MRM Franchise Feed: Exploring Restaurant Industry Careers, New Branding and Free Pizza on Election Day

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

My Future, My Way

Chairman and CEO of Nashville-based Shoney’s Corporation, David Davoudpour joined Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Director Dr. Shawn Joseph and Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ralph Schultz in hosting the 2016 ‘My Future, My Way’ Career Exploration Fair on Oct. 27 at the Music City Center. Over 7,400 Nashville-area high school freshman attended the fair to learn about career opportunities from more than 200 area business representatives.students-with-shoney-bear

The fair was launched in 2009 through a joint partnership by MNPS and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce as part of the Academies of Nashville initiative in Metro’s 12 zoned high schools. Initial funding of $125,000 from Davoudpour allowed the event to be held at Music City Center to accommodate growing interest.

“Shoney’s cares deeply and takes pride in our hometown of Nashville, which is why we are proud to be a part of this wonderful event for the sixth consecutive year,” said avoudpour. “We know that the future wellbeing of this country depends on our youth, and that’s why Shoney’s is dedicated to investing in students to inspire and motivate them to reach their full potential.”

Along with sponsoring the event, Shoney’s exhibited its career options to freshman attendees. At the booth, students engaged in mock interviews with Shoney’s executives and team to learn more about the variety of career options at the brand and what it would take for students to pursue those careers.


To learn more about ‘My Future, My Way,” or the Academies of Nashville, click here. More information about Shoney’s opportunities can be found at

The Nashville-based company operates in 16 southern states and is now growing through franchising following an extensive revitalization effort.

Wingstop To Open 30 Locations in Colombia and Panama

Wingstop, Inc, which has more than 900 locations worldwide, has entered into an international expansion agreement with Colowing S.A. de C.V. to open 30 locally operated franchise locations in Colombia and Panama over the next five years, starting in 2017. may2015exterior11

Antonio Ortiz Dominguez, majority partner of Wingstop’s Mexico franchise and the Company’s first international operator, will serve as majority partner of this newly created entity; Ricardo Ibarra, former general manager of Alsea Colombia, will serve as managing partner.

Ortiz is a long time multi-unit operator for quick-serve and fast casual restaurant brands in Mexico, having launched Wingstop’s first international location there in 2009, as well as operating Dominos and Burger-Fi franchises. Under his leadership, Mexico remains Wingstop’s largest international franchise to date with 39 total restaurants including 15 newly opened locations in the past 18 months alone.

Ibarra has more than 25 years of restaurant operating and logistics experience, the majority of this time spent with Alsea, the major multi-unit operator of American brands across Latin America. He has served as general manager of Alsea’s Colombia business where he oversaw the launches and expansion of the company’s Dominos and Burger King brands, and most recently served as managing director of the company’s Chili’s operations in Mexico.

The pair will work with local restaurant operators in each respective market to accelerate opening and expansion, with the first locations planned for Bogota and Cali, Colombia. 

“We look forward to partnering with Colowing in the development of these 30 new Wingstop locations and our first entry into South and Central America,” said Larry Kruguer, President of International at Wingstop. “The five year plan for those two markets will focus on rapid development and scalability, and will lay the foundation for additional locations, while kick starting our growth throughout the Latin American region and further fulfilling Wingstop’s mission to ‘Serve the World Flavor.'”

Wingstop is a U.S. based restaurant brand with a sole focus on freshly prepared, cooked-to-order, hand-sauced and tossed chicken wings and side dishes. Colombia and Panama mark Wingstop’s seventh and eighth international markets outside of the United States.

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Wingstop Inc. operates and franchises 914 restaurants across the United States, Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Tasty Voting Lesson

On Election Day, sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt shops around the country will line their counters with ballot boxes; giving kids the chance to vote just like their parents.  Everyone who walks in the door can sample a variety of frozen yogurt flavors before voting on their favorite flavor and topping.   And all kids who cast ballots will leave wearing their very own “I Voted” sticker.dsc_0742

“There’s been so much bitterness in this election that our local owners want to sweeten the process,” says sweetFrog’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Smith.  “We’re excited to show young customers that it’s fun to vote.  We hope to teach children at a young age that voting is their civic responsibility and everyone has a voice in our country’s future.”

New Brand Image as Toujours Mikes

To mark the 50th anniversary of Mikes restaurants, the Quebec based chain takes this opportunity to introduce its new brand image and logo as Toujours Mikes.Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc--A new logo and a new name for the

Since the opening of its first restaurant in 1967 in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood of Montreal, the brand has gone through multiple evolutions. “Toujours Mikes is intended to be the synthesis of the past 50 years.  This past September, we introduced a new menu offering mainly pizza, pasta and hot subs, three flagship items that have built the reputation of the chain”, said Marie-Line Beauchamp, Brand leader for Imvescor Restaurant Group inc. (, head office of the brand.  “During various focus groups, what stood out the most was the consistency of the brand over time regarding the quality of the food and its positioning in the family restaurant category.  Toujours Mikes is a tribute to our loyal guests for who Mikes is always the first choice,” added Marc-André Lamy, director of marketing for Toujours Mikes.

Since the beginning of 2016, the franchisor of the restaurant chain as well as its franchise owners have launched a vast rejuvenation plan to renovate more than 80% of the chain’s 70 restaurants by the end of 2018. “When I see the renovations that are being done at Mikes and I see the work that is being done by the franchisees and the brand team, I have a lot of confidence that we are on the right track to attract the new generation of guests without losing our core audience, the people who have made Mikes the success it is today,” said Frank Hennessey, President and CEO of Imvescor Restaurant Group.

Five restaurants have already been renovated to the new Toujours Mikes image and one more is currently under renovation. The Lajeunesse street location in Montreal, the Racine street location in Saguenay, the boulevard des Seigneurs location in Terrebonne, the Des Forges boulevard location in Trois-Rivières, as well as the Place Laurier location in Québec now bear the new colors and the new decor of Toujours Mikes. The Roberval street location in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville is currently under renovation and is expected to open shortly. 

Quaker Steak Looks to Grow

Quaker Steak & Lube® supercharged its franchise development efforts and is seeking entrepreneurs interested in opening multiple restaurants in states such as ColoradoFloridaIndianaKentuckyMichiganOhioPennsylvaniaSouth CarolinaTennessee and Wisconsin. Plans for the popular restaurant chain include aggressive growth nationwide.QUAKER STEAK & LUBE LOGO

Earlier this year the TA Restaurant Group acquired Quaker Steak & Lube®. The more than 750 locations in the TA Restaurant Group’s operation include ten proprietary and nearly 30 franchised restaurant brands nationwide. 

“Quaker Steak & Lube® is a beloved American brand that has had a cult-like following from consumers for more than 40 years. We’re thrilled to announce our efforts to find additional qualified franchisees to join us and our existing franchise network. We look forward to introducing the opportunity to multi-unit operators nationwide that are on the hunt for a fun, energetic brand to add to their portfolio,” said John Ponczoch, a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, a Senior Vice President of TA and head of the TA Restaurant Group. “By utilizing the TA Restaurant Group’s vast experience and its perspective as both a franchisor and multi-unit franchisee, Quaker Steak & Lube® now has expanded operations and infrastructure that will ignite our ability to grow and offer an invaluable support system to both new and existing franchisees.”

 The franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of $3.1 million.

Telepizza Opens in Saudi Arabia

Telepizza has opened the its first three stores in Saudi Arabia, located in the country’s capital, Riyadh.

The stores are the first of the hundred the company expects to open up in the country over the next ten years and are three of the five that will serve the public in Riyadh in the coming months. Subsequently, the brand will be present in the west (Jeddah) and the eastern areas of the country.Telepizza logo

Telepizza’s expansion into Saudi Arabia is the result of the master franchise agreement with its strategic partner in the region, Emtyaz Catering Company, the subsidiary company of the Al Bayan Holding Group and one of the country’s principal business groups. It holds interests in a number of companies in sectors like food and drinks as well as the property development and construction market. The openings form part of the company’s growth strategy in the country, where it anticipates opening up a hundred stores over the next ten years

Telepizza aims to become market leader for pizza delivery business in Saudi Arabia, whose market value in 2016 is estimated by Euromonitor to be 1.3 billion euros and has growth prospects of 6% over the next five years.

Telepizza’s international strategy is focused on growth in markets where it is currently operating, exploring new business opportunities, and entering new markets, either organically, through acquisitions of local companies or via master franchises.

Currently, the company is present in 15 countries and its sales outside Spainexceed 30 percent of the total. As of September 2016, the company has a network of 1,325 stores (454 own stores and 871 franchised and master franchised stores) and employs a vertically-integrated business model through seven dough production facilities. 

Domestic Expansion for Church’s Chicken

Made possible by an experienced franchise group and an innovative financing partner, Church’s Chicken® is about to undergo a large-scale domestic expansion. The new franchisee, Volunteer Chicken LLC, recently secured the rights to open 10 new restaurants with financial backing provided by American Development Partners (ADP). New markets slated for development include multiple restaurants throughout Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, TN, with another 10-restaurant deal expected to follow in 2021.churchs_model_1

Church’s Chicken® is a power brand,” said Larry Lavigne, one of the principal partners of Volunteer Chicken LLC. “We’re looking very forward to matching our experience with Church’s® market leadership.”

Lavigne is currently a franchise owner of Jett’s Pizza with 25 total restaurants, 18 of which are located in Tennessee. He is also involved with Tropical Smoothie Café restaurants in Tennessee. His partner, Nirav Patel, owns and operates several high-volume establishments in New Jersey and New York and has previously owned restaurants with The Melting Pot, Tilted Kilt, and World of Beer. Together with their financing partner, ADP, the new franchisees will open the first of their new Church’s® restaurants in fall of 2017 – with the rest to follow over the next 5 years. At that time, in 2021, the group plans to pursue development of 10 additional Church’s® restaurants over the following five years.

“This is a substantial deal for American Development Partners, and for our business partners, Volunteer Chicken,” said Caleb McMillen, Chief Operating Officer for ADP. “We’ve estimated the real estate, construction, and design value will be worth more than $40 million after the initial roll out of units is complete.”

The ADP group is a full-service development and private equity firm with a unique 100% turnkey model for funding that is ideal for multi-unit operators.

“From its earliest days, Church’s® has always been about smart business and building a superior brand. Restaurant developers like Volunteer Chicken and ADP are perfect examples of how our industry position provides leverage and opportunity to established franchise groups and newcomers alike,” said Bill Schreiber, Vice President of Global Business Development at Church’s Chicken®/Texas Chicken®. “We’re looking forward to the impact Volunteer Chicken is going to make in the Tennessee communities they’ll serve.”

YO! Sushi Partners with NCR

Seeking to upgrade its existing system to achieve greater efficiency, business intelligence and operational control across the business, YO! Sushi completed the roll out of a new restaurant technology solution with NCR Corporation.

“The insight tools that NCR are able to offer are a real game changer. It has never been possible to have such an array of data at your fingertips – and the fact that it’s in real time means that you can know exactly what is going on,” said YO! Sushi chief executive, Robin Rowland.

“The UK’s hospitality industry is seeing a seismic shift in consumer attitudes and this is having a significant impact on businesses, changing our servicing requirements. The likes of Deliveroo and UberEATS mean everyone expects you to be online and offering a seamless operation – working with NCR is a vital part in being able to be at the forefront of this transformation,” adds Rowland.

“Fast growing restaurant brands, such as YO! Sushi, are focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience, increasing profitability and growing their businesses,” added Richard Goodall at NCR Hospitality. “Our technology platform can help restaurants improve speed of service, employee productivity and customer spend, resulting in higher profits, increased loyalty and satisfied, happy guests.”

YO! Sushi opened its first Japanese “kaiten”, or conveyor belt-style, fast-casual sushi restaurant in London in 1997. Since then, YO! Sushi has grown from a London-only sushi brand to 91 locations worldwide, including locations in the United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

National Bread Challenge Begins

Great Harvest Bread Co., which makes bread fresh-milled from whole grains every day at its more than 200 bakery franchises around the country, announced the National Bread Challenge. Timed to take place during November’s National Bread Month, consumers can bring in any processed store-bought bread they have at home and receive a free, hand-made loaf of any Great Harvest Bread.cmyk_fullcolorovallogo_002_highres

  • The challenge will take place during store hours at participating Great Harvest Bread nationwide locations on November 10, 11 and 12, 2016. All unopened or opened store-bought bread loaves will be exchanged on those dates only for a loaf of fresh, hand-made Great Harvest Bread.
  • As usual, any bread not sold by Great Harvest within 24 hours will be donated to local food banks and charities, along with every unopened loaf of trade-in bread.
  • Consumers are encouraged to share their National Bread Challenge experiences on social media using #BreadSwap.

Since 1976, Great Harvest Bread bakeries make bread from scratch with whole grains shipped directly as wheat berry from select farms in Montana’s Golden Triangle. Every day flour is milled fresh from the wheat berry at each local Great Harvest bakery. Generally a five-hour process, the baking begins every day as early as 2:30 a.m. Every loaf is kneaded by hand, baked and served fresh to all guests who enter at all three dayparts – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

According to Great Harvest Bread Company CEO Mike Ferretti, while fresh milling wheat has become a recent trend in the bread industry, this has been an essential, non-negotiable Great Harvest Bread practice since its inception in 1976. The National Bread Challenge is a way for new customers to experience what the company stands for: Bread. The Way it Ought To Be™.

“The milling is what sets the bread apart from the processed food that Americans have grown accustomed to,” Ferretti said. “At Great Harvest, we not only mill flour from the wheat berry every day, but we use pure, simple ingredients. Our signature bread – Honey Whole Wheat – is made from just five high-quality ingredients: fresh-ground whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and honey – no nitrates or preservatives. So our fresh, hand-made bread not only tastes better, it’s also healthier for you.”

Company President Eric Keshin says the idea behind the National Bread Challenge is to allow consumers’ taste buds to decide if they should abandon the same processed bread they’ve settled on for decades.

“To kick off National Bread Month, we’re putting our money where your mouth is,” Keshin said. “People are ‘settling’ for supermarket bread. Once they taste our bread, they won’t go back. That’s the point of the National Bread Challenge.”

Vote for Free Pizza

Pizza Party Candidate Marco’s Pizza, who will reward those casting their vote for Marco’s on Election Day with a voucher for a Free Medium One-Topping Pizza. Offer is good at all participating Marco’s Pizza locations across the country. 

The polling location to vote is  Marcos Pizza Election Day Offer

Marco’s Pizza is reaching out to voters through yard signs posted side-by-side with Democratic and Republican candidates in cities and small towns across the country.  It’s also giving social media fans the chance to become “Vice President,” winning a Four-Year Term of Free Pizza.  Go to  or #VOTEMARCOS to enter the race.

“With the long campaign season finally coming to an end, we wanted to reward voters with a free pizza,” said Cathy Hull, chief marketing officer at Marco’s Pizza.  “Marco’s is the Ah!thentic choice this election year.  We make our dough fresh in stores every day, use a special blend of three fresh cheeses and our sauce has not changed since our founder created it in 1978.”  

Marco’s was founded by native Italian, Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco in 1978.  The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate more than 750 stores in 32 states and three countries.

Talking Turkey

In an online poll not intended to ruffle any feathers, Hot Dog on a Stick is asking America, “What Turkey Are You Voting For?” Hot Dog on a Stick’s Talking Turkey Presidential Poll gives respondents a coupon for one free Original Turkey Dog with purchase* while having a little fun this election season. The iconic Southern California brand known for its famous stick items and fresh hand-stomped lemonade, is expecting people to gobble up the results in real time. The poll is being hosted on Hot Dog on a Stick’s Facebook page now through Election Day (Tuesday, November 8). For information, click here

“Let the record show that Hot Dog on a Stick believes this election cycle has really hit America in the gizzard and everyone is in need of a patriotic treat. After all, what’s more American than a Hot Dog on a Stick?” said Lisa Merrell, Vice President of Hot Dog on a Stick. “Will the results be neck in neck? Does one candidate need an extra-large wishbone? Tell us who has your vote and we’ll give you a coupon that’s sure to have you trotting to Hot Dog on a Stick!” 

Operated by Global Franchise Group, LLC, Hot Dog on a Stick has close to 100 locations in the U.S., as well as internationally including Korea. 

Taking it Personnely

A subsidiary of RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. named Shannon Glaser as Vice President of Franchise and Concept Development of the fast-growing Bombshells Restaurant & Bar chain.

With more than 15 years of experience in all aspects of retail franchising, Ms. Glaser most recently was Senior Director of Franchise and Development of the 78-unit Twin Peaks sports bar restaurant chain. During her six and a half years at Twin Peaks,  Glaser sold more than 120 franchise commitments, generating millions of dollars in upfront fees. To date, 50 of these units have opened.

Shannon Glaser
Shannon Glaser

“We are delighted to have Shannon join us,” said Eric Langan, RCI President and CEO. “With her proven track record, we are confident she will reach our goal of 80 to 100 Bombshells franchise units over the next five to ten years.”

“Shannon is the next step in Bombshells’ growth,” said David Simmons, Director of Restaurant Operations. “She is highly respected amongst her peers in the industry as an innovative leader with high integrity.”

“After building two franchises from the ground up, I look forward to expanding Bombshells into a national brand,” Glaser said. “The themed casual dining segment with sports bar draw has a strong appeal to a broad spectrum of guests. Bombshells will be an exciting opportunity for key multi-unit operators looking for a concept with an exceptional average unit volume of $4 millionplus.”

Bombshells is the first military-themed chain in the sports bar/casual dining segment. RCI has seven company-owned units open or under development. Franchises can be sold in all 50 states. Glaser started her career in 2000 with Images 4 Kids, expanding the family-owned children’s daycare photography concept to 100 franchisees. She joined Twin Peaks In 2010, establishing its franchise department, and was accountable for the entire development cycle, including strategy, sales, awareness, and relationship management.