MRM Franchise Feed: Duck Donuts Rising, IHOP Awards and Yogurt Drones Deliver

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Duck Donuts Adds to Franchise Team

Russ DiGilio, founder and owner of Duck Donuts Franchising Company LLC, said that four new team members have joined the Duck Donuts family: Betsy Hamm, Caroline McAneney, Zana Khadar and Christine Weaver are currently working in the corporate office in Mechanicsburg, PA.

“We’re excited about this addition to our company and the talent these four individuals bring to our team,” said DiGilio. “All four positions are new to our corporate structure and were created in response to Duck Donuts’ organic franchise growth. We just signed our 108th store and are establishing roots in new states every week. These women have extensive experience, fresh ideas, and hospitality backgrounds that will positively influence the family-friendly service of our franchising company as we grow.”Donut Assortment 4[2]

Betsy Hamm, Marketing Director, will oversee all aspects of Duck Donuts’ marketing function including social media, local franchisee marketing, and franchisor corporate branding. Hamm joins the team with nearly 15 years of experience at Hersey Entertainment & Resorts. She served on the board of directors for Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitor’s Bureau and holds an MBA in Business from Shippensburg University.

“After talking to COO Gary McAneney and Russ DiGilio, I fell in love with their startup story and the endless potential the company holds,” says Hamm. “I am very excited to be part of building a successful foundation for the future of Duck Donuts. Marketing donuts? It’s a dream job!”

Caroline McAneney, daughter of COO Gary McAneney, joins the family business in the Training and Operations department. “Since I was 13, I have been raised in the hospitality industry dipping donuts at our store in Kitty Hawk,” says McAneney. “This is so much more than a job; it’s a passion to make sure every new franchise owner understands the foundation Duck Donuts was built on and can experience the brand firsthand, which will help them deliver the high quality donut experience we’re known for.” McAneney graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences. She will help implement classroom training and onsite training programs, as well as the creation and development of new training programs.

Zana Khadar and Christine Weaver are both Regional Operations Specialists. Their responsibilities include supporting new and ongoing franchise operations. They will be the go-to resource for stores in their designated regions ensuring that company goals and procedures are achieved and followed.

Zana Khadar joins Duck Donuts as their Mid-Atlantic Regional Operations Specialist. She was previously employed at Molecular NeuroImaging, LLC as their Senior Project Manager and gained valuable hospitality experience as a general manager in the restaurant industry for over eight years. “It’s an exciting time for Duck Donuts as they continue to expand franchise locations, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the corporate team,” says Khadar. “I love traveling throughout the United States and connecting to new and loyal Duck Donuts fans! I’m also excited to make sure the franchise owners have every tool necessary to succeed in their locations.”

“I’m excited to continue my experience in the hospitality industry in my new role as the Southeast Regional Operations Specialist,” says Weaver. “Duck Donuts is a company built on family, and I am thrilled to join their team and grow our donut fanbase in the South.” As a graduate of Shippensburg University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Weaver comes to the company with a background in human resources and hospitality management.

Hamm began in her role in September, McAneney officially joined the team in June, and Weaver and Khadar started in August. Along with the company’s headquarters, the corporate training facility is located in Mechanicsburg,PA.

Duck Donuts was founded in 2006 by Russ DiGilio in Duck, North Carolina. His intention? To solve a family vacation problem: “Our family wanted a place to buy warm, delicious, made-to-order donuts!, and when we couldn’t find one, we decided to start our own.”

By 2011, Duck Donuts had expanded to four Outer Banks locations and the donut business was so successful that DiGilio was continuously approached about franchise opportunities and by fans who begged for a Duck Donuts in their communities. The first franchise opened in Williamsburg, VA, in 2013 and there are now 26 open franchise locations.

Duck Donuts store openings are scheduled for:

  • Fayetteville, NC – October 2016
  • Wilmington, NC – October 2016
  • Columbus, OH – October 2016
  • Stafford, VA – October 2016
  • Green Brook, NJ – November 2016
  • Gaithersburg, MD – November 2016
  • Hilton Head, SC – December 2016
  • Jacksonville, NC – December 2016
  • Orlando, FL – December 2016
  • Charleston, SC – December 2016
  • Knoxville, TN – December 2016
IHOP Awards Excellence

IHOP® franchisees and vendor partners were recognized and awarded top honors by the brand for their work to help deliver an unparalleled breakfast experience to guests through exceptional leadership, collaboration, operational excellence and a commitment to our communities and charitable causes. The awards ceremony was recently held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. as part of the breakfast chain’s annual IHOP International Franchise Conference.

Franchisee of the Year – Romulus Restaurant Group

Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. and led by 25-year veterans of the IHOP system Chris Milisci and Chris Sumners, Romulus Restaurant Group was named “Franchisee of the Year.” Romulus operates several restaurants throughout nine states, including, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Tennessee. The principals of Romulus and their team members earned this award by consistently supporting IHOP initiatives and showing a strong commitment to learning and development by operating numerous designated training restaurants. Sumners also serves as Chairman of the IHOP Franchise Leadership Council, an elected and at-large group that works closely with the brand to represent franchisee interests. 

International Franchisee of the Year – Rescorp Concepts S.A.P.I. de C.V.

Based in Mexico City, Mexico, Rescorp Concepts S.A.P.I. de C.V. and President Fernando Saucedo were honored with the “International Franchisee of the Year” award, which recognizes the franchise partner outside of the United States that has shown an extraordinary commitment to their business, community and brand. As an employer of more than 800 team members, Rescorp Concepts S.A.P.I. de C.V. exemplifies a year-round dedication to the brand’s culture, history and devotion to philanthropic causes.

Vendor Partner of the Year – Michael Foods

Minnetonka, Minn.-based Michael Foods was recognized as the IHOP “Vendor Partner of the Year.” Accepted by Michael Foods President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Dwyer and Director of Business Development and Key Accounts Bruce Waddell, this award honors the IHOP food, equipment or services supplier that has made the greatest contribution to the brand system over the past year. Through their diligence in maintaining supply and mitigating cost increases, Michael foods was able to ease the backlash of an unexpected avian influenza epidemic that severely impacted the country’s egg supply.

Heart of IHOP Award – Mashoor Awad

Smyrna, Del. franchisee Mashoor Awad was honored with the very much admired “Heart of IHOP” award, recognizing the IHOP franchisee who has displayed a heartfelt commitment to philanthropy and dedication to making a difference in their communities. Awad was applauded for regularly providing second-chance employment opportunities for those who have fallen on hard times. He also donates food, time and dollars toward several local-area charitable causes, year round, such as a local men’s shelter, an area Air Force base and a veteran’s trust to help former service members.

International Heart of IHOP Award – Parkerhouse Holdings
Based in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, Parkerhouse Holdings and its principal John Sikking received the “International Heart of IHOP” award, similarly recognizing a commitment to serving communities outside the U.S. and providing support in times of need. The group’s long-standing partnership with their local Children’s hospital, along with their capacity to donate a portion of sales to their local Red Cross chapter and cook breakfast for hundreds seeking shelter at a local evacuation center during a recent devastating wildfire, are just two of the reasons Parkerhouse Holdings was the beneficiary of this prestigious IHOP award.

“The passion our franchisees have for the brand, along with their commitment to operational excellence, is what has made IHOP the undisputed leader of freshly made-for-you breakfast served all day, every day for millions of guests,” said Darren Rebelez, president, IHOP. “We are proud of all they have achieved and applaud their efforts to drive the business and support their communities.”

As of June 30, 2016, there were 1,695 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, The Philippines, and Panama. IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) and its affiliates.

CPK Expands to Australia

California Pizza Kitchen (“CPK”) opened  its first restaurant in Australia, located at the landmark Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth. Operated by franchisee California Pizza Kitchen Australia, the 370-seat, 9,500 sq. foot restaurant – the world’s largest CPK – officially opened its doors to the public yesterday and offers Australians CPK’s elevated casual dining experience, innovative menu and best-in-class hospitality served in a fun and relaxed setting. The location is the first of an initial three restaurants planned for Perth and follows recent openings in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Dubai, Mexico and Los Angeles International Airport as CPK continues its impressive global growth this year.california_pizza_kitchen

“We look forward to welcoming our Perth guests in to experience the creative menu and outstanding hospitality that define California Pizza Kitchen and to earning a loyal following that sets the stage for CPK’s growth in Australia.”

“The grand opening of our first restaurant in Australia marks an exciting and important milestone for California Pizza Kitchen as we accelerate our growth around the world,” said G.J. Hart, executive chairman and CEO at California Pizza Kitchen. “With its vibrant culture and sophisticated dining scene, Perth is the perfect place to introduce the Australian market to the creative, elevated casual dining experience that we offer. We are proud to be working with California Pizza Kitchen Australia’s accomplished franchise team to help us establish our footprint in Australia’s western capital and to becoming an active part of the community in Perth.”

Peter Peard, Perth-based businessman and founder and CEO of Peard Real Estate, leads franchisee CPK Australia with partners Russell Hextall and Hannah Peard. CPK Australia intends to franchise two additional restaurants in the Perth area within the next three years, with an opportunity to expand nationally in five years.

Originating in Beverly Hills, Calif. in 1985, California Pizza Kitchen quickly built a worldwide following for its innovative, first-to-market California cuisine and signature hand-tossed pizzas, like the iconic Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and Thai Chicken Pizza, creative salads, pastas and unique main plates, prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

“California Pizza Kitchen fills a gap in the Australian market for a high-quality yet affordable casual dining experience and is a perfect fit for Aussies who connect with the brand’s ‘California vibe’ and embrace its focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared in an imaginative way,” said Mr. Peard. “We look forward to welcoming our Perth guests in to experience the creative menu and outstanding hospitality that define California Pizza Kitchen and to earning a loyal following that sets the stage for CPK’s growth in Australia.”

With the opening in Perth, CPK’s global franchise footprint has now reached 83 units in 16 countries around the world. Its largest international markets are Mexico (22 restaurants), South Korea (9 restaurants), Philippines (7 restaurants) and India (6 restaurants). In the US, CPK owns and operates approximately 200 restaurant locations and counting.

“In the past five years we have doubled our international footprint, expanding into new markets including Chile, China, Saudi Arabia and now Australia, and continuing our growth in South Korea, the Philippines, India, Hong Kong, UAE and Mexico,” said Rudy Sugueti, SVP of Global Development and Operations & Executive Director at California Pizza Kitchen. “In fact, we’ve achieved more than 60 percent of that growth in the past 24 months alone. But, we’re not stopping there. We currently have signed agreements to open 70 new restaurants globally in the next five years with a focus on South and Central America, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia, Asia and Africa as our prime growth markets.”

Located in the iconic landmark Hillary’s Boat Harbour with views of the Indian Ocean, CPK Perth offers guests a colorful and creative yet relaxed environment to dine and unwind. The largest CPK location in the world, the 9,500 sq. ft. restaurant features an open-hearth pizza oven and open kitchen where guests can watch their meals prepared fresh from scratch. Natural elements like warm, reclaimed woods, a fresh herb garden, colorful décor and artwork of local landmarks add to the restaurant’s modern design and neighborhood feel. An inviting patio is available for al fresco dining.

Today, CPK is approaching 300 restaurants in 16 countries around the world.

Fazoli’s Expands Catering Initiative

Fazoli’s launched enhanced catering program featuring new menu items, which is available for pick-up or delivery* at all of its corporate-owned restaurants nationwide. As part of the initiative, the brand is now offering a toll-free catering hotline number and catering sales captains at each company-owned restaurant to ensure a seamless ordering and delivery process for customers. Fazoli’s plans to introduce its new catering menu across all franchise locations at the start of the second quarter of 2017.

Fazoli's (PRNewsFoto/Fazoli's)

Through Fazoli’s customizable catering menu, customers can choose from a variety of easy-to-order options, including bundled meals, Submarinos® box lunches and cold sandwich boxes that come served with a large side, fresh made, specialty and oven-baked pastas, inSALADas, as well as sweet treats and beverages, that best suits their party needs. Some of the new menu items available on Fazoli’s catering menu include Baked Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken, an Antipasto Platter and Tortellini Pasta salad, as well as a Seasonal Cheesecake, Brownie Platter, and mini desserts called Sweet Bites. For larger crowds, Fazoli’s provides complete meal deals for up to six people and party pans for up to 18 people. All catering orders will be delivered in Fazoli’s new line of catering packaging products.

“We know our guests crave Fazoli’s and as the holiday season approaches, we wanted to provide them with even more menu items and greater convenience to help take the stress out of planning,” said Donna Josephson, chief marketing officer of Fazoli’s. “No matter the occasion or party size, Fazoli’s enhanced catering menu provides customers with an easy and delicious approach to entertaining at a great value, and most importantly, it can be tailored to meet any budget or event.”

To further assist customers with planning their event, Fazoli’s is now offering a, toll-free catering hotline and taking online orders. In addition, major Fazoli’s markets now have a regional catering sales manager on staff.

Fazoli’s has nearly 220 restaurants in 24 states. In 2011, Fazoli’s underwent a major brand overhaul with the introduction of real plateware and silverware in lieu of foam plates and plastic cutlery. As part of the brand refresh, earlier this year, Fazoli’s began remodeling some of its locations with a new, contemporary look and feel. In addition, the company introduced an upgraded menu using premium ingredients.

Ziosk Partners with T-Bird Restaurant Group

Ziosk, maker of the world’s first ordering, entertainment and pay-at-the table tablet, and T-Bird Restaurant Group, Inc., the exclusive franchisee of Outback Steakhouse locations in the state of California, have partnered to bring tabletop tablets to 62 locations in 2016. Under the partnership, Ziosk will improve overall efficiency and security by giving diners the power to pay at the table and allowing servers to spend more time focused on guests. Beginning next year, guests will also have the option to use Google Android Pay and other mobile wallet solutions at the table, and restaurants will further strengthen payment security by offering Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV). These mobile and security solutions are fully upgradable and compatible with existing Ziosk tablets, enabling T-Bird restaurants a fast and simple integration process.

The Ziosk 7-inch tablet will be displayed on each table in Outback Steakhouse restaurants, enabling guests to interactively explore menu items and specials as well as order appetizers, beverages and desserts without having to wait for their server. Additionally, guests can participate in a variety of entertainment activities including trivia and games, all designed to enhance a communal experience at the table. Restaurant servers can now spend more time with guests and take on more tables, while enhancing the overall dining experience.

“Outback has a strong track record of consistently providing high-quality delicious food and great service within a warm, welcoming environment,” said Steve Weigel, CEO of T-Bird Restaurant Group Inc. “This partnership with Ziosk will complement our focus on best-in-class hospitality and innovation by providing our restaurants with a platform that increases guest satisfaction while improving speed of service and overall operational efficiency. Ziosk’s technology expertise, combined with its experience working with some of the top restaurant operators in the industry, made the company our clear choice. We look forward to achieving great results together.”

“We are thrilled to be teaming up with T-Bird to offer guests a more controlled, secure and customized dining experience,” said Austen Mulinder, CEO of Ziosk. “We look forward to discovering new and innovative ways to revolutionize the dining industry while reducing friction at both the point of order and payment of the check.”

Commanding 95 percent market share in the deployed tabletop tablet space, Ziosk tablets are currently in more than 3,000 restaurants across all 50 states. Ziosk has over 170,000 tablets interacting with more than 50 million guests per month, demonstrating Ziosk’s continued momentum in the restaurant industry.

Rise Biscuits Employs Ctuit Solution

Opening in Durham in 2012, Rise Biscuits and Donuts had a simple plan to create delicious food at an affordable price.

“We started as a chef-run local store with no intention of franchising” says Sylvia Steere, Director of Technology at Rise Biscuits and Donuts. “In the beginning, we changed our menu every couple of days, and didn’t even take inventory.”

Once Rise was approached about franchising, the brand quickly began to grow, as Steere pointed out: “With so many new stores opening in such a short time frame, we really needed to find a way to use technology to ensure quality and consistency in all of our locations.”

Rise implemented Ctuit RADAR into both their corporate and franchise locations in order to get a better view into each store’s data trends.

“It is helpful to be able to view and compare all of the stores’ data and data history weekly, monthly, quarterly at any given time from any location. Before RADAR, we didn’t have a way to compare metrics. We drove from store to store to keep in touch. With our growth taking us to so many new states that is just no longer possible,” states Steere.

Beyond accounting process improvements, Rise has also been able to ensure product consistency across the board with the Ctuit Recipe module by comparing how much they are purchasing versus selling down to the ounce for each product they use.

They plan to implement the Prep Module and the Nutritional Data Module in the near future.

“Family life is extremely important at Rise,” says Steere. “We have several fine dining trained chefs who left that lifestyle due to the long, harsh hours. Here, we are open from 7AM – 2PM so that all our employees are able to go home and spend time with their families, and we do not want office work to change that. RADAR has really streamlined the amount of administrative work so that they are not putting in extra hours after each shift.”

Another perk is the ease of use and easy training for new franchisees and managers, according to Steere: “The software is very straightforward. We worked with another vendor who sent continuous updates that would leave us feeling as if we had to re-learn the system after each new release. With Ctuit, the updates were painless with little to no changes for the end user. Ctuit does a fantastic job of making everything work the same in every module so you really only have to learn the first one and all of the rest come easy.”

Dominos Franchises Go On Hiring Spree

Domino’s franchise owners are looking to hire 1,000 new employees across 111 stores in the Boston area and in the southern parts of New Hampshire. All of the open positions are for delivery drivers, customer service representatives, assistant managers and general managers.

“We are dedicated to this area and are excited about the opportunity to offer additional jobs within the community, and to grow in the Boston area,” said Dominic Benvenuti, Boston Domino’s franchise owner. “The growth of the community and success of Domino’s allows us to build on our franchise, so we can continue to do what we do best – make great pizzas and deliver them with exceptional service.”

The continued success of Domino’s across the nation, and specifically the growth and success of the 24 different franchises across the market, increases the need for additional support from enthusiastic employees.

“Domino’s has been a great place to work with over the years,” said Benvenuti. “Our company provides a fantastic opportunity to those who show initiative and a desire to advance. Whether you’re looking to grow with the company or need a part-time job, Domino’s is the place to be.”

Benvenuti started as a manager-in-training in 1989, and worked his way through the system to eventually become a franchise owner in 2001. Benvenuti and his partner now own 18 stores.

Twin Peaks Sells to its Largest Franchise Group

Twin Peaks announced that it has agreed to sell a majority interest in the company to its largest franchise group, Atlanta-based La Cima Restaurants, which currently owns and operates 15 Twin Peaks sports lodges across six southern states.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Following a brief transition, Twin Peaks CEO Starlette Johnson will pass the reins to Joe Hummel, currently La Cima’s Chief Operating Officer, who will step in as Twin Peaks CEO. Hummel will report to the Twin Peaks board of directors, chaired by founder Randy DeWitt. La Cima Managing Partner Coby Brooks will join the Twin Peaks board. Johnson will return to her seat on the Front Burner Restaurant Group board, working closely with DeWitt on emerging concepts.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past several months and am confident that the future of Twin Peaks is bright,” said Johnson. “Joe understands what has made Twin Peaks so successful and is the right guy to lead the next chapter of our growth.”

“The process of re-energizing Twin Peaks is something we’ve all been working on and I’m excited for the chance to accelerate this process,” said Hummel.  “The heart of the Twin Peaks experience has always been fun and hospitality, and I’m looking forward to working with the board and the team to bring new excitement into our restaurants.”

“I’m grateful for the leadership Starlette delivered and the contributions she has made after agreeing to step into the CEO role during a challenging period in our company’s history,” said DeWitt.  “We all believe in Twin Peaks and this unique partnership with La Cima, and Joe’s leadership will ensure we solidify our position as the leader in our segment.”

La Cima’s Brooks added, “Five years ago I was thankful for Randy giving me and my team at La Cima the opportunity to become what is now Twin Peaks’ largest franchisee. Today I am honored that Randy and La Cima are forging another partnership through this acquisition, and our goals for the brand are very much aligned. Joe and I have worked together for nearly 25 years, and we look forward to working with Randy and the team to continue building this great brand that all of us are passionate about.”

Popeye’s Eyes Canada

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.,  the franchisor and operator of Popeyes® restaurants, will expand into Western Canada with Franchisees opening locations across Edmonton and Calgary by the end of 2017. Starting this November, the first Edmonton location will open in the Tamarack area, followed by the first Calgary location in Forest Lawn. Subsequent locations will be opening throughout the fall and into the spring of 2017. The chain reached a milestone last year with its 100th Franchised restaurant opening in Canada and it continues to grow as a leader in the quick-service restaurant market.

“For over 40 years, Popeyes has been serving authentic southern food-fare that our consumers crave,” says Popeyes President, International, Andrew Skehan. “The growth of our brand amongst our Canadian neighbours is especially exciting as it indicates a blossoming appreciation for our Louisiana culinary heritage.”

Wendy’s Wins Environmental Awards

The Wendy’s Company  received two environmental awards for its efforts to dramatically reduce energy usage at its restaurants. The awards recognize Wendy’s for:

  • Highest Percentage Energy Savings in a Retrofit of a Parking Lot
  • Largest Absolute Number of Facility Upgrades

These awards are presented by the 2016 Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) campaign, which is supported by the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), International Facility Management Organization (IFMA), International Parking Institute (IPI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in conjunction with the Department of Energy Better Buildings Alliance. These organizations collaborate annually to recognize real estate owners who have achieved exceptional performance in parking facility energy reduction through high-efficiency lighting and controls. 

“At Wendy’s, we’re setting bold goals that are brought to life in the way we plan, design, engineer, construct and operate our restaurants. These awards recognize this long-term commitment to energy conservation and sustainability,” said Abigail Pringle, Chief Development Officer for The Wendy’s Company. “Not only are we focused on bettering our own corporate-level energy efficiency, we’re doing so in a way that will affect thousands more in our franchisee-operated restaurants.”

More than six years ago, the company built two LEED certified restaurants to gain learnings and explore the possibility of incorporating energy conservation efforts in new and existing restaurants. Additionally, Wendy’s has accelerated progress in reducing energy use by implementing more than 1,100 individual energy upgrade projects at more than 550 restaurants. These actions have saved millions of kilowatt hours which, for comparison, translates into the amount of electricity to power nearly 1,200 average U.S. homes for a year.

The LEEP campaign is an annual award and guidance program that encourages the use of high-efficiency lighting technology in parking facilities in order to save money and energy resources. The 2016 LEEP awards winners were acknowledged at the 2016 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Los Angeles.

“The Wendy’s Company’s project represents one of the best-in-class retrofit parking lot facility lighting projects in the United States,” said Paul Wessel, director, USGBC. “By implementing high-performance energy-efficient lighting systems, companies like Wendy’s are not only cutting energy use and maintenance costs, but helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global electricity consumption.”

Since its launch in 2012, the LEEP campaign has added more than 550 million square feet of parking structure or lot space, which correlates to annual energy savings of 137 kilowatts or $14 million, enough to power 12,000 homes in the United States annually. There are more than 125 owner, managers and operators across North America participating in high-efficiency parking lighting solutions for new construction projects and retrofits through the LEEP campaign.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Likes the Golden State

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit CEO Roland Dickey Jr.  announced a new three-store development agreement with Owner/Operator Alex Roth. Already the owner of the Redondo Beach Dickey’s location, Roth’s agreement originally contained one store. This new agreement adds three more stores to the deal. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit now has more than 100 stores in California and is rapidly expanding in The Golden State.

Roland Dickey Jr. saw the potential in extending the partnership with Roth, a United States Marine Corps reservist who began his career in foodservice at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.  Roland Dickey Jr. and Roth have extended their Dickey’s barbecue Pit Franchise agreement to encompass the southern part of Los Angeles County, starting in Hawthorn and extending south. He will also open a new location as far south as Lomita.

The new stores will all be opened using Dickey’s new store model, complete with sustainable elements such as reclaimed wood throughout the dining room and Dickey’s proprietary blend of wood pellets to be used in the smoker.

Alex Roth explained, “The community in Redondo Beach has wholeheartedly embraced us, and so many people who came during our grand opening have become loyal guests who stop in several times per week. We are delighted to serve our community delicious barbecue and look forward to expanding into Los Angeles County.”

Drone Delivery

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt completed its first drone delivery test at Hope College in Holland, MI.—marking the first time worldwide that froyo has ever been delivered by drone.

The pilot delivery program, titled Project Flying Orange Unicorn, is an experiment with commercial airborne froyo deliveries, working within the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority guidelines. Based on the positive feedback and excitement of Hope College students, Orange Leaf Holland will begin offering drone froyo delivery, by appointment only. The drones will be guided by human pilots and will make deliveries coordinated by Holland’s Orange Leaf store, located six blocks from campus.

Orange Leaf President, Geoff Goodman, and franchise store owner, Jeremy Latchaw, celebrate the landing of the brand's delivery of frozen yogurt by drone. (PRNewsFoto/Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt)
Orange Leaf President, Geoff Goodman, and franchise store owner, Jeremy Latchaw, celebrate the landing of the brand’s delivery of frozen yogurt by drone.

Project Flying Orange Unicorn was led by Jeremy Latchaw, franchise owner of the Holland and Grandville Orange Leaf locations and president of Mishigami Group, a drone dealership that is currently working with some of Michigan’s largest fire and police departments to develop their unmanned aerial vehicle programs. Latchaw serves as a major in the U.S. Army and was deployed twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Mishigami Group, including the drone’s expert pilot Matt Rybar, will continue to assist Orange Leaf in further assessing the pilot program, including the potential for expansion into new markets at a later date.

Video recorded of the drone delivery highlights the modified to-go delivery box and frozen packing materials that Orange Leaf Holland developed specifically for this test. Orange Leaf launched its original Pop-Up Party Box to-go packaging in November 2015.

Taking it Personnely

Vanessa C. Fox has been promoted to Corporate Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Jack in the Box Inc.  Since 2014, Fox has been responsible for all company and franchised restaurant development for the Jack in the Box® brand, including Construction, Real Estate and Architecture. Earlier this year, she also began overseeing development for Qdoba Mexican Eats®. She also oversees Franchise Business Development and Asset Management for both brands, as well as Non-traditional Restaurant Development.

“Given our plans to accelerate growth for both brands, we could not have a more qualified person than Vanessa overseeing restaurant and franchise development.”

“Vanessa has done an amazing job overseeing restaurant development for Jack in the Box and, more recently, Qdoba,” said Lenny Comma, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer for Jack in the Box Inc. “Given our plans to accelerate growth for both brands, we could not have a more qualified person than Vanessa overseeing restaurant and franchise development.”

Fox has 25 years of real estate and development experience, including nearly 20 years with Jack in the Box Inc. She joined the company in 1997 as a Development Coordinator in Portland, Oregon, and subsequently served in several capacities, including Lease Administrator and Senior Manager of Real Estate Assets. In 2010, Fox was promoted to Director of Franchise Sales, and a year later became Division Vice President of Franchise Business Development. Fox was promoted to Vice President of that department in 2013.

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., expanded its leadership team with two industry veterans. Jeff Melnick joins the company as brand leader for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Aaron Ruben is named vice president of real estate and development for the brand. Additionally, Tom Dargen, who has been with CraftWorks for nearly two decades, was promoted to vice president of brewing operations and is responsible for supervising and overseeing all of the company’s brewing operations for Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom and CraftWorks Specialty Brand Restaurants & Breweries.

“CraftWorks’ purpose is to craft and serve our people and communities and what better way than to witness Tom Dargen’s career progression from brewer to head brewer to now vice president of brewing operations. I’m equally excited to welcome to the CraftWorks team Jeff Melnick, a proven industry leader, who will serve as brand leader of Gordon Biersch, directing and driving the brand’s future growth,” said Srinivas Kumar, CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. “And with CraftWorks’ emphasis on the growth of its brands, we’ve made a conscious decision to invest in our real estate/development team and I’m thrilled to have Aaron Ruben lead this effort as our vice president of real estate and development.”

In his new role as brand leader of Gordon Biersch, Jeff Melnick will lead all strategic and tactical matters for the brand, including guest service, food quality control, employee experience, operational soundness, innovation and financial performance. A foodservice industry veteran, Melnick brings more than 25 years’ experience to the company, having previously served as the senior vice president of operations for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and the regional director of operations for Chili’s. He earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Phoenix.

“CraftWorks is a portfolio of iconic brands that have pioneered the craft beer movement and had a huge impact on the industry as a whole. I’m thrilled to be joining a company that has continually set itself apart from the rest,” said Melnick. “With its signature beers and phenomenal food, Gordon Biersch is truly a one-of-a-kind concept, and I look forward to accelerating the brand’s momentum and leveraging my experience in the food service industry to help grow its presence nationwide.”

Tom Dargen joined CraftWorks in 2000 brewing in Gordon Biersch locations, then rose through the ranks over the years to serve as the company’s senior director of brewing operations, and was recently promoted to vice president of brewing operations. In his new role, Dargen is responsible for all aspects of brewing for Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom as well as several specialty concepts. He oversees purchasing, production, quality assurance, maintenance, brewery accounting, people development and partners with marketing. He has more than 25 years of experience in the craft beer industry, and previously served as the director of brewing operations for Wynkoop Brewing Company prior to joining CraftWorks. Dargen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and currently serves on the Board of the Brewers’ Association and is a judge at the Great American Beer Festival.

Aaron Ruben has joined CraftWorks as vice president of real estate and development, a role in which he will be responsible for overseeing the company’s 140 corporate restaurants and two corporate offices across the country. Additionally, he will help implement and execute the brand’s development plans and assist in driving national growth, as well as provide strategic and tactical leadership for CraftWorks’ real estate initiatives. Ruben has extensive experience in the commercial real estate industry, and has previously led development for several national and regional brands, including Ruby Tuesday, Coast Dental Services and Redstone Investments. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.

CraftWorks, with nearly 200 company-owned and franchised locations nationwide, operates the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and ChopHouse & Brewery, as well as other regional restaurant brands including Big River Grille, Bluewater Grille, A1A Ale Works, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.