MRM Franchise Feed: ‘Crafty’ and ‘Fresh’ Franchises and The DOGPPER

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

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Crafthouse Secures $250M Funding

Virginia-based Crafthouse secured more than $250 million dollars of funding to expand the brand nationwide. In addition to in-line or end cap locations, this development agreement with American Development Partners provides qualified franchisees with 100% financing to develop freestanding buildings for Crafthouse restaurants. 

American Development Partners' primary role will be to aid in the development of new locations, facilitate the acquisition of land and oversee construction of over 100 new Crafthouse franchise locations within the next five years. 

“As a former franchisee myself who knows what it takes to succeed in the restaurant industry, it’s very gratifying to create this opportunity for other business owners to have access to the financing and real estate guidance they need to make their dream a reality,” said Evan Matz, founder and CEO of Crafthouse Franchising LLC. “We are thrilled to team with American Development Partners to bring Crafthouse’s community-minded appeal to neighborhoods all over the country.” 

Matz opened three Crafthouse restaurants in Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington and Reston) in May 2017 and has built a loyal and enthusiastic following. Keys to success for the restaurants include creating a welcoming atmosphere with a hands-on operating team and a commitment to using local ingredients and vendors as much as possible.

“Crafthouse’s ability to make each restaurant unique to its community while also featuring a core menu of signature favorites is impressive, and Evan is a seasoned, successful operator with an inspired vision for the brand,” says Caleb McMillen, COO of American Development Partners. “From our first conversation with him, we immediately began creating a five-year plan for Crafthouse’s development. The decision to get behind such an amazing individual and business was an easy one for us.”

Franchise candidates should have at least $300,000 in liquid assets and a net worth over $1 million.

fresh&co Franchising

fresh&co launched its franchise opportunity and plans to further expand throughout the Northeast.  With 18 corporate-owned restaurants currently open and operating throughout New York City (17 in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn), the expansion plans will tackle underserved neighborhoods in Manhattan, the boroughs, and the outskirts of Long Island and New Jersey. According to co-founder and CEO George Tenedios, the growth will be primarily achieved through multi-unit franchising, as well as the opening three to five new corporate stores each year.


A franchise development agreement for three restaurants in the Westchester area of New York has already been signed.

“We believe in a better food future, based on local and organic farming. We believe in supporting local suppliers, cooking from scratch, and eating seasonal ingredients that are so fresh you actually can taste the difference,” said Tenedios, noting that 66 percnet  of American consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally sourced food items. “When we opened our first fresh&co in 2010, we started a new movement in fast-casual food. New Yorkers were becoming more conscious about what they were eating and we set out to make food that was quick and easy, but also healthy and flavorful. We look forward to bringing our one-of-a-kind dining experience to even more consumers throughout the region.” 

fresh&co’s chef-inspired menu uses seasonal, local and organic ingredients from carefully chosen suppliers and growers to create flavorful meals that accommodate an array of dietary choices and needs. In addition to partnering with local suppliers, fresh&co acquired its own farm in Orient, New York where they supply fruits and vegetables directly to their NYC restaurants to provide the ultimate from-farm-to-desk® experience. fresh&co only uses vegetarian-fed, hormone-free poultry and meats, along with non-GMO, natural, ands wherever possible, organic ingredients. The restaurants serve three meals a day, and snacks and juices too, for round-the-clock visits.  

“We are changing the way consumers view healthy eating – from taste and nutritional facts to accessibility and pricing,” added Tenedios. “Our team has over 25 years of combined restaurant experience and has built a successful business operation. Our philosophy on food and community-focused business practices has caught the attention of consumers and franchise investors alike. The future looks bright for fresh&co and we have only scratched the surface of our potential.” 

Including a franchise fee of $45,000, the estimated initial investment to open a fresh&co franchise is between $633,000 and $1,503,500 in New.York City. Each location typically occupies approximately 1,200-2,000 square feet of retail space and presents franchisees with multiple revenue streams (breakfast, lunch, dinner and catering).

Captain D's to Expand Footprint

Captain D’s signed two franchise development agreements that will expand its footprint in key target markets throughout the Southeast, as well as mark the brand’s entry into the South Florida market. This surge in franchise development is a reflection of the brand’s aggressive growth strategy and is fueled by the ongoing success Captain D’s has experienced over the past several years, company officials said.

As part of this development, Captain D’s entry in South Florida will be spearheaded by new franchisee Josh Royal, president of Harborside Holdings Corporation. Royal has signed an agreement to open three new locations throughout the region, specifically targeting Belle Glade, Riviera Beach and Lehigh Acres, with the first location slated to open in late 2019. Royal and his family have extensive experience in the restaurant industry, and in addition to their agreement with Captain D’s, they currently operate 10 Popeye’s locations throughout the South Florida market and have previously owned Burger King franchises.

“Captain D’s unparalleled support system and outstanding corporate team made it the obvious choice for us when we decided it was time to diversify our portfolio. Much of the brand’s growth over the past several years has been fueled by existing franchisees, which speaks volumes to how the company goes above and beyond to ensure their operators succeed,” said Josh Royal. “South Florida is a booming market with unlimited potential for success, and we look forward to bringing the Captain D’s brand to this thriving community.”

Captain D’s also signed a franchise development agreement with NFL retiree Donnell Thompson, who will bring a new location to Fayetteville, North Carolina in late 2019. After a 10-year career playing defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts, Thompson retired from the NFL and began his career in the restaurant industry. He brings more than 20 years experience in the quick service and fast casual segment, and currently owns and operates several Denny’s restaurants throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

“Through my experience as a Denny’s franchise owner, I’ve learned that serving affordable, high-quality products in a warm and welcoming environment is the key to keeping customers coming back for more. When I was introduced to the Captain D’s brand, it was immediately apparent that the company shared my commitment to guest-centric values, and I knew it was the perfect fit,” said Donnell Thompson. “I’m excited to add one of the strongest fast casual concepts today to my portfolio and help grow Captain D’s presence in North Carolina.”

MOD Celebrates 400th

MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, is celebrating the opening of its 400th location – MOD Spring Prairie, located in Kalispell, Montana – on Friday, Nov. 23, coinciding with MOD’s 10th birthday. The company also built on its commitment to tackle childhood hunger in the U.S. through its annual “Spreading MODness” Week. 

“This is a special week for MOD – we are celebrating the opening of our 400thlocation and our 10th birthday. Sharing this celebration with the week of Thanksgiving is so fitting for MOD, as giving thanks and embracing the power of gratitude is one of our core beliefs. What we are most grateful for are the over 8,000 passionate, hard-working MOD Squaders system-wide*, spread across 28 states and the UK. Together, we have built an industry-leading business that has been a force for good in the lives of our people and in the communities we serve. As we reflect on our first 10 years, we are more motivated than ever by the potential of MOD,” explains Scott Svenson, MOD’s co-founder and CEO.

Through its collaboration with Generosity Feeds, a non-profit committed to ending childhood hunger, MOD provides funding for meal packing events across the country. The meals of beans and rice are nutritious, filling and compact enough to go home from school in a child’s backpack. To date, MOD’s partnership has provided over half a million meals in communities across the US. It is expected that next week’s Spreading MODness efforts will help create a million meals in 2019.

Ally Svenson, MOD’s Chief Purpose Officer, added, “Even though we’ve experienced a lot of growth, our purpose remains unchanged – MOD exists to serve people and we do this by Spreading MODness. We’ve learned that meaningful impacts can be made in many ways – from hiring people with barriers to employment to tackling food insecurity in our communities. When the staggering statistics of childhood hunger came to our attention a few years ago, we knew we needed to help and this collaboration is so powerful – a non-profit with the head of a business, and a business with the heart of a non-profit. The best birthday gift we can receive is the chance to bring MOD’s purpose to life, celebrating how the platform of business can truly change lives.”

Ingram Oversees Golden Corral Franchise Development

 Golden Corral brougt on restaurant industry veteran Van Ingram as Vice President of Franchise Development. In this role, he will oversee the franchise development process for new franchisees entering the system and he will coordinate with the current development team to support the growth of existing franchisees.

Prior to coming to Golden Corral, Ingram spent the past five years as Vice President of Franchise Development with Taco John’s, where he was responsible for franchise sales, real estate and construction for new and existing franchisees.  Before that, Ingram spent seven years (2006-2013) as Senior Director of Franchise Development for Arby’s Restaurant Group.  He began his career in franchising in 1992 with Valvoline and has held senior business development positions with Yum! Brands, Volvo Rents, Quiznos and Captain D’s.

“I am extremely excited to join Golden Corral and work with our franchisees and help grow the system,” said Ingram.  “Golden Corral is a nationally recognized brand name with a long and proud history.  Just as importantly, it has a bright future and I look forward to being part of its growth in the coming years.”

Cowboy Chicken Looks to Franchising

Dallas-based Cowboy Chicken is poised for growth through franchising and corporate expansion. Kip Kolow, co-founder of Boston Market, is now working as Chief Strategy Officer of the wood-fired rotisserie restaurant chain, joining forces with president and CEO Sean Kennedy to strengthen systems and put processes in place to expand the fast casual brand across the country.

Cowboy Chicken Team

“Cowboy Chicken is a differentiated concept – one of only two national rotisserie chicken brands,” said Kolow, who co-founded the Boston Market chain in 1985. “That means we stand out in a sea of burgers, pizza, Asian and burrito chains that have overproliferated, and we have a great opportunity with lots of white space available for growth. Our management team is getting stronger, and we are preparing to expand.”

Kolow and Kennedy first met at an industry tradeshow in 2013, instantly connecting over their shared experience with national rotisserie chicken chains. They built a friendship over the ensuing years, so when Kennedy decided in 2017 that it was time for Cowboy Chicken to assess and refine its business in preparation for expansion, he knew who to call. 

“Kip is a master of details and operating systems,” added Kennedy. “He also co-created one of the first  from-scratch fast casual brands, and I knew Cowboy Chicken would benefit greatly from his expertise in setting up scalable systems for multi-unit companies.”

“Working with Cowboy Chicken is feeding my soul,” said Kolow. “I have such respect for the way Sean treats employees and guests and his commitment to maintaining the integrity of the company culture. This brand, where the food is as honest as a handshake, is a rare find.”

Kolow joined Cowboy Chicken as a consultant in the summer of 2017, spending six months reviewing all facets of the brand’s business and beginning to build a framework for real growth. Named Chief Strategy Officer in January 2018, Kolow and Kennedy have now created and begun implementing a five-year plan for expansion that includes scalable systems for food production,  an improved franchise communication system and infrastructure, accounting protocols and more strategic real estate initiatives. 

Looking ahead, Kennedy and Kolow plan to continue attracting area developers and multi-unit operators. They are focused on leveraging technology to better understand the business and customer behavior, as well as developing Cowboy Chicken’s robust database of customer information to identify ideal locations, strengthen logistics for food distribution and new store opening and development, and market the brand more efficiently.

What began in 1981 as a single restaurant in Dallas has now grown into over 25 company-owned and franchised restaurants located throughout Texas and in Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, Iowa, South Dakota and California. 

Fajita Pete’s Inks 10 Location Agreements 

Fajita Pete’s signed several  franchise agreements to open 10 new restaurants throughout Texas. The Houston-based restaurant chain has executed a four-location development agreement, a three-location development agreement, and three single-location agreements. Noble Restaurant Group currently has a location open in Pearland with four additional locations in development. The franchisee’s next location is set to open at 2600 Travis St. in Houston in January 2019.

Ft. Bend Fajitas, LLC expanded their agreement to open three additional locations, with the first new location opening in Katy this week. Franchisees Mike and Amanda Green operate a location at 8552 Highway 6 N. in Houston and will open an additional location in Cypress. Franchisees Jeremy Dixon and Jacob Yezak will open College Station’s first Fajita Pete’s restaurant early next year and Jerrell Nelson will open Spring’s first location in 2019. 

“I fell in love with the quality and convenience that I experienced at Fajita Pete’s as a customer,” said Evan Tierce of Ft. Bend Fajitas, LLC. “As a business owner, the small footprint, limited menu, and unique delivery model were attractive. I’m excited to share authentic fresh-off-the-grill fajitas with my community.”

“We are excited to continue our plans to expand our ‘Fresh Fajitas Catered and Delivered’ throughout Texas, and we feel very fortunate to have such outstanding franchisees lead the way,” said Fajita Pete’s Founder Pedro “Pete” Mora. “Our dedication to fresh, quality ingredients and to our local communities sets us apart from other restaurant concepts and I’m proud to grow the Fajita Pete’s family.”

The brand currently has 10 locations across Texas with six additional locations set to open by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Franchise agreements, which include assistance with everything from site selection to operations and sales, are available throughout Texas and for other markets. 

Baskin-Robbins Debuts Store Concept

Baskin-Robbins unveiled its "Moments" concept store design, top photo, which will give guests an entirely new and engaging experience when they visit Baskin-Robbins. The new store concept debuted in Fresno, California and will initiate a national rollout beginning in 2019. 


The new store concept is designed to deliver on Baskin-Robbins' commitment to bringing guests great flavors and memorable moments. The new store in Fresno will offer the first look at the brand's U.S. store of the future, with a new and modernized atmosphere that is designed to make it easy to connect with people over ice cream and create simple moments with family and friends that matter. 

As part of its "Moments" store design, Baskin-Robbins will be introducing a new product platform called "ice cream novelties" featuring premium, hand-dipped and snackable frozen treats to give guests more variety when choosing a sweet treat. The new novelties collection will be available at select Baskin-Robbins locations in the upcoming months. 

Key features of Baskin-Robbins' "Moments" next generation store design include:

  • Modern design: The special interior design features inviting and contemporary décor with bright colors to spark joy and optimism and creates an inviting environment for guests to create special moments.
  • New ice cream dipping cabinets: An expanded row of modern and sleek glass cases prominently display premium ice cream flavors, ice cream cakes and a new "novelties" collection. 
  • A modernized menu: A new product platform called "ice cream novelties" features premium, hand-dipped and snackable frozen treats, including chocolate-dipped bananas, Polar Pizza slices, Ice Cream Bars and Smoothie Bars and indulgent, hand-dipped fancy waffle cones. An expanded toppings station also gives guests more variety and options for customization when choosing a sweet treat. 
  • Wall mural: A colorful wall mural features unique and interactive artwork to celebrate the key attributes of each local community and help create a strong connection between Baskin-Robbins and local guests. The mural also includes images that are intended for guests to engage with and share photos of on social media. The Fresno mural features local landmarks and features, including forest campsites and local parks. 
  • Flexible and modern seating: Indoor seating gives guests more options and features upholstered banquette and swivel chairs as well as high tables with bar stools. Outdoor seating will also be available. 
  • Garage door and window: A garage door and window that open to the outside and features a counter where guests can take a moment to enjoy their frozen treats. 
  • Upgraded digital menu boards: An entirely new digital menu board displays products in an engaging way with high quality photos and video

"The unveiling of our next generation store is a key milestone in Baskin-Robbins' nearly 75-year history and we're so excited to give our guests a new and modernized experience when they visit Baskin-Robbins," said Jason Maceda, Senior Vice President, Baskin-Robbins U.S. & Canada. "Our new 'Moments' design represents our brand purpose – to spark joy and optimism and help guests create joyful moments with family and friends while enjoying great-tasting ice cream and amazing flavor variety. It's the cornerstone of who we are as a brand and gives guests an entirely new way to experience Baskin-Robbins."

Baskin-Robbins worked closely with WD Partners, an Ohio-based customer experience and branding agency, to bring the new "Moments" store design to life. From the initial concept to development, WD played an integral role in ensuring that the next generation store design would deliver on Baskin-Robbins' vision to give guests an entirely new and innovative experience.    

"Many people today live busy, always-on lives which means that a chance to unplug, spend a few minutes with your friend, partner or child, reconnecting over a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream flavor really matters to people," said Carol Austin, Vice President of Marketing. "That's why we are so excited about the new 'Moments' store design – it's intended to be an inviting place for guests to come enjoy the best ice cream on Earth and create that pure and simple moment."

Dunkin' Opens at Great Wolf Lodge

Dunkin’ opened its newest location at Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, making it the twelfth restaurant to open under a franchise agreement between Dunkin’ and Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts. Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. owns and operates all twelve of these locations, which serve Dunkin’s menu of delicious food and beverages to resort guests. These items include a range of hot and iced coffee and espresso beverages; hot and iced teas; a variety of donuts, muffins and croissants; and oven-toasted breakfast sandwiches available any time of day.

“Our partnership with Dunkin’ began in 2009, and over the past nine years we have been able to enhance our resort guests’ experience by providing them with easy access to great coffee, beverages and food from an industry-leader,” says Edi Kevorkyan, corporate director of food and beverage, Great Wolf Lodge.  “We’re pleased that Dunkin’ has ‘checked-in’ to another one of our properties.”

Dunkin’ has existing restaurants at Great Wolf Lodge Resorts in Colorado Springs, Concord, N.C; Williamsburg, Va.; Traverse City, Mich.; Sandusky, Ohio; Fitchburg, Mass.; Mason, Ohio, Garden Grove, Calif.; LaGrange, Ga.; Bloomington, Minn. and Gurnee, Ill. with additional locations planned to open in 2019, including Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Non-traditional locations for Dunkin’ restaurants at premier locations such as Great Wolf Lodge Resorts, Inc., can help introduce our brand to new guests while providing our existing customer base with greater access to our products as they embark on countless activities at the resort,” said Chris Burr, director of non-traditional development, Dunkin’ Brands. “We’re excited to serve the guests of Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains this fall and look forward to opening more restaurants with Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. next year.” 

Opportunities exist to grow with Dunkin’ in the hotel sector. Flexible design options are available to suit any lodging facility, including full retail restaurants, kiosks and self-serve hot coffee stations perfect for gift shops and general stores. Dunkin’ locations can also be designed to suit specific areas such as snack bars and convention registration areas. Dunkin' bakery products can be prepared in the property's own kitchen, with the addition of some simple equipment, giving the food and beverage team flexibility to manage product inventory in accordance with guest traffic.

O'Charley's and Olo

O’Charley’s Restaurant and Bar, with more than 200 locations across 17 states, has partnered with Olo to make online ordering even easier for customers.

“Wherever and however you choose to enjoy O’Charley’s, we have made it easier to get your favorite menu items freshly made and ready to go,” said Craig Barber, O’Charley’s president & CEO. “Partnering with Olo is an investment in an improved To Go and Curbside experience for our customers and lays the foundation to better meet the needs of today’s consumers.”

Olo's on-demand interface for the restaurant industry powers digital ordering and delivery for more than 250 restaurant brands across 50,000 locations. Olo’s enterprise-grade software powers every stage of the digital restaurant transaction––from fully-branded guest interfaces to the back-of-house order management features that help keep the kitchen running smoothly. Olo integrates into (POS) systems at O’Charley’s, enabling accurate order preparation and completion while eliminating wait times.

Sadowsky Named Executive Chef at Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Restaurants said Front Burner veteran, Alex Sadowsky, has joined the team as Executive Chef.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring in culinary talent from the Front Burner Brands and we are confident in Alex’s ability to grow the culinary side of Twin Peaks,” said Joe Hummel, CEO of Twin Peaks. “Starting this November, Alex will immerse himself in the brand and learn through our training program, working with operations and visiting stores.”

Sadowsky graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. Afterward, he moved back to his home state of Minnesota to master his craft in some of St. Paul’s most esteemed kitchens.

In 2015, Sadowsky left Minnesota and moved to Dallas, where he was the Chef De Cuisine at Whiskey Cake in Plano. He helped Whiskey Cake develop its menu and thoroughly enjoyed being in a kitchen that takes such great efforts to be locally sourced, innovative and seasonal. Sadowsky transitioned to the position of Interim Regional Chef, where he supported openings for multiple new Front Burner Restaurant brands. His primary focus was driving the culinary success of each menu and helping grow the brands.

“I’m excited to join a team that is already recognized for its handcrafted, made-from-scratch food and extensive drink menu with several signature and classic cocktails,” Sadowsky said. “I’m eager to try new things with the Twin Peaks menu and introduce guests to delicious and bold new favors.”

Munoz Joins El Pollo Loco as CMO

El Pollo Loco, Inc. appointed industry veteran Hector A. Muñoz as Chief Marketing Officer, effective December 3. Muñoz brings more than 25 years of QSR experience and successful marketing leadership for some of the industry’s leading global brands. Munoz’s appointment comes on the heels of the addition of Jennifer Jaffe, El Pollo Loco’s first Chief People Officer, further strengthening the El Pollo Loco senior leadership team.

He was most recently Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Church’s Chicken, where as a member of the Executive team, he led all global marketing efforts for both the Church’s Chicken and Texas Chicken brands, with leadership responsibilities for brand strategy and sales development. Under his leadership, Church’s Chicken recorded five consecutive quarters of positive global same store sales, the best performance of its kind in more than 10 years. Prior to Church’s, he spent six years as the U.S. Chief Marketing Officer for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., where he played a key role in achieving 24 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales. Mr. Muñoz also served as Vice President of Global Brand Image and New Concept Strategy for Burger King Corporation, where he held multiple positions over a 12 year period, and held marketing and advertising leadership roles for Long John Silver’s, Bruegger’s Bagels and Bozell Worldwide.

“It is a great pleasure to announce the appointment of Hector Muñoz, a talented marketing executive with a proven track record of driving brands and an inspirational role model and leader within the field,” said Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “As we continue to strengthen our Leadership team, Hector’s significant industry experience and knowledge, paired with his strong leadership skills, will be instrumental as we elevate our marketing to grow the love our customers have for the El Pollo loco brand.”

In his role as Chief Marketing Officer,  Muñoz will be responsible for overseeing all Marketing and Brand Strategy functions, including menu and new product development, advertising and PR, digital and social media and consumer engagement for El Pollo Loco’s more than 480 company-owned and franchised restaurants.

“I am joining the El Pollo Loco family during an exciting time and look forward to working closely with both company and franchisee teams to further elevate the brand and its marketing initiatives to deepen the relationships El Pollo Loco has with its customers,” said Muñoz. “Growing up in the restaurant industry from a young age afforded me the experience and opportunity to truly understand restaurant operations from the ground floor, and as such, it is an honor to join El Pollo Loco to support their people-first mission and culture.”

Pizza Hut's Commits to Literacy

Nearly 35 years after launching its iconic BOOK IT! program, Pizza Hut is expanding its commitment to literacy through its partnership with the National Football League by joining forces with Pizza Hut NFL player ambassadors and team partners to shine a spotlight on the importance of reading to kids and parents across the nation. 

Pizza Hut teams up with LA Rams running back Todd Gurley to tackle literacy in its first year as the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL. Todd will raise awareness of the cause during the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative, unveiling reading-inspired Nike cleats representing Pizza Hut nonprofit partner First Book. (PRNewsfoto/Pizza Hut)

"In our first year as the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL, we have a powerful opportunity to work with the League, its teams and players to do even more to support childhood literacy – a cause Pizza Hut has championed for more than three decades," said Marianne Radley, chief brand officer, Pizza Hut, U.S. "The support of these NFL players really exemplifies their commitment to success on and off the field for kids across the country, and we're privileged to work with athletes like Todd Gurley. His passion for literacy will not only inspire young readers but will also help drive awareness for this critical social issue we're hoping to improve." 

This year, Todd will champion literacy for the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative by wearing custom-designed Nike cleats dedicated to reading during the LA Rams home game on Dec. 16. The cleats feature Todd's children's book of choice, "The Magician's Hat" written by fellow NFL player Malcolm Mitchell, and Pizza Hut partner First Book, a nonprofit dedicated to creating equal access to quality education for children in need.

"Growing up, I was taught that reading and writing were the foundation for my education," said Todd Gurley, running back for the Los Angeles Rams. "Knowing the importance of literacy programs for kids across the country, I'm teaming up with First Book and my fellow Georgia alumni and Super Bowl champion Malcolm Mitchell, author of 'The Magicians Hat', for My Cause My Cleats."

Leading up to their designated My Cause My Cleats home game on Dec. 16, the LA Rams and Pizza Hut will bring children from Inglewood together for a once-in-a-lifetime reading event with Todd to further emphasize the importance and power of reading.

"My Cause My Cleats is a great way to showcase the philanthropic passions of NFL players," said NFL SVP of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson. "We are proud to highlight the hundreds of players who make a tremendous impact on our communities every day."

The brand is also extending its relationship with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who teamed up with BOOK IT! earlier this season to surprise students at a Seattle school, spending the afternoon with them to discuss the power of reading and imagination. In late December, Pizza Hut, the Seahawks and Tyler will host another special reading event in Seattle to inspire young readers in the local community. 

Pizza fans nationwide can get involved in supporting childhood literacy by ordering a brand-new bundle deal Pizza Hut is rolling out today at participating stores. The limited-edition deal – The First Book Bundle – will include a $1 donation to First Book for every purchase. The deal is available starting today until Dec. 31 and includes two large three-topping pizzas and breadsticks, starting at $20.99*. 

Pizza Hut has a long-standing commitment to literacy, beginning in 1984 when it founded the iconic BOOK IT! Program and strengthened through Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project, a global commitment to impacting 100 million lives by enabling access to books and educational resources, empowering teachers and inspiring readers. To bring this to life, Pizza Hut raises funds annually in support of First Book.

To learn more about childhood literacy initiatives at Pizza Hut and how the brand is working with the NFL, click here.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza Expands in Chicagoland

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza opened its third Chicagoland location. 

“We’ve been thrilled with how Chicagoland has welcomed our restaurants, and our continued growth in the area is a reflection of the enthusiasm that we have experienced with each opening,” notes CEO Wayne Jones. “This is an area of the country that really understands and appreciates good food that’s made well with authentic ingredients. That’s exactly who we are – authenticity and quality is in our DNA – so this is where we should be.”  

The restaurant, located in Kildeer Village Square at 20413 North Rand Road, will offer a coal fired-focused menu. Nearly everything — including pizzas, chicken wings, meatballs, pork ribs, and more — will be cooked in a blazing-hot, coal-fired oven. In the dining room, 86 seats surround what is affectionately known as the “Pizza Theater.” This showcase area features the restaurant’s coal-fired oven as well as the men and women who carefully craft each pizza and manage the temperament of the fire. A full U-shaped bar serving craft beer, a carefully selected wine list featuring varietals from California and Italy, and craft cocktails — such as the Sicilian Shandy, Aperol Spritz, Coal Fired Cosmo, and the Mediterranean Mule — will be located between the dining room and the toasty warm indoor/outdoor patio, and has seating for an additional 32 guests. 

Twin Peaks Raises Funds for Breast Cancer Fight

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Twin Peaks teamed up with The Fairman-Adams Project to aid them in the fight against breast cancer.

On Monday, Nov. 5, Twin Peaks Restaurants presented a check for $10,722 to The Fairman-Adams Project Founder Flozell Adams. Earlier this year, Twin Peaks pledged to donate $2 from every dessert sold on Fridays in October to breast cancer education and awareness.


The Fairman-Adams Project was founded by former Dallas Cowboy and Pittsburgh Steeler Flozell Adams in memory of his late mother, Rachel Fairman. Adams lost his mother to breast cancer and upon retiring from the NFL, he has dedicated his time to fight the disease that has claimed the lives of so many.  The nonprofit organization believes the fight against breast cancer starts with increasing awareness through education, providing diagnostic breast care services for patients diagnosed with the disease and supporting those in treatment.

Twin Peaks currently has 84 locations in 26 states. 

Panda Cares Project Fortunate

Panda Express' philanthropic arm, Panda Cares Foundation, announced the second annual Project Fortunate campaign, developed to thank guests and associates for supporting the restaurant's charitable efforts over the years. As Panda Express celebrates its 35th anniversary and embarks on the season of giving, Project Fortunate will serve as a reminder of the smiles given back to underserved children and families through Panda Express' in-store donation program, which has raised more than $95 million in charitable contributions since the restaurant was established in 1983. 


"Project Fortunate is an opportunity for us to highlight the remarkable generosity our guests and associates display every time they contribute to Panda Cares," said Peggy Cherng, Co-Chair and Co-CEO of Panda Restaurant Group. "Through the ringing of our bell in-stores, we are able to illustrate how thankful we are for the chance to help those in need and to bring hope to the communities that we operate in." 

As a gentle reminder to guests that their kindness has a large impact, once a donation has been made, associates ring the bell and express acknowledgement by giving guests a loud and genuine "Thank you." The in-store bells are a symbol of the celebratory bell children ring when they're able to go home from a stay at a Children's Miracle Network hospital, one of Panda Cares' primary charitable partners. As a result of in-store donations and the Associate Giving Program, Panda Cares raised more than $32 million in 2017. 

"During this important time of giving, we feel extremely fortunate for our guests and members of the Panda family who are able to uplift their communities," said Dr. Cherng. "As an organization, our hope is to create an environment that nurtures the spirit of selflessness through our core values which are grounded in gratitude and generosity."    

In addition to the Children's Miracle Network partnership, the millions donated each year by guests and associates give Panda Cares the ability to provide funding to Panda's Education Programs benefitting over 780,000 students, and enabled the donation of 110,159 meals in 2017. With over 35,000 associates and 2,100 restaurants globally, Panda Express truly believes every individual has the power to make a difference. 

Cal Ripken, Jr. Gift Card

Roy Rogers issued a new branded gift card featuring Cal Ripken, Jr.. Available at participating locations  through December 31, 2018, the gift cards are good for purchases at participating Roy Rogers restaurants. Roy Rogers will donate 10 percent of all gift card proceeds to the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to help build character and teach critical life lessons to at-risk young people living in America’s most distressed communities by providing programs, opportunities and educational skills for underprivileged youth. In addition, guests will receive a free $5 gift card for every $25 worth of gift cards purchased.


Roy Rogers has been celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2018 with a campaign featuring Cal Ripken, Jr. as a spokesperson for the chain, including incorporating him into advertising and collateral materials, hosting guest appearances by the famous Baltimore baseball player at individual Roy Rogers locations in Maryland and surrounding states, scheduling appearances for Cal on television and radio programs and more. The western-themed chain originated in 1968 and quickly became popular across multiple dayparts and generations. Today, there are 53 locations spread throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The company is famous for serving up a “Triple Threat” – three popular main dishes including USDA choice top round roast beef, hand-breaded, fresh fried chicken and great-tasting burgers. Roy Rogers is also known for its famous Fixin’s Bar®, where guests can customize their orders with a variety of fresh produce, condiments and signature sauces. 

The DOGPPER Delivers

In an LTO partnership wtih DoorDash, the BURGER KING® brand knows that dog owners often deal with their furry friend begging for food when they order delivery. Many dog owners have even admitted to sharing part of their meal with them. That’s why BURGER KING® is providing a solution for customers who want to enjoy their order at home without interruption from their pets.