MRM Franchise Feed: Dickey’s Puts Plan in Action, CSR Updates and New Year’s Promotions

Modern Restaurant Management magazine’s Franchise Feed offers a glimpse at what’s new in the restaurant franchise environment. Send items of interest to Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at

Dickey’s Plans for Rapid Growth

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit formed Dickey’s Capital Group and reorganized leadership positions in order to more effectively meet the demands of rapid growth. The newly-formed Dickey’s Capital Group, Inc. is the parent company of all business entities under the Dickey’s name. With the new organizational structure, these entities will be better equipped for expansion. The barbecue franchise opens approximately 12 stores a month and is preparing to open in their 45th state, with plans to expand internationally in 2017.

The barbecue franchise opens approximately 12 stores a month.

Roland Dickey, Jr. has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the parent company Dickey’s Capital Group, where he will serve as executive management of assets. As Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., Dickey, Jr. expanded the company from 20 locations to almost 600 across the nation.

“The Dickey’s brand has seen tremendous growth throughout the past several years.  We look forward to continued expansion of Dickey’s locations and product and service offerings nationwide and abroad,” said Roland Dickey, Jr. “With great growth comes change and I look forward to partnering with Laura Rea Dickey and Renee Roozen to continue evolving the brand while staying true to our Texas barbecue heritage.”

Laura Rea Dickey has taken over as CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. She previously served as the Chief Information Officer for eight years, during which time she established Dickey’s as a recognized technology leader in the restaurant industry through the development of proprietary big data and enterprise management systems.

“The growth Dickey’s has seen over the past years is something that I am extremely proud to be a part of,” added Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. “With our amazing Owner/Operators and the DBRI team, the Dickey’s brand has much more room for growth in the future.”

Renee Roozen has been promoted to President of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Roozen joined the company in 2015 and excelled in her previous role as Vice President of Operations. She was drawn to Dickey’s by the family culture and long traditions of quality and great food.

“I am proud and honored to embark on this new adventure as President of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.,” said Roozen. “In my time at Dickey’s, I have learned how crucial relationships with our Owner/Operators are, and I look forward to developing a great partnership with them as we move forward to the next stage of Dickey’s.”

Dunkin Partners with Football Great for Louisiana

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, in partnership with existing franchisee Vik Patel, signed an agreement to develop up to 69 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria, Louisiana over the coming years.  The first location under the new partnership is planned to open in 2017, and the group will also co-own five existing Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Louisiana. 

Bourbon Street Donuts, LLC is led by Vik Patel, the CEO of Tampa-based Purple Square Management Co. Patel has been a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee for 10 years and currently operates 46 restaurants in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Purple Square also has plans to open additional units in 2017. Brees and former New York Giants offensive lineman and current FOX Sports broadcaster David Diehl are also partners at Bourbon Street Donuts, LLC.

“As Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees we are committed to growing the brand in Louisiana and playing an important role in the daily lives of people who live, work and visit here,” said Patel. “Drew has proven his commitment to New Orleans – both on and off the field – and we couldn’t ask for a better partner to help expand Dunkin’ Donuts’ presence in Louisiana. We’re excited to open our first few restaurants under this partnership next year, and developing even more restaurants over the long-term.”

Currently, there are a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants located throughout Louisiana, and the company is continuing to grow the brand throughout the Southeast. As part of this growth, Dunkin’ Donuts is recruiting franchisees in Arkansas, eastern Texas and Mississippi. To help fuel growth, special development incentives are available, which include reduced royalty fees for three years and up to $5,000 in local store marketing support for timely openings.* In an effort to keep the brand fresh and competitive, Dunkin’ Donuts offers flexible concepts for any real estate format including free-standing restaurants, end caps, in-line sites, gas and convenience, travel plazas, universities, as well as other retail environments. 

“Dunkin’ Donuts’ growth in the Southeast would not be possible without our existing franchisees like Vik Patel who continue to demonstrate their high confidence in our business model, our word-class support team, and the unit economics of the business,” said Grant Benson, CFE, vice president of global franchising and business development, Dunkin’ Brands. “Additionally, we are excited to welcome NFL great Drew Brees to our system, and we look forward to working with Bourbon Street Donuts to bring great products and exceptional guest service to our loyal guests throughout Louisiana.”

Ruby’s Diner to Open in San Clemente

Ruby’s Franchise Systems, Inc. said the newest full service Ruby’s Diner plans to open doors at the Outlets at San Clemente in January. Simultaneously, the Ruby’s Diner location in Laguna Hills, currently undergoing an extensive remodel, reopened. The two new locations demonstrate the continued strategic expansion of Ruby’s Franchise Systems, Inc. in the Southern California market.


Ruby’s Diner at Outlets at San Clemente will mark the 33rd location in the brand’s growing portfolio. Franchise veteran Craig Guest, Director of Operations at Eureka Food Enterprises, will be opening the diner. The San Clemente location will mark Guest’s fifth Ruby’s Diner franchise following his success with locations at the Citadel Outlets, in Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Outlets at Anthem in Phoenix, AZ slated to open early 2017.

“I have found that the versatility of the Ruby’s Diner concept combined with strong support and leadership from the Franchise Systems team has time and time again been a perfect fit not only for our development team but also for our customers,” commented Guest. “We are beyond thrilled to be opening yet another Ruby’s Diner location and know it will be a great addition to the tenant mix at Outlets at San Clemente.”

The Laguna Hills Mall will welcome the re-opening of a fully remodeled Ruby’s Diner at a new location within the center, now adjacent to Macy’s. The remodel includes a new expanded patio and extensive interior renovations.

“We aim to serve the guest as best we can, which lead to the decision to relocate within the Laguna Hills Mall, expand the patio and upgrade the interior,” commented Ruby’s Diner CEO and Founder, Doug Cavanaugh.  “Guest convenience is key, and our positioning in a high traffic location will only add to diner’s experience.”

Ruby’s Franchise Systems, Inc. will continue its strategic expansion plans within the Southern California market, with an additional new location in Downey slated to unveil in early 2017.

Investors Buy Stake in Rita’s Franchise Company

Argosy Private Equity and MTN Capital acquired a controlling stake in Rita’s Franchise Company, LLC  from Falconhead Capital. As part of the agreement, Kirk Griswold, Founding Partner at Argosy Private Equity, will join Rita’s board as Chairman and Jeff Moody will remain President and Chief Executive Officer. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Rita’s Italian Ice was founded in 1984 by former Philadelphia firefighter Bob Tumolo, who made and sold Italian Ice from his small porch window alongside his mother Elizabeth and brother John. Since, the brand has grown exponentially and today has more than 600 locations in 30 states, and 4 countries. 

“Being Philly based, we know firsthand the love that guests have for Rita’s,” said Griswold. “Falconhead and the executive leadership team have done a tremendous job growing this once regional brand nationally, and even internationally. We’re looking forward to working with Rita’s management team and devoted franchise partners to continue the company’s growth and extend its guest loyalty and unique brand equity to each and every store, systemwide.”

Argosy Private Equity has $600 million in assets under management and is located in Wayne, PA. Founded in 2003, MTN has been associated with more than $500 million in business acquisitions.  MTN’s portfolio companies have been active in a variety of industries including retail, consumer products, and manufacturing.

Taco Bell’s New Year

Taco Bell is welcoming the next 365 days with commitments that reflect more of what its fans want, less of what they don’t and build on its momentum of being a modern brand that’s current, creative and has a cause.

Getting rid of things that customers told us don’t make sense anymore:

  • Taco Bell is saying goodbye to its XL soda cups in 2017.
  • By early 2017, the brand will remove all antibiotics important to human medicine from its chicken across U.S. restaurants.
  • Where possible, Taco Bell is removing preservatives and other additives from its food by 2018 across its U.S. restaurants.

Giving fans more of what they want:

Taco Bell reached its goal to serve only 100 percent cage-free whole eggs on its breakfast menu. Now, the brand is expanding its commitment to serve 100% cage-free egg ingredients across the core menu. That means the eggs used to create its avocado ranch sauce, creamy jalapeno sauce, habanero sauce and creamy chipotle sauce will be made with cage-free egg ingredients come January 1, 2018.

Cutting back on the salt:

Taco Bell reduced sodium by 15 percent on average across its menu since 2008, but isn’t stopping there. By 2025, Taco Bell will grow that number by an additional 10%, for a 25% reduction across its menu, while still delivering the same bold flavors fans love.

Giving employees and customers the opportunities they need to turn their dreams into goals:

  • The Live Más Scholarship will be bigger, better and bolder in 2017 with the help of the 2016 recipients and $1.3 million to support the next wave of creators, innovators and dreamers.
  • Taco Bell is also committing to creating 100,000 U.S. jobs by 2022, and continuing to support all its team members with education and training programs, whether they start with the company, or stay with Taco Bell.
  • Taco Bell is committing to hire 1.5 million young adults over the next 10 years.

Being good neighbors in all its communities:

In 2017, through its new restaurant concepts, Taco Bell will better reflect the local communities by reducing energy consumption and featuring more reclaimed materials and sustainable landscape features. The company will also update its packaging to celebrate its craveable food, while remaining environmentally conscious. Up next: The Fiesta Taco Salad is moving from plastic to a paper box.

Papa John’s to Grow in Boston

Papa John’s International, Inc. signed a restaurant development agreement that will accelerate growth of the Papa John’s brand in the Boston market. 1630 Pizza Company LLC, which is owned and operated by two long-term franchisees, has signed a development agreement to open 25 units over the next five years.

“We are excited about our recent growth in the Boston market,” said Tim O’Hern, Senior Vice President & Chief Development Officer. We hope that this agreement, along with other recent agreements that we have signed for the area, will continue our momentum to bring BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. to a historic market.”

Wendy’s Releases CSR Results

The Wendy’s® Company released a 2016 annual update on significant Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and announced plans for continued progress in 2017.

“Forty-seven years after Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s, we remain passionately committed to his ideals and values,” said President & CEO Todd Penegor, who assumed the Company’s top leadership position in 2016. “We came together strongly with our employees and franchisees in 2016 to bring Dave’s vision to life: to serve food we are proud of, provide thousands of people with employment opportunities, and raise funds and awareness to help the 130,000 children waiting in foster care find their forever families through adoption.”

“We embrace our role as a responsible corporate citizen and believe that the purpose of Wendy’s is, ‘To Create Joy and Opportunity through Food, Family and Community.’ And it is through this lens that we will continue to communicate regularly and transparently to our customers about the topics that matter to all of us.”

In 2016, the Company made significant strides, including:

Supplier Code of Conduct: The Wendy’s Supplier Code of Conduct was rolled out in early 2016 to the nearly 300 suppliers that provide food, paper and packaging to the Wendy’s U.S. system, and includes suppliers based in the U.S. and internationally. Wendy’s achieved 100% acknowledgement of the Code by May 2016 and requires an annual reaffirmation. Looking ahead: the Company will continue to expand the Supplier Code of Conduct to incorporate evolving best practices in the U.S. and internationally related to environmental and social responsibility, and to include additional categories of suppliers such as professional service providers.

Antibiotics Policy: Building on a multi-year effort to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics in its supply chain, Wendy’s made a commitment to remove antibiotics important to human health from its chicken supply by the end of 2017, while remaining committed to the necessary treatment of sick animals. To date, 50% of the Wendy’s U.S. chicken supply is raised without medically important antibiotics.  Looking ahead: the Company will transition 100% of its chicken supply to be raised without medically important antibiotics, and will announce specific commitments for pork and beef in 2017.  

Animal Welfare:  In 2001, Wendy’s formed its Animal Welfare Advisory Council to review and strengthen standards and expectations for animal handling, transport and care from suppliers. Throughout the years, many aspects of those standards were shared and adopted industry wide. To date, Wendy’s has conducted more than 1,300 audits and celebrated the Council’s 15th year in 2016. Also in 2016, Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc., Wendy’s independent cooperative, which conducts all food, paper and packaging purchasing for Wendy’s restaurants in North America, welcomed Dr. Henry Zerby to its leadership team. Dr. Zerby was formerly the Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University and an external advisor to the Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council. Looking ahead: Wendy’s intends to continue to strengthen the scope and technical expertise of its Animal Welfare Council. Wendy’s partners with academic and industry experts who share in the same conviction and commitment to the well-being of farm animals and in 2017 will deepen their participation in ongoing animal welfare programs, quarterly welfare council meetings and future initiatives.

Cage-Free Commitment: In January 2016, Wendy’s announced plans to switch to a 100% cage-free housing environment for eggs by 2020.  Looking ahead: In 2017, Wendy’s will continue the journey toward 100% cage-free egg purchasing and will evaluate other evolving best practices for poultry housing.

Sustainable Beef: With a commitment to serve only fresh, never frozen* North American beef, Wendy’s has long partnered with innovators and leaders throughout the beef industry to advance responsible practices in animal production, health and welfare. In 2016, Wendy’s joined the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to continue to serve as a thought leader with an active voice in discussions about the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the U.S. beef industry.  

Palm Oil: In August 2015, Wendy’s became a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and in 2016 reported its domestic Palm Oil use to the RSPO and the World Wildlife Fund.  The Company has set a goal to use only certified sustainable palm oil in its North American food products by 2022.  Looking ahead: the Company will announce a plan by the end of 2017 for sourcing certified sustainable palm oil in international operations.

Square Deal Blog:  Wendy’s created a space dedicated to giving customers The Square Deal – Wendy’s views on food, quality, animal welfare, foster care adoption, and doing their best to make Dave proud. Several posts a month are included on the blog with an opportunity for the public to share feedback and suggest future topics of discussion.  Looking ahead: Editors of The Square Deal plan to expand beyond a blog format and continue to provide opportunities for feedback and engagement with members of the public. 

GM Celebration:  For the first time, Wendy’s celebrated the best-of-the-best when it comes to those who lead in and delight the customers who visit their restaurants.  Looking ahead: In 2017, Wendy’s will continue to promote the Top GMs across the Wendy’s Family by recognizing top performance in customer service and building 5-star teams.

Educational Efforts: In late 2016, Wendy’s partnered with GetSchooled, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to empower and engage learners with the tools they need to succeed. Wendy’s and GetSchooled have developed a platform that provides Company and franchise employees and their families with free access to academic advisors and coaches to assist with starting or going back to school, planning for college and finding financial resources. Looking ahead: The Company will share the GetSchooled resources with its U.S. franchisees. Wendy’s has also worked with Rosetta Stone to make virtual English as a Second Language (ESL) resources available in 2017 in Company restaurants and participating franchise restaurants.

Employee Networks: Women of Wendy’s (WOW) began in 2014 to promote female leadership within The Wendy’s Company. Since then, Wendy’s has expanded its networks, with the goal of promoting a safe, inclusive and supportive workplace environment.  Wendy’s supports its young professionals, the LGBT community and military personnel and families through WenGen, WeQual and the Wendy’s Military Support Network (WMSN). Looking ahead:  The Company will continue to partner with the networks to support employee connection, personal and professional development and community engagement.

Foster Care Adoption: Since 1992 Wendy’s signature charitable cause has been foster care adoption as Wendy’s has taken on the responsibility to raise funds and awareness for the children who do not have a place to call home or people to call mom and dad.  This year, Wendy’s worked especially hard to rally its customers around the cause, including:   

  • Explaining why Wendy’s cares so much about foster care adoption. 
  • Inviting a few of these families to share their adoption stories on their blog.
  • Detailing the important work of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® Recruiters.
  • Hosting the first-ever National Adoption Night at Wendy’s restaurants.
  • Using Wendy’s beverage cups to share the drawings of three special Wendy’s Wonderful Kids who were adopted by loving families.
  • Joining with The Coca-Cola Company and Dr Pepper/Seven-Up, Inc. to donate each time someone shared their love of adoption on social media. Thanks to this collaboration and customer participation, $500,000 was donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
  • And finally, selling Frosty Coupon Books and Frosty Key Tags as special fundraisers in local restaurants. The Frosty Key Tag program went viral this year reaching 15.8 million people across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the Key Tags will continue to be sold at participating restaurants until January 31. The Frosty Coupon Books raised more than $2.1 million dollars for the Foundation.

Looking ahead: There are still children in foster care who are waiting to find a loving home. Until each and every one has found a forever family, Wendy’s will remain a leading voice by raising funds and awareness for foster care adoption. 

Honoring Scholar Athletes: Started by Dave Thomas in 1994, Wendy’s High School Heisman® has recognized more than 630,000 seniors across the country who excel in athletics, academics and community leadership.  This year, the program celebrated another milestone by becoming a scholarship for students pursuing higher education.  Looking ahead:  In 2017, Wendy’s will continue to expand the Wendy’s High School Heisman program to even more students by engaging its entire network of franchisees across the country with new digital tools and school outreach resources. The program will grant more than $120,000 in student college scholarships in 2017.

Remodeling: In 2011, Wendy’s began to reimage a majority of its North American restaurants into a more contemporary and welcoming dining environment. To date, more than 1,500 restaurants have been remodeled and more than 250 have been newly built by the Company and its franchisees, all of which have created new restaurant jobs and economic growth through construction and development in communities. Looking ahead: Wendy’s is on a journey to build 1,000 new restaurants by 2020 – each improving their environmental footprint by running with more energy efficient equipment, lighting and building materials and bringing millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue into communities.

Energy Conservation: Wendy’s joined the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge in December 2015, setting a public goal to improve energy efficiency by reducing the amount of energy use per transaction in Company owned and operated restaurants by 20 percent by 2025.  By the end of 2015, Wendy’s reduced its energy use by 6 percent against a 2012 baseline. Wendy’s also became the first restaurant company to encourage individual franchisees to join the Better Buildings Challenge.  So far, 15 franchisees representing more than 1,000 Wendy’s restaurants are part of the Challenge. Further, the Company received two environmental awards for energy efficiency and joined EPA’s ENERGY STAR program as an ENERGY STAR partner in 2016. Looking ahead: With the same goal as the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, the Company created the Wendy’s Energy Challenge. In 2017, while continuing to promote the Better Buildings Challenge to its U.S. franchisees, Wendy’s will also promote its own energy challenge to franchisees outside the U.S. to expand and promote energy efficiency throughout its global footprint.

Fazoli’s Enters Sioux Falls Market

Fazoli’s signed a lease agreement for the first restaurant in Sioux Falls, SD located at 4224 West Empire Place across from the Empire Shopping Gallery. The new restaurant, which will be owned and operated by SD Faz I, LLC, is slated to open summer 2017.

“We’re thrilled to bring Fazoli’s fast, fresh Italian food to Sioux Falls,” said Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli’s. “The expansion into South Dakota marks a major milestone for the brand. Fazoli’s has experienced 14 consecutive quarters of same-store sales results and new franchised restaurants are continuously setting company-wide records. We’re confident that our new franchisee, Brian Hagan, and his team will be successful in growing their business in the market.”

The 3,606-square-foot restaurant will feature Fazoli’s all new contemporary design along with a drive-thru for residents seeking to order a variety of freshly prepared, high-quality menu items on-the-go. Hagan, who is the president and an owner of Hagan Barron Intermediaries, a third-party administration company in Sioux Falls, has plans to open additional restaurants in the area over the next several years.

“There’s an abundance of opportunity for Fazoli’s growth and success in Sioux Falls,” said Hagan. “We’re thrilled to have found a great location for our restaurant and confident that the brand will be well received. We look forward to serving the community for many years to come.”

New Year, New Promotions

Jamba, Inc. introduced its Super Blend Smoothies™ as a first step in the company’s renewed focus on highlighting the benefits of blending. The smoothie line, available on January 18, was developed in collaboration with Harley Pasternak, celebrity fitness trainer, blending expert, and New York Times bestselling author of “The Body Reset Diet.”


Jamba’s new Super Blend Smoothies are an ideal meal replacement for people on-the-go, providing optimal nutrition by blending a signature combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

These smoothies are inspired by Pasternak’s Five-day Body Reset philosophy built to reset your palate, appetite, metabolism, and digestion. The three new blends include:

  • Apples ‘n Charge™: A blend of apples, bananas, pumpkin seeds, Greek yogurt, milk, cinnamon and honey
  • PB ‘n Jealous™: A blend of fresh berries, peanut butter, whey protein, milk, and chia
  • Green Up ‘n Go™: A blend of cucumber, apple, spinach, grapes, Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds and lemon juice

“I’ve spent my career helping celebrities understand the benefits of blending,” said Pasternak. “Until now, my clients had to blend at home or at my studio. Through my partnership with Jamba, everyone can enjoy convenient access to these nutritious Super Blend Smoothies and begin feeling their best right away.”  

Dave Pace, CEO of Jamba Juice shared, “Jamba was founded on the principle that blended is better, and we’re excited to partner with Harley to help customers understand the real benefits of blending and how Jamba can make healthy living easy and fun.”

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews is losing the bun and hopes Milo Ventimiglia does too, To celebrate the launch of the Gourmet Burger Authority’s new Avocado Chicken Wedgie – a bun-free, lettuce wrapped burger – Red Robin is challenging Ventimiglia to cut off his man bun hairstyle before walking the red carpet on January 8. If the actor takes Red Robin up on its offer, the casual dining restaurant chain will make a $20,000 donation to the charity of his choice.

“Red Robin’s playful spirit is infused into everything we do, especially our new Chicken Avocado Wedgie,” said Jonathan Muhtar, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Red Robin. “All eyes will be on Sunday’s award show and we hope our loyal guests will join in support of our red carpet-worthy burger by encouraging Milo to lose the bun. We’ll be watching closely!”

As a way to promote online ordering, Pizza Hut,  is offering 50 percent off all menu-priced pizza orders placed online through January 9.

“The weeks after the holiday season can be financially tight for many,” said David Timm, Chief Marketing Officer, Pizza Hut.  “With this quick and easy offer, we’re making sure Pizza Hut fans can enjoy the pizza they love without breaking the bank.”

To enjoy Pizza Hut’s 50 percent off online flash sale, consumers can visit or download the Pizza Hut Mobile App for iPhone and Android and click the 50 percent off deal tile. The offer will be available for all menu-priced pizza orders placed through Pizza Hut’s online ordering systems for carryout or delivery.  Discount does not apply to other menu items, tax, delivery charge, or driver tip.

Mobile Engagement

MobileBridge partnered with Burger King (of Russia), and Italian dairy produce market leader, Galbani.

“Expanding our global footprint and entering the North American market this past year has presented infinite growth opportunities for MobileBridge as an organization,” said MobileBridge CEO Eyal Oster. “We aim to expedite our growth on both sides of the Atlantic entering 2017 and the addition of established industry leaders such as Galbani and Burger King is a fantastic start.”

Looking to drive consumer engagement through its mobile app developed in 2013, Galbani has teamed with MobileBridge partner Fortop, to power a multi-phased mobile strategy following the app’s recent release on the Apple Store and Google Play. Galbani will utilize the MobileBridge suite to collect mobile data and analytics at the campaign’s onset, and utilize those analytics to engage and convert users.

Galbani plans to deliver personalized, targeted campaigns through MobileBridge to distribute relevant promotions and offers that can be redeemed at all major food retailers. Additionally, the Galbani team will deliver interactive surveys and games to drive engagement, all available natively in the MobileBridge platform.

In Russia, Burger King has 360 stores and growing, with plans to add 100 new stores each year. Burger King is the newest large brand quick-service chain to operate in Russia, and as such has entered an extremely competitive market with existing brands.

Burger King plans to engage customers through the mobile channel in efforts to differentiate from the competition with innovative mobile marketing. With currently 3 million app downloads, Burger King plans to drive traffic to its growing number of locations by leveraging mobile capabilities such as geo-fencing and beacons to entice passers-by into store-front locations. The addition of interactive assets such as games and surveys will further delight customers and help build brand loyalty in this competitive space.

“Dominant consumer brands worldwide continue to better understand the necessity of advanced customer engagement through the mobile channel,” stated Oster. “Even with long established brands such as Burger King and Galbani, competition differentiation is a constant battle and we are honored to deliver our mobile solution to win that fight.”

Taco Bell’s Thalberg Honored

Taco Bell’s Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg is the only restaurant industry leader named to the NRF Foundation’s 2017 list of 25 people shaping retail’s future.

Marisa Thalberg
Marisa Thalberg

Thalberg was behind Taco Bell’s wildly successful social, digital, and strategic marketing campaigns in 2017. When it came time to launch Taco Bell’s new “quesalupa”—a combination quesadilla and chalupa—Thalberg took it to the Super Bowl. Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo Snapchat lens—allowing users to turn their head into a hard-shell taco—drew 224 million users in a single day. Taco Bell expanded into artificial intelligence with the TacoBot, which takes orders and answers questions about the food.

“Retail is driven by millions of talented and passionate individuals who are constantly changing the industry, and The List 2017 captures the very best of people making an impact,” NRF Foundation Executive Director Ellen Davis said. “Each in their own way, this year’s honorees are shaping retail’s future and emulate the very best of what retail represents.”

The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future 2017 include:


  • Brad Bogolea – Co-Founder and CEO, Simbe Robotics
  • Anthony Bruce – Co-Founder and CEO, Applied Predictive Technologies
  • Christine Hunsicker – Founder and CEO, Gwynnie Bee
  • Dominik Richter – Founder & CEO, HelloFresh Global
  • Tristan Walker – Founder and CEO, Walker and Company Brands


  • Stefanie Botelho – Founder and CEO, Fitzroy Toys
  • Chieh Huang – Co-Founder and CEO, Boxed Wholesale
  • Michelle Lam – Co-Founder and CEO, True&Co.
  • Kavita Shukla – Inventor and Founder, FreshPaper
  • Mikaila Ulmer – Founder and CEO, Me & the Bees Lemonade


  • James Brett – President, West Elm
  • Emily Avedikian – Founder and Director, Keeps Boutique at The Gatehouse
  • Roslyn S. Jaffe – Co-Founder, Secretary & Director Emeritus, Ascena Retail Group
  • Drew Ann Long – Inventor, Caroline’s Cart
  • Monika Wiela – CEO and Founder, Give Back Box®


  • Lisa Clyde – Global Head of Consumer & Retail Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Jason Goldberg – SVP, Content & Commerce, SapientRazorfish
  • David Lawenda – Vice President, Global Marketing Solutions – US, Facebook
  • Wendy Liebmann – Founder, CEO and Chief Shopper, WSL Strategic Retail
  • Phil Wahba – Senior Writer, Fortune

Power Players:

  • Scott Dahnke – Global Co-CEO, L Catterton
  • Kevin Hofmann – President, Online and Chief Marketing Officer, The Home Depot
  • Steven Lowy – Co-CEO, Westfield Corporation
  • Toni M. Miller – Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Administration Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Boscov’s Department Store, LLC
  • Marisa Thalberg – Chief Marketing Officer, Taco Bell Corp.