MRM Franchise Feed: Loco Over Murals and Pizza Royalty

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

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Celebrating Art

Los Angeles is the Mural Capital of the World. But in the case of its Latino murals, various factors stand to threaten the legacy and cultural connections for younger generations.

El Pollo Loco is celebrating these important works of art during Hispanic Heritage Month in an augmented reality (AR) campaign to honor the brand’s Latino heritage and Los Angeles roots, top photo. In collaboration with renowned Latino, LA-based artists Hector “Hex” Rios and Juan Hector Ponce, as well as Warren Brand, a longtime board member of the Mural Conversancy of Los Angeles, the restaurant is bringing a series of these artists’ defunct murals back to life throughout Los Angeles via the Snapchat World Lens from September 15 through October 15. El Pollo Loco, Inc. (“El Pollo Loco” or “Company”) (Nasdaq: LOCO), the nation's leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain, pays tribute to its Hispanic heritage and Los Angeles roots by restoring a series of lost murals across Los Angeles during Hispanic Heritage Month as part of its ongoing commitment to give back to the cities that molded and influenced the brand.

Los Angeles, one of the greatest mural capitals of the world, has seen an estimated 60 percent of murals vanish experts say¹. 

From now through October 15, Angelenos and visitors walking by the five locations where the murals once were can scan a code with Snapchat and see what the artwork once looked like there, before it had been removed.

“We take pride in the culture and history our food, our people, and the city we call home,” said Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “Hispanic heritage is not a moment in time, it is what has shaped who we are as a company and how we put our values to practice by serving our customers and communities.”


Permanent Recreations
To ensure this timeless form of storytelling survives, El Pollo Loco is also paying homage to its heritage and the art that was once on Los Angeles’ walls by donating storefronts as the canvases to new murals. The first mural will be painted on El Pollo Loco’s original restaurant location on Alvarado Street, which since opening in 1980 has featured an indoor mural depicting life in Sinaloa, Mexico, the childhood home of the company’s founder.

The murals being digitally restored during Hispanic Heritage Month, include:

"Nuestra Gente es Linda y Poderosa” – 2841 Boulder Street, Los Angeles

“Hex BBOY” – 417 East 15th Street, Los Angeles


“SK8 Still Lives” – 7753 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

“Migration” – 1262 South Lake Street, Los Angeles

“Zapata” – 2000 W 6th Street, Los Angeles

Hess Joins Moe's

Erik Hess joins the Moe’s Southwest Grill® brand with more than 25 years of global experience in the food and beverage industry specializing in business strategy, consumer insights and improving operations. Hess will be leading as President of the Moe’s brand, a fast-casual Mexican concept with more than 725 operating units, where he will oversee franchise and company operations, marketing, supply chain and product innovation.

“I am excited to lead the Moe’s Southwest Grill brand because it sits in one of the fastest growing segments in the restaurant industry.” says Erik Hess, President, Moe’s Southwest Grill. “The brand has great food, an incredibly loyal fan base and very involved franchisees. We’re well positioned to accelerate growth.”

Previously, Hess spent 25 years at McDonald’s Corporation in a wide variety of senior leadership positions responsible for product development, innovating the customer experience, strategy and insights, restaurant development among many other responsibilities. Hess has deep experience in the U.S., globally and in Asia. He brings a unique perspective to the brand with intimate knowledge of consumer behaviors while balancing the operational complexities present in a large franchised organization. Additionally, Hess has a proven record of increasing sales and accelerating growth in both new and established markets worldwide.

In addition to his role at McDonald’s Corporation, Hess has spent the past two years consulting several brands and financial service organizations on consumer strategy and restaurant opportunities.

Potbelly's Growth Plans

Potbelly Sandwich Shop  signed a franchise agreement to open 10 shops in the Las Vegas market. Eric Persson, an experienced, multi-brand restaurant operator and owner, will be bringing Potbelly to the area. The deal marks the brand’s entry into the region. 

“I’m thrilled to break into the fast casual restaurant segment with a proven brand,” said Persson, who is a longtime local Las Vegas resident and an accomplished entrepreneur. “Potbelly hits the mark on exactly what I am seeking to diversify my portfolio. I’m excited to help grow the brand and bring it to a new market.” 

Persson is the co-founder and co-owner of Maverick Gaming LLC, a group that currently owns the Wendover Nugget, Red Garter Hotel, Red Lion Casino and the Gold Country Casino, all in northern Nevada, and more than 10 casinos in Washington state. Additionally, Persson owns 40 stand-alone restaurants in the Las Vegas and Phoenix markets. With his multi-brand experience, Persson embodies the type of franchise owner that Potbelly is attracting. 

“Eric is the perfect fit to bring Potbelly to Nevada. His multi-unit group is just what we’re looking for to open our franchise locations,” said Peter Ortiz, Vice President of Franchise Development for Potbelly. “We’re excited that Eric is joining the Potbelly family just as we are accelerating our franchising initiative, and we’re eager to build off this momentum in the months ahead.” 

The deal with Las Vegas comes on the heels of Potbelly nearly doubling its franchise footprint with recent multi-unit agreements totaling 38 units spanning Tampa, Florida; Modesto, Concord and Santa Clarita, California; Lake Grove, New York and the Carolinas. In addition, Potbelly has opened a number of franchise stores this year that are driving brand penetration across several areas of the country, including recently opened shops in Irvine, California; Odessa, Texas; Richmond, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, Virginia; Rochester, Minnesota; and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Currently, there are more than 450 corporate and franchise Potbelly shops in the United States. The brand is continuing franchise growth in 2019 and is seeking experienced multi-unit operators who have the drive to grow a great business opportunity. 

Maggiano's Giving Back

Maggiano’s Little Italy just completed its 16th annual Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-WishÒ campaign. During the campaign (May 30-Aug. 7), guests were invited to help Maggiano’s grant transformative wishes for children battling critical illnesses. The campaign raised a total of $725,000, which has been donated to Make-A-Wish.


“I’m amazed by our incredible guests and teammates who supported this campaign,” said Kelly C. Baltes, President of Maggiano’s. “We wouldn’t have been able to make a donation of this magnitude without their selfless support. We are all honored to have the opportunity to raise money to grant wishes and create special memories for wish kids, in addition to continuing our work with Make-A-Wish as they prepare to celebrate 40 years of granting wishes in 2020.”

To-date, Maggianos’ annual Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-Wish campaign has raised nearly $10 million, which has granted 1,200 life-changing wishes.

“Wishes are only made possible through the generosity of individual and corporate donors, like Maggiano’s, whose community comes together each year to provide children battling critical illnesses renewed energy and strength,” said Richard K. Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America. “We look forward to continuing to reach even more eligible children across the country in partnership with Maggiano’s, one dish at a time.”  

Naf Naf Inks New Deals

Naf Naf is expanding its franchise program with four prominent new franchise groups signed this summer. These deals will expand Naf Naf locations across Chicagoland and to new states, Tennessee and Iowa, bringing their total franchise agreements to 35.

“We are ecstatic that shortly after launching our franchise program we have quickly doubled the size of our company,” said Paul Damico, CEO of Naf Naf. “It’s incredibly important for us to continue to grow our franchising program throughout the country with strong operators so we can share our great Middle Eastern cuisine and hospitality with even more guests.” 

In total, the franchise program is welcoming four new strategic groups to the Naf family:

  • Nick Ibrahim – NBMM Holdings LLC
  • Nick Ibrahim, of NBMM Holding LLC, signed a 10-store deal to open locations in Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Prior to joining the Naf Naf franchise program, Lebanese-born Ibrahim worked as CIO of Ruby Tuesday’s.
  • Jwalit Patel, John Tourville, and Ketan Patel
  • Jwalit Patel, John Tourville, and Ketan Patel signed a five-store deal for restaurants in the Chicagoland area. The group has extensive franchise experience across a variety of brands. 
  • Krishna Patel and Rashmi (Sim) Patel
  • Krishna Patel and Rashmi (Sim) Patel signed a seven-store deal for Central Illinois and Iowa. Their group currently owns 19 Dunkin Donuts stores in Central Illinois and Iowa.
  • Devarshi Patel, Riya Patel, Kamlesh Patel, Paulomi Shah, and Jose Arteaga 

The group currently owns 17 Dunkin Donuts and three McAlister’s Delis in Northern Illinois and Northwest and Southern Indiana. They signed a three-store deal to build Naf Naf locations in Northwest Indiana.

These four major group announcements come on the heels of Naf Naf’s official franchise program announcement and the first franchise deal with 316 Investments in June. Earlier this summer, 316 Investments, through its affiliate Fan the Flame LLC, announced a ten-store deal that would expand Naf Naf stores to the cities of Indianapolis, Bloomington, Lafayette and Fort Wayne over the next few years.

Legendary Partnership

Legendary Restaurant Brands formed a strategic partnership with entegra Procurement Services to enable the brand to work within a network of  suppliers/.

Entegra, a division of Sodexo North America – world leader in Quality of Life services – offers a collaborative approach and industry-leading portfolio of supplier agreements. Bennigan’s Chairman and CEO Paul Mangiamele said partnering with entegra is another way to further develop the brand’s world-class benefits for franchisees.

“Entegra is one of the largest and most impressive group purchasing companies in the world,” Mangiamele said. “This strategic alliance will help us reach our goals in competitive pricing and forward thinking, allowing us to continue to deliver superior services to our franchise owners. Entegra will also help us continue menu innovation by connecting us to leading suppliers providing high value products and services. This partnership will intensify the emotional connection that fans have had for our brands for more than 50 years. We look forward to a positive and productive future with entegra by our side.”

“As a leading Group Purchasing Organization in North America, we bring impressive industry knowledge to Legendary Restaurant Brands,” said entegra North America CEO and President Damien Calderini. “Our collaborative approach, coupled with our industry-leading portfolio of supplier agreements and value-added services, is what enables us to better serve our customers. We look forward to partnering with the brand that created the family-friendly casual dining segment and continues to deliver a unique guest experiencethrough their made-from-scratch food and their renowned Irish hospitality.” 

Flaum Joins Grimaldi's

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria welcomed Michael Flaum as Director of Franchise Development. Michael joins the Grimaldi’s team with over a decade of experience as an owner, area developer, and multi-unit franchisee of Cold Stone Creamery, as well as President & CEO of Arlington Rack and Packaging, a multi-state manufacturing company, and owner of a strategic development/advisory entity.

Flaum developed and led a multi-state market of 125 operating units for Cold Stone Creamery, while providing ongoing support to franchisees and enabling operating units to exceed expectations of both the brand and its guests. With his extensive experience, Flaum brings a comprehensive, strategic perspective to Grimaldi’s new domestic franchising program, announced in April of this year, including his expertise in core business growth, sales leadership, operations, financial management, and team development. In his new role, Flaum will oversee the brand’s franchise development amongst qualified operators in markets throughout the United States.

“As this is a new initiative for our brand, I am excited to meet passionate, multi-unit operators, introduce them to our exciting Grimaldi’s Pizzeria brand, and award development agreements to teams after performing their due diligence,” Flaum said.  “Our ideal franchise partners are qualified operators who are looking to expand their portfolio of brands and/or market share and are passionate about growing with Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.”

Grimaldi’s operates 42 company-owned restaurants in 11 states from coast to coast. The restaurants capture the essence and energy of the original Brooklyn pizzeria, including the legendary centerpiece coal-brick oven and custom water system that is designed to replicate New York City water, essential to achieve the pizzeria’s authentic, award-winning taste. The concept attributes its ongoing success to its three key ingredients – people, product, and service.

Melt Shop Making Moves

Melt Shop held a grand opening of its newest location inside of the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. Located at  313 Smith Haven Mall, the restaurant opened on September 7 and marks the brand’s 10th location in Melt Shop’s home state of New York, and 17th nationwide.

“Our brand has created a loyal following within our home state and we’re excited to keep the momentum going,” said Spencer Rubin, Founder and CEO of Melt Shop. “Our melted sandwiches have become a staple in the communities we serve and we can’t wait to expand Melt Shop’s unique culinary experience to Lake Grove.”

The brand also opened its newest franchised restaurant and first Florida location in Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Florida. 

“We opened as a walk-up counter in Midtown eight years ago and now we’re opening our 18th restaurant and first in Florida. It’s been an exciting journey and it’s a great moment for us as we celebrate this significant milestone for our brand. We’ve had our sights set on Florida for quite some time and, with our franchise partner CFL Eatz, LLC spearheading our development, we’re eager to continue our expansion throughout the state,” said  Rubin. “We know there are a lot of New York transplants in South Florida, so many guests may already be familiar with Melt Shop. For those that aren’t, we look forward to introducing them to our elevated melted sandwich experience and serving exceptional food to local residents and visitors alike.” 

 The new Melt Shop at Sawgrass Mills is owned and operated by experienced multi-unit operator, CFL Eatz, LLC and kicks off a string of openings in Florida as part of an agreement signed earlier this year. In addition to its new restaurant in Sunrise, the company has plans to develop six Melt Shop locations throughout the Central Florida region over the next three years.

“We’re thrilled to kick off our partnership with Melt Shop by opening its very first location in our home state of Florida, and look forward to bringing more restaurants to the state in the near future,” added Bob Picerne, Principal of CFL Eatz, LLC.

Brinker Acquires 116 Chili’s

Brinker International, Inc. completed the acquisition of 116 Chili’s® Grill & Bar restaurants from its 14-year franchisee, ERJ Dining. This follows the announcement of the letter of intent made on July 10, 2019. The restaurants, primarily located in the Midwest, generate approximately $300 million of annualized revenue. The transaction was funded with availability under Brinker’s existing credit facility and is expected to be EPS and cash flow accretive in fiscal year 2020. 


“This acquisition reinforces our strategy to invest in our brand while generating additional earnings and cash flow for shareholders,” said Joe Taylor, chief financial officer and executive vice president of Brinker. “Our strong operational infrastructure brings additional support and investment for the solid group of operators joining the Chili’s corporate family as part of this transaction.”

Round Table Redesign Rollout

Round Table Pizza® is rolling out the red carpet and welcoming customers to enjoy a truly regal experience at the first Round Table location to undergo a complete redesign to embody Round Table's recently updated logo and brand identity – "Pizza Royalty." 


The Round Table store located at 398 Florin Road in Sacramento is the first location in the 440-unit system to undergo a full renovation that will dramatically upgrade the dine-in experience to create a store that reflects the same passion Round Table puts into its pizza.

"Pizza Royalty," which was announced earlier this year, reinforces Round Table Pizza's iconic legacy and demonstrates a commitment to time-honored recipes prepared with hand-rolled dough made in-store daily, homemade sauce and hand-cut toppings piled high.

Round Table's new store design draws inspiration from the past while offering new amenities that include a beer wall, signature round booths, game room and party room – all designed to make a visit to Round Table an occasion worth celebrating. These new features create an ideal venue for family outings, birthday parties, date nights and fantasy sports drafts and allow customers to fully enjoy the Pizza Royalty experience.

The refreshed store design was inspired by the brand's iconic black, white and red colors, and a silhouette of a knight's helmet featured in the new Round Table logo can be found throughout the updated store.   

"Creating a new signature look for a restaurant system with a 60-year legacy required us to draw inspiration from the past, while also designing a store concept built for the future," said Jenn Johnston, Chief Brand Officer and President of Franchise Operations for Global Franchises Group. "We are proud of the prototype store we've created in Sacramento; we know our guests will enjoy a dining experience that matches the high quality of our products, making every visit feel like a royal celebration." 

The next two stores set to re-open post-renovation are also located in Northern California – at 1449 East F Street in Oakdale, Calif., and 1331 Buchanan Road in Pittsburg, Calif. To follow the progress of Round Table's "Pizza Royalty" journey, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 McAlister’s Signs New Deals

McAlister’s Deli®, a fast casual restaurant chain known for its genuine hospitality, sandwiches, spuds, soups and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, announced today the signing of 30 new franchise agreements with David Blackburn of Southern Rock Restaurants, LLC. The franchise group plans to expand its presence in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia. The signed franchise agreements will make Southern Rock Restaurants the first McAlister’s Deli franchisee to eclipse 100 units in its portfolio.

“I acquired my first McAlister’s Deli restaurant more than eight years ago and knew instantly that my company would establish a terrific opportunity with the brand,” said David Blackburn, CEO of Southern Rock Restaurants. “At McAlister’s Deli, we have the unique opportunity to engage with our guest multiple times – something you don’t usually see at a fast casual restaurant. Our guest engagement and service set us apart from the rest. I’m excited to continue to grow with McAlister’s Deli and look forward to opening our new restaurants.”

McAlister’s Franchisor SPV LLC currently has more than 450 restaurants in 27 states and is part of the FOCUS Brands family of brands, which include Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, and Schlotzsky’s® Austin Eatery. Southern Rock Restaurants and all franchisees within the McAlister’s Deli system have the ability to use FOCUS Brands’ shared services, including marketing, real estate, technology and more, to help them successfully launch and operate their restaurants.

“This is a really exciting time for McAlister’s Deli. Within just the last 12 months, we’ve debuted a new prototype, accelerated our brand positioning, expanded our off-premise capabilities and enhanced our in-store technology,” said Joe Guith, president of McAlister’s Deli. “Today marks another memorable occasion as we congratulate David and Southern Rock Restaurants on their newest franchise agreements. We consider our franchisees to be family and David has been part of our family for a long time. We’re excited to watch Southern Rock Restaurants’ continued growth.”

As part of the 30 franchise agreements, Southern Rock Restaurants has committed to opening  21 restaurants in Ohio (14 in Cleveland and seven in Columbus), seven in Indiana, one in Tennessee and one in Georgia, with several of these locations slated to open later this year. 

In addition to Southern Rock Restaurants, McAlister’s Deli is continuing with its aggressive expansion and is seeking single-unit and multi-unit operators to join its successful franchise network. McAlister’s Deli is currently targeting new markets across the U.S. For more information about franchise opportunities, contact Michael Bruno, director, franchise development at McAlister’s Deli, at

QDOBA  Expanding in Canada

QDOBA Mexican Eats® is continuing expansion across Canada through an agreement with multi-unit operator, Burgess Enterprise. The five-unit deal focuses on locations to be developed in and around Northern Ontario, with the group’s first QDOBA restaurant set to open in Sault Ste. Marie in early 2020.

“As co-founder and operator of the Ontario-based Wacky Wings concept, I understand the value in providing an elevated dining experience,” said Craig Burgess, CEO of Burgess Enterprise.  “When we looked to grow our portfolio with another restaurant, we were immediately impressed with QDOBA – everything from the delicious food to the experienced leadership team. We’re excited to bring the QDOBA brand to fans across Northern Ontario.”

Along with the restaurant set to open in Sault Ste. Marie, Burgess Enterprise is expected to open multiple QDOBA locations over the next few years in Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay and Thunder Bay. Like all QDOBA restaurants, each of these locations will offer the brand’s signature innovative menu with high-quality ingredients, such as flame-grilled adobo steak and adobo chicken cooked-in-house throughout the day, and fan-favorites 3-Cheese Queso and hand-smashed Guac, both available for no additional upcharge.

“In Wacky Wings, Burgess Enterprise has done an incredible job creating and incubating a crowd-pleasing restaurant brand from scratch,” said Keith Guilbault, CEO at QDOBA. “Canada is a growing market for us, and we’re excited to have Craig and his team on board, bringing the QDOBA brand to even more area guests.”

I Heart Mac & Cheese Sells Store

I Heart Mac & Cheese sold its Tallahassee, Florida corporate store to franchise group Fidelity Enterprises LLC. On September 10, the group took ownership of the restaurant, which is now the brand’s third franchisee-operated location in Florida. Fidelity Enterprises LLC has already committed to opening 11 new locations throughout the state of Texas over the next five years.

“We’re excited to see the Fidelity Enterprises team expanding their relationship with our brand and look forward to working with them at our newest location on the campus of Florida State University,” said Stephen Giordanella, I Heart Mac & Cheese CEO and Chairman. 

The Fidelity Enterprises LLC team includes two husband and wife duos, Thomas and Megan Doyel and Jerry and Laura Livingston. Driving operations for the group will be restaurant industry veteran Thomas Doyel, who has worked with numerous concepts in Central and East Texas, including Raising Cane’s and Chipotle, managing 10 to 12 restaurants at any given time.

Chicken Salad Chick Expanding in Virginia

Chicken Salad Chick will be expanding to Virginia with its first location debuting in Richmond. Marking entrance into the brand’s 16th state, the new Richmond restaurant highlights consumers’ increasing demand for Chicken Salad Chick across the country and emphasizes the brand’s widespread growth with first-to-state restaurants opening earlier this year in Missouri, Ohio and Illinois.

“Richmond, which ranked in the top 10 on Yelp’s Top Food Destination list this year, is known for its unique and flavorful eateries,” said Scott Deviney, CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. “Chicken Salad Chick’s warm culture, exceptional dining experience and made-from-scratch chicken salads make us the perfect addition to the city’s rich culinary scene, and we’re thrilled to be opening an additional location in Mechanicsville next year.”

The Richmond restaurant is owned and operated by first-time Chicken Salad Chick franchise owners Tim, Kim, Rick and Nancy Collins of Providence Restaurant Group, LLC dba Chicken Salad Chick of Richmond, VA. The family has extensive background in the fast-casual space, opening the metro area’s first Stevi B’s location in Mechanicsville about eight years ago. The Richmond Chicken Salad Chick marks the group’s second new-to-market concept, with plans to open an additional location in Mechanicsville early next year. Tim and Kim will oversee restaurant operations.

“Introducing a new restaurant concept to a foodie town like Richmond is exciting, as there is a certain level of curiosity, anticipation and eagerness that brews amongst residents,” said Tim Collins. “Not only are we thrilled to offer residents a fresh and unique dining experience, but we are looking forward to catering various events, office lunches and more. My family and I have a passion for good food and great company, which is why we are proud to be opening a Chicken Salad Chick in Richmond.”

The Chicken Salad Chick concept was established in 2008 by founder, Stacy Brown. With more than a dozen original chicken salad flavors as well as fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches and delicious desserts, Chicken Salad Chick's robust menu offers a variety of options suitable for any guest. In 2015, Eagle Merchant Partners purchased a majority stake in Chicken Salad Chick, and under the leadership of CEO Scott Deviney and team, the company now has more than 130 restaurants currently open in 16 states and remains a standout brand within the fast casual segment.

Del Taco Promtes Gretzema

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. promoted Chad Gretzema to Chief Operating Officer, a new leadership role at the Company. John D. Cappasola, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Del Taco, commented, “Chad brings a wealth of restaurant experience to his new position as Chief Operating Officer, having successfully led strategic planning, innovation, operations support, training and our facilities support over the past seven years. Chad has been a key architect of many of our strategic combined solutions operational improvement efforts and is a trusted partner within the organization who knows how to help teams deliver superior results. He has also been a passionate voice, ensuring strong cross-functional franchise support and enabling our franchise partners to successfully grow their businesses. The role of Chief Operating will further our focus on great four wall operations and I believe that Chad will lead our restaurant teams and the brand to even greater success.”

Gretzema added, “Del Taco is an iconic brand with some of the most passionate and talented teams I have worked with during my career. I am committed to helping our restaurant teams and our franchisees grow their businesses and look forward to providing them even greater support in this new role.”

Gretzema has been with Del Taco since 2012 and was most recently Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning & Innovation, having previously served as Senior Vice President, Operations Support and Engagement. Earlier in his career, he held positions in operations, training, and marketing at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Phoenix Children’s Academy, Noodles & Company, and Oscar Mayer Foods. Mr. Gretzema received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Psychology from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Yogurtland Teams with DoorDash

Yogurtland is partnering with DoorDash. Customers near participating locations can now order their favorite customizable frozen yogurt, ice cream and Drinkable Creation treats without leaving their home or office.

“We are excited to offer delivery for our guests when the craving for a cold creamy sorbet, lite ice cream or frozen yogurt hits them, no matter where they are. We want to make it easier for our guests to have access to our services and we are thrilled to partner with DoorDash to meet these needs,” said Jacob Dubin, strategic brand manager for Yogurtland.

“We’re excited to partner with Yogurtland and make it even easier for froyo fans across the country to enjoy their favorite items from the convenience of their homes,” said Toby Espinosa, Vice President of Business Development at DoorDash. “The Yogurtland experience is one of a kind and we look forward to extending that experience to even more customers nationwide.”  

From Football to Salad

Marcus Burley has been an athlete since the early age of seven. In 2013, Burley officially joined the NFL, and over the course of his career has played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.

Now a free agent, the 28-year-old is embarking on his greatest adventure since the 2014 Super Bowl: Opening his very own Saladworks franchise in Ballantyne, North Carolina.

“I’m always thinking of ways to invest my money, and I feel like franchising is a great way to start a business,” says Burley, who has had a lifelong interest in entrepreneurship and smart investing. “Saladworks has been around for more than 30 years, and they have a proven blueprint.”

Burley believes the valuable lessons he learned through his athletic career will come in handy as a Saladworks franchisee. “I definitely learned perseverance from the game of football and the importance of working at something over and over again,” says Burley. “If you persevere, you can definitely make the best out of something.”

Burley first became aware of the health-focused fast-casual restaurant while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sports management and a minor in leadership at the University of Delaware. He frequented a nearby Saladworks, and the health-conscious young athlete took note.

“This is one of the best times to invest in a salad-centric business,” says Burley. “The country is trending toward healthier living, and people are really being careful about what they’re putting into their bodies. As an athlete, I’ve always known the importance of eating healthy.”

In addition to providing the Ballantyne community with a healthy lifestyle option through Saladworks, Burley is also actively involved in giving back to his communities through volunteering.

“I’ve done community service with every team I’ve played for,” he says. “I also visit my old high school, Highland Springs High School in Richmond, Virginia, at least twice a year and help coach and speak with the kids.”

Salata Hires First Corporate Executive

Salata Salad Kitchen has announced the hiring of Kevin W. King as its first corporate executive chef. 

Chef Kevin King

In his new role as Salata’s executive chef, King’s responsibilities include managing product innovation and efficacy of current and new prepping equipment. With plans for new menu and kitchen items, King will ensure all brand, food production, menu planning, food cost, safety and cleanliness requirements are met according to Salata standards.

“With more than three decades of experience in the food service industry, Kevin brings a deep, diverse skill set to our ever-growing brand,” said Michelle Bythewood, president of Salata. “In addition, he has a passion for what we do at Salata—encouraging individuals to determine what healthy eating looks like to them and providing them with numerous nutritious options. Kevin has already become an integral member of our team. We look forward to his leadership in thoughtfully expanding our product offering.”

King previously worked as executive chef at a number of Houston-area businesses, including Riverbend Country Club, Pecan Grove Country Club and Live Oak Grill. Most recently, King has acted as executive chef and owner of Chef King’s Catering, LLC, which provides health conscious and cost-effective food service operations for the U.S. Coast Guard at Sector Corpus Christi, as well as quality catering service for the greater Houston area.  

“I have long admired Salata’s unique concept, so joining the corporate team is a thrill for me,” said King. “I am excited to put my experience to work and influence the outstanding food Salata offers.”

King began his career in culinary arts as a food service specialist for the United States Marine Corps, where he earned the Meritorious Mast, a formal and ceremonial acknowledgement for his commendable work. This dedication to his country has served him throughout his career and will continue to impact the high quality of work he brings to Salata.

Bojangles Adds Development Officer

Jose R. Costa has joined Bojangles as its first chief development officer, reporting to CEO Jose Armario. In this new role, Costa will be responsible for driving the overall unit growth of the company, recruiting new franchisees, real estate strategy, equipment, and new restaurant design and construction.  

“Jose joins our executive team at a pivotal time as Bojangles’ charts our strategic path forward,” said Armario. “His 20 years of experience in marketing, franchising, multi-unit retailing and customer experience for well-known brands will play a crucial role as we define our growth over the next decade.”   

Most recently, Costa served as North America CEO for GrandVision. Prior to that, Costa served as group president of Driven Brands where he led the company’s MAACO®, CARSTAR® and Drive N Style® brands, which collectively operate more than 1,400 body shops. He also was vice president of marketing, R&D and supply chain at BURGER KING® Latin America and Caribbean Region. Costa also served as president of COSTA IMC, a branding and interactive marketing firm focused on the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American segments. 

“It’s an exciting time to join this iconic brand with such loyal fans,” said Costa. “Bojangles’ has put together a topnotch team with incredible plans for continued growth, and I look forward to contributing to the company’s success.” 

Costa’s appointment is one of several significant executive personnel hires made recently by Bojangles’, including Reese Stewart as chief financial officer and Jackie Woodward as chief marketing officer.  

Krystal Teams with Franchisees

The Krystal Company is partnering with veteran franchisees Anand "Andy" Patel and Kalpesh "Junior" Das of Slider Joint, LLC to bring Krystal back to Jonesboro, Arkansas. Adding franchisees and expanding territory are key elements of Krystal's revitalization plan unveiled by CEO Paul Macaluso when he joined the company in 2018. Krystal's newest franchisees, Patel and Das already own and operate seven other restaurants in the Jonesboro market.

Krystal's newest franchisees, Junior Das and Andy Patel of Slider Joint, LLC, are bringing Krystal back to Jonesboro, Arkansas. Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1932, Krystal is the South's original quick-service restaurant and was selected to USA Today's 2019 Top-10 Best Regional Fast Food List.

"We're delighted to welcome Andy and Junior to the Krystal family," said Macaluso. "Their depth and breadth of QSR experience combined with their established presence in the Jonesboro market make them ideal partners to build the Krystal brand in Arkansas."

Patel and Das, who have a combined 49 years of restaurant experience, are leveraging their nearly 20-year relationship with Jonesboro-based Haag Brown Commercial Real Estate and Development to select the location for the new, state-of-the-art Krystal restaurant, which is scheduled to open in early 2020.

Architecturally, the restaurant will feature an expanded kitchen and facilities layout that maximizes efficiency and employee awareness. Design elements will include a vibrant color package highlighting the Krystal name in red, a heritage color for the brand, as well as local community graphics. The new prototype will be square like Krystal's famous burgers and is expected to add 75 jobs in Jonesboro.

"Krystal has the potential to turn the little square burger into a disruption in the QSR industry. The brand is iconic and nostalgic," said Patel, who recalls late-night snack runs and lunch cravings for warm Krystal Chiks with pickles, extra mayo and Tabasco sauce. "What can we say? We love Krystals."

The Jonesboro location will be Krystal's second restaurant in Arkansas, in addition to its West Memphis store. The previous Jonesboro location closed in 2002.

DQ Grill & Chill® Expands Florida Footprint

American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), franchisor of the DQ® brand, recently announced its new DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant open in Fort Pierce. Conveniently situated at 2716 S. US HWY 1, the restaurant is owned by multi-brand operators, Goalz Restaurant Group.

“From my first job out of high school at Dairy Queen®, I knew I admired their business model,” said Shawn Eby, founder and CEO of Goalz Restaurant Group. “Now with my own restaurant group, I’m drawn to the brand because of the strong feelings it evokes with their emphasis on tradition. Goalz is excited to open our second DQ Grill & Chill® location and 11th overall restaurant.”

Goalz has been an owner of DQ Grill & Chill® since 2018, with its first location in North Carolina. Goalz Restaurant Group was founded by Eby with the focus of helping others. Goalz is proud to stand behind their brands including Dog Haus, Church’s Chicken, Captain D’s and Dairy Queen®. In the next few years, the restaurant group is scheduled to open 265 restaurants across 9 states, including another DQ Grill & Chill® set to open October 2019 in Colorado.

“Goalz follows the business mantra of people who serve great food and Dairy Queen® is the perfect example of this, with dedication to tradition at each location,” added Eby. “The Fort Pierce community is the perfect place to bring that tradition, for locals to enjoy the DQ® experience.”

Spotlight on Pizza Inn

Once Lamont-native Chad Muegge found out that The Spotlight was closing down, he bought the iconic convenience store and gas station and reopened it three years ago. Seeking to add a quality food option to the mix, Muegge just opened a Pizza Inn Express (PIE) inside The Spotlight, located at 315 N. Main St. in Lamont. 


“The Spotlight has been an integral part of the Lamont community for many years,” Muegge said. “I was very excited to reopen it and have my daughter, Katherine Gilbert, run it as the general manager over the past year. We believe that offering PIE to our customers will really enhance The Spotlight experience.”

“We believe that Pizza Inn has better quality ingredients and a better product than its competitors, which is why we are thrilled to introduce it to our community,” Gilbert said. “Lamont is an incredible community that’s proud of its heritage; it’s a great place to raise a family. I have no doubt that our neighbors are going to love PIE’s delicious variety of fresh pizza.”

Palmer Joins Hero

Hero Brands has appointed a senior figure from Yum Brands to spearhead its franchise recruitment strategy throughout Europe. Chris Palmer joins Hero Brands from Taco Bell as Franchise Director and will be charged with developing and growing brand partnerships across the region.

Chris Palmer

German Doner Kebab is its flagship brand and is going from strength to strength as it embarks on expansion across the globe. The brand is now rolling-out aggressively throughout Europe, the Middle East and USA, with over 700 franchises already signed-up to the German Doner Kebab project globally. Hero Brands has also recently launched a new healthy fast-casual food experience to UK consumers. The brand portfolio will open its first flagship Choppaluna store in Bloomsbury, London, in October 2019. Billed as a new way to eat and a great-tasting and healthy alternative to classic fast-food, Choppaluna has already signed-up 12 franchises with another 60 ready to go.

Hero Brands Global Franchise Director Jon Cullen believes Chris Palmer’s experience will be invaluable in strengthening the senior team and growing the reach of the respective brands.

He said: “Our fast-casual brands will be the stars of tomorrow, responding to the needs of Generation Z who are demanding better, healthier food in nicer places but still at a great price.

“Chris joins us as we embark on significant growth and his experience will be crucial in developing new multi-site partnerships which will expand the reach of our brand portfolio.”

Palmer  brings over 15 years’ experience in the franchising sector, having previously held the position of European Franchise Manager for Taco Bell, overseeing the opening 50 new restaurants in the UK and Europe over an 18-month period. His previous roles also include being part of the management team that transformed the loss-making Harry Ramsden’s.

He said: “It’s very exciting to be joining Hero Brands as it forges ahead with plans to truly disrupt the fast-casual space. “We are building amazing brands of the future and I am looking forward to moving at pace with our multi-franchise partners to bring the brands to even more consumers throughout the region.”

Fazoli's Honors Franchisees

Fazoli’s recently held their 2019 National Brand Conference in Marco Island, Florida where they awarded their brand trailblazers for driving success.

“Our National Brand Conference really ignites excitement around our newest brand strategies while celebrating the big wins of the year,” said President and CEO Carl Howard. “I take great pride in honoring the people who work so diligently to make Fazoli’s a leader in the industry.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the President’s Awards Ceremony, the brand honored Michigan Franchisee Terry Chepy of Chepy, LLC as Franchisee of the Year for remarkable sales growth, consistent commitment to the brand and his unwavering dedication and support toward his team.

“This year marks Terry’s fourth straight year of positive sales growth,” Howard said. “He and his team achieved a 3.3% sales increase and an increase of 2.4% in guest counts. He is committed to driving his off-premise sales, and his results are unprecedented – increasing drive-thru sales by 5.9% and catering by 11%. He epitomizes our commitment to excellence, and we’re proud to have this opportunity to recognize him and award him with this prestigious honor.”

Jim Hillock, general manager of Fazoli’s in Lansing, Michigan and member of Chepy’s team, was named Franchisee General Manager of the Year – an award given to a franchise general manager who is consistently at the top of Fazoli’s Franchise Balanced Scorecard, which is a ranking for the categories of people (training, development, retention), sales and profits. Hillock dominated with a score of 4.9 out of 5.0, making him the front-runner for the award.

“Sales at Fazoli’s in Lansing were up an impressive 8.2% and guest counts were positive at 6.5%,” Howard said. “While their results are unrivaled, the achievement is even more inspiring because it’s the third time Jim has won this award during his career with Fazoli’s.”

The award for company general manager of the year went to Ryan McClure, of Owensboro, Kentucky for the impact he’s made to the organization and his community by embodying the brand’s commitment to excellence. Known as “Mr. Fazoli’s” in his community, McClure epitomizes leadership and fosters a positive culture within his team.

Fazoli’s also honored their vendor partners. Chosen from over 85 suppliers and partners who work with the brand, Steven Goldstein and Zerega Pasta, won Supplier of the Year. This award is given to the organization that is more than just a partner to Fazoli’s – it is a part of the Fazoli’s team and family. Zerega Pasta can be counted on to protect the brand model – the organization goes above and beyond.

“Fazoli’s is a family that rises together,” Howard said. “Our brand continues to gain momentum with record-breaking sales and traffic and an exciting menu and value proposition that just can’t be beat – we are excited for the opportunity to honor our successful franchisees, celebrate our loyal vendor partnerships and show our gratitude and appreciation to everyone on the team who help us make it happen.”

In other news, the brand  announced the promotion of Jodie Conrad to Chief Marketing Officer, Blaine Adams to Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Quality Assurance and Wayne Pederson to Vice President of Information Technology.

“We are extremely proud to announce the promotions of Jodie, Blaine and Wayne,” said Fazoli’s President and CEO Carl Howard. “Their experience, dedication and passion exemplify our mission and make Fazoli’s a stronger brand.” 

Conrad joined Fazoli’s in 2016 as Senior Brand Director and was promoted to Vice President of Marketing in 2017. She brings a wealth of experience to the CMO role, including thirty years of marketing experience with companies such as Wendy’s, Donatos Pizza, Coca-Cola and Pillsbury.

Conrad leads all marketing and culinary functions – including advertising, digital and social media, field marketing, consumer insights, off-premise business development, public relations and new product development and testing.

“Jodie has been an invaluable part of the Fazoli’s team,” Howard said. “I look forward to seeing her continued innovation and triumph as we position the Fazoli’s brand to meet the ever-changing consumer demands. Our industry is undergoing the fastest period of change and disruption in its history, and I’m pleased that we have a marketing leader with a proven track record of success at the helm.

Another leader with a proven track record of success, Adams joined Fazoli’s in 2013 after an impressive 23-year run at Darden Restaurants where he worked on brands including Red Lobster, Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden. Before joining Fazoli’s, he served as Vice President of Supply Chain and Quality Assurance at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

“Blaine has been instrumental in positioning Fazoli’s as an industry leader by developing strong vendor partnerships and generating cost-saving opportunities for our brand,” Howard said. “Due to his expertise and commitment to excellence, Fazoli’s is able to offer the highest quality products and services at the best value in the industry. We are so proud to have him on the team and he’s a major reason Fazoli’s continues to be the best franchise in the business.”

Pederson, an executive team member with an accomplished career featuring a variety of IT and Operations leadership positions with Yum! Brands, Domino’s Pizza and Bloomin’ Brands, joined the Fazoli’s team in 2016 as Executive Director of Information Technology.

“Wayne and his team have worked tirelessly to implement technology solutions to modernize our IT infrastructure, while also introducing new technology that has expanded our ability to compete in the fast-growing off-premise segment,” Howard said. “As technology continues to play an increasingly larger role in the ‘stay-at-home, on-demand economy,’ I am confident Wayne and his team will keep the brand at the forefront of new technology and maintain Fazoli’s status as a leader in the industry.”

Tropical Smoothie Now Up to 800

Tropical Smoothie Cafe announced the opening of its 800th location. This milestone opening comes on the heels of a tremendous growth year for the brand, with the opening of its 750th location in May of this year. 

“Just last August we were celebrating the opening of our 700th location, and now one year later we will be celebrating the opening of our 800th location in the Chicago area,” said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC. “We remain excited about the continued growth of the brand, especially in the Chicago market, one of our top priority markets. Over the next few years we have several cafes targeted to open in this market, which will continue to build brand awareness across the Midwest and beyond. I am so proud of how our brand continues to resonate with our guests and of course our growing franchise family. Year-to-date we have opened 74 cafes and we are on track to meet our opening goal of 130 new cafes this year.”

The new Arlington Heights location will be owned and operated by existing franchisee Hani Halloun along with first time franchisees Edward Joubran and Martin Khoshaba, who together plan to open another two cafes in the Chicago area over the next few months. The Arlington Heights cafe will celebrate its grand opening on Sept. 6th with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. as well as a series of giveaways, including "Free Smoothies for a Year" cards for the first 50 customers and $1.99 smoothies throughout the day. CEO Charles Watson and members of the brand's leadership team will also be in attendance. To continue the celebration, guests can purchase flatbreads all day on Sept. 7th for only $1.99.

"For the past decade, I’ve been a franchisee of Tropical Smoothie Cafe and I’m very proud to be part of this growing brand. My partners and I are honored to be hosting this landmark event and bringing our better-for-you lifestyle to Chicago,” said Hani Halloun. “Being part of this exceptional milestone is very special to me and my business partners who each have an impressive level of expertise in the restaurant industry. Together, we are looking forward to serving the local community.”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe currently has seven locations open in the Chicago market and a total of 18 more cafes in the pipeline, many of which are scheduled for opening in the next few years.