MRM Franchise Feed: Donatos Celebrates Diversity and New HQ for Miami Grill

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

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Industry Legend Dies

David Schippers, the man who inspired the brand identity of Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop, succumbed to his battle with cancer at the age of 88 on Friday September 28  surrounded by his family.  David was the creator of the brand’s beloved characters, brothers Erbert & Gerbert, as well as the Friends the pair met in their storybook travels.


David’s is survived by his 10 children, including, Kevin Schippers (the founder of Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shops and current Franchisee of the very first location in Eau Claire, WI) and Pete Schippers (multi-unit E&G Franchisee in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

“We are disheartened to lose David Schippers,” said Erbert & Gerbert’s CEO, Eric Wolfe this past weekend. “He was an inspiration to us all.  David always had time to sit down and discuss the history of the brand and how he came up with the stories. Everyday I hear the names of the sandwiches being called out by all ages. He was a great man, father and friend. We will never forget him and what he’s done for the brand.  Our sympathies to the large, loving family he left behind.”  

UFG Adds Food Division

Jim Butler, who has been in the franchising industry for nearly 30 years, will be Division Leader of United Food Group's (UFG) newly created Food Division scheduled to begin in 2019. Butler will assume the role of president for Jon Smith Subs and The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill.

“Jim has been in the franchising industry for three decades, and worked his way up from a marketing representative to a regional vice president of Signarama representing Arizona and California,” said Titus. “He has served with distinction as our as director of sales, and is excited to grow the Jon Smith Subs and The Great Greek businesses into nationally and internationally known brands.”

According to Ray Titus, CEO of UFG, the newly named Food Division Leader will be attending the UFG World Expo later this month and franchisees will have an opportunity to hear his vision for the food sector. “Our fast-food and quick service restaurants have tremendous potential for growth and we want them to be as successful and as valuable as possible,” said Butler. “It is my goal is to reach out to our franchisees, establish relationships, and in the process help them grow into nationally and internationally known brands.”

Jon Smith Subs is known for its marinated sirloin steak subs and numerous made-to-order subs among the top 200 food and restaurant franchises by Entrepreneur. The franchise has locations in Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia with Master License Partner agreements in the United Kingdom, Portugal, South Africa and Columbia.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill is an award-winning restaurant franchise that began in 2011. It is a fast-growing restaurant chain that features healthy choices from classic Greek salads, Gyros and Greek rice bowls, to appetizers, entrees, desserts, and kids’ meals.

‘Every Piece is Important’ 

The idea that ‘Every piece is important’ is on full display in the newly created mural at Donatos Pizza in the John Glenn Columbus International Airpor. top photo. Located in Concourse C of the airport, a 42’ long mural displays and celebrates Central Ohio’s cultural diversity.


The Ohio-based fast-casual pizza chain unveiled the mural project in conjunction with the recent opening of its second airport restaurant location. The mural project was a collaboration between 29 artists and one photographer, and included 88 pieces of original art that were inspired by the artists’ family members, neighbors, teachers, mentors and people they interacted with in their daily lives.  The idea for the design was created and implemented by Allison Westrick, Design Principal and Founder of Sketch Blue Brand Identity + Retail Design, in conjunction with the Greater Columbus Arts Council. 



“At Donatos, our philosophy is ‘Every piece is important’ and that carries beyond the pizza,” said Dave Parsons, PR & Communications Manager for Donatos. “Like pepperonis or mushrooms, every person brings a unique perspective and different flavor to our culture, and we wanted to celebrate the diversity that brings us all together”.


“It’s incredible to see the different artists’ styles, the different choices they’ve made, the stories behind all the faces,” said Westrick.  “Nobody is really famous, but they’re really loved and that’s why they are important.”


The restaurant, which is owned and operated by franchise partner Touchstone Hospitality, Robert E. Lee, III and Curtis Jewell, serves wings, sub sandwiches, appetizers and salads in addition to its award-winning Edge-to-Edge® pizza, Donatos’ trademark that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza. Along with dine-in experience, Donatos also offers delivery and catering services in its traditional restaurant locations.


“We’ve always been about more than just serving pizza,” Parsons added. “Since the beginning when Jim Grote served Donatos pizzas to his classmates and neighbors, Donatos has been a proud community member, working to create connections, inspiring communal harmony and dishing up deliciously hot pizza and warm hospitality to bring everyone together.”  



To continue its mission of ‘Every piece is important,’ Donatos is looking to expand into more markets. The average annual volume per location exceeds $1 million. Stores typically average 2,000-2,500 square feet, and roughly 30 primarily part-time associates are hired to staff a singular location.


New Pizza Hut President


Yum! Brands, Inc.  promoted Vipul Chawla, 50, to President of Pizza Hut International, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer Greg Creed, effective December 3, 2018. Chawla, who currently serves as Managing Director of Pizza Hut Asia-Pacific, will assume responsibility for driving the brand strategy and performance of Pizza Hut’s international business outside the U.S.

Vipul Chawla

Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza restaurant company with more than $12 billion in global system sales and nearly 17,000 restaurants in over 100 countries and territories as of year-end 2017. General managers of Pizza Hut around the world (excluding the U.S.) as well as leaders of Pizza Hut International’s global functions will report to Chawla effective December 3. Pizza Hut U.S. is led by Artie Starrs, President, reporting to Creed.

“Vipul Chawla is an extraordinarily talented leader and highly respected global marketer with a proven track record of growing Pizza Hut across the Asia-Pacific region with our franchise partners,” said Creed. “He’s the ideal person to take Pizza Hut International to the next level by ensuring that each market has strong operations and digital execution in place, offers compelling value and consistently communicates the brand positioning. I’m confident Vipul and his team are well positioned for a seamless transition and will continue to build on the strengths of Pizza Hut with our franchisees.” Chawla will succeed Milind Pant, who has served as Pizza Hut International President for the past three years and has made the personal decision to step down from his role at the end of November to pursue other opportunities outside the Company.

Chawla is an international restaurant and retail industry veteran who has been with the company for more than seven years. As Managing Director of Pizza Hut Asia-Pacific, Chawla has led Pizza Hut’s largest business outside the U.S. in terms of units, spanning nearly 5,000 franchise restaurants across 16 markets. He previously served as General Manager of Pizza Hut Asia as well as Chief Marketing Officer of KFC Asia where he elevated KFC’s brand positioning and accelerated its growth across the region. Chawla joined Yum! in 2011 after spending 20 years with Unilever serving in various leadership positions.

Creed added, “I want to thank Milind Pant for his strong leadership, passion and contributions to Pizza Hut and Yum! Brands over the past decade and wish him continued success on his future endeavors. As we look ahead, I’m confident Pizza Hut International has a bright future as the Brand continues to focus its innovation, technology investments and franchise partnerships on delivering the easiest, fastest and tastiest pizza experience to its customers globally.”

New Design Debut for Capriotti's 

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop debuted its new restaurant design prototype featuring reclaimed wood, exposed brick and concrete floors recently debuted at the Lehi, Utah location.

Capriotti's new prototype features an updated layout, including moving the turkey ovens and refrigerators to the front of the restaurants, providing guests with more transparency as to how their food is made fresh daily.

Founded over 40 years ago, Capriotti's has seen an evolution of restaurant designs, beginning with the concept's original classic diner feel with white and black tiles. Since then, the brand has progressed and as it saw national expansion, began using raw materials and a rustic style, creating a modern, updated feel. Along with the warm wood, brick and concrete, the new prototype features an updated layout, including moving the turkey ovens and refrigerators to the front of the restaurants, providing guests with more transparency as to how their food is made fresh daily. 

"At Capriotti's, we don't take shortcuts and are dedicated to staying true to our roots. This not only includes our food that is made fresh in house daily, but our new design prototype. We've chosen to use real bricks and reclaimed materials to ensure our locations continue to have an authentic feel and are welcoming and comfortable places to dine for our loyal fans," said Ja Haddad, Capriotti's Director of Design and Construction. "We pride ourselves on the care that goes into each turkey we roast, and every sandwich we make. That's why we decided to move our food processes to the front of the restaurants to show fans the dedication that goes into their favorite menu items."  

The new prototype also allows franchise partners more real estate options, as the footprint can flex to fit into a variety of layouts to fit the needs of the area. Capriotti's is also moving towards a smaller footprint of about 1,400 square feet versus the previous 1,800 square foot layout. This smaller option, created to accommodate more delivery and pick-up orders and less dine-in customers, allows franchise partners to have lower rents and maximize return on their investments. 

"Capriotti's has seen impressive growth in recent years, and we wanted to find a design that appealed to Capriotti's loyal fans as well as creates a more efficient and profitable model for our franchise partners," said David Bloom, Capriotti's Chief Development Officer. "This updated style appeals to the modern consumer – foodies who are eager to see how their meal is made and be involved in the cooking process. We're proud to show off our processes to our fans and are confident our authentic and hardworking style will continue to grow Capriotti's nationwide." 

Denny's Gets Punchhed

Denny's Corporation selected Marketing automation platform Punchh  as its customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. The new partnership will enable the brand to better connect with its guests through tailored, omnichannel experiences. 

After evaluating many vendors, Denny's selected Punchh for its comprehensive product capabilities, deep restaurant industry expertise and understanding of the nuances involved with franchised businesses. Additionally, Punchh's solutions will enable Denny's to realize its 1-to-1 marketing goals and increase lifetime customer value. 

Denny's will leverage Punchh's Restaurant Marketing Cloud, including its machine-learning capabilities for segmentation and personalization, enabling them to better surprise and delight guests with targeted promotions, coupons and other timely, relevant communication. Punchh will integrate with Denny's current systems including tablets, point-of-sale, online ordering and other applications to provide a complete view of both digitally known and anonymous guests. Further, Punchh's secure data collection and robust behavioral analytics will help Denny's increase visits from loyal guests, reactivate lapsed customers and elevate ROI across all of the brand's stores.

"Denny's has always focused on making every guest feel at home, and that's enabled them to create strong and lasting relationships. By adding our technology to their customer relationship strategies, Denny's will be able to deepen those relationships and bring more value to guests whether they're dining in or ordering ahead for pickup and delivery," said Punchh CEO Shyam Rao. "We're proud to work with such an esteemed brand, and look forward to being part of the family for years to come."

Said Denny's Chief Marketing Officer John Dillon, "At Denny's, we're proud to offer a warm and welcoming experience for all of our guests, whether they're dining with us in-restaurant or online with Denny's on Demand. As we continue to find convenient ways for our guests to enjoy and experience all that Denny's has to offer, we're excited to partner with Punchh and help us get to know them on a more personal and customized level through the use of their innovative technology."

Said Denny's Senior Manager, Brand Engagement, Luis Martinez, "When looking for a CRM solution, we wanted to find a partner that understands the nuances of a franchise restaurant and has a best-in-class platform designed for our industry. With its proven track record and executional excellence to support our business needs on a national and local basis, we believe that Punchh is the ideal partner."

Denny's will launch its solution with Punchh in December. 

Jersey Mike's Top Sub Makers

A three-person team from Port St. Lucie, Florida took home the gold and $30,000 at Jersey Mike’s Subs’ recent National G13 Competition in Orlando. Port St. Lucie residents and Jersey Mike’s shift leaders Madison Ballash, Selena Cepeda and Austin Halle sliced, sprinkled and wrapped their way to sub-making victory in 70 seconds against five other finalist teams from throughout the country. The trio works at the Jersey Mike’s located at 262 SW Port Saint Lucie Blvd, with operating partner and manager Leigh Anne Cook. 

Port St. Lucie (Fla.) residents and Jersey Mike’s shift leaders Madison Ballash, Selena Cepeda and Austin Halle took home the gold and $10,000 each by winning Jersey Mike’s national sub-making competition dubbed the G13 Competition. They are congratulated by Jersey Mike’s Founder and CEO Peter Cancro and his wife Tatiana Cancro as well as by Leigh Anne Cook (maroon sweater), operating partner and manager at the 262 SW Port Saint Lucie Blvd location where they all work.

“Leigh Anne brings us all together as a team. We are so grateful for her — she is more than a manager, she is a coach, mom, and role model,” said Cepeda, who has worked at Jersey Mike’s for two-and-a-half years, and is now studying nursing. “Jersey Mike’s is a beautiful company that truly gives to give.” 

Halle, who has worked at Jersey Mike’s for five-and-a-half years, works two shifts per week at Jersey Mike’s and three shifts a week as a firefighter. He plans to use his prize winnings to head to paramedic school. “Jersey Mike’s is a family,” he said. 

Ballash, a two-year Jersey Mike’s team member, who is getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting, said, “We were not here to win — we were just excited to make it this far and compete as a team.” 

Jersey Mike’s created the G13 Competition to reinforce the importance of safety, brand quality and speed of service with the company’s team members. G refers to Giant, the size of the sub competitors make, and 13 refers to the company’s most popular sub, #13 The Original Italian. In addition to fresh slicing all the meats and cheese, contestants dressed a sub Mike’s Way® with lettuce, tomatoes and onions and showed off their “sprinkling,” skills, adding “The Juice” (olive oil/red wine vinegar) before cutting, wrapping and bagging each sub. 

The teams competed September 16 at Jersey Mike’s National Conference in Orlando. More than 1,500 franchise owners, managers and others gathered to celebrate the company's 62nd anniversary, while gaining inspiration and education. 

“We created this competition as a training tool to emphasize safety, quality and speed of service with our team members and it has become a competitive sport,” said Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s Founder and CEO.  “We always say, ‘slow down and you’ll go faster,’ and that’s just what this winning team did. We are proud of all our competitors — they exemplify the values of Jersey Mike’s and we congratulate them all.” 

The winners competed against more than 1,000 teams from across the country. The other top five teams competing in the National Championship came from Cincinnati, Dallas, Hagerstown, Md., Overland Park, Kan., and Stuart, Fla. 

Roy Rogers Adds to Team

Roy Rogers®Restaurants promoted Al Jones to the position of Director of Operations. Reporting to Executive Vice President Jeremy Biser, he will oversee the development and improvement of companywide operational standards and lead a team of franchise business consultants and district managers in ensuring their consistent implementation. He is based in the company’s Frederick, Maryland., headquarters.

Al Jones


Jones joined Roy Rogers in 1984 as an Assistant Manager at the Valley Mall restaurant in Hagerstown, Md., after having worked for five years for Marriott Corp., the chain’s parent at the time. In short order he was promoted to General Manager and Training Store Manager, then took on the role of District Manager in 1992. In 2003, he was named Franchise Business Consultant and began working closely with operators to help them build new stores and maximize business results. He has been serving as interim Director of Operations since earlier this year following a corporate restructuring that included bringing Biser on board as Executive Vice President.


“I'm extremely proud to promote Al to the position of Director of Operations,” said Biser. “He has a fantastic history of working with the Roy Rogers brand, and the wealth of experience that he has acquired over nearly four decades is incredibly valuable. I'm excited to have him take on this important leadership role that will give him the opportunity to put that experience to even greater use in our organization.”


In his newly expanded role, Jones will identify and pursue opportunities to improve Roy Rogers’ overall business results, work environment, guest experience and operating standards. He will also work to improve training processes, tools and resources, promote a “food safety first” culture, and have direct profit and loss responsibility for company-operated and franchise units.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be taking on more responsibility here,” said Jones. “In particular, I look forward to having closer connections with our store operations teams, and to making the brand more profitable. As owners of two dozen company-operated restaurants, we have a big stake in making sure our operating standards result in strong sales throughout the system, and I look forward to working with our corporate team and franchisees to maximize performance of every location.”


Describing Jones’ promotion as part of a broader initiative to strengthen Roy Rogers’ performance and growth potential, Biser said, “The ongoing investments we are making this year will provide better support and leadership for the Roy Rogers brand. I’m confident these and other planned upgrades will better position us for system growth and increased sales and profitability for existing units.”


Now celebrating its 50thanniversary with a yearlong campaign featuring baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and a variety of thematic pricing and product promotions and special events, Roy Rogers has recently announced several major developments revealing its investment in improving both infrastructure and consumer offering. Chief among these have been the appointments of Biser as Executive Vice President and Mark Jenkins as Senior Director of Marketing, the extension of its name-brand-ingredient strategy via the rollout of a new Spicy Chicken sandwich featuring Texas Pete hot sauce, and news that the chain would be returning to New York’s Long Island through a seven-unit franchise development agreement. Roy Rogers is now seeking qualified franchise investors to bring its beloved brand to select additional markets

Pizza Inn Growing


 Pizza Inn is growing faster than ever, bringing its Original Buffet and fresh pizza to more towns across the country. 


Bob Bafundo, president of RAVE Restaurant Group, announced today that the company has executed three new Franchise Agreements. Eldon Hyde of Sun Restaurant Group signed an agreement to open his third Pizza Inn restaurant in West End Roatán, Honduras in November – Pizza Inn’s 52nd international location. Dan Holt, a well-known businessman in Tennessee, will introduce Pizza Inn to the southern part of the state with a restaurant in Fayetteville, set to open in December. The third, Peter Solanki, signed an agreement to bring Pizza Inn to Vale, N.C.


“We are excited to continue our work with Eldon and to welcome Peter and Dan to the Pizza Inn family,” Bafundo said. “Pizza Inn continues to hit on all cylinders and our buffet concept is seeing significant growth. Increased traffic and consistent same store sales growth is creating new development opportunities for both existing and new franchisees. We look forward to continuing this growth and feel fortunate to have such excellent franchisees join us in sharing our one-of-a-kind concept with the world.”


'Driving Wayback to the Future'

Wayback Burgers is gearing up for the 2018 “Driving Wayback to the Future” Franchisee Convention hosted at Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut from October 21 through October 23. 

Hundreds of Wayback Burgers representatives – executives, corporate team members, and franchisees from coast to coast, and around the globe – will attend the convention for three days. All attendees are hungry for updates on exciting new developments at Wayback Burgers, including the unveiling of a new-and-improved Wayback delivery system, and major announcements related to the company’s multi-faceted new partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

“We’ve been growing so fast that it’s critical to coordinate a franchisee convention so we can make sure, face-to-face, that we’re aligned for tremendous future growth and success,” said Wayback Burgers President John Eucalitto. “While each convention offers a fantastic opportunity for franchise partners to share best practices and lessons learned, this year’s convention is particularly special due to the big announcements we’re ready to share. It truly is a ‘can’t miss’ event for the entire Wayback Burgers family!” 

One of the convention’s biggest highlights will be the unveiling of a new and improved Wayback Burgers food delivery system and app, which will help franchisees take even better advantage of the booming delivery trend occurring across America, and around the world. It’ll be even easier and more efficient for all franchisees to execute local deliveries – with better food quality for the consumer and better profitability for the franchisees.

Wayback Burgers will reveal the new food delivery system on Monday morning at the general session of the convention and leave it on display at the trade show all day – a perfect opportunity for all franchise partners, and local media members, to get a sneak peek at the revolutionary model.

Another significant moment at the convention will come when Wayback Burgers hands over a ceremonial check to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for $18,000, reflecting proceeds from a fundraiser that the company and its franchisees conducted nationwide in August. BGCA operates after-school care programs nationally, and Wayback Burgers wholeheartedly believes in its quest to help young people, particularly those who need the most support, reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

The grant is only part of a powerful and multi-faceted new partnership between Wayback Burgers and BGCA, involving several major initiatives and fundraisers. For the next two years, for example, a portion of the proceeds from each burger or sandwich purchased at participating Wayback Burgers will be donated to the group. The company and its franchise partners are pledging an annual donation of up to $150,000, with a minimum of $100,000.

Wayback Burgers is also implementing a workforce-training program for members of BGCA and is planning on adding the organization’s logo on select packaging material and potentially team-member uniforms. 

“For many years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has represented the very best intentions – and results – among organizations that are dedicated to helping our kids,” Eucalitto said. “Its commitment to mentor and uplift young people across America is a mission that we fully support.”

Chad Royal-Pascoe, national vice president of corporate and cause partnerships for Boys & Girls Clubs who will speak at the convention on Sunday night, said, “Wayback Burgers is helping ensure that BGCA members have the resources they need to have a successful school experience and a successful life. The company’s support will mean a lot for kids and teens in building toward a greater future.”


I ♥ Mac & Cheese Food Truck Franchise


I ♥ Mac & Cheese, has sold its first food truck franchise in the South Florida market. Hector Gonzalez, former general manager of I ♥ Mac & Cheese, has purchased the franchise. “I thought it was a great idea,” said Gonzalez. “No one is doing mac and cheese in a food truck in the South Florida market. Given the popularity of I ♥ Mac & Cheese, it just made sense to take it to the street.”

Mac and cheese

 The move to the food truck franchise comes one year after launching the franchise division.

 “We want to see our franchised business and franchisees take advantage of new business trends,” said Stephen Giordanella, CEO and chairman. “We are happy that we were able to sell the first food truck franchise to Hector. He has been a valued member of our team and he understands the I ♥ Mac & Cheese brand. I know Hector will succeed. And, we are looking forward to selling more food truck franchises around the country.”


The food truck will carry the same menu, including the specialty salads and some of the dessert offerings, as the brick-and-mortar stores and customers will be able to custom order as they do in-store. Gonzalez’s truck will have three employees — one cashier and two in the kitchen serving up the cheesy bowls and sandwiches. According to Gonzalez, the truck will go out every day and night throughout the tri-county area, with a presence at various community events. 

“I believe in the I ♥ Mac & Cheese concept. I know the food truck is going to be big… it’s going to be the next McDonald’s,” he continued. Franchisees will be allowed to go to events but will not be able to solicit within five miles of an I ♥ Mac & Cheese store. Fans of the fare will be able to follow the food truck on social media to see where the truck will be.


Mountain Mike's Milestone

Mountain Mike’s Pizza, LLC reached a major milestone with the opening of its 200thunit. The milestone location is in Sacramento, where the brand currently has 20 restaurants. With 12 new restaurants opened in multiple markets this year and four slated to open within the next few weeks, the Mountain Mike’s system has accelerated its growth pace and has plans to surpass 300 units within the next few years. Just last month, Mountain Mike’s brought on YUM Brands veteran Jim Metevier to help drive continued growth in system and franchisee sales and profitability.

“After 40 years of serving up superior pizza and being a go-to destination for family dining, we are proud to have reached this 200th store milestone during a very exciting time for the brand,” said Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme, Co-CEOs and principal owners of Mountain Mike’s Pizza, LLC. “There’s a strong demand in our target markets for a family-friendly pizza concept and, as proven by more than a decade of positive annual system sales growth, Mountain Mike’s continues to satisfy the group and family dining occasions where others fall short.”

 Earlier this year, the company announced its development agreement that will expand the brand’s presence in Southern California by more than 40 units over the next seven years.

“Because one of our main priorities is ensuring our franchise partners remain profitable, they continue to experience a healthy ROI which they turn around and invest back into our brand, propelling our growth. There’s no better case study than that!” continued Britt and St. Geme.


Church's Chicken Unveils Brand Positioning, Establishes EAC

Church's Chicken and sister brand, Texas Chicken unveiled the brand positioning work during the recent 2018 Global Excellence in Leadership Conference.

“We are one brand serving a very similar menu but we are in distinctly different stages of our life cycles.  Our domestic roots go back 66 years, but our international footprint has really just started to take off in the past few years,” said Hector Munoz, Executive Vice President & Global Chief Marketing Officer.  “This brand positioning work is rooted in our history and embraces who we are.  It’s relevant and adaptable to both Church’s and Texas Chicken. We are a Texas-grown brand and the research indicates we need to embrace that in a big way.”  Munoz noted that while the essence of both brands is rooted from the same place, they will be expressed differently for the Texas Chicken brand in Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere to better express its own unique equities.

“We are riding a surge of global momentum,” Munoz noted. “Globally, we’ve introduced over 70 new limited time only products (LTOs) this year. Our global year-over-year comparative sales are up – the best performance of its kind in more than 10 years. We’re looking at 12 consecutive periods of positive sales. Even more impressively, we’ve accomplished 5 consecutive quarters of positive sales on a global level. That kind of performance shows that this brand is ready to claim its place on the world stage where it belongs… and with thorough research guiding us, we’ve developed the positioning to make it happen.”

“Consumers provided us the permissibility of where we can and cannot go. We will use those insights to guide everything we do moving forward,” Munoz said.

“This initiative was a massive and intensely collaborative effort that tapped into the insights of our franchisees, capitalized on the talented cross functional expertise of our domestic and international teams,  as well as engaged some of the brightest research, design and advertising agency minds of our valued strategic partners,” said Tony Moralejo, Executive Vice President of International for the brands.

“We’re tremendously excited to have created a robust, clear, fact-based vision for the brand experience across all consumer touchpoints, and we’re now engaged in bringing that new brand experience to life for our Church’s and Texas Chicken guests around the world.”

“The new global brand position is the fulfillment of a promise our company leadership made to our franchisee stakeholders a year ago – to deliver stronger and more impactful messaging and experiences that would clearly articulate what the brands stand for both Domestically and Internationally,” Moralejo said.

Moralejo and Munoz both noted that the positioning would roll out a total brand transformation, including everything from training and recruitment and service delivery to advertising, uniforms, packaging and product innovation.  International locations will likely see a restaurant design change in the future, as well.

“Our current and future business is leveraging effective positioning to WIN in a highly competitive marketplace. That’s the springboard that makes the global brand work,” Munoz concluded.

CESO & Clear, the two global brand positioning and experience agencies who led the project, also worked collaboratively with Church’s Chicken’s domestic Agency of Record, JWT Atlanta, and Church’s and Texas Chicken franchisees to develop the positioning roadmap for the future.  Consumers will see output from the brand work as it is unveiled later this year with an evolution of the creative and other elements to follow shortly thereafter.

The brand also announced an initiative for enhancing restaurant performance – The Excellence Advisory Council (EAC). Designed to work in concert with Church’s Independent Franchise Association (CIFA), the EAC will be comprised of U.S.-based franchisees and corporate leadership to strategically address key and satisfy business initiatives, opportunities for the brand, and solutions for overcoming challenges. The Council will meet on a quarterly basis, and will be built from a maximum of 22 members, with CEO, Joe Christina acting as President, and CLO, Craig Prusher serving as Custodian of the Council.

“Throughout the past several months, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting with multiple franchisees, restaurant managers, and other employees across the country,” explained Christina about the formation of the group. “What we realized is that the CIFA board’s greatest strength is identifying what topics we need to be addressing as a system. The EAC will then follow through on those areas of focus by implementing tactics and strategies to achieve those goals. It’s very much a collaborative effort aimed at delivering outstanding results in a timely manner.”

The formation of the EAC was announced system wide today, after which interested franchisees and employees were invited to submit nominations for membership. Franchisee and employee candidates must have a direct impact on restaurant operations and profitability in their respective regions and must also have a track record of success within a specific business area (sales, marketing, retention, compliance, etc.). Members will be appointed in the beginning of December 2018. To ensure the EAC serves as an accurate reflection of all those working within the Church’s system, members will be appointed to 2-year terms, and will be limited to a maximum of two terms (4 total years).  The EAC will also provide regular updates to the CIFA board, which meets on a bi-annual basis.

“When corporate leadership steps up to engage everyone in Church’s future, that’s energizing for the brand,” said David Newman, President of CIFA. “We’re looking forward to the many achievements that measurable results shared between CIFA and the EAC can make possible.”

The EAC also represents the brand’s commitment to deepen their relationship with the broader franchisee community, a core initiative of the company’s Strategic Plan. The EAC also represents the brand’s commitment to deepen their relationship with the broader franchisee community, a core initiative of the company’s Strategic Plan.

Marco's Pizza's Growth Initiative

 Marco's Pizza new growth initiative to expand in strategic DMAs across the country, introducing 30 new locations by 2020. The brand is offering a viable opportunity for multi-unit franchisee development in small markets – Lubbock/Longview/Tyler, Texas, Savannah, Georgia, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Shreveport, Louisiana, Boise, Idaho, Reno, Nevada, Albuquerque, New Mexico – for experienced local operators to join the growing brand. With each market requiring no more than 2-4 restaurants to be developed, new franchisees can truly own and dominate the market, taking a slice out of the booming $47 billion pizza industry. Marco's Pizza is actively seeking qualified franchise partners in the following territories:

  • Texas: Ranking no. 1 in America's Top States for Business in 2018, Texas proves to be an ideal market for expansion. Building on the strength of its 85 existing locations across the state, Marco's Pizza is seeking development in Lubbock, which can hold seven locations, and Longview/Tyler which has potential for three locations. 
  • Georgia: Marco's Pizza has found incredible success here with more than 100 active locations, 90 of which operate in the Atlanta hub. Georgia continues to be a prime state for development due to its diverse talent pool and community with deep restaurant industry roots. Ideal development will occur in Savannah which has potential for three locations. 
  • Oklahoma: After vast market research, it's clear a diverse small-business ecosystem is finding root in Oklahoma's second-largest city – Tulsa. With a low-cost operating environment and a robust pipeline of talent coming from nearby universities, Marco's Pizza sees growth potential to bring six locations throughout the city, adding to its nearly 25 locations open across the state.  
  • Louisiana: There are currently three successful locations in Louisiana leaving an open market for growth potential. Kicking off this development push is a new Bossier City location that recently opened June 2018 with high performance marks. The ideal target market for continued expansion is Shreveport which has potential for four locations. 
  • Idaho: Marco's Pizza debuted in the state early this year with a location open in Meridian. Pizza lovers in the greater Boise market are soon to realize the quality associated with the Marco's name as the brand seeks to develop five new locations. 
  • Nevada: With nearly 10 locations operating at high performance, Marco's Pizza seeks to capitalize on the opportunity for continued development throughout the state, targeting expansion in the Reno market which has the potential for two locations. 
  • New Mexico: With a positive business climate and an open real estate market, Marco's Pizza seeks to debut in the state, aiming to open three locations in Albuquerque. 

"Expanding our presence throughout these key DMAs is an exciting chapter for our growth story as we break into untapped markets with new franchise partners," said Tony Libardi, president of Marco's Pizza. "Our development team is poised for success and our initial locations in these areas will no doubt bring success to enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Marco's Pizza is hands-down the best quality and our customer service outmatches the competition – all of which has created a loyal customer following directly contributing to our $725K average unit volume."

The 900+ unit brand aims to reach 1,500 locations by 2020, crediting its rapid growth to its strong corporate backing, ability to take market share, unit-level profitability, authentic Italian quality food standards as well as capability to attract top talent among its franchisees. Marco's Pizza's commitment to its people and authenticity will drive its long-term success as it continues to expand its footprint nationwide.

Hummus & Pita Co. Opening in NJ

The Hummus & Pita Co.,  with four locations in New York and Connecticut will open their first New Jersey location on November 12  at the Bell Works in Holmdel.    


The brand was co-founded in 2011, by Dave Pesso and his mother, Janice Axelrod who saw a huge opportunity in the American Mediterranean fast casual market where the focus would be on fresh and authentic ingredients. Drawing on inspiration from their mixed background (Greek, Turkish, Israeli-American) they developed the company utilizing Janice’s career experience building mega mortgage bank, Berkshire Financial. Today, the flagship location on 6th pulls in revenue in excess of $2 million.


The chain has also just signed a five-location franchise deal in Michigan, and plans to open in Troy, Warren, Canton, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. Each of these is part of a five-unit deal with a group in the area, with 15 to come in total. After that, the falafel franchise will target Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and California, aiming to sell at least 100 locations to qualified franchisees within 2018.


The location of the New Jersey branch will be 101 Crawford’s Corner Rd, Holmdel, NJ.


Miami Grill Moves HQ

Over a quarter century after establishing its corporate residency in the Fort Lauderdale Miami Subs Office Building, the industry-leading fast casual restaurant concept, Miami Grill, has moved its global headquarters to Boca Raton, Florida.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Miami Grill team to our great city,” said Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer. “It’s a time of tremendous opportunity in Boca Raton, and having Miami Grill move their worldwide headquarters here is a testament to our business-friendly climate and expansive talent pool.”

The new property will include a world-class test kitchen to handle catering and delivery services for Miami Grill and its sister brand, Salad Creations. This feature further aligns Miami Grill’s physical footprint with its strategic priorities. In a deal brokered by Diego Leiva, Managing Director and lead project manager for Keller Williams Commercial Realty and Miami Grill, the recently purchased 11,000 square-foot building located at Clint Moore Road and Congress, underscores Miami Grill’s game-changing growth across major metro markets. During the first two quarters of 2018, while the restaurant industry only grew by .1% and .8% in Q1 and Q2, respectively, Miami Grill saw tremendous gains, with 14.2% growth in Q1 and 10.2% growth in Q2. Similarly, for transactions; while the industry fell 2.7% in Q1 and 2% in Q2, Miami Grill grew exponentially more with 12.5% and 7.4%.

Growth in revenue is only the beginning of Miami Grill’s incredible trajectory of success for the brand and its franchisees. Its newest location on Jog Road in Greenacres, FL debuted this month with a modernized look, more customer-centric technology, delivery, and an enhanced overall experience –- all facets of the brand’s enviable progress. Additionally, Miami Grill and Keller Williams Commercial Realty have recently expanded their partnership to include national and international property identification and franchise development. This agreement, coupled with the implementation of an EB-5 program, which offers immigrants a path to US citizenship through franchising, further demonstrate the breadth and depth of Miami Grill’s worldwide growth.

“We chose Boca Raton for Miami Grill’s new worldwide headquarters for many reasons, including its highly regarded corporate community, best-in-class talent pool, and well established city-wide infrastructure,” explained Miami Grill CEO Richard Chwatt. “We are especially grateful to Boca Raton Mayor, Scott Singer, and the city’s Office of Economic Development for their support and leadership throughout our relocation process.”

Miami Grill has continued to expand both domestically and internationally. Specifically targeting development in Central and North Florida, where the chain recently entered the Jacksonville and Gainesville markets. Restaurants are under construction in Orlando and Daytona Speedway.

Dunkin' Grows in Colorado

Dunkin' continues to focus on growth and development efforts outside of the Northeast, announcing today the signing of six multi-unit store development agreements in Colorado. Over the next few years, fifteen Dunkin’ restaurants will be developed throughout the state, along with three multi-brand Dunkin’ / Baskin-Robbins locations and one standalone Baskin-Robbins location.

These signings are part of Dunkin’s commitment to offer consumers increased accessibility to the brand with plans to add 1,000 net new restaurants in the U.S. by the end of 2020, with 90 percent of these openings outside of the Northeast. Currently, there are 40 Dunkin’ and 24 Baskin-Robbins restaurants located throughout Colorado. 

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

  • Longtime existing franchisee group Sizzling Donuts will develop seven Dunkin’ locations around Denver, with the first location slated to open in 2019.
  • New franchisee group Avalanche Coffee, LLC signed a four-unit agreement to bring three Dunkin’ and one Dunkin’ / Baskin-Robbins multi-brand location to Evergreen and areas further west towards the Rocky Mountains.
  • Colorado Coffee Company, LLC, led by existing franchisee Josh Blanchard, has signed a four-unit agreement to open Dunkin’ locations throughout the Denver area.
  • First Cup, LLC franchisee group, signed a two-unit agreement to bring one Dunkin’ and one Dunkin’ / Baskin-Robbins multi-brand location to the city of Montrose and Grand Junction.
  • Existing franchisee Douglas Redman will develop one Dunkin’ / Baskin-Robbins multi-brand location in Denver.
  • Existing Baskin-Robbins franchisee Andrea Jensen-Bunce of Colorado Cones, Inc. will open one additional Baskin-Robbins shop in Denver, projected to open in 2019. 

“We are pleased to continue our expansion in Colorado with new and existing franchisees as we work towards our long-term goal of having more than 18,000 Dunkin’ locations throughout the U.S,” said Grant Benson, CFE, senior vice president of franchising and development, Dunkin’ Brands. “Our hard-working and dedicated franchisees bring the Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins brands, products, and promotions to life each and every day and have been essential to our growth over the years, which has solidified our position as a leader in the quick service restaurant industry.”

As Dunkin’ continues its growth as an on-the-go beverage led brand, the company is continuing to recruit franchisees in the surrounding areas of Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Grand Junction, Colorado. Special development incentives may be available.*

In an effort to keep the brand fresh and competitive, Dunkin' offers flexible concepts for any real estate format including free-standing restaurants, end caps, in-line sites, gas and convenience, travel plazas, and universities, as well as other retail environments.  In January 2018, the company opened the first iteration of its NextGen restaurant, designed to cater to the on-the-go customer, delivering “great coffee, fast” and leveraging innovative in-store technology and design elements to stay modern and relevant with guests. The new store design emphasizes unparalleled speed and convenience. Fifty of these concept stores will be developed across the U.S. this year, with plans to unveil a scalable model for all franchisees by early 2019.

Additionally, multi-brand restaurants that combine Dunkin’ with Baskin-Robbins under one roof offer even more opportunity to drive traffic during various day parts — from early morning breakfast and coffee all the way to after-dinner ice cream treats.

Dunkin' menu offerings include high-quality, freshly-brewed Hot and Iced Coffees, Cold Brew and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Dark Roast, along with a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ espresso lineup that includes Americano, Cappuccino, Espresso, and Hot and Iced Lattes and Macchiato. Dunkin’ also serves a full menu of Premium Hot Teas, Coolatta® frozen beverages, delicious donuts, bakery goods and sandwiches that pair perfectly with the brand’s beverages. Baskin-Robbins offers guests a delicious range of creative ice cream flavors, custom ice cream cakes, ice cream sundaes, frozen beverages and take-home frozen treats. 


Boston's Adds Franchise Veterans

Boston's Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar named two franchise industry veterans to its leadership team. With more than 23 combined years of experience in the franchise space, Ryan Reeves will assume the role of Vice President of Sales and Adam Garner will take the role of Vice President of Operations at Boston's as the brand gears up for momentous growth and development. 

With a strong background in franchise sales, Ryan Reeves comes to Boston's from SpeedPro Imaging where he dedicated himself to helping business professionals transition into small business ownership through their investment in the brand. Prior to SpeedPro, Reeves held roles in franchise sales at dining brands like McAlister's Deli and Dickey's Barbecue Pit as well as headed up business development for a wide variety of technology brands. With a finger on the pulse of innovation and development, Reeves is equipped to take the brand to new heights as well as serve as an experienced guide and mentor for franchisees as they embark on the journey of entrepreneurship with Boston's. 

No stranger to the restaurant franchise space, Adam Garner previously worked as Vice President of Operations at Which Which Superior Sandwiches where he helped the brand reach its growth potential through supervising all aspects of operations from training to catering and guest services. Prior to Which Which, he spent five years with FOCUS Brands/Schlotzky's developing the brand's operations on the franchise side. Garner's extensive experience has perfectly primed him to provide strong leadership and strategic plans for development operationally for Boston's in the years to come. 

"We are thrilled to be adding Ryan and Adam to our leadership team and welcoming them to the Boston's family," said Jeff Melnick, President of Boston's. "With their expertise not only in franchising, but also in growing national dining brands, the pair is poised to help take the brand to new heights. As Boston's continues to grow, both Ryan and Adam will play key roles in evolving the brand operationally and growing it nationally." 

 Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar's U.S. operations are based in Dallas and the brand currently has 23 locations operating in 16 states. The company's sister brand, Boston Pizza, has over 400 locations throughout Canada.

Stoner's To Expand Footprint

Stoner’s Pizza Joint will expand its footprint by opening six locations in Texas, as part of its first development deal since launching its franchising efforts in July. This new partnership supports Stoner’s Pizza Joint’s plans to grow to 100 locations over the next five years. The first Texas location, slated to open in late October is located at 2013 North Street in Nacogdoches, and will be owned and operated by the DhaMir Group.

Led by seasoned franchisee Hafeez Dhanani and business partner Rezwan Mirza, the DhaMir Group has extensive restaurant experience with The Dhanani Group, a billion-dollar multi-unit operator. The DhaMir Group founded a Houston-based pizza chain and owns and operates several Burger King franchises. They were attracted to Stoner’s Pizza Joint because of its high-quality recipes, simplified menu, delivery-focused revenue stream, and low employee overhead.

“After visiting Stoner’s Pizza Joint for the first time last year, we were both impressed with the quality and taste of the food, in addition to the strategic changes the new owners are implementing to enhance the brand and make it a strong investment opportunity,” said Dhanani. “The brand appeals to a wide audience — in particular those who are cost conscious, but crave convenient, fresh- quality food. We knew this was an incredible business opportunity and we look forward to continuing our expansion with the brand.”

Founded in 2013, Stoner’s Pizza Joint was recently purchased by the experienced restaurateurs behind HHI Hospitality, which owns and operates several proprietary restaurant concepts in Hilton Head, South Carolina, including Charbar Company and ¡Holy Tequila!, among others. The partners have spent the last few months preparing Stoner’s Pizza Joint to launch its national franchise opportunity. Currently, Stoner’s Pizza Joint has six corporate locations throughout Georgia and South Carolina. By the end of 2018, Stoner’s Pizza Joint plans to have three franchised locations in development, as well as ten additional commitments secured.

“2018 has been an exciting year for Stoner’s Pizza Joint with the launch of our franchise program,” said Nick Bergelt, Chief Concept Officer of Stoner’s Pizza Joint. “Texas is a prime market we are targeting for future growth and we look forward to propelling our brand’s presence there and are eager to welcome Hafeez and Rezwan to our growing Stoner’s Pizza Joint family. They both have successfully brought multiple franchise concepts to market and we are confident they will build a strong business with our support and resources.”

Rock 'n' Joe Coffee Continues Growth

Rock 'n' Joe Coffee, a music-themed coffee franchise, opened its newest location at 2025 Lindberg Street on October 10. Franchise owners, Dennis and Jayna Nienhueser and Tara Ihde are excited to open their doors and introduce Lincoln to a new coffee franchise concept. "We are excited to showcase our specialty coffee and bring this great company to Lincoln. We can't wait to rock some joe with our community," Dennis Nienhueser said. Customers can look forward to highly-skilled baristas using top-of-the-line barista equipment to create an unforgettable coffee experience. 

When walking into Rock 'n' Joe Lincoln, fans will be met with a new cutting-edge store design highlighted with artisan and industrial elements inviting to "social energy." An attention-to-detail showcasing the combination of coffee and rock music can be seen throughout the store. Fans will also be able to enjoy beer and wine during their visit. The Lincoln store will be the first Rock 'n' Joe Coffeewith new drive thru tech.