MRM Franchise Feed: 24 Karat POPEYES and the Pizza Portal

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

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POPEYES Celebrates 3,000th 

POPEYES® officially opened its 3,000th restaurant and is celebrated by breaking out the champagne… and using it to hand batter our boneless chicken wings before tossing them in edible 24 Karat gold flakes. For one day only, guests got their hands on POPEYES® 24 Karat Champagne Wings.

“We are thrilled to open our 3,000th restaurant and have even more guests enjoying our incredible fried chicken,” said Alex Santoro, President of POPEYES® Louisiana Kitchen. “We wanted to share this celebration with our fans, so our chefs cooked up something extra special for them. It’s a fun way for guests to celebrate this milestone right along with us.”

MOD Pizza Names COO

MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC  appointed John Maguire to the role Chief Operating Officer, effective October 22, 2018. As MOD’s new COO, Maguire will lead the company’s store operations across 380+ locations, with a strong focus on all phases of expansion and growth. He will be based in MOD’s headquarters outside of Seattle, reporting directly to Paul Twohig, MOD’s President (Twohig was previously President and COO). Twohig will continue to lead store development (domestic and international real estate, design and construction), culinary, supply chain, and international and franchise operations. 

Maguire was previously President and Chief Executive Officer of FIC Restaurants Inc. (Friendly’s restaurants), a position he held since 2012. In 2016, he subsequently took on the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of Johnny Rockets Group in addition to his position with FIC. Across both private-equity-owned companies, Maguire led global operations, franchising and store development for a combined 625 locations with total annual sales exceeding $800M.

Prior to his time with Friendly’s and Johnny Rockets, Maguire spent 20 years at Panera Bread, in numerous retail operations roles, the last six of which were spent as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. At Panera, Maguire operated over 1,500 bakery cafes, producing in excess of $3.5B in annual systemwide sales. He also built over 700 new locations during his time as Panera’s COO.


“As a leader at Panera during their formative years of growth combined with his experience leading two loved brands, John brings the perfect mix of deep operating expertise combined with experience sustaining the culture required to build an iconic brand,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and CEO of MOD. “Most importantly, though, John lives the values and beliefs at the heart of MOD. The thing which most attracted him was our commitment to using our business as a platform to make a positive impact on our people and the communities we serve. We could not be more thrilled to welcome him, and are confident that his track record of leading operations across large, multi-unit brands will allow us to further strengthen the MOD experience.” 


Added Maguire, “I’m excited to join MOD at such a pivotal time in the company’s history and to be a part of a team that is committed to developing a best-in-class brand by staying true to its purpose-led culture that is truly unique in the fast casual dining industry. I couldn’t be more thrilled to work alongside MOD’s talented team to help magnify the company’s purpose and help expand on their incredible success over the past several years.” 


Fuzzy's Taco Adds Catalano as COO

Fuzzy's Taco Shop, the Baja-style taco joint founded near the TCU college campus in 2001, named industry veteran David Catalano as Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Catalano was COO at Logan's Roadhouse. He has also held senior leadership roles at Hard Rock Café and TGI Friday's along with being the first franchisee of Twin Peaks.

COO David Catalano of Fuzzy's Taco Shop

"David is an industry pro, having worked on both emerging restaurant concepts and established brands," said Mel Knight, President of Fuzzy's Taco Shop. "He has also worked on the franchisee side of the table, making him the right person to work alongside our phenomenal franchise partners."

Fuzzy's Taco Shop celebrates its 17th anniversary this year and has rapidly grown to 144 restaurants in 12 states with another 17 locations in development. The brand was recently named Nation's Restaurant News' #7 "Fastest Growing Chains" of 2018, as well as QSR magazine's Top 6 "Best Franchise Deals by Franchisee Satisfaction."

"I'm excited to join a company that is already doing so many things right," said Catalano. "I've been a fan of the brand for a long time and look forward to using my restaurant and hospitality experience to further the Fuzzy's Taco Shop success story."

The fast-casual restaurant serves Mexican favorites with a splash of Baja, and breakfast all day, with many restaurants featuring a patio and bar serving ice-cold schooners of beer and margaritas. It has also served up solid unit economics resulting in six consecutive years on Franchise Business Review's"Top Franchises" list.


Jersey Mike's Honors Team

Jersey Mike’s Subs  recognized exemplary team members at its recent National Conference in Orlando. More than 1,500 franchise owners, managers and others gathered to celebrate the company's 62-year history, while gaining inspiration and education. 

Jersey Mike’s Founder & CEO Peter Cancro (l) congratulates Greg Mazzuca (r), Jersey Mike’s Manager of the Year, at the company’s recent National Conference. Mazzuca was awarded a franchise of his own.

“We never forget where we started from with one small store at the Jersey Shore,” said Jersey Mike’s Founder and CEO Peter Cancro, who bought his first sub shop at age 17. “We are here with close to 1,500 locations across the country because of our tremendous franchise owners, operators and other team members. Every day we strive to improve by raising everyone up together: our people, business and community – it’s one of our keys to success together.” 

Cancro presented awards, including the following: 

  • Manager of the Year – Greg Mazzuca. Mazzuca, 31, started working for Jersey Mike’s in 2010. He manages the Jersey Mike’s in Hagerstown, Md., owned by Beth and Pat Provost, who nominated him. Mazzuca was awarded a franchise of his own. 
  • The Rookie – Jim Denburg. Denburg may be a rookie at Jersey Mike’s, but he is a veteran restaurant operator who spent 20 years as a Domino’s Pizza franchisee. Denburg opened his first Jersey Mike’s in Uniondale, NY in 2017. He also owns one in Carle Place, NY with one coming to Garden City Park, NY in 2019.
  • Multi-Unit Operators of the Year – Kristie and Matt Patterson. Jersey Mike’s franchisees since 2012, the Pattersons now own seven locations in the Central Pennsylvania area.
  • President’s Award – Larry Rover. Rover joined the company in 2009 at age 48 as a company store manager. He later became an area director overseeing markets in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Rover quickly moved from managing one restaurant to 40 in the area. Additionally, he and family own five locations themselves, with one coming soon.
  • Franchisees of the Year – John Helm and Matt Catania. Helm and Catania started with Jersey Mike’s in 2005. Hailing from Jersey Mike’s hometown of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., the long-time friends (they met in 9th grade playing high school basketball) and business owners have grown in the past 13 years to 20 locations in South and North Jersey. 


FOCUS' 1,500th

FOCUS Brands, Inc. achieved a milestone in the company's international growth with the opening of its 1,500th international store last month, an Auntie Anne's® in Liverpool, United Kingdom. This opening continues FOCUS Brands' strategic expansion into international markets with now over 1,500 international locations of its restaurant properties, including Cinnabon®, Auntie Anne's, Carvel®, Jamba Juice®, Schlotzsky's®, Moe's Southwest Grill®, and Seattle'sBest Coffee® in certain international markets.

"We are thrilled that our new Auntie Anne's opened in Liverpool One Shopping Centre. It's the largest outdoor shopping mall in the United Kingdom, and the perfect place to enjoy everyone's favorite soft pretzel brand," said Robert Burton, Auntie Anne's Licensee. "Since we opened with our sub-franchisee Pretzel Perfect Ltd in August, we have seen strong initial sales and heard great customer feedback. We look forward to continuing our development journey with our sub-franchise partners in the United Kingdom and Ireland."

"We are really excited to celebrate the opening of our 1,500th international location, an important milestone as we continue to expand our global presence," said Kagan Sanli, VP, Managing Director – EUMEA at FOCUS Brands International. "The unique and delicious product range of our well-known brands and strong partnership with our exceptional franchise network have been key to our rapid international growth and success. We are delighted to see Auntie Anne`s being very well received in the United Kingdom, and we look forward to bringing our other popular brands, such as Cinnabon, to this market." 

Auntie Anne's first international location opened in Indonesia in 1995 and its largest international presence is in South Korea. Cinnabon's first international store opened in 1988 in Canada and looks forward to building its presence in the United Kingdom. 

FOCUS Brands currently enjoys an international presence in more than 55 countries and regions, including locations in the Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East & South Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. 

The company has already opened more than 100 new international locations this year.

Buffalo Wild Wings Teams Up for Kids

Buffalo Wild Wings kicked off of their annual fundraiser to support youth sports programs at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. All Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants will participate in the promotion through October 31. Donations received will go towards Boys & Girls Clubs of America ALL STARS program in support of sports teams and facility improvement projects at local Clubs, as part of the company's Team Up for Kids® mission.

Team up for kids

Paper pinups can be purchased for a minimum donation of $1 and will be posted throughout restaurants. In addition, Buffalo Wild Wings will also offer a limited-edition Buffalo Wild Wings branded PopSocket during the month of October for a minimum $5 donation.

“Together with our Guests and Franchisees, Buffalo Wild Wings has raised more than $17 million and helped thousands of kids experience the joy of playing on an ALL STARS team since 2013,” said Lyle Tick, President of Buffalo Wild Wings. “We're excited to continue our fundraising efforts this year allowing more kids the opportunity to play team sports in our local communities.”

In 2017, Buffalo Wild Wings partnership enabled more than 190,000 kids and teens to participate on teams. The company is supporting more than 600 teams and leagues across the country this fall, creating sports programs that promote physical fitness, good sportsmanship, and teamwork. In total, Buffalo Wild Wings has committed to donating at least $2 million each year to Boys & Girls Clubs of America through 2020.

“Our partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings has helped bring the love of the game to thousands of kids and teens across the country,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “This support provides an opportunity to build self-confidence and life-enhancing skills that will help them succeed on and off the field.”

Those unable to dine in-restaurant may purchase a limited edition Team Up for Kids eGift Card and Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10% of the purchase value to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Visit the online gift card store at to purchase.

Del Taco Expands Denver Footprint 

Del Taco opened its 17th Denver area restaurant with longtime franchisee and multi-unit owner Brent Veach. Located in the scenic town of Castle Rock at 6383 Promenade Pkwy, the newest restaurant marks Veach’s 22nd store in Colorado and his 48th Del Taco location.  

After investing with Del Taco for nearly 20 years, I’ve never felt more optimistic about the company’s growth than I do today,” said Veach, who joined the franchise system in 1999 and is opening the first Denver-market location in 7 years. “From menu additions to brand refreshes, our leadership team is clearly making strategic changes to set us up for long-term success, and we’re seeing consistent proof in our system-wide sales increases.” 

Prior to Del Taco, Veach earned an expertise in accounting as a CPA at various high profile companies. Now, along with having more than 45 Del Taco restaurants across Arizona and Colorado, Veach also serves as president of Del Taco's Franchise Marketing Advisory Team, which works with brand leadership to achieve transparent franchisee and franchisor relations.

In support of the brands’ national expansion, Del Taco’s recent refresh adds a new tagline – Fresh Mexican Grill – to its iconic name in recognition of the fresh, quality ingredients in every product. The new advertising campaign “Celebrating the Hardest Working Hands in Fast Food,” reinforces the brand’s fresh ingredient preparation, which includes chopping, grilling, slicing, and shredding every day. Updated packaging, new hospitality initiatives, and redesigned menu board are among other brand alterations.     

Coolgreens Brings on Franchise Veteran

 Coolgreens named Todd Madlener, Vice President of Operations. For the bulk of Madlener’s career he worked with Red Robin, totaling more than 20 years with the brand. At the time Madlener joined the team, the brand was faltering with 100 locations. He was part of a team that re-energized the brand, which soon grew to become an industry leader with more than 400 locations and 22 franchisees operating 137 restaurants in the U.S. and across Canada. Madlener also worked closely with multiple departments within the Red Robin system, leading the brand’s audit to ensure Red Robin operational brand standards were being met across all facets of the organization. Throughout his final 10 years with Red Robin, Madlener was asked to support the franchise system as the Senior Director of Franchise. In the last few years in his role, Red Robin’s franchise system outpaced the brand’s corporate locations in sales and profit. From Red Robin, Madlener went onto work with MAD Greens where he spearheaded the brands regional growth, and eventually partnered up with a large Red Robin franchisee, PB&J Restaurant Group, and worked in many supporting roles for the various brands the group represented including, operations, design and construction, training, and development.

Building on his seasoned experience of fine-tuning operations and leading franchise growth, Madlener is excited to make the next move to join the Coolgreens system, as the healthy eatery really makes it mark in the fast-casual franchise space.

“I am very excited about the opportunity with Coolgreens and get back into an underserved segment of fast casual dining – the salad segment,” said Madlener. “There are burger and pizza joints at every corner, while the salad and healthy concepts are underserved in the U.S. Coolgreens gives me a chance to get back in the segment and offer something different to franchisees who are looking to diversify their business portfolio or want to join the growing healthy fast causal segment.”

At Coolgreens, Madlener will be working directly with the operations team to fine tune daily operational standards, training and onboarding, improving guest experiences, rolling out a new catering program and the list goes on. He will be creating policies and procedures for future franchisees as they partner with Coolgreens, ensuring franchisees are equipped with a strong model to follow as the new franchise launches into growth mode. Madlener will also be assisting Lee as the leadership team shifts its focus to a new prototype, continuing to value engineer and streamline the build, as well as put a large focus on equipment and technology trends, making Coolgreens one to follow in the segment. 

“My experiences working with the incredible teams at Red Robin, MAD Greens, and PB&J have set the stage for this exciting new opportunity to get into a brand during the initial stages of franchising, helping to build an infrastructure and culture where people and partnerships come first,” said Madlener. “Coolgreens has a menu that is different from what is already out there, serving great salads while also offering hot items such as sandwiches and flatbreads. I am excited to continue to support the brand and franchisees as they come on board, without driving up costs or complexity, so our franchisees can focus on supporting their teams and guests in world class fashion.”

“As we build momentum for 2019, it’s crucial to have the right people supporting the brand on our leadership team,” said Lee. “Todd has the proven experience taking brands to the next level and we are so excited to have him on our team as we head into growth mode. We are excited for what’s to come and taking the healthy segment by storm.”

Talking Chicken

More than 800 restaurant managers, franchisees, field and corporate leaders came together in the largest ever Excellence In Leadership Conference (ELC) for Church's Chicken® and its international sister brand, Texas Chicken®. 

"We're standing here today because we have momentum in all aspects of the business," CEO Joe Christina said. "We're seeing increases in sales, global unit growth, franchisee engagement, reimaging of the domestic business, and we're becoming a leader in the home-delivery space. Our team members and franchisees around the world have stepped up to make this happen. After 66 years we've proven we're still in the game, and more than that, we are now better positioned than ever to compete with the larger players in our category," Christina continued.  "This conference is about the collective spirit of our brand and investing in the success of our people to continue driving these impressive results."  

Among some of the year's high-growth results were international comparable sales growth that surpassed 6% year-to-date. Year-to-date check growth burst into the positive with one of the strongest showings of the past 10 years while the brand maintained its value position. Domestic figures were equally impressive – with positive year-to-date sales growth that delivered the brand's strongest comparable sales performance since 2014. But one of the most eye-opening figures released at the conference was Church's and Texas Chicken's performance against fried chicken competitors in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market – beating KFC's, Popeyes' or Bojangles' same store sales performance three of the last 5 quarters worldwide.

But Christina acknowledged that to keep the momentum going, everyone must continue to be focused. 

"Perseverance pays off," Christina said. "That's what makes a leader. That's what we do, that's what we've done. We're making every day count. No doubt we've got some strong competition out there; competitors that are bigger than us; competitors who fight every day for our very same guests." 

Christina then laid out the plan to continue the forward momentum for the 66-year-old brand, which includes enhanced guest experience, more precise and accessible marketing execution, a new global brand positioning, and inspired leadership at every level. "I leave you with this," Christina finished. "Be confident and be energized.  Step up with grit and determination to fight the competition head on … never give up on how much we can accomplish by working together … and use your spirit of leadership to lift others up … because it matters. Now let's make it count. More than ever, I am inspired to lead the way towards our vision to become the global franchisor of choice."

 Checkers and Rally's Go Modular

Z Modular entered into an agreement with Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. Checkers and Rally's recently introduced a new "Modular 4.0" design to provide a streamlined, cost-effective and time-sensitive construction process for new build-outs. The "Modular 4.0" concept is comprised of four modules that will be built at Z Modular's manufacturing facilities in Birmingham, Alabama, and Killeen, Texas, transported to the project site and installed in a matter of days. The modules will be constructed to state and local codes utilizing steel hollow structural sections and Z Modular's patented VectorBloc connection system.  

"Checkers and Rally's is pursuing an aggressive expansion plan with the goal of adding over 300 locations by 2020," said Richard Rozycki, senior vice president of Z Modular. "To achieve their goal, they have developed an efficiency-driven design that allows franchisees to recognize the benefits of modular construction — accelerated schedules, better-quality buildings and cost certainty. Modular construction also allows franchisees to focus on operating their business, rather than overseeing development and construction. We're excited to work with Checkers and Rally's and remain focused to ensure they achieve their short and long-term goals."

"Checkers and Rally's and our franchisees are excited about our new agreement with Z Modular to support us with our modular growth goals," said Jennifer Durham, chief development officer for Checkers and Rally's. "Z Modular's unique approach to constructing our latest modular restaurant design will make the opening process easier and will also keep the initial investment low for our franchisees and operators."

Wendy's Plans Quebec Expansion

 Wendy's® is seeking franchise business partners to expand the brand throughout Quebec. With over 360 locations throughout Canada, including 12 in Quebec, Wendy's Restaurants of Canada is recruiting experienced multi-unit restaurant operators to help grow the brand throughout Montreal, Quebec City, and adjacent areas. Expansion in Quebec is part of the Wendy's goal to expand its worldwide footprint.

Currently, franchise opportunities are available throughout the Greater Montreal area, including Lavaland Brossard, the Quebec City area, including Sainte-Foy and Lévis, as well as in Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi, and Saguenay. Wendy's Restaurants of Canada is seeking qualified franchisees with a proven track record of success in business and management within Quebec City, Montreal, and surrounding areas. Candidates also should have a passion for quality food, exceptional customer service, and a strong willingness to learn and practice the Wendy's business model.

"We are excited about the prospect of growing Wendy's across Quebec. Wendy's restaurants in Canadacurrently are experiencing several years of increases in same restaurant sales growth and recent studies done by SalesTrac have shown Wendy's as a QSR sales leader in Quebec for over two years1. We envision a significant portion of our future growth will be in Quebec," said Paul Hilder, Senior Vice President, Wendy's Restaurants of Canada. "As we focus on meeting the demand for Wendy's in the Quebec market, there has never been a better time to join the Wendy's system as a franchisee."

As part of its efforts to grow and differentiate the brand while keeping energy stewardship at the forefront, Wendy's recently unveiled a new "Smart Family of Designs," providing a portfolio of development options to franchisees, including buildings that fit into smaller footprints. These designs provide more access to real estate, the ability to customize needs for specific trade areas, include features that promote energy efficiency and reduce the development investment for franchisees looking to build new restaurants. 

The brand is seeking Quebeckers with proven restaurant experience and comprehensive market knowledge, as well as franchisee partners in other provinces throughout Canada. With 100 percent of Wendy's restaurants in Canada owned by franchisee partners, potential franchisees are able to gain access to exceptional brand power, support from an experienced team at the Restaurant Support Center, including a dedicated Canadian supply chain cooperative. 

Qualified candidates should have at least $2 million in net worth, as well as $1 million in liquid capital. Development incentives are available for new franchisees within the Quebec market, and additional opportunities for franchising are available throughout Canada.

Fazoli's Inks New Deals

Fazoli's signed two multi-unit development agreements for eight new locations to further expand the brand throughout the states of Georgia and Arkansas, capitalizing on recent momentum and record-breaking performances of grand openings across the country. Furthermore, the company has successfully opened nine new restaurants this year, with the most recent being a conversion of a former Ruby Tuesday's in Prattville, Alabama. This continued surge in development places the brand on track to achieve its highest number of openings in nearly 10 years.

The two franchise groups mentioned above and their development plans include:

  • Lamont Brooks and his partners at Arriba Restaurant Group come to Fazoli's as veterans in the foodservice industry. Brooks and his partners bring vast experience as current and former multi-unit and multi-concept owners of Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Burger King, Fuddruckers and Quiznos throughout the U.S. and South America. The group plans to open their first of five restaurants in the first half of 2019, targeting Snellville, Gainesville and Peachtree City for development, with further plans to develop the concept in the future.
  • Junior Das, Linda Bradley and Andy Patel of Pasta Joint, LLC signed a three-unit deal agreement to further expand the concept throughout Central Arkansas, targeting the Benton, Conway and Searcy areas for development. Local residents of Jonesboro and multi-concept franchise owners, the group has a combined 25+ years of foodservice and hospitality experience, and currently own and operate restaurants throughout the area. The group's impressive portfolio includes Dairy Queen, Smoothie King, Schlotzsky's, Perkins and Uncle Maddio's Pizza. The new franchisees plan to open their first of three locations in 2019, with continued development efforts over the course of the next few years.

"We are thrilled and honored to be welcoming these two established and experienced groups into our Fazoli's family," said Carl Howard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fazoli's. "Attracting this level of talent to the brand, now in our 30th year, speaks volumes to the momentum and trajectory of the company. With the brands revitalization efforts in full swing, from menu innovations to remodel openings and the continued integration of technology, we look forward to providing our guests with high quality food at a great value, in more locations across the country every year."

To assist with the influx in growth and development, Fazoli's has welcomed franchise and foodservice veteran, Kathy Davidson to the team to fulfill the role as Senior Director of Franchise Sales. Davidson will be responsible for initiating and driving franchise sales efforts in the South and Midwest. Previously, Davidson led development efforts both at Cowboy Chicken and Church's Chicken. 

With nearly 220 restaurants in 27 states, Fazoli's is currently seeking single- and multi-unit operators to join its growing, successful franchise network and is targeting new markets across the U.S.

Nékter Signs Multi-Unit Franchise Agreement

Nékter Juice Bar signed its largest Area Development agreement with 2nd Harvest LLC to open 30 restaurants during the next few years in existing markets of Florida and Tennessee and in two new markets, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Based in Miami, 2nd Harvest LLC plans to open its first Nékter Juice Bar in Florida by the end of the first quarter of 2019.


The multi-state franchise agreement comes as Nékter Juice Bar continues to grow rapidly across the country. Now with 120 restaurants across 13 states, Nékter plans to open an additional 20 restaurants before the end of this year, with another 75 scheduled to open in 2019, and an additional 175 in varying stages of development.

“This record franchise agreement with 2nd Harvest LLC is a testament to Nékter Juice Bar’s growing leadership position within the juice bar category,” said Steve Schulze, co-founder and CEO, Nékter Juice Bar. “The partnership brings together two organizations that seek to make health and wellness accessible and affordable, with like-minded cultures that always put the consumer first. We look forward to working with the 2nd Harvest team to bring the Nékter Life to more communities across the country.”

Based in Miami, 2nd Harvest is led by three fitness and wellness industry veterans, Gerry Norman, Jon Norman and C.J. Bouchard. Bouchard is the current COO of Excel Fitness Holdings, which controls more than 60 Planet Fitness locations in Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Previously, he was an operating partner of 17 Planet Fitness locations in North Carolina and a co-owner of Zaniac Learning Center also in North Carolina. Jon and Gerry Norman were successful Planet Fitness franchisee owners in Miami.


“Nékter Juice Bar continues to disrupt and evolve a category that had veered from a 100 percent authentic experience,” said Bouchard. “The brand continues to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to offering a truly healthy dining option that both educates and inspires its guests to incorporate balance and wellness into their lives. We look forward to being a part of Steve’s vision to make Nékter Juice Bar the leading juice bar brand in the country.”

The Brass Tap Signs Five-Unit Deal in Dallas

After assessing development opportunities in Texas, elevated craft beer bar franchise The Brass Tap is expanding its presence in the state, signing a five-unit deal in Dallas. 

“We have four locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, all of which are doing really well. Dallas is a rapidly growing city and the local craft beer scene reflects that,” said Vice President of Franchise Development for The Brass Tap, Jamie Cecil. "With more and more breweries popping up every day, we’re confident that the size of Dallas specifically, and Texas overall for that matter, presents a great opportunity to cater to craft beer fans with our vast food and beverage offering and unmatched atmosphere.”

Franchisee Sid Patel, who currently owns a Brass Tap location in Allen, Texas, will own and operate the new locations and has plans for more. Patel owned and operated a beer and wine shop in McKinney, Texas before signing on with The Brass Tap, making the jump to franchising when he realized the rate at which Dallas-area craft breweries were appearing. 

“When we opened our shop in 2010, there weren’t many craft breweries or places to get craft beer, and by 2011 the industry was blowing up,” Patel said. “Now, there are about 30 breweries in our immediate area and more than 120 in the state of Texas as a whole,” Patel added. 

“Expanding in the Dallas market with an existing franchisee was the ideal situation for us. Sid sees the benefit and opportunity The Brass Tap has in this market and his plan for multi-unit ownership is great because we see room for 10-15 additional locations in Dallas alone,” Cecil said.

Patel said he is targeting a grand opening of his first additional unit in March 2019 and he’s currently looking for real estate in the Grapevine, McKinney and Frisco areas for other stores. Beyond Patel’s five-unit deal, The Brass Tap has two additional franchisees in the Dallas area set to open their locations in 2019.

The Brass Tap is looking at expansion opportunities elsewhere in Texas in an effort to capitalize on the growing craft beer scene in in the state, with its sights set specifically on Houston.

“Houston is definitely our next target. We have openings coming up in October and February with plans for development every year after that,” said Cecil. “There are probably 15-20 potential locations available in Houston. Now, it’s about finding the right partners whose passion for craft beer and strong business acumen make them a great fit for our franchise family.”

The Brass Tap offers franchise opportunities to qualified operators, continuing to grow its family of nearly 50 bars in 22 states. 

Pie Five Grows in Texas

Pie Five Pizza executed an Area Development Agreement with two new franchisees, set to open restaurants in Murphy and Prosper, Texas, later this year.


Charlie Clark of Pie Squared Investments Murphy, LLC signed an agreement to bring Pie Five to Murphy, Texas. Clark has several years of restaurant experience, including working with well-known pizza brands Mr. Jim’s Pizza and Cicis Pizza. Clark owned a Mr. Jim’s in Sherman, Texas, for 12 years and has managed three Cicis Pizza locations. Clark’s Pie Five restaurant is expected to open in November at 109 Murphy Road.


“Pie Five’s high-quality, customizable pizzas are unlike anything else I’ve seen,” Clark said. “Pie Five’s menu, customer service and franchising model make it the ideal restaurant for Murphy. I look forward to establishing this unique concept in the community and being the go-to spot for craft pizza.”


Shelia Afzal of Goldberg Funding, LLC signed an agreement to bring Pie Five to Prosper, Texas. Goldberg Funding owns five other Pie Five restaurants in the DFW metroplex in addition to franchising other restaurant concepts in the Dallas area. Prosper’s new Pie Five is projected to open in December.


“Pie Five has been very successful for us, so we are excited to introduce the brand to everyone in Prosper,” Afzal said. “We have no doubt that the community will love our personal, hand-crafted pizzas. We look forward to hiring a great team to join us in serving the Prosper community.”

The Pizza Portal Debuts

Little Caesar's completed the installation of its proprietary Pizza Portal™ pickup in nearly all of its U.S. stores*.  Little Caesars breakthrough Pizza Portal pickup is the FIRST heated, self-service mobile order pickup station in the restaurant industry. The company has combined the convenience of mobile ordering and pre-payment with heated self-service pickup to create an entirely new experience for customers, proving once again that Little Caesars will stop at no end to innovate to always offer value, convenience, and quality for its customers. 

pizza portal

"We are constantly striving to enhance the guest experience for all customers no matter how they choose to access Little Caesars," said David Scrivano, President and CEO of Little Caesars. "We remain deeply committed to our core pillars of value, convenience, and quality, and are continually researching to understand what customers want, both now and in the future. We're using our Pizza Portal pickup and mobile app to expand our offerings, as well as evolve our business model in an increasingly diverse and digital marketplace." 

Following a successful nationwide rollout, the mobile app and Pizza Portal pickup are emerging as the easiest way for Little Caesars customers to order ahead, then pay and pick up their purchases – providing busy customers with an alternative way to get their favorite menu items. Customers can choose their favorite menu item or create their own pizza via the "custom pizza builder" on the Little Caesars mobile app, where they also pre-pay. The app will notify customers when the order is ready. When customers arrive at the store, their order is ready for them to pick up.  They bypass the counter and go directly to the Pizza Portal pickup and input a 3-digit pin or scan a QR code. Then, the door on the secured compartment opens, and they take their hot, fresh order. It's that simple. 

The Little Caesars mobile app is built with pizza-loving customers in mind. Most recently, Touch ID/FINGERPRINT and Face ID login functionality have been added. Other app features include: 

  • Mobile payment, including Apple Pay® for iOS users. 
  • Store locator that automatically detects the closest store to you and allows search. 
  • "Custom pizza builder": an interactive drag and drop experience. Users "make" their pizza by choosing from any available crust, then dragging and dropping their choice of toppings on to the pizza. Toppings can be place on the entire pizza, or half. 
  • Order scheduling: Orders can be placed up to six days in advance. 
  • User-friendly, clean interface and minimal clicks per transaction. 
  • Save favorites for quick ordering later. 

The Pizza Portal pickup's proprietary technology has been co-developed with Apex Supply Chain Technologies®, the world's leading provider of automated dispensing system, exclusively for Little Caesars.

Cream's Frozen Frontier

CREAM (aka “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me”) teamed up with global restaurateur HMSHost to bring its super-premium ice cream to Alaska. CREAM has launched  two locations inside Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport – one is pre-security and the other is in the post-security main terminal. At CREAM, travelers and airport visitors alike can scoop up the Instagram-able brand’s unique, handcrafted ice cream sandwiches. The new shops not only mark CREAM’s first Alaska locations, but also its debut into the airport.



The two airport locations also offer CREAM Floats, Malts, Milkshakes, Sundaes, and Waffle Cones which are made fresh on-site, in addition to cookies and sandwiches packed and ready to conveniently enjoy on the plane. Gus Shamieh, president and co-founder of CREAM says, “We could not be more excited to work with the renowned airport dining powerhouse HMSHost to give travelers across the globe the opportunity to enjoy our handcrafted ice cream creations.” 


Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Concessions Manager Javier Robinson said, “We’re excited to work with HMSHost to continue developing additional food and beverage options to the traveling public and our residents who visit us.” 


“CREAM offers an unexpected experience in the airport, serving made-to-order ice cream sandwiches with freshly baked goods to Anchorage visitors and locals,” said HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Stephen Douglas. “We are thrilled to work with the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport team to introduce this fast-growing ice cream shop for Alaskan travelers to enjoy all year long.”


Captain D's Plans Key Market Expansion


Captain D’s signed franchise development agreements that will expand its presence in key markets throughout the Midwest and the Southeast. This growth will bring three new restaurants to the greater Detroit area; three to Tulsa, Oklahoma; three to Southeast Georgia; and six to the greater Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana region, which will mark Captain D’s first locations in the Chicago market.

To further drive the brand’s development efforts, Captain D’s recently announced a new royalty incentive program for both new and existing franchisees interested in growing the company’s footprint and opening new restaurants across the country. Now through May 1, 2019, franchisees that open their locations ahead of schedule will not be charged a royalty fee for up to six months, dependent on the opening date. Additionally, franchisees that open no more than 150 days after the scheduled date will not be charged a royalty fee for up to four months. 

“Over the past several years, Captain D’s has continued to attract interest from franchisee prospects throughout the country who recognize the brand’s unlimited potential for success. We’ve had our sights set on Chicago for quite some time and are thrilled to announce our entrance to the market, as well as all of the explosive development in the pipeline for the Midwest and the Southeast,” said Brad Reed, chief development officer for Captain D’s. “Our rapid growth wouldn’t be possible without the passion and hard work of our franchisees, and we’re excited to roll out our new royalty incentive program, which was created to further assist new and existing franchisees with driving the profitability of their business and increasing their ROI quickly.”

The new and existing Captain D’s franchise agreements signed include:

  • Spearheading Captain D’s entrance into the Chicagoland market are first-time franchisees Haresh Patel & Vishal Shah. The partners have extensive experience operating food service franchise concepts, collectively owning more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop and Baskin-Robbins locations throughout the country. Patel and Shah signed a multi-unit development agreement and will be opening six new Captain D’s restaurants in communities throughout the greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana markets, targeting Evergreen Park, Oak Park, Hyde Park, Blue Island, Merriville and Hammond. Their first location is slated to open in late 2019.
  •  First-time Captain D’s franchisee Kirit Patel will continue the brand’s expansion throughout Michigan with three locations slated to open across the greater Detroit area. An industry veteran, Patel has more than two decades of experience operating and managing a variety of restaurant concepts including Dunkin’ Donuts and Golden Corral, and will be opening his first Captain D’s restaurant in the fall of 2019.
  • Growing Captain D’s footprint in Oklahoma is multi-unit franchisee Steve Clausen of Go Fish of Oklahoma Restaurant Group, LLC, who has three locations currently under development in the Tulsa market. As the former vice president of operations for Waffle House, Clausen has more than 16 years of experience in the food service industry, and currently operates two Captain D’s restaurants in Tulsa. The first of his three new locations planned for the area is slated to open in the fall of 2019. 
  • Husband-and-wife team Robert and Pam Wiggins signed a development agreement to open three Captain D’s restaurants throughout Southeast Georgia. The Wiggins have extensive experience in the franchising industry, with a diverse list of food service brands in their portfolio including Huddle House, Checkers, Pizza Inn, and Dick’s Wings and Grill. Their first Captain D’s restaurant is projected to open in the spring of 2019.

“Our franchisees are the backbone of our company, and we’re thrilled to welcome such experienced new operators to the brand. We’re confident that their passion for Captain D’s and extensive knowledge of the restaurant industry will translate into tremendous success, and we look forward to seeing where they take the brand next,” added Reed.

Coupled with its ongoing menu innovation, Captain D’s credits its new restaurant beach design with contributing to the brand’s ongoing strong performance. To date, nearly 80 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new vibrant, coastal design. With these efforts, Captain D’s has remained true to what it does best — serving high-quality seafood with warm hospitality at an affordable price in a welcoming atmosphere.

With more than 530 restaurants in 22 states, Captain D’s is the fast-casual seafood leader and number one seafood franchise in America ranked by average unit volume.

Habit Burger Signs Nine-Store Agreement

Habit Burger Grill signed a nine-store development agreement with Elite Flame Grill, LLC to open new restaurants in Eastern Washington and Idaho. The first locations are expected to open in the first quarter of 2019.


Elite Flame Grill’s CEO Sandy Mann also operates casual dining and quick serve restaurants and brings decades of experience to the operations of the new Habit Burger locations.


“We’ve been long time fans of The Habit and look forward to adding such a quality brand to our portfolio,” said Sandy Mann.  “The Habit Burger’s fresh, never frozen grilled over an open flame Charburgers set the brand apart in the better burger category and the fast casual segment overall. We look forward bringing the brand to new fans and communities.”


“Sandy Mann and his team are best in class operators, and their philosophy aligns with The Habit’s approach to quality food and welcoming hospitality. We are excited to welcome them to The Habit Burger family,” said Russ Bendel, president and CEO of Habit Burger Grill. 


“Sandy has a strong reputation for delivering excellence in every aspect of his hospitality businesses, and we know he will continue that for The Habit customers,” added Doug Branigan, Chief Development Officer of Habit Burger Grill.