly Llama was designed to be a modern dessert shop where customers from all walks of life can enjoy authentic, hand-crafted waffles & ice cream in a cool, hip, unique, and most importantly, fun environment,” said Eric Shomof, Co-Founder. “Having proven ourselves by dominating the ice cream & waffle scene in one of the most competitive markets in the country, Los Angeles, we are thrilled to be working with DCV to continue to grow and expand the concept into other major U.S. markets.”  

The brand has distinctively engineered a business for a modern market and established three different franchising models to accommodate a range of store footprints. The Brick & Mortar store model, which ranges from 1200 – 2000 sq feet, has a specific layout designed for efficiently producing the entire The Dolly Llama menu and properly displaying logos and branding to maximize presentation and The Dolly Llama’s merchandising. The Kiosk model mirrors the aesthetic of a Brick-and-Mortar location, and offers the full menu, but can be scaled to the atmosphere.

 The standard Dolly Llama Kiosk is 250-300 sq ft and the most suitable model for food courts or smaller locations that share a common seating area or outside venue such as a park. 

 The Food Trailer model is a mobile kitchen where all cooking, storing and preparation equipment is designed inside a health department approved food trailer that can be located at strategic locations. This model is ideal for bringing The Dolly Llama’s menu to events, parties, and festivals, while further generating brand awareness.

“We see the brand’s potential for servicing everyday guests through brick-and-mortar business while also being a vendor at events. The range of franchise models opens that door for operators wanting to expand their reach in the marketplace,” says Larry Schwartz, Partner at DCV Franchise Group.  “This additional revenue stream option sets The Dolly Llama apart from other dessert franchises out there.” 

The Southern California concept was established in 2017 as a destination for families, shoppers, students, and tourists of all ages, and has since established itself as the hottest dessert destination in Los Angeles with an iconic logo and unparalleled aesthetic flair. The brand prides itself on offering authentic European flavors and techniques, such as Belgian waffles using traditional methods, and the Hong Kong Bubble Waffle prepared with a special batter that produces a unique crispy and custard-like texture.

The four unique waffle styles, OG Liege Waffle, Waffle Stick, Bubble Waffle, and Bubble Waffle Jr, are the base of the interactive menu of ‘Top Picks’ waffle and ice cream desserts, ice cream waffle sandwiches, waffle sticks, and a ‘Build Your Own’ menu.  Signature Shakes are another brand staple. The Dolly Llama also periodically introduces chef-curated and customer-inspired limited-time creations released in conjunction with holidays.

The Dolly Llama currently operates four locations in greater Los Angeles. 

This Is It! Launches Franchising

This is it! Southern Kitchen and BBQ, top photo, launched ts franchising program and the signing of professional NBA player Paul Millsap as its first area developer for Greater Atlanta. The newly revamped Southern food brand has also appointed Tamala Fowler as its CEO and partnered with renowned BBQ restaurateur and Food Network star Pat Neely to assist in recipe development and new menu offerings.

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This Is It! was founded more than 35 years ago by the Anthony family, which has an, 80-year history in the restaurant business. Heralded as local pioneers of Southern home-style cuisine, the Anthony family created a wide-ranging menu of Southern fried chicken, BBQ ribs and brisket, seafood dishes such as grilled salmon and fried tilapia, and extensive options of homemade Southern sides including mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. There are 11 locations throughout Greater Atlanta.

During his time in Atlanta playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Millsap became a frequent visitor to This Is It! restaurants and was drawn to the brand’s emphasis on family and its mix of homemade BBQ, seafood, and soul food. As the brand’s first area developer for Greater Atlanta, Paul plans to open at least three new locations in the area, with the first of these restaurants to open by mid-2020.

“While I was living in Atlanta, I fell in love with This Is It! restaurants for their delicious food and strong focus on family and Southern hospitality,” said Millsap. “As a longtime fan of the brand, I jumped at the opportunity to expand this concept throughout Georgia and am excited for This Is It! to become a large part of my future in the restaurant industry.”

With the brand’s franchising launch, This Is It! Southern Kitchen and BBQ has named franchise veteran Tamala Fowler as its new CEO. Fowler was previously the President of GiGi’s Cupcakes, where she oversaw aggressive store growth, and served as the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and International Development for Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, in which she spearheaded the brand’s entrance into retail locations such as Walmart and Kroger.

“The Anthony family created such a beloved, strong brand with a loyal customer base throughout Atlanta thanks to their fresh, great tasting Southern food and genuine hospitality,” said Fowler. “We look forward to continuing that tradition of family, hospitality, and high-quality Southern dishes with our franchise partners as we grow this brand in communities throughout the Southeast.”

To assist with the brand’s revamp and launch into franchising, This Is It! has partnered with Food Network celebrity chef and BBQ connoisseur Pat Neely. A restauranteur for over 25 years, Neely owned and operated the award-winning Neely’s BBQ chain in Tennessee, with five locations across Memphis and Nashville, and Neely’s Barbecue Parlor in New York City. Neely also starred in his own show on the Food Network called “Down Home with the Neelys” for 13 successful seasons. In this partnership, Neely will be using his expertise in regional BBQ trends and dining habits to help efficiently scale the brand, promote nationally and replicate the success of the original restaurants in Atlanta, while training franchisees on store operations and recipe execution.

This Is It! Southern Kitchen and BBQ is currently seeking single and multi-unit franchisees with a passion for the restaurant business to open locations in available territories throughout the Southeast. Qualified candidates should have a net worth of at least $1,000,000 and liquid capital of $500,000. The total initial investment for This Is It! Southern Kitchen and BBQ ranges from $664,800 to $902,250 for a dine-in restaurant to $450,650 to $605,400 for a “To-Go” location.

Dunkin’ Eyes Houston Expansion

Dunkin signed store development agreements with new franchisee Manchester Enterprises, LLC to develop 18 new restaurants throughout Houston. The group will also be developing ten multi-brand locations with Baskin-Robbins. With the first restaurant slated to open in the Summer of 2020, the franchisee is targeting markets throughout Houston, including Sugarland, Missouri City, Pearland, Friendswood, Galveston and Texas City.

Manchester Enterprises, LLC, led by Chief Operations Officer Kirby Dolliole, has extensive experience in the foodservice and hospitality sectors, previously overseeing operations at multiple other QSR Brands. Headquartered in Houston, the Manchester Enterprise group has extensive knowledge of the market and is dedicated to further developing the Dunkin’ brand throughout the region over the next decade.

“We have always admired the Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins business models and have continued to monitor their growth over the years,” said Dolliole. “Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure to cross paths with many Dunkin’ franchise owners who have consistently raved about the brand and their support structure. We’re eager to begin development and look forward to keeping Houston running on Dunkin’.”

There are currently 160 Dunkin’ restaurants located in Texas, and the company is continuing to recruit franchisees in the surrounding areas of Houston, Austin, Beaumont and Odessa, TX . To help fuel additional growth in the market, special development incentives are available. *

“Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins’ growth would not be possible without the introduction of new franchisees to the system, which demonstrates their high confidence in our brands and world-class support team,” said Grant Benson, CFE, senior vice president of franchising and business development, Dunkin’ Brands. “Our hard-working and dedicated franchisees bring the Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins brands, products, and promotions to life each and every day and have been essential to our growth over the years, which has solidified our position as a leader in the quick service restaurant industry.”

German Donor Kebab Growth

German Doner Kebab’s like-for-like sales have risen almost 50 per cent. Following a successful year for the fast-casual brand, latest financial figures reported a 49.6 per cent annual increase in like for like sales. German Doner Kebab, the flagship of the Hero Brands portfolio, is now listed as one of the country’s fastest growing restaurant chains – with 36 outlets opened over the past two years.

Daniel Bunce, GDK MD for UK, Ireland and Europe, insists the results demonstrate the “value in thinking outside the traditional markets”, and focusing upon “the food experience of the future”.

He said: “German Doner Kebab remains committed to providing an altogether unique experience to UK consumers, and we are immensely proud of bringing a product to the market that clearly appeals to the next generation of restaurant goers. Our innovative blend of fast-casual dining has resonated with the needs of an ever-evolving market, which is being reflected in the phenomenal success of our stores throughout the UK and abroad. GDK is ahead of the curve and our results speak for themselves as we truly respond to the needs of our consumer base. Restaurant goers no longer want, or have the time, to be spending hours on their dining experience. Younger consumers are demanding shorter waits, great-tasting healthier food and an aspirational experience that they can capture across social streams.”

The gourmet doner kebab chain now serves up  £1m in kebab sales in its restaurants every week in the UK, and plans are now well underway to open a further three new stores by the end of the year.

The UK growth plan follows news that the brand is embarking on expansion into Saudi Arabia. The Ajlan and Brothers Group has been signed-up as the master franchisee, with a development agreement of 100 stores over the next ten years.

Further growth has also been announced in North America, as franchises have been signed in Canada’s Ontario and British Columbia provinces, while negotiations are underway to open outlets in New York’s Manhattan and New Jersey.

Twin Peaks Teams with ApplePie Capital

Twin Peaks Restaurants is teaming up with ApplePie Capital – a capital markets partner exclusively focused on franchising – to allocate up to $30 million in debt capital to its franchisees and propel its franchise expansion to new and existing groups.

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“It is of the utmost importance for us to ensure our franchisees can continue to develop,” said Twin Peaks CEO Joe Hummel. “This partnership with ApplePie will allow us to help our franchisees grow through a lending program that aids their financial needs. This gives them more opportunity to consider new steps such as remodels or opening new locations. It can also be an option for refinancing when needed. This assistance will be key in driving expansion as we continue to capitalize on aggressive franchising opportunities while we move into new markets nationwide.”

“We are excited to team up with Twin Peaks and their franchisees to make accessing capital easy,” said Denise Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of ApplePie. “We look forward to helping accelerate the brand’s growth through our competitive financing program.” 

Twin Peaks currently has 83 locations in 26 states.

Jamba Expansion in Southeast

Jamba® signed a franchise agreement with multi-unit operator Kurt Wilson to  expand in college markets across the southeast. Kurt Wilson, owner and president of NA Foodservice Inc. and a multi-unit Zaxby’s Franchisee will open five Jamba locations in Alabama and Georgia.

“Since we announced our brand evolution in June, we’ve been working hard to identify the right franchisees that can help our brand expand in key markets across the country,” said Geoff Henry, president of Jamba. “Kurt has a long history of success with Zaxby’s and we know he’s the right partner that will help us establish a deeper presence in college towns in the southeast. We welcome Kurt to the Jamba family and look forward to seeing his success.”

A franchisee with Zaxby’s for more than 18 years, Wilson has helped the fast food alternative expand its footprint in Alabama. Now, along with his partner Michael Santiana, Wilson will help Jamba build a presence in Auburn, AL; Tuscaloosa, AL; Athens, GA; Kennesaw, GA and Marietta, GA. All five units are anticipated to open in 2020 and 2021.

“We’ve been watching Jamba’s evolution over the years very closely. Once we learned of the new store design, menu innovation and enhanced technology, we were sold on becoming Jamba franchisees,” said Wilson. “Michael and I are honored to become part of this growing family and we know we’ve selected ideal markets for this brand. Smoothies, bowls and bites are perfect for the college community. College students live a life that is fast-paced and need something on-the-go. We’re excited to provide them with that opportunity.”

NA Foodservice Inc. and all franchisees in the Jamba system have the ability to use FOCUS Brands’ shared services including marketing, real estate, technology and more to help them successfully launch and operate their restaurants. FOCUS Brands added Jamba to its growing portfolio in September 2018.

Jamba is aggressively rolling out its new store design and has franchise opportunities available throughout several key markets. The global lifestyle brand is actively seeking individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who possess enthusiasm about the brand, marketing skills and the ability to manage a strong team.

Lake Forest, CA – November 6, 2019 – Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. (NASDAQ: TACO), the nation’s second leading Mexican quick service restaurant (MQSR),1 today announced that the grand opening celebration of its newest Oklahoma City location will take place on Wednesday, November 13th at 1508 W-I-240 Service Road.

Papa John’s Streamlines Management

Papa John’s International, Inc.  announced a new, more streamlined senior management team, with additions to the team as well as promotions and expanded roles for key leaders. 

“After two months as CEO, I’m more excited than ever by the dedication, drive and resilience of Papa John’s team members and franchisees. Today I’m announcing a new management structure that will be the foundation on which we build our future,” said Rob Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer. “As we introduce a more focused plan and strategic priorities for the company, we are realigning Papa John’s senior management, promoting leaders within the company and adding proven talent. The strong, streamlined team has more clearly defined responsibilities and priorities, which I believe will empower our senior leaders to make quicker, better decisions, collaborate more effectively and focus investment and effort on the key drivers of Papa John’s future growth and success.”

Max Wetzel, formerly VP, Consumer Brands and Chief Transformation Officer at PPG Industries, is joining the company as Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, beginning November 18, 2019. Wetzel will oversee marketing, menu strategy, product innovation, customer experience and a new project management office. Jim Norberg, the company’s SVP, Chief of Restaurant Operations, has been named Chief Operating Officer, North America, and Jack Swaysland has been named Chief Operating Officer, International.

 Lynch said, “I’m very excited to welcome Max Wetzel to the Papa John’s team. A transformational leader, Max earned a reputation as a strategic and growth-oriented consumer marketer during his career at H.J. Heinz and most recently, PPG. Now, as our new Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, he will lead the company’s efforts to reestablish the superiority of our pizza with consumers across our various customer platforms.”

As a result of the reorganization, Chief Operating and Growth Officer Mike Nettles and Chief Marketing Officer Karlin Linhardt will leave the company after a short transition period to pursue other opportunities. In addition, Chief Financial Officer Joe Smith will be leaving the company in 2020 following the fiscal 2019 year-end, after almost 20 years at Papa John’s. He will continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer while the company searches for a new CFO.

“On behalf of the entire Papa John’s team, I want to express gratitude to Joe Smith for his dedication to the company, his commitment to a smooth transition and the big impact he has made in the many important roles he has served here, including as CFO since April 2018,” Mr. Lynch added. “I also want to thank Mike Nettles and Karlin Linhardt for the significant contributions they have made to Papa John’s and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

In addition to Wetzel, Norberg, Swaysland and Smith, the company’s Executive Leadership Team includes:

  • Marvin Boakye, who has been named Chief People and Diversity Officer. The company’s Chief People Officer since January 2019, Mr. Boakye will also assume leadership of the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) team and its initiatives, a critical element of the company’s culture. Prior to joining Papa John’s earlier this year, Mr. Boakye led DEI organizations at Andeavor and MTS-Allstream, and helped create the DEI organizations at Goodyear and the Pulte Group;
  • Madeline Chadwick, who has been promoted to SVP, Communications and Corporate Affairs. In addition to internal and external communications, Ms. Chadwick will oversee the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives;
  • Justin Falciola, Chief Insights and Technology Officer;
  • Shane Hutchins, Chief Supply Chain Officer; and
  • Caroline Oyler, Chief Legal and Risk Officer.

Eggs Up Grill Names Owen as VP of Franchise Development

 Eggs Up Grill appointed Todd Owen as its new VP of Franchise Development. Todd is assuming responsibility for leading Eggs Up Grill growth by recruiting new qualified franchise partners into the rapidly expanding brand’s system.  Owen brings a rich background in successful franchise development, leading sales and business development with brands that included Qdoba Mexican Eats, spearheading growth from 60 to more than 600 locations.

“We selected Todd after a thorough and extensive search of the industry’s top talent in franchise development,” said Ricky Richardson, CEO of Eggs Up Grill. “Todd joining our team marks the next step in our commitment to offering best-in-class support to our franchisees, we’re thrilled to welcome Todd to the Eggs Up Grill team and know that he will make an immediate impact on our growing franchise community.”

He is now responsible for leading Eggs Up Grill’s efforts in recruiting qualified franchisees and assisting existing owners with developing their strategic growth plans as they reinvest and add new Eggs Up Grill restaurants to their portfolio. Owen shares Eggs Up Grill’s commitment to supporting prospects and ensuring its franchisees are set up to build a successful business through the brand.

“It’s a privilege to serve the team, guests and franchisees at a such a beloved and growing brand,” said Owen. “I look forward to supporting our franchisees and contributing to growth. We are on a journey to grow the Eggs Up Grill brand, the business, restaurants and equity for the company and our franchise partners.”

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