Acquiring Mugshots and The Ainsworth’s National Expansion

#WednesdayWisdom in MRM’s Daily Bite includes news from Mugshots Grill & Bar, Paige Hospitality Group, QSR Automations and Long Range Systems, Cauldron Ice Cream and MOD Pizza.

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Chers Restaurant Group Acquires Mugshots Grill 

Ron Savell acquired operations of all Mugshots Grill & Bar franchised locations under his company, Chers Restaurant Group, LLC, based in Hattiesburg, MS. With this acquisition, Savell explains franchise owners will benefit from streamlined resources, such as training and marketing materials, company branding, vendor availability, and menu/recipe guidelines, therefore tightening their daily operations and strengthening their long-term success as restaurant owners.

Founded in 2004 by Savell and Chris McDonald and Ron Savell, the first Mugshots Grill & Bar opened its doors in Hattiesburg, MS. Mugshots quickly began to grow and expand into multiple locations. The duo divided their company in 2008, each choosing defined areas for operations and development. McDonald founded Ain’t Life Grand Investments, LLC and Savell founded Chers Restaurant Group, LLC. Since that time, Mugshots Grill & Bar has grown to 18 locations throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

Over the last nine years, as they grew their territories, the need to come back together seemed to be more evident. Customers began noticing the subtle differences between locations such as menus, uniforms and décor. Neither wanted the customers to be confused or effected. Soon talks began about an acquisition to bring the company back together to ensure unity and consistency between all stores, they said.

“Mugshots was a great opening act for my career, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to take a little funky bar on 4th Street in Hattiesburg, MS to a regional brand along with Ron and a great group of people,” McDonald stated. “A heartfelt thank you to all of our team members and fans who helped us get here. I can’t wait to see how far the Mugshots brand will go. Ron and his team have a great base to take the brand to a national platform. I will always love Mugshots and still plan on eating The McDonald Burger with my family for many years to come! My focus for the future will be growing our two other restaurant brands; Glory Bound Gyro Co. and Topher’s Rock ‘n Roll Grill. These brands are ready to explode! I am also excited to spend more time growing Making Life Grand, our nonprofit organization, and booking the next round of company sponsored mission trips.” said McDonald in closing.

Mugshots Franchisee Cliff Russum stated, “We are thrilled about this acquisition and the future of our company and brand. We look forward to working with other franchisees and continuing to help build the Mugshots name that so many people have come to know and love.”

In addition to this acquisition, there are immediate plans in the near future for two additional Mugshots Grill & Bar locations; Pearl, MS, a suburb of Jackson and Allen, TX, just north of Dallas.

Ron Savell stated, “Branching into Texas will bring branding recognition into a new region for us. This is an exciting time for Mugshots.”

The Ainsworth Set to Open in Kansas City

The Ainsworth’s national expansion effort will begin in Kansas City as it is set to open Tuesday, Jan. 2  The full-scale restaurant, known for its high-end lounge and Mac & Cheese Burger, top photo, will open in a fully renovated 4,300-square-foot space in Leawood’s Park Place. Earlier this fall, Paige Hospitality Group, based in New York City, announced its plans to expand one of its restaurant concepts, The Ainsworth, beyond the borders of Manhattan and New Jersey. The Ainsworth has locations in New York City’s Chelsea, Midtown and East Village neighborhoods, as well in Hoboken, New Jersey and Newark, New Jersey.

Crooked Knife Cocktail

The space will seat 118 indoors and 76 with an additional 1,200 square feet of outdoor seating. The Ainsworth will serve lunch and dinner daily, as well as a weekend brunch, offered on both Saturday and Sunday.

Sweet Tea Wings

The Mac & Cheese Burger is joined by 43 other dishes on The Ainsworth’s menu, including small plates, salads, more gourmet burgers, sandwiches, steaks, tacos, and sides.  

QSR and LRS Team Up

QSR Automations and Long Range Systems (LRS) partnered to integrate LRS’ paging and tracking technologies with QSR’s kitchen management solutions. This partnership has removed the need for separate applications, creating a more seamless restaurant experience for staff members and guests.qsr and lrs

As a result of QSR and LRS’ integration, restaurant operators can now both page or locate guests directly from their QSR kitchen display system (KDS). LRS guest pagers are used to alert customers when their food or table is ready, whereas LRS’ Table Tracker is more than just a pager; it tells staff where the guest is seated. With LRS and QSR integrated, restaurants can streamline their operations and save time behind the scenes.

LRS’ open architecture allowed QSR Automations ConnectSmart Kitchen to be able to locally coordinate with APIs that reside within LRS hubs that control location tracking and paging. As a result, guest pagers can be triggered and Table Tracker is able to update the table number directly from the KDS screen.

“We believe that our customers will be excited to hear about our partnership with QSR Automations. The hardware and software solutions that LRS and QSR produce address separate needs in a restaurant or business, but are driven toward the same goal: to increase efficiency, boost staff productivity, and create a better guest experience. These solutions are all the more powerful and easier to use when integrated,” said John Weber, President & CEO, LRS.

“One of our goals at QSR Automations is to provide additional solutions that complement our software for our customers. Through our partnership with LRS, we can facilitate more convenience for our customers by simplifying the table location process and increase kitchen efficiencies in one centralized location,” said Jennifer Karpinsky, Director of Partnerships at QSR Automations. “We look forward to continuing to offer solutions through partnerships that provide the best guest experience for diners.”

Cauldron Ice Cream Heads North

Cauldron Ice Cream announced a multi-unit franchise deal with Toronto residents Serena Sun and Alex Wang to bring five Cauldron locations to the greater Toronto, Ontario area. The franchisees are looking to open their first store in downtown Toronto or Mississauga by Summer 2018.

Sun and Wang currently own and operate Chinese food restaurants in Canada and China. They split their time between Orange County and Toronto, and first discovered Cauldron at its flagship location in Santa Ana. Their international franchise experience and love of the concept’s handcrafted ice cream inspired them to bring Cauldron to Toronto.

“Every time we’re in Orange County, we always make a point to stop by Cauldron to get our ice cream fix,” said Sun. “When we were in Toronto, we noticed a gap in the market for innovative, high-quality ice cream like Cauldron’s. The concept is fun, fresh, and most importantly, delicious, and we wholeheartedly believe that it will be a hit in the Toronto community.”

Founded in 2015 by Terence Lioe and Desiree Le , Cauldron gained notoriety for its made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream served in a signature OG Puffle Cone, an egg-based waffle cone inspired by a popular Hong Kong street snack. Cauldron’s small-batch ice cream is offered as a traditional scoop or shaped like a rose, and comes in a variety of unique flavors including Earl Grey Lavender, Milk and Cereal, H20 Rose, and fan favorites like Sea Salted Caramel Crunch and S’mores. 

The Toronto stores will be the first Cauldron Ice Cream locations outside of California. The concept currently operates locations in various Southern California cities: Santa Ana, Artesia, and Glendale, with Chino Hills and San Diego on the way. Cauldron recently announced they will be opening five locations in Northern California’s Santa Clara County beginning in mid-to-late 2018. Cauldron Ice Cream is partnered with Fransmart as their exclusive franchise development partner to grow the brand.

MOD Pizza Donates to Generosity Feeds

MOD Superfast Pizza Holdings, LLC and its franchisees wrapped up its annual Spreading MODness Week on November 26, donating over $364,000 to Generosity Feeds to provide meals for kids struggling with hunger. MOD’s goal to generate over half a million meals will be realized as this donation is used to seed fund meal-packing events in the 26 states where MOD operates, serving as a catalyst to bring communities together to combat childhood hunger.  

Photo by Richard Cadan

Generosity Feeds’ hearty, protein-filled meals will be distributed through food pantries and school backpack programs in all MOD communities. The 40 meal-packing events, powered by MOD, will take place throughout 2018, with each event creating more than 10,000 meals in two short hours. The first event is scheduled for February 24, 2018 in Annapolis, MD, where 34 percent of children in Anne Arundel County struggle with hunger. Additional events will be confirmed throughout the year. 

“Scott and I, along with our MOD family, are so distressed by the staggering and unacceptable statistics around childhood hunger,” said Ally Svenson, co-founder of MOD. “We are always looking for ways to use this business as a platform to make positive social impacts, so we jumped at the chance to deepen our partnership with Generosity Feeds. With Generosity Feeds, we’ll bring together our employees, customers, and local businesses for high-impact community events, that will help us hit our goal of creating over 500,000 meals.” 

Added Ron Klabunde, founder and CEO of Generosity Feeds. “Nearly one in five kids go hungry every day in the US. With MOD’s partnership and donation, we now have the ability to extend our impact nationally. Like MOD, we have discovered that the value of decreasing food insecurity is more than just giving people food – it involves mobilizing people into a lifestyle of generosity.”

There are currently more than 295 system-wide* MOD stores in 26 states across the US. To learn more, visit